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It's time for the list of things that just knocked my sox off this year!
First up is THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK: The Battle for James Joyce Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham.
Frankly, this guy could probably write about paint drying and I'd be fascinated. He's got a real gift for exposition and it serves him well in this complex story of author, publisher, smut laws, and anarchists.
If you're a writer, you'll want to read this to learn more about James Joyce and the novel. If you're on the other side of the desk, you'll want to read it for the story of how hard it was to publish difficult books in the early part of the last century.
And if you're neither of those, you'll still want to read it cause it's just a great story, well told.
Here's one of my favorite paragraphs (there were many)
[Despite all of this] she [Sylvia Beach] decided that Shakespeare & Co. a company of one, after all, of a thirty-four-year-old American expatriate who was until recently sleeping on a cot in the back room of a diminutive bookshop on a street nobody could find--would issue the single most difficult book anyone had published in decades. It would be monstrously large, prohibitively expensive and impossible to proof read. It was a book without a home, an Irish novel written in Trieste, Zurich, and Paris, to be published in France in riddling English by a bookseller from New Jersey.
The highest praise I can think of for this book is that it made me eager to read Ulysses.
If you're still actively submitting queries and submissions my suggestion is stop. In fact, stop by Thanksgiving. It's exactly what most agents have done when it comes to submitting.
Let's face it, publishing isn't that much different from many other companies. People are busy with holiday parties, shopping and daydreaming about sugar plums (whatever those are). Getting to submissions at the end of the year is either bottom of the priority list or falls somewhere between clean off the desk for the new year and regift the fruitcake. In other words, you don't want to be part of the office cleanup.
So hold off, polish your letter and your manuscript, take some time out to enjoy a festivity (or holiday cocktail) or two and be ready to hit the ground running come January. Maybe January 15 so you give agents some time to clean out everything that's come in while they were busy eating the figgy pudding.
Chum Bucket tonight.
Remember: do not link to this post from elsewhere (your blog or Facebook page), or post/tweet about it.
Chum Bucket works because everyone who participates has invested some time in learning how it works. I LOVE doing Chum Bucket so I really want to keep it to those people who buy in to the premise.
The premise is that if you query me between 7pm and 8pm tonight, I will reply to you personally, not with a form letter.
The response can range from "this isn't for me" to "send full" but you'll know I'm sitting there typing it out when I get your query.
Of course, I often do reply with more than "not for me" because I think it's helpful to say why it's not for me. Sometimes it's because I'm not much on eyeball removal (eww!) and sometimes it's cause you
think a 240,000 memoir is publishable.
If I think I can help you, I'll try to do so.
Chum Bucket is NOT a critique.
And your part of the bargain is you will not email me back telling me I'm a cretin of the first order for failing to appreciate your masterpiece. (While that may be true, we will observe the social niceties of not stating the obvious.)
The reason I ask you to NOT tweet or link is that people who aren't regular blog readers, or twitter followers, who only see the announcement, may not know about the social contract not to reply with venom. I really want to keep doing Chum Bucket so the longer we can keep it to invested readers, the more likely it is to continue.
The comment column awaits.
And in case you're interested, here's the run down from the last Chum Bucket on 11/20/14
|1. Not for me/some comments on why: ||10 |
|3. Suggestions to improve red hot mess queries: ||3 |
|2. Not for me/some comments on correct category or comps ||2 |
|5. Not my category: ||2 |
|10. Requery/not for me ||2 |
|11. Word count (unsupported by the writing) ||1 |
|12. Great query/problem pages ||1 |
|13. Requery on red hot mess ||1 |
Word count unsupported by writing means I look at your pages even if you send a query for a novel with some sort of horrible word count (like 230K) If the writing is polished and tight, no problem. Often it isn't. Thus the "nope."
|"We really should have hired a cat to deal with those balls of yarn"|
Writing for me has always been about personal empowerment, not about fame or fortune. That’s how my writing career started, and it is still my main goal as a writer: let the words out and see where they take you. As Robert Frost said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
In the beginning I wrote to discover what I knew. Then I wrote for myself and my best friend, Dave. I grew up next door to Dave in Queens, New York, until he turned five. His family moved away. Our parents stayed great friends. The friendship survived because on Thursdays the men met to play cards in the kitchen and the women to sew sweaters and chat in the living room. They took turns visiting one another with lifelong friends.
