The excitement of getting an agent “OFFER OF REP! (and why I said no)”

OFFER OF REP! (and why I said no).

I came across the above blog post by @LucasMight last night on twitter and immediately my interest was piqued.

My initial thought was He got offered representation and said no! Why? How? Why? What?

It’s no big secret that while writers write because it’s their passion (as it should be), they also tend to obsess about finding an agent, getting a book deal, and…gasp…seeing their book on the shelves one day.

It’s also no big secret that it was probably easier for Frodo to get to Mordor than it will be for many authors to get published.

If traditional publication is the path we wish to take, then we’ll likely need the help of an agent -the gatekeepers of publishing.

So when getting an agent is the first goal, the thought of rejecting one was almost unthinkable to me…until I read Lucas’s post, that is.

It’s not often that we see stories like this. I don’t think it’s because they don’t happen, but because they’re just not talked about.

Like talking about rejection while querying, publicly opening up about rejecting an agent has a certain stigma to it. And when I opened the blog, I was anxious for Lucas. I wondered what others might think of this revaluation. Would other agents read this and think less of an author because they shone a light on a bad offer?

But then I read the blog, and all of my concerns vanished. This story is candid and insightful. I also thought it was incredibly brave, not only because Lucas took the risk of putting the story out there, but because it shows that he had enough faith in his work to want only the  best for it. And incidentally, while getting an offer for representation was a great moment, Lucas was smart enough to know that all that glitters is not gold.

This is a valuable lesson for all aspiring authors to be wary when it comes to signing with an agent. Bad representation can be the death of your book. That’s not to say that the agent pursuing Lucas was a bad agent, but if an author isn’t careful, their book could end up in purgatory.

As for the blog’s reception, I can see that there’s been an overwhelmingly positive response. Writers (including me) are grateful to get a head shake, to know that it’s okay, and necessary to turn down an offer if it doesn’t feel right.

I also think that agents will commend Lucas for his honesty and  reiterate the message. It’s important to research an agent’s merit before querying them, but it’s even more important to use caution when representation is offered.

While landing an agent might be the dream, landing the wrong one could  be the nightmare.

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

The process of getting The Darkness of Light ready for publication has made  me realize that it really does take a village to raise a book.

When I started writing it, I had no idea how many people would be involved in developing it and perfecting it. So far, I’ve needed the aid of 6 beta-readers, 2 critique partners, 1 professional critique, and a copy-editor. Then there is the cover designer, and a second editor that will do a final read through just before publication.

That makes 12 people who have had a hand in the creation of my book.

Whether you’re publishing traditionally, or going the self-publishing route, it’s pretty amazing to look back at that moment you sat down at your computer and wrote the words “Chapter One,” and now you have a completed novel, and a team of people trying to help you push your book to the surface.

No matter which way you choose to move forward, publishing a book is certainly not a one man/woman show.

 

Follow me on twitter @tamzwrite

Genre Confusion pt. 2

Here is a list of popular genres and their definitions. If you’re a writer and having trouble deciding which genre your book falls into, follow the steps below.

Step 1 – Pick your category. What age group is your book written for?

Middle Grade (MG) – Age 8-12

Young Adult (YA) – Age 12-18 or higher.

New Adult (NA) – Characters are 18-25 with a focus on growing into adulthood, phases of life.

Adult – Intended for adults. Main characters can be any age. It’s the content that determines the category.

Step 2 – Pick a genre. This is where people get frustrated. There are so many different genres and sub-genres out there. I’ve chosen to focus on the ones I see most commonly referenced on twitter and on shelves in book stores.

If you are querying your novel pick your category and 1-2 genres i.e. YA Contemporary, YA Historical Fantasy, Adult Paranormal Romance, Romantic Thriller etc…

If you are self-publishing pick up to 2, but you can tag your book with as many genres as you like on websites like Amazon and Goodreads. So don’t stress!

The Genres

Speculative Fiction known as Specfic or SF (sometimes confused with Science Fiction) is a broad term that encompasses the following genres.

Science Fiction

A genre that uses science and technology (usually imaginative or futuristic) as the main part of the plot.

Popular subcategories for scifi include:

Steam-punk – Takes place in the Victorian/industrial revolution era and features steam-powered machinery.

Time Travel – Character travels forward or backward in time.

Alternate History – Taking real historical events and altering them with a science/technology element. (This can also fall into a non-science fiction category).

Parallel Universe – A universe that exists alongside our own

Super-human – Superhuman characteristics or abilities induced/aided by science/technology.

Space opera – An adventure novel set in outer space. Usually has romantic, melodramatic elements (John Carter).

Space Frontier – Themes of innovative space travel/exploration.

Fantasy

Uses magic, supernatural, mythological elements/creatures in a world that is somehow different from our own.

High Fantasy/Epic Fantasy – Takes place in an imaginary world (Game of Thrones).

Low Fantasy – Usually set in the real world or has real world elements. There can be fictional/magical places within the real world (Harry Potter).

Supernatural/Paranormal

Usually set in our world with characters such as Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Shape-Shifters, Angels, Demons, Fairies, Elves, or the Undead.

Horror

Stories intended to frighten, horrify, startle, and disturb. Gothic fiction can fall into this category and combines romance with horror.

Superhero fiction

Incorporates characters like those found in comic books.

Utopian/Dystopian

Explores social and political issues in a futuristic/alternate real world setting. Utopian is an ideal setting. Dystopian is an unhappy, degraded society, usually with a tyrannous government/world order or no political structure at all.

