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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Nathan Bransford, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Querying

A year ago I had my MS done and all ready to push to the publishing world. Carol Lynch Williams offered to give it a final look-over.

As if that wonderfully crafted piece could be found to be deficient.

It was.

My writer’s group has been poring over it ever since and I now find myself ready to share it with the world. As I’ve learned a bit on this next aspect on the writing adventure, perhaps others would like a primer on querying.

The information below applies to agents more so than editors. I’ve come to understand that most editors would prefer to work with agented writers and thus, I choose to concentrate my efforts there. I assume the same suggestions would likewise apply to publishers. 

Rule number one is to write a killer book. That’s a tough one. There is some very good kid lit out there. Is mine Newbery award caliber? Okay, at least it’s a darn good story and I’m proud of it. I think I’ve got voice, good characters, and a nice story arc. I am biased, but think it is worthy.

Rule number two is to write a killer query. That, too, is a tricky one. It doesn’t take nearly as long to write as the book, yet many writers cringe at the thought of it. There are differing opinions on the format it should take. AgentQuery.com has a three paragraph formula and they say “don’t stray from this format.” Interviews with agents suggest straying. Some like cutesy and clever (you do want your query to stand out from the multitude), others want it to look professional. 

As Nathan Bransford says, “A query letter is part business letter, part creative writing exercise, part introduction, part death defying leap through a flaming hoop… In essence: it is a letter describing your project.” What most agents want to see in a query is the genre, word count, a short summary, and information on your writing credentials. A hook, or teasing information similar to a book’s jacket cover is not uncommon. A synopsis would cover major plot points and how they are resolved. The goal of the query is to pique the agent’s curiosity and get them to ask to see more.

Research, a vital step in the query process, should not be skipped. It is important to know if you and your work will mesh with the agent and agency. Before wasting an agent’s time with something they are not interested in, learn what it is they and their agency represents. Determine what their submission policy is. There is variety within them. Along with the query, they may request a synopsis, the first five pages, first three chapters, first twenty pages, a writer’s bio, a book proposal etc., either attached or pasted into the body of the email. You don’t let the great American novel never see light of day because the query, unread, hit the trash folder on a technicality. Representation is a business decision. You want get a feel for how you and the agent will work together will move the project along toward publication. 

This a scant look at the query process. Below are sites one can go for in-depth understanding. Don’t fail to follow the links found on these pages. Sites, in addition to those mentioned above, include: Query Tracker, Preditors and Editors

Once you’ve written the perfect novel, Nathan Bransford says to “write the best letter you can, be yourself, don't overthink it too much.” I believe I’ve done that.

Except for the overthinking it part.


(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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2. Social media for authors: Facebook

I’ve been working with Elissa Cruz, our local SCBWI chapter Assistant Regional Advisor, looking ahead to a potluck social this summer. (It is Friday, July 18 at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, by the way.) As it is a “social,” we were thinking social media and how it impacts writers would be the theme for the evening.

Publishers are more interested in taking on authors who have a strong social media platform with which to help promote their books. It stands to reason that establishing an online presence is something writers would want to do. But how does one go about that?

In the next few weeks, this very question will be examined. Being woefully deficient in this phenomenon, others better qualified to lead such a discussion will be referenced. Of course, your comments and suggestions on the matter are appreciated.

Various internet articles discuss the specific social media sites best to use and the general consensus seems to be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Google+, and Linkedin. Facebook is the granddaddy of them all and it would be prudent to ride along its coattails. I was surprised Goodreads came up on several sites as I subscribe to it just for the reading suggestions it makes. One site declare Goodreads and Facebook as mandatory in the writer’s social media inventory. 

Let’s start with Facebook. I’ve had an account for a while but rarely went there. Then people kept telling me my brother is a funny guy on FB. I started checking out his page and yes, he is. Who new? Now I’m lurking there more frequently, occasionally “liking” something or leaving a comment. 

So, what am I supposed to do now, start spouting writerly things on Facebook? Probably only my family would notice and they wouldn’t care. 

Nathan Bransford is a youngster whose blog I follow and has posted twice on the subject. He says it is possible to have multiple pages on FB so you can keep your personal connections separate from your author pages. One of his posts, Facebook for Authors - How to get Started was written in  2011, but is relevant today. Bransford suggests authors create two pages, one an author fan page now and a book page once you have a cover for it. Admittedly, the fan page is presumptuous if one isn’t a celebrity. But, he says, you should create a fan page now even if you aren’t yet a publish author.