As teens, Dave and I would always spend part of the summer together. We shared important interests: playing baseball, chasing girls for dates, blue ribbons on the track team, and a Regents diploma. During the school year, it was frequently more satisfying to write long letters to one another about girls, sports, school, and our domineering fathers than to do anything else. Our moms faithfully exchanged our letters every Thursday. We called it the “Pocketbook Mail Express.” No stamps needed, just the trials and tribulations of life-and-death teenage issues. We wrote volumes. The writing was extremely cathartic and highly invisible. Only our eyes ever saw what we wrote.
Our fathers were card carrying members of the Greatest Generation ever—hard workers, honest and loyal. They worked for the future of their kids, but their kids were supposed to be seen and not heard. We had a roof over our heads, food on the table, mothers who believed in us, and fathers who wanted us to be near-perfect. And we weren’t.
If we earned B’s, “Why don’t you have all A’s?” If we won a red ribbon in a race, “Why didn’t you win a blue ribbon?” Our best was never good enough. We didn’t feel like our fathers believed in us.
When I became a high school senior, we had to write a weekly essay. My English teacher, Ms. Starr Hacker, always scribbled an “A” on my compositions. Only the size of the “A” varied. I worked very hard in class. She wrote in my yearbook, “Good luck to a very interesting student and personality.” What made me interesting? I think that I was emerging as a writer, thanks to David and Ms. Hacker.
I decided to give back to others like Ms. Hacker did by becoming a teacher. When I told my father, he asked “Why a teacher?”
“I won’t be happy unless I’m a teacher.”
He asked, “Why do you have to be happy?”
I had no answer. I was flawed with the possibility that my father, a plumber, might not be happy with his work. He had fooled me.
My guidance counselor warned my father that I might not be college material. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to take English and Education courses. I knew at least three people believed in me: Mom, Dave, and Ms. Hacker—and writing played an important part in it.
I graduated from a community college, and transferred to a state college. I met my true love and we both graduated with teaching degrees. The two years that Marilyn and I were engaged, my father was worried that I would flunk out. Dad didn’t know that Marilyn made me a better student. Before mom met Marilyn, Dad said, “I don’t want you to like Marilyn.” But they did anyway.
Two weeks after graduation we married. My brother once noted that “Dad isn’t smiling in your wedding photo.”
He’s right. Before the shot was taken, Dad leaned over and said, “You should have gone to graduate school first.”
I was a successful teacher for thirty-three years. During and after my teaching years, I wrote essays for parents and teachers, and poems for children. It was never about making money. It was about corralling my experiences and making sense of them.
When my mother was dying in the nursing home, I sat down and wrote a tribute about her life to capsulate what a great mom she was. It was my last gift for her, a gift of words. At her funeral in church I read my tribute. To my amazement, the congregation stood up and clapped.
Writing is a priceless gift.
RUNNER by Patrick Lee is enjoying the spotlight at Barnes &Noble this week. There should be a display of mass market books, including RUNNER near the front of the store.
Here's my offer:
1. Take a photo of yourself (or anyone else!) holding a copy of the mass market edition of RUNNER
next to the display.
2. SEND the photo and a copy of your receipt for RUNNER to me electronically.
Include your mailing address in the email!
3. I'll post the photo AND send you a copy of the 2014 Bouchercon anthology "Murder At The Beach) at no cost! (or I'll just send you the book if you don't want your photo posted!)
Two good books for the price of one!
Offer is for a limited time. Feel free to email me or tweet to me to see if it's still open.
Questions? Ask in the comments section of the blog.
Ready? Set? FOTO!
Unintentionally we had a week devoted to the synopsis, two of the posts came organically from your comments. I love that.
I had no plan to do a Friday post on the synopsis until I saw this comment from yesterday:
This actually exemplifies for me *exactly* why synopsis-writing is frustrating. Not only is there a very wide range of quantity requested ("three to five paragraphs" or "one page" or "three pages" and so on), but there are a number of agents I've queried who in fact specify that all characters *must* be mentioned. I know this is a sure way to clunk-ifying a synopsis. And mine is clunked, because I've seen more guidelines instructing the inclusion of characters than not. Like a lot of neurotic pre-published authors - I obey like a spanked puppy.