Apocalyptic/Post-apocalyptic

Something threatens the existence of humanity. Apocalyptic takes place as the threat is happening. Post-apocalyptic takes place after and focuses on the survivors.

Magical Realism There is some debate as to whether or not this falls within the Speculative Fiction umbrella, being that the main characteristic is a real world setting.

The plot/setting is completely recognizable and realistic with very minor magical elements. The presence of the fantastical element is usually neither directly addressed nor explained. It blends the everyday with the miraculous (The Green Mile). This is often a characteristic of Latin American literature (One Hundred Years of Solitude). While Life of Pi is listed as a fantasy adventure, it can also be considered Magical Realism because the events were merely a creation of the character’s imagination.

Commercial/Mainstream Fiction appeals to a wide audience and has many subgenres.

Mystery

Any form of crime fiction. A characteristic of mystery usually includes a detective-like main character that must solve a mystery.

Thriller

 These novels are fast paced, action packed, and usually include a powerful antagonist that the main character must defeat.

Suspense

Suspense novels create a feeling of anxiety and uncertainty for the reader. The plot uses tension as a device to lead up to the final big event.

Western

Takes place during the American Old West.

Romance

The primary focus of the plot is on romantic relationships.

Erotic Fiction – Focuses on sexual relationships intended to arouse the reader.

Chic-Lit

Addresses issues that interest women, and modern womanhood. Main characters are women dealing with jobs, family, relationships, and phases of life.

Contemporary Fiction

Takes place in present day and deals with present day issues.

Historical Fiction (Can fall under commercial fiction or literary fiction).

The story takes place in a specific historical time period.

Literary Fiction Is introspective fiction examining the thoughts and feelings of the character/characters. This is a character driven novel as opposed to a fast paced, plot driven novel. Sometimes considered the “snob” of fiction, this genre is said to cover serious subject matter, have literary merit, and stand the test of time. (The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Kite Runner).

 

If you’re still having trouble deciding how to label you book, pick a book that is comparable to yours and google the genre.

Here is a link to Genre Confusion Pt 1. It began as a twitter conversation. https://tammyfarrell.com/2013/08/28/genre-confusion/

Hope that helps!

Follow me on twitter…NOW! @tamzwrite

The First Draft HAS to suck!

I’ve had a hard time pushing through the writing of Boy, which is a novel about an Elizabethan child actor.

The more I struggle with it, the more I want to abandon it. I keep telling myself that this project is too ambitious, that I can’t pull it off, that the history is too hard.

Then I remember the first draft of The Darkness of Light.

The very first, off the top of my head draft, sucked BIG TIME! In the first 3 chapters the characters were 10 years old. Then I came to the conclusion that they needed to be older from the start in order to have a shorter story. I skipped chapters. I knew what would happen in them, but I didn’t know how things would unfold.

So instead of fighting through the hard parts, I would write (in red font) an outline of the chapter and what I knew needed to happen. Then I moved on to the next chapter and it began to flow.

By the time the first draft was done, it was completely unreadable, inconsistent, and a grammatical mess! But I loved it! And I was so excited to write the next draft.

I have to keep that in mind as I continue to write Boy. I really want to get to the part where Mathias arrives in London. So in order to get there, today I wrote some notes and jumped chapters.

Tomorrow will be Mathias’s first day in London and I’m really excited to go there with him. The rest can be dealt with later. As long as I get a shitty first draft written, then at least I have something to work with. If I abandon it, I’ll have nothing.

The Lesson: A shitty first draft is workable. Giving up is not!

 

 

 

Sequel writing thoughts

I should really be working on my manuscript that is completely unrelated to The Darkness of Light. I know I should. Especially considering I have no idea what will happen with TDOL as it makes its query rounds.

But the sequel is so much easier to write than the new one.

Here’s why…

I already know my characters.

If you ask me “What would Malcolm do?” I totally know the answer to that!  If I start on a new book, I’m going to have to struggle through getting to know my new characters. That’s always fun, but it’s stressful too.

I already know my setting.

With all the research I did for the first book, I better damn well know the setting! Sure, I still have to ensure my facts are right. I still have to look things up. I still have to scoot over to google earth from time to time. But I am comfortable with the era, the landscape, the wildlife.

It’s so easy to write about a place you feel like you already know. My other novel is set in Elizabethan England, and even though I’ve studied it thoroughly,  bringing that world to life with accuracy is daunting.

I know where I’m going.

While I may not be 100% sure how I’m getting there, I know where my characters will end up. That didn’t happen with the first book. I had to write several drafts before I was settled on an outcome. It was a good learning experience, but it was nerve-wracking at times. If I start working on a completely separate book, I’ll be back in that space of uncertainty, sleepless nights, minor freak-outs.

So what does this tell me?

While it’s okay to work on The Darkness of Light sequel, I’m too comfortable in that world. I need to step back and give the new book a go. I need to challenge myself to keep my mind sharp, to keep learning, and to make sure I am constantly perfecting my writing skills.

Starting next week I’ll be setting aside my comfy slipper-like sequel for the painfully high-heeled walk with my new project.

When my students are frustrated or don’t understand the material, I tell them, “If you’re not struggling, you’re not learning anything.”

It’s time I take my own advice…

In Need of a Critique Partner

Any writers out there want to team up with me? I could really use a CP.

My novel is a historical fantasy, but it is set in a historical real world. The fantasy aspect comes more from the use of mythology than the setting.

I am open to critiquing pretty much anything except Middle Grade fiction, and I can promise to give constructive feedback. I have worked as a freelance writer, studied English Lit, and I currently teach Pre-GED English Lit.

Anyone interested?