Want to set up a fan page now? You can follow his link and he gives directions on how to do that. I just created one and it was fairly simple. Scott Rhoades created on for this Utah Children’s Writes blog. You can access it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1441614632721608/

I still have few things I’m not sure about. Bransford says  if you want to “promote your book stuff,” you should turn on subscriptions, thus allowing people to subscribe to your public posts. Do I want to do that? Not sure. I went there to edit settings and got stymied by the instructions. Nathan Bransford’s post also has more information on optimizing your page with Like Buttons, something I need to look into.

Nonetheless, I now have an online writing presence. My page is here: https://www.facebook.com/brucethewriter. If more of us create fan pages then share, we could “like” and help build each others’ platforms. 

Happy social media platform building.

And: WIFYR is still accepting participants.


(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

0 Comments on Social media for authors: Facebook as of 5/10/2014 9:20:00 AM
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3. Synopses

Many agree that the synopsis is one of the hardest parts of the writing process. After penning a 300 page story, authors often are daunted by the task of composing a three page synopsis. 

That may be because there is no real agreement on what the thing entails. While the query letter has a set format, the synopsis, other than to reveal all important plot points, has none. Opinions vary on length, anywhere from one to four pages. Everybody has a different idea what it should look like and, according to Nathan Bransford, there is no one way to write a synopsis.

The general consensus is that a synopsis should tell all, leaving no questions as to how the book ends. The query letter is the place to dance the mystery and intrigue of the story. With a synopsis, an agent or editor is looking to see how each story and character arc plays out. 

YA novelist Marissa Meyers loathed the process. Rather than remain intimidated by it, she decided to embrace the synopsis writing challenge and figure out a method to creating one. The New York Times best-selling author of The Lunar Chronicles shares, in six steps, what she came up with. The full article can be found here

Step 0, Meyers says, is to write the book. Otherwise you would be writing its outline.
Step 1 - Skim through the manuscript and note the important events, boiling down each chapter to one or two sentences. Show each plot and subplot arc.
Step 2 - Embellish the beginning and give the reader a foundation to stand on. Give the same set-up as the first chapter provides, supplying the setting, protagonist, and their problem.
Step 3 - String together the short chapter summaries, using standard synopsis format, which is: written in 3rd person, present tense, with first mention of each character’s names in all-caps.
Step 4 - Read through the notes with a focus on plot. This self-discovery process can allow the author to see plot holes and insure a natural progression of events.
Step 5 - Read through again, this time with a focus on character arc. Insure that your MC evolves as a result of events in the story. Look for those big moments that change their attitudes and goals and show how they effect the protagonist emotionally.
Step 6 - Trim and edit. Like the novel itself, remove excess words and phrases that don’t help tell he story and choose descriptive words carefully.

Piece of cake, right?

On another topic, WIFYR registration is now open. Check it out here.


(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

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4. Character or plot


A friend asked what is my greatest weakness as a writer. There are so many to choose from, yet the nature of the question eliminates a long diatribe.

As I thought about all the things that go into a good story, I wasn’t sure if the weakness is one of plot or of characterization. The two of them are inter-twined. Nathan Bransford calls them inseparable.

The problem I have with character is my people are too simple, not multi-dimensional. They don’t seem to show the growth that is supposed to accompany the lessons learned from facing an adversary.

Bransford says a compelling character is one who starts off seeming normal but events soon show personality traits that were previously unknown to them (think Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter) or someone battling internal demons. A normal person observing a crazy world also makes for a compelling character. At the heart of every compelling character is “conflict, more conflict, and still more conflict.” He says to reveal conflict through plot. What interesting character isn’t doing something? “Plot tests a character and forces them to make choices. Plot is what makes the character interesting (because the character is tested) and character is what makes the plot interesting (because we’re learning about the character).” The plot changes the character. Every compelling character starts in one place and ends up in a different one. How they get there is plot.

MJ Bush of WritingGeekerysays “strong characters are complex enough to carry the story, pull in the reader, and give a sense that there’s more going on under the surface.” She has four cornerstones of strong characters (fear, a secret, a flaw, and a quirk). They help establish character dynamics and the unfolding of the plot. Major characters should have two to four of these, and are best served with all four. Fear propels the story. Without fear, readers would wonder why the MC doesn’t just ignore the problem. High stakes make for good story and fear causes the high stakes. Secrets: everybody has a dark side, which they never show anybody, and the MC has one, too. What do they have to hide and how does that clash with the external events of the story? Everybody has flaws, as well. What kinds of mistakes does the character make, and what circumstances cause the flaw to surface? Quirks are there to create symbolism for something she calls the character theme.

