Posts Tagged With: getting published

What an Editor Really Does — and Why You Need One

I first met Anita when she worked with my literary agent, Kristin Nelson. Anita is a freelance editor who helps writers bring out the very best in their novels. She was kind enough to share her editing insights, including why you should never let a rejection letter get you down, and why joining a critique group can not only improve your writing, but also save you money – and help you get published. Here’s Anita with all the insider info about editors. –L.

 

Anita, can you tell us what a developmental editor does, exactly?

Anita Mumm, founder of Mumm’s the Word Editing & Critique Services

Anita Mumm, founder of Mumm’s the Word Editing & Critique Services

The easiest way to describe a developmental editor’s work is that it focuses on the big picture: Does the plot work? Are the characters the kind of people readers want to spend an entire book with? Is the dialogue smooth or stilted? Is the voice appropriate to the genre and audience?

Developmental editing means making sure the foundation of the novel is sound, and that all of its parts come together in a meaningful whole.

Continue reading

Categories: For Writers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

6 Secrets of Successful Critique Groups

Critique groups: don't get bitten!

Are you hearing the Jaws theme in your head? I am. And now you are, too. :)

Critique groups: best thing ever for writers? Or soul-crushing pits of despair?

Here are my 6 secrets for spotting a top-notch critique group — or assembling your own.

Connect with other writers and get the feedback you need to finish your book, publish it, and write the next one.

Everything you need to know from Yours Truly is right here on author Patricia Stoltey’s blog:

Click here: http://patriciastolteybooks.com/2016/01/6-secrets-of-successful-critique-groups-by-laurence-macnaughton/

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My Dinner with Satan

Dinner with Satan ... or is it Seitan?

It’s pronounced SAY-TAHN. Yeah, it is.

I recently discovered, much to my dismay, that I had eaten Satan for dinner.

This is a true story. Allow me to explain.

In the midst of a snowstorm, my wife and I decided to try a new restaurant.

We ended up at a brightly lit, very mod, hipster-friendly place that put an emphasis on fresh food.

Hey, I’m cool. I love fresh food.

But what landed on my table bore no resemblance, by any stretch of imagination, to the gyro I had ordered. Continue reading

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Defrag Your Writer Brain in 3 Easy Steps

If you’re like me, ideas swirl around you all the time — stories, characters, settings, dialogue, and so on.  It sticks in your brain, so you write it down.  Before long, you have so many scraps of paper around you that a single gust of wind could turn you into a human snow globe.

This is not good.  You can write a novel only if you can find your notes — but how are you ever going to find a practical way to sift through all that stuff?  Ideally, you want to spend as little time as possible sorting your notes and as much time as possible doing the actual writing.  Well, consider your problem solved.  Just follow these simple steps:

1.  First and foremost, WRITE IT DOWN.
Don’t tell yourself that you’ll remember your idea later.  You won’t.  Human beings can hold something like seven to nine bits of information in mind at any given time.  Once you crowd things up with grocery shopping, errands, cleaning, that thing you need to tell your neighbor about his dog and the phone call you need to make — poof, your great idea is gone forever.  So write it down!

2.  Every so often, gather up your notes.
Empty out your pockets.  Clean out your nightstand.  Rip pages out of your notebook.  Pile up all of your notes in one convenient location.  One of those office-supplyish “In Box” trays should work nicely.  Or a shoe box.  Whatever.

3.  Pocket everything.
This is the key ingredient, the gem, the single best tip in this article:  Use pocket folders.  Or ordinary file folders.  Or those expandable accordion things.  Anything with a pocket that can hold different size scraps of paper.  Make one pocket per project.  If you have ideas for more than one book, make a different pocket for each one.  If you have a bunch of random story ideas, just make a “Story Ideas” folder.  You get the idea. 

Why pockets?  Because they’re fast.  You can pick up a piece of paper, decide which pocket it belongs in, and just drop it in.  You don’t have to worry about putting it in some kind of sequence, or pasting it into a notebook, or punching binder holes in it.  Or, heaven forbid, actually retyping it into a computer.  No, instead you can just drop it into the proper pocket and get on with your life.  In this way, you can dig through that massive pile of notes in no time.

And the hidden bonus is that it clears your mind.  You don’t have to worry about trying to remember all of those great ideas right now.  They’re safely put away, ready for you when you need them.  And now they’re sorted out by project, so you have everything at your fingertips.  How cool is that?

