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Old 5th July 2012, 06:08 AM   #281
OCaptain
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So, for those of us who've gotten their manuscripts represented by an agent, care to share your query letter that caught that agent's eye?

For those of us (me ) who think their query letters leave something to be desired.
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Old 5th July 2012, 06:40 AM   #282
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Originally Posted by OCaptain View Post
So, for those of us who've gotten their manuscripts represented by an agent, care to share your query letter that caught that agent's eye?

For those of us (me ) who think their query letters leave something to be desired.

Well, mine were picked up by a publisher, rather than an agent (I serve as my own agent), but here's the query that did it for me (I think - I have multiple versions) (names have been deleted):


Dear Mr. Q and Mr. T:

I am seeking publication of my three-volume fantasy fiction series, starting with “Stolen” (82,000 words). The other two volumes are also complete and available upon request; however, “Stolen” can stand on its own. In accordance with the procedures outlined on your website, I’m including the first chapter in the body of this email.

In “Stolen”, a young girl disappears from her rural village, and returns with wild tales of strange beings in the woods; though others doubt her story, she begins to realize she has opened the door to the secret history of her peoples’ bizarre past.

The Skilled people have hidden their secret so successfully that most of them don’t even remember it exists. But when Rioletta, as an adult, is about to be inducted into the Council of Sorcerers, she is set an unusual task: solve the mystery of her childhood abduction. She’s forced to face memories and events that don’t fit with her strict Traditional upbringing: animated Leaves that seem to be stalking her, a creepy changeling made of twigs, and contradictions in the zealously-followed Charter of Dispersal. When a coup in a nearby village leaves an entire Council missing, Rioletta and her kidnapper may be the only key to their rescue. There’s a connection between their past in the Ruined City, the technology that kept their ancestors in constant, and dangerous, communication with each other, and the strange creatures of her childhood. Now she’s forced to consider that the Skilled people are not who, or even what, they’ve been taught to believe they are!

The story continues in “Crypt of Souls”, in which the Younger Council travel to the Ruined City and meet the Outcast Sorcerers, who have begun to unravel the secrets of the Forbidden Skills, and “Hyphanden’s Box”, in which the leader of the Outcast Council finds an unusual way to reconcile with Rioletta’s creatures and reveals who and what they are.

I’m a published author of short stories. My publication history:

“The Possessed RV”, American Blue: Real Stories by Real Cops, Ed Nowicki, editor; April, 2011 (proceeds to National Law Enforcement Officers’ Museum)
“Mother Bear”, Wisdom of Our Mothers, Eric J. Bowen, editor; 2010; story featured on book jacket and website (proceeds to authors and anti-domestic violence programs)
“Almost A Dog” Happy Endings I, Bonnie Marlewski-Probert, editor; 2006
“One Wet Dog”, Happy Endings II, Bonnie Marlewski-Probert, editor; 2006

Please let me know if I can send you a synopsis, the rest of the manuscript(s), or a synopsis of the other two volumes. Thank you for your consideration,

Sincerely,

Yadayadayada



This follows the typical recommended format:
1) Personal greeting
2) What am I suggesting?
3) One-sentence or so synopsis
4) Paragraph-long synopsis
5) Publication history
6) Request to send manuscript
7) closing

And be SURE to do EXACTLY what they tell you to on their site! And correct for grammar, spelling, etc.

My two cents.
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Old 5th July 2012, 10:02 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
I just noticed this thread. Coincidentally, I noticed it the day after a potentially interesting development...

Eventually someone is going to have to write a biography of legendary New Orleans pianist James Booker (pictured in "create your own South Park character" form in my avatar). There is a greater-than-zero chance that that person will be me. That in itself is not news, and has been the case for over ten years now. What is news is that lately there has been renewed interest in such a book actually coming to fruition, and there's a possibility of things starting to move forward.

There are only a handful of people who could realistically write such a book, and we all know each other and, for the most part, are friends. (The Booker freaks tend to stick together.) The thing is, none of us wants to be the one to actually write it. He led a crazy life with crazy friends in a crazy city, and trying to unearth accurate information about him is a long and twisted journey down a vast network of improbably deep rabbit holes. All of us who have researched him and tried to get inside his head and life have found it to be a frustrating and exhausting process with a conspicuous tendency to take over one's entire life.