So, my biggest weakness is my characters. Or my plot.
(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com )

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5. Nathan Bransford Runs First Paragraph Writing Contest

Got a great first paragraph?

Share it on author Nathan Bransford‘s site and you could win the chance to have InkWell literary agent Catherine Drayton read part of your manuscript. All the Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge finalists will win a query critique from Bransford himself–the former literary agent has been helping aspiring writers polish pitches for years.

Check it out: “Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. If you are reading this post via e-mail you must click through to enter. Please do not e-mail me your submission it will not count. The deadline for entry is this THURSDAY 7pm Eastern time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced… sometime between Friday and the year 2078.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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6. Successful Query Letters and Winning Examples

typingcomputerThe goal of query letter is to elicit an invitation from an agent (or editor) to send in sample chapters or the whole manuscript.

A query letter is a ONE PAGE letter with three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs.

Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and reel them in.

Example:  Bridges of Madison County

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.

Agent Query suggests using the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.”

Note: Many writers use the “when” formula, so use it as a starting point. Write your basic hook and then spice it up.

Example: Non-”formulatic” fiction hook:

The Da Vinci Code
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where boil down your entire novel into one paragraph and expand your hook. Put in the hard work of practicing and revising, until you get that paragraph to sing the same tune as your whole book. Read the back flap of books you like to get a feel for how to create a juicy paragraph.

Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: Keep it short and related to writing. If your book revolves around a hospital and you are a nurse, then say that. If you have a published book, been published in some magazines, etc,, or won a writing contest or award, then let the agent know. if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no writing degrees, and have no credentials to write your book, then don’t say it. This just gives you more space for Paragraph Two.

The Closing: Thank the agent for their time and consideration. Let the agent know you have the full manuscript available upon request. Note: Never query an agent unless you have written, revised, and finished your full manuscript.

TIPS:

1. Always address your query to a specific person.

2. Make sure you mention the title of your book.

3. Mention the word count and genre of your book.    

Note: Novels should be 80,000 to 100,000 words. Young adult novels can be significantly less: 40,000-60,000 words. Insert word count and genre at the end of your first “hook” paragraph.

If your novel is 200,000 words – Cut before you query.  No one wants an overweight manuscript. AgentQuery reports unless your manuscript is a historical family saga or an epic science fiction battle, agents hit DELETE on proposed first-time novel over 110,000-120,000 words.

4. Share the reason why you are querying this particular agent. Let the agent know that you have researched them and have a reason for choosing them for representation.

5.  Have someone you know check for typos and grammar mistakes. It is very easy when e-mailing a query letter to click the send button before throughly checking your text.  Writers seem to be in the mode to triple check everything when they snail mail their queries, but since we send so many personal e-mails without closely checking every word, that “Send” button can be easily clicked.  The mistake snail mailing query writers make is forgetting to include their contact information – something you don’t need to include with an e-mail. I know that sounds crazy, but I have seen it when writers have sent me submissions for editors and agents.

nathan bransford book2Need to see an ACTUAL query letter before you’ll know how to write one? Here is the query letter Author (at the time agent) Nathan Bransford:

Dear Ms. Drayton,

As a young literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. I have long admired Inkwell, as well as your strong track record. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, if you searched for a book that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike THE BOOK THIEF (which I absolutely loved), you might just have JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, a middle-grade-and-up science fiction novel that I just completed. Still fun! But no one dies – Mr. Death would be lonely.

Jacob Wonderbar has been the bane of every substitute teacher at Magellan Middle School ever since his dad moved away from home. He never would have survived without his best friend Dexter, even if he is a little timid, and his cute-but-tough friend Sarah Daisy, who is chronically overscheduled. But when the trio meets a mysterious man in silver one night they trade a corn dog for his sassy spaceship and blast off into the great unknown. That is, until they break the universe in a giant space kapow and a nefarious space buccaneer named Mick Cracken maroons Jacob and Dexter on a tiny planet that smells like burp breath. The friends have to work together to make it back to their little street where the houses look the same, even as Earth seems farther and farther away.

JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW is 50,000 words and stands alone, but I have ideas for a series, including titles such as JACOB WONDERBAR FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE and JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE VACATIONING ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET. I’m the author of an eponymous agenting and writing blog.