Then there is the reworking of the clunker for almost every single query, because of all those varying particulars in submission guidelines. It's a bit like the Biblical genealogies; "who really reads The Begats?" But The Begats are canon.
Unless they're not!
I think this comment illustrates the feeling most writers have about submitting in general. There are too many rules, too many different requests and when a writer tries to please everyone she comes up with a clunky mess.
My one suggestion to this is write the synopsis that works, that shines and that tells your story in your voice. Forget everyone's peccadilloes and do what works for your book. I'm pretty sure Melissa Cutler never rewrote that synopsis to please a different agent or a different editor. She wrote one synopsis, submitted her project and published her book. Done.
One paragraph or three to five paragraphs is not a synopsis. That's your summary for your query. If someone asks for that you should have it when you wrote the query. So that's easy. As for other preferred page lengths, no one is going to reject your book because your synopsis is longer than a page or longer than two pages. No one. Write a solid three-page synopsis, give or take a page, and you have all you'll need for every submission.
I have finally completed my first novel, and I've gotten some very positive reviews from my beta readers. I'm afraid though that I may not be able to break out into mainstream publishing and/or get an agent.
It's a New Adult LGBT novel and the advice from a friend is that I may have to go to publishing sites such as Dreamspinner, Carina, or TotallyBound. I really feel that it can be more than just a M/M novel because of the different issues that are presented. Unfortunately, I may have lost my chance because I've tried querying with agents that are LGBT accepting but my query might not have been strong enough to get their attention.
I don't even know how hard it might be for an agent to sell that kind of genre. Should I go with one of the aforementioned publishing sites or stick with self-publishing and spread the word myself? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Confronted with this dilemma, the first thing you want to do is make a list of questions:
1. Is your query strong enough to entice an agent to read your book?
2. Is your book strong enough to entice an agent to take it on and send it on submission?
3. Is it hard for an agent to sell LGBT books that are M/M themed?
4. Do you want to self-publish?
When you have the list, look at each question and ask yourself if you have enough information to answer the questions with FACTS, not fears, suppositions or someone else's opinions.
And from what you've written here, you do NOT have enough facts to answer any of these questions, and thus what you need to be doing is getting more facts, not making decisions.
How do you get facts? First, you need to know how strong your query is.
You can visit query revising sites (Absolute Write runs one and there are others) or you can attend a writing conference. Take your query letter to a pitch session. Ask the agent for her opinion on your query. You might be making some very-readily-fixable errors. You might be using a word or phrase that's a red flag. Use that information to answer your first question.
If you find an agent who requests your full manuscript, generally you're going to get some kind of feedback that will help you on Question #2.
And a writing conference, with panels presented by agents on various topics, is a great way to learn more about Question #3.
And of course, you'll want to do a LOT of research to answer Question #4.
Bottom line: don't flail around wondering what to do. Assemble facts, analyze them, do research, invest in your career, and make decisions based on information not fear. Fear will kill your writing career faster than a bad agent.
Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc. www.awaionline.com.
Imagine having a paid writing assignment you can count on …
Every month … or even every week!
It’s possible, if you write on retainer — which basically means a company hires you (and usually pays you a monthly flat fee in advance) to ensure you’ll write for them on a regular basis.
As a marketer who hires and trains dozens of freelance writers every year, I’m a big fan of working with writers on retainer.
To me, they’re the true win-win.
As a writer, you get peace of mind knowing you have steady work (and a steady paycheck) month-after-month.
And as a marketer, I save a ton of time on every project, and typically get better results.
Now, while all freelance writers can benefit from “retainer deals,” this series will also be of special interest to you if you’ve yet to make the leap to a freelance writing career …
Retainer deals eliminate any financial risk by ensuring you have a consistent monthly income the very second you say goodbye to your 9-to-5 job.
So each week this month, I’m going to walk you through the best assignments to turn into retainer deals, including what the projects entail, how much you can expect to make, and show you how to land them.
But first, let’s take a step back and look at all the major benefits retainer deals bring to you and your business …
- They make it easier to forecast your income
You’ll know in advance exactly how much money your retainer deals are bringing in, which means you’ll be able to accurately predict how much money you’ll make each month.