So over the past couple days, several of us in that group have been talking to each other. And the overwhelming sentiment is, "I don't wanna do it, you do it!" Eventually one of us going to cave and say okay. I don't think I'm terribly likely to be the one who does, but I can't rule out the possibility entirely. To be fair, there definitely are things about the prospect that are highly appealing; they're just significantly outweighed by all the things that make me absolutely shudder.

So at any rate, if I never post in this thread again, you may assume that I successfully pawned the task off onto someone else. If, on the other hand, I end up being the one who gets suckered into it, I will definitely be revisiting this space.
I absolutely love historical blues figures and their world. My son's dad (long ago ex) was a local blues musician. He had a fascinating collection of old blues albums and the characters and their lives have always fascinated me.

Pure jazz is not my favorite, but a lot of the combination stuff is really good. And Jazz musicians from that era led equally intriguing lives.

Last edited by Skeptic Ginger; 5th July 2012 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 5th July 2012, 10:10 AM   #284
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
I just wanted to drop in to say I really love those moments when you can feel your work taking shape and improving......
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Old 5th July 2012, 10:36 AM   #285
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My last query letter went something like this:

"Hi, Ed. Got another one, just as dreadful as the rest. Pseudo-juvie. Sales potential high enough to warrant killing the trees. Shop it about and let me know. Mss attached."
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Old 5th July 2012, 10:54 AM   #286
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
... In “Stolen”, a young girl disappears from her rural village, and returns with wild tales of strange beings in the woods; though others doubt her story, she begins to realize she has opened the door to the secret history of her peoples’ bizarre past.....
I can't get my "one sentence or so" synopsis shorter than twice the size of this.

Yours: 44 words
Mine: 93

Is that a killer? Or do you think 40-95 a reasonable range? It's two long sentences.

Last edited by Skeptic Ginger; 5th July 2012 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 7th July 2012, 01:33 PM   #287
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I can't get my "one sentence or so" synopsis shorter than twice the size of this.

Yours: 44 words
Mine: 93

Is that a killer? Or do you think 40-95 a reasonable range? It's two long sentences.
I think up to 100 words is considered fine.
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Old 14th July 2012, 09:16 PM   #288
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I let my son read a scene from my novel for the first time. He liked it, and I knew he wasn't faking it. And he had a couple comments that I know the writers group tomorrow are also going to point out, i.e. his editing was great.

I'm happy.
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Old 17th July 2012, 03:27 PM   #289
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Writing Backstory

When I get to a point where plot is too complicated for me to easily track, I sometimes resort to writing "backstory" or "prequel" material that I don't plan on anyone else ever seeing - it's for my own clarification and consistency.

I'm involved in such a project right now, and although I have a general outline of what happened at the time, who's who, where things happened, etc., I'm unable to whip myself into enough enthusiasm to get going on this project. I know I need to do it, but...I don't know. It's not happenin'.

Anybody else have tricks for writing parts and pieces that you know have to go in (like a linking chapter) when you're not enthusiastic about doing it? I could use a nudge right now...
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Old 17th July 2012, 06:02 PM   #290
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I doubt my experience will help much but I'm having a hard time figuring out where to open my story and how to include important childhood experiences without making the story seem to be about children when the reader first opens the book. So I'm just writing the childhood scenes as stand-alones right now and plan to figure out the story engineering later.
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Old 17th July 2012, 07:59 PM   #291
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
When I get to a point where plot is too complicated for me to easily track, I sometimes resort to writing "backstory" or "prequel" material that I don't plan on anyone else ever seeing - it's for my own clarification and consistency.

I'm involved in such a project right now, and although I have a general outline of what happened at the time, who's who, where things happened, etc., I'm unable to whip myself into enough enthusiasm to get going on this project. I know I need to do it, but...I don't know. It's not happenin'.

Anybody else have tricks for writing parts and pieces that you know have to go in (like a linking chapter) when you're not enthusiastic about doing it? I could use a nudge right now...