I’d be thrilled if you would consider WONDERBAR for representation, and a few other agents are considering simultaneously. Thanks very much, and hope to talk to you soon.

Nathan Bransford

Here are a few other places to look:

Nathan Bransford dissects a really good query letter and extoll its virtues.

Click Here to Visit Galleycat. They have 23 Agent Query Letters That Actually Worked.

Nonfiction writers don’t need to have a completed fiction manuscript.  They only need a proposal before seeking representation from an agent. Here’s are books and places to help with writing a proposal:

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, How to, Process, reference Tagged: AgentQuery, How to write a query letter, Nathan Bransford, Query Letters

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7. The Publishing Process as told by Nathan Bransford

Author Nathan Bransford put together something a little bit special and a lot funny this week. It's been doing the rounds on facebook amongst those of a writerly persuasion and is well worth a watch for anyone who hasn't seen it! (And a second, third and fourth watch, come to think of it.) Seeing as even we on the Slushpile couldn't put it any better, here's the link: http://

10 Comments on The Publishing Process as told by Nathan Bransford, last added: 9/1/2012
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8. Interesting blog posts about writing - Jon's pick of 2011



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9. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e December 16th 2011



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10. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e December 9th 2011



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11. Interesting posts about writing – w/e May 13th 2011


  
 
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:
 
Is the second novel really easier? (Douglas W. Jacobson)
 
Launching a Book (Elizabeth Spann Craig)
 
The Case for Putting a Manuscript in the Drawer (Nathan Bransford)
 
10 Signs of a Typical Writing Day (Elspeth Antonelli)
 
Asking a Published Author to Read Your Work (Rachelle Gardner)
 
Do You Really Need an Author Blog if You’re on Facebook or Twitter? (Judy Dunn)
 
My Inevitable Prologue Post (Sarah LaPolla)
 
Reader Impact: Why you should preorder (Mike Kabongo aka [info]onyxhawke)
 
Penguin’s Book Country (Jim C. Hines aka [info]jimhines)

 

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12. Nathan Bransford features my 10 Things You Shouldn't Say To An Agent post


What with the elderly relatives visiting from England last week, I got a little behind on blog reading (and posting), which is why I only just noticed that the amazing Nathan Bransford featured my post, 10 Things You Shouldn't Say To An Agent, in his Friday roundup.

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13. 20 QUESTIONS WITH NATHAN BRANSFORD - part 1



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14. 7 eBook Price Points Defended

How much should an eBook cost? To give publishers and authors some guidance, we’ve collected spirited defenses of seven different eBook prices–choose the price that works best for your writing.

According to a new and unscientific poll, Nathan Bransford found that 51 percent of his readers thought eBooks should be priced between $5 and $9.99. What is your favorite price point?

$0.99 Novelist John Locke sold more than one million eBooks with this price point: “When I saw that highly successful authors were charging $9.99 for an e-book, I thought that if I can make a profit at 99 cents, I no longer have to prove I’m as good as them … Rather, they have to prove they are ten times better than me.”

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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15. Precieved value of ebooks decreasing?

Reading a Moby Lives article this morning (fantastic blog BTW) and they posted two surveys taken by author Nathan Bransford where he asked people what they thought an ebook should cost if the hardcover retailed at $25.

He ran the first survey on June 14 2010:

And then ran the exact same survey again on February 2, 2011:

The polls are entirely unscientific but it appears that all the $9.99 pricing pushes that have been going on for the past year or two are really leaving their mark. 

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16. Interesting posts about writing – w/e June 24th 2011

 
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

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17. Interesting posts about writing – w/e July 8th 2011

     


Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

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18. Interesting posts about writing – w/e August 5th 2011



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19. Speaking of Nathan Bransford...



I'm a big fan of Nathan's
blog. he does a lot to help and promote other writers (which is probably why he has about a gazillion regular readers). Currently, he's invited folks to share a funny scene from one of their novels or stories (click here for more info) - Please note, you must be over 14 and less than 189 years old to enter.

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20. I'm over on Nathan Bransford's blog today

Agent turned author, Nathan Bransford, has been kind enough to promote my blog post (about an agent's possible response to the query letter within the lyrics of the Beatles, Paperback Writer), from his forums to his main blog today.

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21. Interesting posts about writing – w/e September 2nd 2011



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22. Interesting posts about writing – w/e September 23rd 2011

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

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23. Interesting posts about writing – w/e October 7th 2011



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24. Interesting posts about writing – w/e November 4th 2011



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25. Interesting posts about writing – w/e November 25th 2011



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