Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Questions Answered

Thank you all for your questions! We have tried to answer you the best that we can, so I hope you find this to be helpful.

A small children's book publisher expressed interest in my work. A promise of an email with edits has never come... four months now. Am I entitled to submit my work elsewhere? 

Has this publisher explicitly stated that they accept multiple submissions, meaning they accept your work even if you've sent it out elsewhere?  If so then sending it somewhere else is fine.  If not, I believe four months is a reasonable amount of time to follow up and send a quick email asking about the status of your submission.

I have a non technical question,if that's alright.

What do you do if you get too easily fazed at all the talent out there, and say "there's no room for me out there...look what's already going on!"  

I think this is similar to bloggers who wonder if it's worth starting a blog since there are so many wonderful blogs out there.  I believe everyone has a unique story, a unique perspective that needs to be shared.  Like Cheryl stated in her Just Write It post, there will be better writers than you but there will not be anyone who can write exactly like you.  I think it's worth getting your voice heard because you never know who needs to read what you write.

I think my biggest issue as a writer is ending the darn piece! My blog entries either fall off of a cliff or I ramble for a paragraph hoping I'll gain some inspiration for an ending point. Any tips? 

I always try tor refer back to something I've previously mentioned in my post.  I think it makes for a more cohesive piece when my original thought comes full circle.  Before you end your piece, look for a detail you mentioned in the beginning of the post and refer back to it.For a

I always hear about writers having a goal of X pages per day, and it makes me wonder about book length. How do the computer/word processor pages translate to actual book pages; and how big a role does book length play in publishing? Is there an ideal range? It seems like a lot of what I read falls into a similar page-range, so I wonder if very short & very long books are harder to get published?

For a novel you want roughly 75,000 - 120,000 words.  There are a couple of factors that determine how word count translates to page count including font type and size but if you want a rough idea I suggest you visit this site to get a better idea.

As far as book length, you are right, shorter and longer books are harder to publish.  I usually see publishers and agents looking for manuscripts around 75,000 - 90,000 words. 

I've been trying to write a book for the past year. The plot is not very strong at all, in fact I'm still trying to figure it out. I have about 155 pages, should I throw in the towel or just finish it and figure it out for draft number two???? 

If it were me, I'd toss it out.  It hurts to do so but it's much harder to rework an entire plot the second time around.  If you tweak one part, you inevitably have to tweak another until the entire manuscript becomes a chopped up mess.  If you really want to work on plot, I'd suggest starting fresh and trying to outline your story line beforehand.  I know this is easier said than done (at least for me since plot is hardest for me too!) but I've found if I have a concrete idea of how I want the plot to play out then it's much easier for me to write.  Good luck with it!

I have a question about the memes. .. When you announce these, do we write it by a certain day, do we post it on our site whenever we want?

We announce our memes Tuesday and then the linkup is Friday. Glad you're participating!

I wrote a book/memoir about my pregnancy with my little boy. I haven't sent out many queries yet because agents don't seem to care for memoirs unless they're written by someone well known. Do you think I can use my blog as a forum to post excerpts from my book to see if it attracts enough interest? Do you know of anyone who has done this?

I don't know that memoirs have to be written by someone well known. I'm thinking of my favorite memoir, Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck (right, who?) or The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan, or even that whacky guy James Frey who wrote that "memoir" on addiction. These were not famous people, but their stories - and, of course, their writing - are amazing. Anyway, you can certainly post excerpts on your blog. You have to consider who's reading your blog. If your goal is to attract the attention of an agent, I'm honestly not sure if that will work. If it's to get feedback, then I think that's a great idea. Ericka has posted some of her stuff on her blog in the past.

How often do you update your blogs? What is too much? What is too little? My readership drops way off on the weekends, so I don't tend to post then - do you find this also to be true?

I update mine (Mommypants) usually M-F. I think we all have the fear that if we don't put up something new and fabulous every day, readers will move on since we all seem to have a short attention span these days. But the reality is we have families and responsibilities and work and life and I think having some balance - and taking a break from the blog - actually makes us better. Fresher. Blog burnout is pretty common. 

Sex scenes in literary fiction. do you write them? How do you balance the sex vs the erotica?

Well. I would write them if it was appropriate for the story/character, and I think the same goes for balancing it. Ask yourself if what you're writing fits with the story/character, if it moves the story along, what emotions you hope to elicit. What are you hoping to achieve with the scene? I think that will help you find what works - and what doesn't.

What do you do to break through the inevitable "writer's block?

First, I pound my head on the table about 17 times. Okay, maybe not. But I feel like it! There are many things you can do: if you're not on a deadline, put it away for a time. Give yourself a time limit. Like you're not going to look at it for six hours. A day. A weekend. But then get back to it. You can try doing different writing exercises (Google "fiction writing prompts" and you'll get a ton of suggestions). One thing I do sometimes is I just start writing whatever comes to my head. Even if it sucks and I know I'm going to delete it. Just the action of writing is at times enough to get me going again, especially if I'm not specifically trying to write on what I'm stuck upon.