- They give you peace of mind
The certainty of knowing you have income coming in each month will put you at ease, knowing you’ll always have enough money to cover your bills.
- The value of your time will go up
After a while, you’ll know your client’s products and services inside and out, as well as what they expect from you each month. And that means you’ll be able to turn around assignments much faster — ultimately making your “per-hour” rate go up, up, up.
- Better results for your client
Because you’ll know who their target audience is and what your client’s goals are, you’ll consistently hit the right marks and produce better results for your client.
- You’ll be able to focus on things that make you money
A predictable monthly income and workload means you’ll be able to reduce the time you spend finding new clients.
- You’ll get more referrals from your clients
The long-term relationships you’ll form with your clients will make it more likely they’ll write you a testimonial (or two) and recommend you to their friends and business associates.
- You’ll be more valuable to your client
Your client will look at you as an integral part of their business and marketing strategy.
So what do you think?
Are you interested in writing on retainer?
If so, you’ll want to join me next week …
I’ll introduce you to three of the best retainer writing opportunities you should consider.
You’ll be surprised when you see my list — they’re not the ones most writers think about …
Which surprises me, since they’re the ones that pay the most money.
That’s why I’m also going to explain in detail what the assignments entail, how much you can expect to make, and how to land them.
By the time you start the New Year, you’ll have a head start on making a really good living as a writer in 2015.
Now if you don’t want to wait, I have a little gift for you…
Earlier this year I did a webinar on the best retainer deals – and how to land them – on Wealthy Web Writer. The webinar was exclusive for members only, but I’ve asked the Managing Editor to unlock it for you. You can access it here until the end of the month.
That way you can get moving now if you’re feeling motivated!
And as usual, if you have any questions for me, feel free to connect with me on Facebook, or post comments below the webinar on the Wealthy Web Writer website.
To your success,
The majority of my clients view writing a synopsis as a necessary evil. They don’t like writing them, but they know they have to. There are one or two who might give away their firstborn children if it meant getting out of writing a synopsis, but there actually is a handful that seem to like writing them. Then there’s Melissa Cutler. She does workshops on how to write a synopsis and openly declares her love of writing them. And, I gotta tell you, her love shines through in the synopses she writes. They’re vibrant and entertaining and they not only maintain the reader’s interest, they make the reader want more. Melissa was kind enough to share with us her top tips for synopsis writing as well as the synopsis for her most recent release, The Mistletoe Effect, so you can see how a great synopsis is done. If you’re as inspired to read more as Melissa’s St. Martin’s editor and I were, I’m including some handy-dandy buy links at the end of the post. I hope you enjoy!
Melissa's Top Tips for Synopsis Writing1. Don't include any secondary characters' names if you can help it.2. Don't include backstory in the first few paragraphs.3. Write the synopsis in the same hook-heavy language and tone as a back cover blurb--in your written voice--because that's what your proposal is actually selling: a hook, the tone, and your voice.4. Contrary to what editors and agents say they want, don't "just tell me what the book is about". Only use plot points and backstory as supporting details to explain characters' emotional arcs. This means you're not utilizing very much plot.