To be honest I've found the best solution to writer's block is to just treat it like a job. It's ugly, particularly at the start when you're not in the mood, but I find once I'm writing every day, the words will get easier and easier and the block will vanish, never to reappear.

Granted, those early bits you force yourself to write will have to be rewritten, but even that's better than writing nothing.

Alternatively, if writing every day isn't an option, I've found that if I write all the bits I really enjoy first it only leaves a few linking gaps and the delight of finishing the work will provide the motivation to knock them off.
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Old 17th July 2012, 08:00 PM   #292
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I doubt my experience will help much but I'm having a hard time figuring out where to open my story and how to include important childhood experiences without making the story seem to be about children when the reader first opens the book. So I'm just writing the childhood scenes as stand-alones right now and plan to figure out the story engineering later.


I have a related problem to that... my book is quite gritty and adult, but the first half follows the protagonists during their childhood and is naturally less adult. I'm worried it gives the impression the book is best suited to young people.
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Old 17th July 2012, 08:37 PM   #293
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
I have a related problem to that... my book is quite gritty and adult, but the first half follows the protagonists during their childhood and is naturally less adult. I'm worried it gives the impression the book is best suited to young people.
I've decided I'll just have to use flashbacks much as a lot of writing books recommend against it. It's important to my story what happened to the protag as a child, and I don't want to 'tell' it in some line or two. But the story is about young adults experiencing the growing pains of their generational conflicts as well as their ideological/moral objections to the society they live in.

Oooh, look, my synopsis is refining itself.
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Old 17th July 2012, 10:14 PM   #294
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
I have a related problem to that... my book is quite gritty and adult, but the first half follows the protagonists during their childhood and is naturally less adult. I'm worried it gives the impression the book is best suited to young people.
When John was ten, he didn't know he'd grow up to be on the FBI's most-wanted list. He didn't know he would shoot his wife and daughter. He hadn't even thought yet about getting married someday; he was far more concerned that he was 25 dollars short for the hunting bow he wanted. But the girl who moved in next door that late summer afternoon in 1972 would eventually become his wife, and by the time he killed her, he had long since traded in the hunting bow for nukes.

He slumped across the cool metal of the suitcase nuke, one finger trembling on the detonator button, and remembered that summer....
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Old 17th July 2012, 11:00 PM   #295
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Originally Posted by DallasDad View Post
When John was ten, he didn't know he'd grow up to be on the FBI's most-wanted list. He didn't know he would shoot his wife and daughter. He hadn't even thought yet about getting married someday; he was far more concerned that he was 25 dollars short for the hunting bow he wanted. But the girl who moved in next door that late summer afternoon in 1972 would eventually become his wife, and by the time he killed her, he had long since traded in the hunting bow for nukes.

He slumped across the cool metal of the suitcase nuke, one finger trembling on the detonator button, and remembered that summer....
I like it!
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Old 18th July 2012, 01:14 AM   #296
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Originally Posted by DallasDad View Post
When John was ten, he didn't know he'd grow up to be on the FBI's most-wanted list. He didn't know he would shoot his wife and daughter. He hadn't even thought yet about getting married someday; he was far more concerned that he was 25 dollars short for the hunting bow he wanted. But the girl who moved in next door that late summer afternoon in 1972 would eventually become his wife, and by the time he killed her, he had long since traded in the hunting bow for nukes.

He slumped across the cool metal of the suitcase nuke, one finger trembling on the detonator button, and remembered that summer....

That's kind of the tone (although it's medieval fantasy), but the problem is I'm using an immediate limited 3rd person so the narrator can't be reflecting back on what happened "all those years ago". The story unfolds in real time, starting when the protagonist is twelve. In the first chapters he:

1. Is entertained by a storyteller
2. Meets a girl
3. Steals apples from the orchard
4. Plays football with his friends
5. Visits a fair

and so on...

I think I might need to really crank up the dark sinister nature of the few "adult" moments in those opening chapters, so it's more obvious things are not going to stay child friendly. Although there is this dream...

