beth_bernobich: red mushroom (snobbish pig)
I've written about this before. Hundreds of other authors and editors and agents have done the same. But new writers come alone every week, so the advice is worth repeating.

Whether you post your work on a critique forum, or you ask someone privately, the etiquette is the same:

Say thank-you as soon as possible. Sure, you can say you might want to ask questions later, but that's not the point. Someone has just spent hours—or days—reading your work and analyzing their reaction to it. Be polite.

Do not argue. Do not explain. Does this mean you have to agree with the feedback? Of course not. But arguing is pointless. Your story has to stand on its own.

Does that mean you can't ask questions? Well....that depends. Some critiquers don't want to answer questions. Or they don't have time. Or they've come across someone who confuses "conversation" with "omg, let me tell you why you were wrong to hate my story." Most, however, are happy to clarify what they meant. If they are, they will tell you. If they don't say, ask. Then abide by their answer.

What if you hate violently disgree with don't agree with their feedback? Fair enough. However, you should at least give the feedback careful consideration. Think about why they didn't like that chapter, or this character, or whatever didn't work for them. Do that not because you need to placate them, but because you need to give your story every chance.

For more comments about reading critiques, see this essay I wrote a few years back.
beth_bernobich: alice (alice)
...Fred-my-muse handed me a situation in my last writing session. It involved my main character acting rather impulsively. To many others, what she did wouldn't be all that terrible, a mistake at worst, but for her, it was a betrayal. Excuses (and there were several) didn't matter.

For a while yesterday, I considered ditching or rewriting that paragraph. I mean, what would readers think of her behavior? What would [Other Major Character] think? How could I handle the consequences? Oh sure, it would give an extra special edge to the climax scene, but...

Then I remembered the advice I got at a writing workshop: Write what bothers you. If you have a choice between safe and dangerous topics, choose the dangerous one. The story that you don't want to write is probably the one you should.

So the paragraph stays. And I'll figure out the consequences as they show up.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (sagittarius)
an essay i wrote several years ago, about reading critiques.

one point i've learned, over and over, is that if readers point out a particular problem, they are probably right about the problem, but their suggestions for how to fix that problem are not necessarily correct. *my* job is to review that scene, and their suggestions, and figure out what the real solution is myself. it might mean cutting the scene. or rewriting it. just as often, though, it means the real problem is several scenes or chapters earlier.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (tea cup)
In my previous past, I listed four excellent small press publishers with a few details about each one. Obviously, that wasn't intended to be a complete list, not even close.

(And before [ profile] mroctober taunts me again, I should mention Lethe Press, another excellent small press that publishes speculative fiction, books of gay interest, poetry, and more.)

So why list any at all? What inspired me to this particular rant was seeing over and over a bunch of misconceptions about what small presses can offer an author. Here's a typical sequence of events:

1. Writer sends off manuscript to a handful of Big NYC Publishers. (DAW or Tor or one of the others that takes unsolicited subs.)

2. Writer gets a handful of rejections.

3. Writer tries a handful of agents and gets nowhere.

4. Writer then googles "publisher" and gets a humongous list of names, including PublishAmerica, iUniverse, Napkin Books, etc.

At this point, the newbie author should do more research and ask a lot of hard questions before they send off their ms. The problem is, they don't know what questions to ask. They don't know what are reasonable expectations and what aren't. They submitted to the Big Publishers because they heard of them. And, well, they're big.

But what they often seem to do instead is send the ms. to the first one on the list. If someone points out that Small Publisher X doesn't have good distribution, or their production values are somewhat shoddy, or gee, that contract isn't very writer friendly, the newbie writer shoots back, "Well, they're small. They can't do as much as the big publishers, and you're expecting too much."

And I say, that those writers are selling themselves short.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Look for publishers with a track record. How long have they been in business? If they're new, what previous experience do they have?

  • Check out how many titles they produce each year. Find out where those titles are available. (Publisher's website only? Online stores? Brick-and-mortar stores?)

  • What about reviews? Publishers should promote their books. One way is to send out review copies to major trade publications.

  • Buy one of their books and check out the quality. Are there lots of typos, or is the text clean of errors and inconsistencies? What about the binding? What about the design of the book?

  • Ask what terms they offer. Advances? Royalties on cover vs. net. What rights are they buying?

  • Once you trim the list down, scan sites such as Writer's Beware, Preditors and Editors, and the Bewares and Background Checks board on Absolute Write.

Treat your book right. Give it the best chance, not merely the first chance that comes along.


beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Default)

September 2017

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