The Mistletoe Effect: Synopsis Anyone who thinks shotgun weddings disappeared along with the rest of San Antonio’s Wild West history has never stood in Carina Briscoe’s boots. But there she is with a bouquet in hand, in front of a crowd of hundreds, standing next to the bad boy she’s crushed on since her awkward teenage, and all because her overbearing family insists the show must go on after Carina’s sister and her fiancé call it quits and flee the altar. After years of fighting for their hotel’s success in the competitive market of destination weddings, the Briscoe family is banking on the publicity surrounding their month-long fiftieth anniversary celebration of the hotel’s Mistletoe Effect—a perfect record of divorce-free marriages during the month of December—to secure a coveted spot in Wedding World magazine’s annual “Best of the Best” issue. But when Carina’s superstitious and not-quite-all-there granny decries that if a wedding doesn’t happen, then the Mistletoe Effect will be jinxed, the rest of the family springs into action. They’re determined that nothing, not even a bride and groom’s imploding relationship, will interfere with their company’s future. Carina has never been good about standing up to her family, and with them making her feel like the fate of the business rests in her hands, she doesn’t see any choice but to agree to the charade. She comforts herself with the fact that it’s only an act, not a real wedding on paper. And besides, maybe playing along will help smooth things out if and when she finally gets the courage to tell her family about her dream to quit her job at the resort and strike out on her own. Stable manager James Decker doesn’t know much about weddings, but he does know that Best Man duties definitely do not include standing in for the groom—even if said Best Man harbors a secret soft spot for the Maid of Honor, who also happens to be his boss’s daughter. But one look at the panicked expression in Carina’s big brown eyes as her family tries to fake-marry her off to any willing male with a pulse, and he’s powerless to refuse. Playing bride and groom with Decker at the lavish reception that follows is way more fun than Carina expected. How could she not enjoy a night of dancing and laughing with the sexy cowboy-in-residence whom she’d never wound up the courage to flirt with, much less get her hands on? But when their harmless evening of jinx prevention ends with a scorching, sleepless night in the honeymoon suite, Carina knows she’s in way over her head. For years, she’s dreamt of putting some breathing room between herself and her family by quitting the family business and leaving the resort to live on her own in the city, but as holiday festivities celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Mistletoe Effect go into full swing, she and Decker find themselves swept into even more jinx prevention duties…and sheet-sizzling, sleepless nights. Haunted by a bad boy past that won’t let him go, Decker has poured years of blood and sweat into building a career-launching resume. Briscoe Ranch Resort was supposed to be a stepping stone to bigger and brighter plans, but embarking on a torrid affair with the daughter of his hotel baron boss just might ruin everything. The trouble is, he can’t keep his hands or his heart away from Carina no matter how much he fights it. Carina had no idea that falling hard for a cowboy would be just the ticket to bring her out of her shell. She’s never felt so free or strong as when she’s in Decker’s arms or stealing secret kisses from him in the stable, despite daily dealings with her pushy father, her superstitious granny, and the Texas-sized list of duties she has at the resort as Christmas marches closer. Decker brings out the best in her, and before long, she has enough courage to stand up to her pushy family and pursue her own neglected dreams. Decker started out in his fake marriage with the goal of helping Carina gain the courage to pursue her dream career, just as he was pursuing his, but he never could have imagined that he’d fall in love with her in the process—or that the pursuit of her dreams would be the one thing that would end their relationship after she receives a life-changing career opportunity thousands of miles away from the dream job Decker is all set to start after the holidays. He refuses to be one more person in her life holding her back, and so he doesn’t see any choice but to let her go. He quits his job at the resort and she quits hers, both determined to support the other’s dreams by letting them go so they can spread their wings and fly. The problem is, as soon as Decker quits, he realizes that his dream has changed. A life with the woman he loves is more important than a career, so he decides to follow Carina to California and turns down his new job. Little does he know that Carina has reached the same conclusion, and has turned down her new job in order to follow Decker. After all, what good is a dream career if you can’t share it with the person you love? Decker and Carina’s final jinx prevention duty is at the resort’s annual Christmas Eve vow renewal ceremony being held for fifty-years’-worth of couples who’d had December weddings at the resort. Decker comes armed with an engagement ring and a plan for the woman he has fallen head-over-boot heels in love with. But he’s not the only one with a plan up his sleeve to keep the couple together. With a little bit of Christmas magic and a surprise proposal from Carina’s family to bankroll both of Carina and Decker’s dream careers at the resort, this cowboy and his lady love prove that there might just be some truth to the Mistletoe Effect after all…
We had a request for 50 pages. The pages end in a better place at about page 53 (12 font). We know not to send more, however, would changing the font to 11.5 from 12 be okay? The agent's site didn't specify 11 or 12 and I have seen both sizes. What should we do?
What an illuminating question, and by this I mean, illuminating for me, not you. I always wondered why manuscripts showed up in a weird font and 11.5 point. I assumed it was a platform conversion problem.
NOW I see it's clever little hands trying to be smarter than my Format key.
When you send something in ANYTHING other than Times New Roman 12pt font, I immediatly convert to that.
Often I end up with more pages than I asked for. I don't care.