Quote:
Calan looked down at his hand. It was clenched in a fist. Red blood dripped from between his fingers, pooling on the ground. It spread about his feet. Waves rippled across the blood as it stretched further and further. A vast lake, enveloping the forest. It seeped from beneath the green-cloaked man’s hair, running down his face in rivulets to join other blood streaming under his cloak and into the spreading sea beneath them. The other figures also bled and together their blood mingled and spread. The green man’s eyes locked on Calan’s, tears of blood spilling down his face.
‘Sin wër yín flúre.’
We bleed for you, the black-robed figures echoed.
And now hands, hands red and slick with blood, reached out of the lake, taking hold of Calan, dragging him down, ever down, under into death. He tried to scream but blood flooded into his mouth and he could taste it filling him until he couldn’t breathe. Down, down, ever deeper they pulled him, until all the world passed from his thoughts and there was nothing but the blood.
Hopefully any parents thinking they've found a nice bedtime story will stop at this point...
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Old 18th July 2012, 01:16 AM   #297
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I've decided I'll just have to use flashbacks much as a lot of writing books recommend against it.

The one rule of writing that I think never changes is "You can get away with it if you do it well".

I think a flashback is a perfectly legitimate tool for a writer, it's just that like any tool, you have to use it well or run the risk of it becoming a weak point.
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Old 18th July 2012, 06:33 AM   #298
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Well, I sat down last night and just wrote it in "explanatory exposition", I guess you could call it. Not a story at all, just, "At this time this was happening, then this happened, they thought this so they did this, and this was the result." I'd like to make it readable but since it's currently for my own uses I guess it doesn't matter right now.

It's not really writer's block, it's more of a "This is boring but necessary for consistency's sake" type thing.

I've heard from several people that one way to get going is the pretend that you are interviewing your characters. Ask them questions and see how they answer. Take them to dinner & see how they behave, etc. Doesn't seem to work so well for me, but it's an interesting idea...
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Old 22nd July 2012, 08:52 AM   #299
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More a leaflet than a book. But this:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/32380230/DoorstepOfHistory.pdf
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Old 22nd July 2012, 10:30 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
More a leaflet than a book. But this:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/32380230/DoorstepOfHistory.pdf
Those are interesting stories. How did you research them?
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Old 22nd July 2012, 10:32 AM   #301
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I'll be sharing with the writers today, a scene when my protag was 10. No idea how it will read to others. I like it but that doesn't mean anyone else will.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 11:01 AM   #302
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Those are interesting stories. How did you research them?
Erm, from a mix of the local museum, collecting small press books about my area, magazine articles and wikipedia (or other online resources). As it was purely for my own interest and not academic I didn't keep notes on a bibliography, which is bad methodology and practice. I am lucky in that my town society keeps a lot of interesting data on local history available online, and publishes a lot of pamphlets.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 11:06 AM   #303
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I'll be sharing with the writers today, a scene when my protag was 10. No idea how it will read to others. I like it but that doesn't mean anyone else will.
Good luck!
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Old 22nd July 2012, 11:17 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I'll be sharing with the writers today, a scene when my protag was 10. No idea how it will read to others. I like it but that doesn't mean anyone else will.
Not sure what that means, but good luck.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 12:12 PM   #305
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
Not sure what that means, but good luck.
Translation: s/he's in a writer's critique group, and they are going to be reading & critiquing a scene s/he's written that occurs when the protagonist of the story is 10...
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Old 22nd July 2012, 12:18 PM   #306
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
Translation: s/he's in a writer's critique group, and they are going to be reading & critiquing a scene s/he's written that occurs when the protagonist of the story is 10...
I'm a she.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 12:21 PM   #307
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Much obliged.
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Old 22nd July 2012, 11:10 PM   #308
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They liked it. And compared to the suggested changes from the first thing I shared to this, the 5th thing I've shared, I've improved 100 fold or something along that rate.

But some of the harder writing is still to come. I'm getting the forest setting and characters down. But to get the more complex city setting, it's going to be a lot more difficult. And I still haven't gotten the opening structured properly.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 10:18 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I'm a she.
I kind of figured, but didn't want to presume. Partly because people get me wrong so much of the time, based on my avatar, I guess.