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nail Your Genre in 3 Easy Steps

Last week, I talked about how you can write a novel in any genre, as long as you know exactly what that genre is.  And believe me, you desperately need to define your book’s genre. As promised, here’s a nuts and bolts plan that shows you how to do it, in three outrageously simple steps:

1)  Pick a genre.  And by that, I mean walk into a major chain bookstore and wander the aisles until you find the section where your book belongs.  If it ain’t on a sign, bucko, it ain’t a genre!

2)  Find three recent, successful books in that genre that bear at least a passing similarity to yours.  Close enough that you could tell a complete stranger, “If you like this book, you might like mine!”

3)  Figure out the single most important thing that makes your story unique and fascinating.  You want to be able to say, “My book is like this one, except…” and then point out the key difference.  Example: “My book is like Robert B. Parker’s Spare Change, only the detective is a homeless man who can see the ghosts of the victims.”  Or whatever.

If it sounds like I’m coaching you on how to eventually approach a literary agent, then (BING!) check out your big brain.  I am.  You need to have this stuff figured out long before you send your manuscript to anyone.  (Bonus tip: you can start with the agents of the books you found in Step 2.  But not until you’re ready!)

Now, if you can’t find any successful books that are anything at all like yours — and I mean not even remotely — then I hate to say it, but you’re in trouble, my friend.  Rethink your concept and rework it until you can do the steps above.  Because if you can’t, then the marketing people at the publisher can’t.  And if they can’t, then your book is torpedoed.  Dead in the water.  Boom.

And nobody wants that. So get yourself to a bookstore, toots, and see what’s what!

Categories: how to write a novel, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Now Featuring Yours Truly

If you’re a Colorado writer, you owe it to yourself to check out Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, a source of news, inspiration, critique groups, conferences and the occasional bestselling author. 

Editor extraordinaire Carly Willis puts together an excellent newsletter every month.  If you’re a member (or thinking of becoming one), check out the March newsletter, featuring an article by moi.  It’s absolutely jam-packed with life-changing writing advice that will make your life complete.  Or, failing that, it’s a good way to kill a few minutes while you’re sipping your coffee.

Either way, check out RMFW.org here, and join your local writers!

Categories: how to write a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Literary Agents, Editors and You, at the Brenda Novak Diabetes Fundraiser

This is a great charity event!  I’ve been wanting to donate to this for years.  (True story: back when I worked at a book distributor, there were two pallets of Nora Roberts and Iris Johansen paperbacks I was almost able to donate, but then there was an unfortunate incident involving a blizzard, an aging forklift and a propane tank…  It didn’t end well.)

Anyway, this year I’m finally joining in with my humble donation:

Get your opening chapter into shape!

Get a critique of the first 25 pages of your novel manuscript, including personalized suggestions on how to polish this crucial part of your book.

Laurence MacNaughton is a writing coach and contributor to Writers’ Journal.  He teaches fiction writing at YouCanWriteANovel.com.

Bidding opens on May 1st.  There are plenty of wonderful prizes to be had, including one-on-one help from various bestselling authors, top literary agents and editors, all ready to help you get published in exchange for your much-needed donation to help fight diabetes.

I don’t think my modest listing has gone live yet, but when it does, I’ll put up a link.  In the meantime, you can check out this very cool event here:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Home.taf?_start=1

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What Kind of Writer Are You? Find Out!

Writers generally fall into three camps: hobbyists, aspiring professionals and working pros. The difference is not so much about your writing skills or experience as it is about your goals.

A hobby writer just wants to have fun with writing. You know what I mean: get together with friends, talk about inspiration, maybe write a few pages and share them with other people. The main goal here is to have fun and play around with creative writing. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, I imagine all of the best authors started out as hobbyists.
An aspiring pro, on the other hand, is serious about getting something published and making money at it, possibly even someday turning it into a living. This person writes something with the intention of eventually getting it in front of a literary agent and then an editor who will buy it and publish it.
A professional writer, by definition, is someone who writes and gets paid for it. The goal here is to keep a writing career going and growing.
Where you run into trouble is trying to pitch your tent in the wrong camp. If you’re a hobby writer and you try to team up with an aspiring pro, you’re both going to end up frustrated. You’ll think she’s being too harsh and not supportive enough — while she thinks you’re not “serious” about your writing.
Does any of this sound familiar?
As you learn how to write a book, ask yourself: What are my goals here? Am I trying to get published? Or do I just want to play around with writing? There’s no wrong answer. You only have to be honest with yourself.  I love cars, for example, but I’d never want to be a professional race car driver. Tuning up my carburetor and driving down to Cruise Night at the local diner is just fine by me. And that’s cool. With my writing, on the other hand, I’m focused on growing my career.
How about you?
Categories: how to write a book | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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