When you send in a font like Courier I end up with FEWER pages than requested. Again, I don't care, but you should. If I ask for ten pages and you end up sending seven you are asking seven pages to do the work of ten. (Your pages will be unionizing soon if you keep doing that, and rightfully so)
Here's what you need to know: An agent says "send 50 pages" but what that means is "don't send the whole novel" and/or "don't send too little." Send enough so that I can see what you're doing here.
If the best place to end is on page 53, send 53 pages.
DO NOT SEND a cover sheet.
Don't send acknowledgment pages.
Don't send a page dedicated to "Chapter One and an epigraph"
Start where the first chapter starts. In an effort to "follow the guidelines" don't make an agent nuts: Don't break a sentence or a paragraph EVER;
Don't break a chapter if you can help it.
UNLESS you have a natural break in the chapter that lends itself to an ending.
And don't go haywire on your font: TNR 12 is the gold standard.
I sometimes get the idea that querying writers think agents are like the old style compulsories judges in figure skating. Those judges sometimes got down on the ice and measured the accuracy of figures the skaters were required to complete.
Agents are not like that. Querying is more like the interpretive section of the competiton. We expect your technical skills are up to par and we want to see what you bring to the program. We're not measuring your figure 8s and not counting your pages. You on the other hand are not falling on your asterisk and sliding off the cliff.
Holy crap Batman! Let me try this again, this time in it’s entirety.
Geez, I’m not used to posting this near the beginning of a prompt. I had a little extra time today and came up with this. I hope it isn’t a travesty.
It was finally over. Twenty-eight months of grueling work, criss-crossing the country, keeping an impossible schedule, stumping in big cities and small towns all across our great nation, had all led to this day. Inauguration Day. Now there would be no more campaigning , no more debates, no more talk show appearances, no more hugging old ladies and kissing babies, and no more ticker tape parades. It was finally over. I was President of the United States. Holy frick! Now I guess it was time to start the real work.
I sat alone in the Oval Office and tried to wrap my mind around this whole thing. After a brief meeting with some of my top advisers, I now sat in complete solitude. I hadn’t enjoyed more than a handful of these quiet moments since this whirlwind began, and it was refreshing to be able to have a few minutes to myself.
Wonderful Jay. Nice character study and a very uplifting story. Loved the MC wondering if presidents are supposed to say stuff like that. I would say this is outside of your style but having read your work and your comments I know that you have pretty much all styles. I will say that I never expected to see a literary story from you, but I can’t say I am surprised to see one either.
This is awesome, Jay! I really want to know more with this story! This is very engrossing, and easy to see happening in the mind’s eye, like it would be on a screen. It’s a great teaser for a much longer story or movie if you know where this story would go. It’s precious, and precocious, and just begs for a much longer exploration of it.
This was brisk, entertaining, and appealing on a lot of levels, Manwe. Sorry to be just catching up now, but it’s been an overwhelming last 2 weeks… and not easing up all that much.
Nice work with this… it’d be interesting to see where this goes if you choose to extend it: lots left unanswered that could be worth exploring.
Awesome take. I loved the humor and mirth of the story overall. That one little barb in there, the satire and comment that you brought out, that just made it even better though. Wonderfully done.
Exquisite – and moved to inevitable tears ….
Before I invest the time in preparing a submission, I wanted to confirm that you have time to review it.
Dear Mr Regards,
I'm very sorry I do not have time to review a submission you haven't written. I'm currently occupied with editing a manuscript I haven't received.
I've yet to meet an author who likes the synopsis. The word seems to spark fear and hatred in the hearts of writers. Well get over it.
The synopsis is going to be part of your writing life for as long as you decide to be a writer so it's something you better learn how to do and how to do well. Most agents and editors are going to want a synopsis when they're reviewing materials. It helps them get perspective on your story, allows them to know how the story plays out before they finish reading, and allows you to, potentially, sell on proposal rather than writing the entire book.
As your publishing career grows you might have the opportunity to sell a new book, or the next book in the series, on synopsis only. If you plan on doing that you better understand what makes a good synopsis.
And if that's not enough, your synopsis goes a lot further than just selling your book. It's what will be used to write your cover copy and create your cover. It's what the office will pass around to sales reps and marketing people and possibly some version will even go out as publicity.
In other words, you better learn how to write a synopsis.