As for the city scene, do you have a city you're using as a model? I loosely use parts of Prague for one of my cities - makes it easier to describe...
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Old 23rd July 2012, 10:28 AM   #310
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And a horror story. Because, er... I have no idea why.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/32380230/FOUNDFOOTAGE.pdf
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Old 23rd July 2012, 01:48 PM   #311
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
I kind of figured, but didn't want to presume. Partly because people get me wrong so much of the time, based on my avatar, I guess.

As for the city scene, do you have a city you're using as a model? I loosely use parts of Prague for one of my cities - makes it easier to describe...
Every time I drive on the freeway I try to imagine the experience as a person whose never seen anything like it. At first I was going to go with one giant conglomeration of buildings but saw immediately that there should be distinct complexes with ground level exposed (roads etc.) and later decided I'd include some large houses in more suburban gated community areas. There are social class divisions in the story.

Perhaps I'll try to evolve Seattle a bit more and keep going with that.
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Old 25th July 2012, 12:39 AM   #312
gumboot
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Thought I'd provide a little update, although it's a depressing one. I started a serious final edit of my first book late last year, and made great progress initially, setting myself a goal of editing 5 pages a day on average, and exceeding that.

However part way along I decided to restructure my series into four shorter books instead of three longer ones, which left a substantial structural issue with the first book as what had been the middle section suddenly became the second half, but lacked the sort of rising tension and climax that the end of a volume needs.

As a result editing progress ground to a miserable halt, at which point we started back up on the last season of Spartacus and my free time quickly evaporated. Since then I've managed to claw out a new structure but it means rewriting the entire last quarter of the first book (or about 60,000 words), and that's where I am stuck; working the hours I do I have very little spare time and the time I do have, I am exhausted.

As a result I've lost all my momentum and writing anything is a real struggle - I'm currently working on a scene where the protagonist experiences flying on the back of a giant eagle, and I've been writing it for something like five weeks.

So things are pretty grim, and an end of year release is looking increasingly doubtful.
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Last edited by gumboot; 25th July 2012 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 25th July 2012, 10:32 AM   #313
Tiktaalik
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Originally Posted by gumboot View Post
Thought I'd provide a little update, although it's a depressing one. I started a serious final edit of my first book late last year, and made great progress initially, setting myself a goal of editing 5 pages a day on average, and exceeding that.

However part way along I decided to restructure my series into four shorter books instead of three longer ones, which left a substantial structural issue with the first book as what had been the middle section suddenly became the second half, but lacked the sort of rising tension and climax that the end of a volume needs.

As a result editing progress ground to a miserable halt, at which point we started back up on the last season of Spartacus and my free time quickly evaporated. Since then I've managed to claw out a new structure but it means rewriting the entire last quarter of the first book (or about 60,000 words), and that's where I am stuck; working the hours I do I have very little spare time and the time I do have, I am exhausted.

As a result I've lost all my momentum and writing anything is a real struggle - I'm currently working on a scene where the protagonist experiences flying on the back of a giant eagle, and I've been writing it for something like five weeks.

So things are pretty grim, and an end of year release is looking increasingly doubtful.
Keep pluggin'. I took a several-month hiatus in the middle of the third book of my trilogy & when I did come back to it, it was like a several week purge during which I spent every spare minute writing. And then it was done. Sometimes you just need that break for everything to come together in your mind, I think.
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Old 30th July 2012, 08:59 PM   #314
Avery Dashwood
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I think my book is pretty much finished. It's a nonfiction book about the worst religious leaders in the history of the Western world. I think it turned out pretty damned well. It's informative, entertaining and filled with jaw-dropping facts. It also has a lot of humor in it so it isn't a depressing slog to read.

Now, what to do with it? I have a hard time picturing a lot of publishers queuing up to to put out a book on such a hot-button topic such as this.
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Old 30th July 2012, 09:12 PM   #315
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Self publish online or look for similar books published over... I want to say the past ten years, then contact the publishers of those books. In the event your work is completely unique, play that up when you contact publishers. Focus on either academic publishing companies or humor (?) companies.
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Old 31st July 2012, 06:00 AM   #316
Tiktaalik
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Originally Posted by Avery Dashwood View Post
I think my book is pretty much finished. It's a nonfiction book about the worst religious leaders in the history of the Western world. I think it turned out pretty damned well. It's informative, entertaining and filled with jaw-dropping facts. It also has a lot of humor in it so it isn't a depressing slog to read.