Can an author have a public opinion on a controversial matter? I posted about the Ferguson case on my private Facebook and a reader went over-the-top. While it cost me a reader, I stand by what I said (which was neither in favor or against the verdict). It got me thinking that if an author has a measure of renown, will they be forever constrained to keeping their mouth shut about issues that, while controversial, are important? That would seem like a waste of influence to me.
There is no right or wrong answer here. There's only the measure of how much you're willing to risk readers for posting your opinions. You have every right to say whatever you want on your blog, up to and including posts that are racist, sexist, xenophobic and poorly spelled.
In exercising that right, you also tacitly agree to the consequences: readers may unfollow, unlike, and or respond strongly to your opinions. Whether they continue to buy your books may be a very real concern.
Frankly I'm not interested in what a rock star has to say about Africa (and honest to god, I wish that man would learn some facts before going all We're Here to Save You) and I'm also extremely uninterested in what a movie star has to say about political matters, but I fear I am the exception since people with a lot of profile tend to get attention for every issue they want to speak on.
Am I going to stop buying U2 albums or seeing George Clooney movies? Probably not. BUT, and here's the great exception: I can't avoid seeing the promotions for U2s albums or George Clooney movies. I can NOT see anything about your book if I've stopped following you on Facebook and Twitter because you said something I thought was racist, sexist, xenophobic or poorly spelled.
You say it's a waste of influence. I ask you: what do you want to spend your influence capital on? Comments on current events or getting people to buy your book? It's your choice. Just understand you ARE making a choice when you post things on hot topics.
On the other hand, you also get to find out who's nuts among your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. That's always an interesting byproduct of a post like this.
And I'm assuming that your posts are well-reasoned and articulate, that the writing is clean and cogent, that you are writing to explain your position or persuade others to join your position. If you are writing to be bombastic or for click-bait, well, even if I agree with everything you say, I'm still removing myself from your radar screen.
Short answer: sure, post away but be prepared to cough up the price of the fall out, if any.
The title of this post is a little bit of a misnomer because I'm not sure I have the ability to teach you how to master anything. I suspect that only practice can do that.
That being said, I think I can give you some tips on writing a strong synopsis.
1. Actually write it. A synopsis isn't a rough outline for your eyes only. You will be judged on the synopsis in the same way you are judged on your chapters. So if your synopsis goes something like this you're definitely in trouble:
Margie found a dead body. It was brutal. She cries and carries on, but calls the police. Police come, do their stuff, she's not happy. A few days later or so Margie is back at work when she remembers what the police says. She calls friend. Friend tells her to relax. Yada, yada. After a few days Margie meets a dark and mysterious man who is really creepy....
A synopsis needs to be written with the same skill and effort you put into the entire book. You need to show the editor that you're a hard worker and that at no point will you think anything about your book is a throwaway.
3. Write to the expectations of your genre. In other words, if you are writing a romance, your synopsis should show (notice I said show and not tell) that the reader can expect a romance, romantic tension and probably some romantic scenes. If you're writing a dark mystery than you need to show the darker aspects of the plot as well as how the protagonist will solve the mystery. And the voice should give a feeling of the same darkness your readers will find in the book. If you're writing SF you'll need to show what makes the book SF and not just the general plotting. If you're writing a cozy, show what will appeal to the cozy audience.
4. Make your hook present. Every book has a hook of some sort. That distinguishing factor that makes your book stand out from others in the genre. In a cozy mystery it might be a hat shop, in a romance it might be a Spinster House, in a fantasy it might Steampunk elements or a dystopian world. Whatever it is, you need to make sure you show how this hook factors into the plot and the story as well as showing the plot.
5. Give us everything, but not quite. In other words, a synopsis definitely needs to show us how the book plays out, but we don't need every single tedious thing and every secondary storyline. Stick to the parts that are relevant, but leave some elements open to allow you to edit and play around a bit as you write.
6. Have fun with it. Don't make your synopsis too stiff and formal. Let your voice and your writing shine through. Imagine sitting down to tell someone about your book, or have someone sit down and tell you about your book. What are the important elements and what can the reader discover for herself?
Exquisite – and moved to inevitable tears
Terrific – inevitable and a bit sad – but terrific still
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… and I return the embrace