Now, what to do with it? I have a hard time picturing a lot of publishers queuing up to to put out a book on such a hot-button topic such as this.
Non-fic is often easier to get published than fiction. Start lookin'. You might consider joining a service like firstwriter.com that lists agents & publishers along with reviews of their services. Then search & sort by the publishers and/or agents who accept your kind of stuff & get email updates. It sounds interesting to me; I bet someone will pick it up.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 01:14 PM   #317
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Okay, I sent a query to one publisher I like. I got a response about 12 hours later saying they would like to see the manuscript. Is this unusual? Should I be excited about this?
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Old 2nd August 2012, 01:28 PM   #318
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Originally Posted by Avery Dashwood View Post
Okay, I sent a query to one publisher I like. I got a response about 12 hours later saying they would like to see the manuscript. Is this unusual? Should I be excited about this?
Check the publisher's reputation and if it is good, you should be excited.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 01:57 PM   #319
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I recently took a break from my usual historical-fiction screenwriting to try my hand at the prose I'd abandoned some years ago. I figured I'd go down a completely different path from my familiar dark subject matter and write a young-adult novel.

So I'm writing a book about a relocated mountain lion queen who has to sneak through a city to get back to her cubs. I'm aiming for around 80 pages but longer would be fine. I'm not averse to a little satire, but with the direction it's wanted to go that may work with the tone. Time will tell.

And in the spirit of trying new things, I'm going to do my damndest to stay out of "edit mode" until the first draft is done - that kills my motivation more than any distraction.
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Old 7th August 2012, 06:44 AM   #320
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Here's an example of my query letter. Of course, every agent has inforrmation they prefer to see in one, so I fine tune it accordingly.

Be brutal. I need the input, as I'm about to start another round of emails.

____________________


My name is Brian R, and I think I have found the Ark of the Covenant. The manuscript for which I’m seeking representation tells how I got there, and in a very real way, this story is about the power that a book can exert on one man’s life.


In 1987, I was given a book by a friend. It was through digesting this book – Biblical Archaeology, by G. Ernest Wright - presented by a biblical scholar in a brilliant yet an approachable way, that I was gripped by a passion to learn what happened to the biblical Ark of the Covenant in ancient times. Very early on, I realized that I would need to educate myself in order to have a chance of understanding it. I quickly learned that there were problems with the accepted academic theories of the disposition of the chest. As I investigated deeper and further, it became clear that the most likely resting place of the Ark was in Marib, Yemen. The title of my book is Finding the Ark of the Covenant. It’s simple, and to the point.


My target audience can be uniquely broad, because it touches on a variety of genres – reference, history, science, world cultures, and religion, which resonate with readers today in their own unique ways. I don’t pull punches with the science and terminology, but I do provide abbreviation help at the outset, and there are copious notes throughout. There is a certain level of reading and knowledge that I expect the reader will come with to this book, so that will limit its approachability to casual readers. I’ve been working with a wonderful copy editor for the past several years, and we’ve been keeping my manuscript consistent with the Chicago Manual of Style, per her recommendation. I am uniquely qualified to tell this story mainly because of my lack of academic degree or specialized study. Because I don’t approach my subjects with a predetermined set of mental tools, I can use tools and approaches from different disciplines, and develop insights not offered by anyone else. Because I have a very-well developed BS meter, I can separate the wheat from the chaff rather well. I am hoping to use this manuscript to forge a long literary career.


If you think that this is something you could vigorously represent, please let me know. If not, and if you know of someone to whom you could refer, that would be great as well.


I have a full proposal on hand should you wish to see more of what I have in mind.


Word count is hovering around 30,000 currently. I’ve been a member of the Ancient Near East (ANE and ANE-2) forum for a decade now, in the Biblical Hebrew forum for three years, the Biblical Studies forum for three years, and the Biblicalist for two years. There I’ve been able to exchange ideas with experts from around the world – a virtual roundtable discussion of the past.
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