Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Would You Rather...good reviews or fan mail?

Tip of the Day: if you like romantic comedies, don't forget to check out Cupid which premiers tonight!

Continuing along with our play-at-home version of Would You Rather comes today's question:

Would you rather have good reviews or lots of fan mail?

This is a tough one. On one hand, good reviews probably lead to more sales. Working in a library, I know how important reviews--not only good ones, but mainly getting into review magazines such as Booklist, School Library Journal, Voya, etc.--are to library sales. I imagine they are just as important for determining those ever-important bookstore slots.

And if you aren't getting reviews to get you on the shelves, then no one can see your book, can they? Or at least less people can. So no reviews would probably be worse than bad reviews. Bad reviews aren't the worst in terms of sales, even Twilight has bad Amazon reviews, and it's doing just fine. Although, I'm sure any bad reviews have to hurt the author on some level, especially if it's a review you disagree with.

So we can all agree good reviews would be awesome! Not only for sales, but to make you feel good as an author.

At the same time, I think I'd rather have fan mail. When a person takes time out of their busy schedule to write an author about their book. This speaks volumes to me. Not only did they like the book, but they loved it enough to write you about it. Hello, that's huge. I don't even do that often, and I dream about how exciting that would be as an author.

To reach teens on that level has to be extremely satisfying as an author, and in some ways I bet it means more than lots of sales. Sure you might be reaching more people with lots of sales, but I tend to like quality over quantity in most things in life.

What about you? There's definitely pros and cons to each, which is why I think these Would You Rather questions are fascinating!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, March 30, 2009

Would You Rather? The Play at Home Edition!

Tip of the Day: Weekly goals are keeping me motivated right now. I think it's because weekly goals allow me to work on only one goal at a time. It's all about breaking big jobs into small steps.

This week on Author2Author we're playing a fun party game! When you were in high school or college, did you and your friends ever play "Would You Rather?"

Kate's college friend: "So ... would you rather jump off the top of the parking garage or kiss a Phi Kappa guy?"
Kate: "Umm, does it have to be Phi Kappa?"

Well, we're playing our own, young adult writers' version of "Would You Rather?" Play along with us. Nobody will end up kissing a frat brah. I think. Probably not.

Here's your first question: Would you rather have a flashy book store display and matching cover for your novel, or a blurb from your favorite author proclaiming your awesomeness?

When I first cribbed this question from Deena, my instinctual answer was "Oh, man, I want that blurb!" Just imagine it. Forget all that materialistic fluff. I want to be known as an awesome writer!

"Kate Fall's novels sing with humor and heart. I'll read every novel she ever writes." -- Terry Pratchett
"I couldn't put this down! What an incredible writer." -- Libba Bray
"Smart and relevant ... don't miss this talent." -- M.T. Anderson

Oh, yeah, like you never fantasized about a blurb.

Then I thought about it a little more. Because, sure, that blurb would be great and all my writer friends would be jealous and everything. But would it be any more than an ego boost? Wouldn't the marketing presentation of my novel get me more teen readers?

I read blurbs, of course, and they do influence my reading selection. But it's the cover that most people respond to. It's the cover that makes you pick up a book and read the blurb in the first place. Who can walk by a fancy display in a bookstore and not take a second look? I think for teens especially--they don't care how smart I am. They want an appealing book.

So do I want to be acknowledged as a great writer? Or do I want a lot of readers? After consideration, I'm going to pick the fancy book display. It would have to go along with a cool cover, though.

Tough choice, huh? What would you rather?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, March 27, 2009

How I write, or don't write, dialogue

Tip of the day: A really nice librarian has made a book trailer of my book FAR FROM YOU. Check it out HERE.

Okay, here's the funny thing. As a person who writes novels in verse, my challenge is to try and NOT write much dialogue. I know. It sucks. And the thing is, there are times I have to. And when I have to, I feel like I'm a terrible writer and should be thrown to the sharks to be eaten alive. Or something.

Novels in verse are supposed to be poetic. And dialogue, if we're talking realistic dialogue anyway, just isn't going to be poetic. But sometimes you need it, right? Well, I do anyway. The thing that's great about trying not to write it, however, is it forces me to cut to the chase. When I'm writing a book in prose, I'll find myself writing paragraph after paragraph with one person speaking. Okay, realistically, no one talks that much all at once. No one! But oh, this character has a lot to say, and I must, I MUST let her say it!

But in verse, I have to keep it short. Maybe I can't make it as poetic as I'd like, but I can keep it short. If I try really hard, that is. So I ask myself, what's the point here? What NEEDS to be said? Dialogue is so important for showing how characters get along. Or don't get along. Dialogue shows us how close two characters are. Strangers talk more formerly than two people who are intimate, for example.

Besides getting to the point, I have to ask, how can I say it so it sounds real to that character? One of the hardest things about dialogue is having characters sound differently. I like how Deena said she'll give one character a slang term or phrase to use that distinguishes her. I also think your character's personality should be reflected in the dialogue. For instance, a shy character is going to talk differently than an outgoing character. That's why realistic dialogue doesn't just mean how kids talk today. It means how a particular character should sound.  

When you have a cast of colorful characters, each with their own distinct personality, there is nothing better than a good conversation between some of them. Think of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo and all of the wonderful conversations Opal has with her friends around town.

As I wrote my mid-grade novel last spring, IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, I had SO much fun writing the dialogue. Finally, I could spread my wings and have my characters talk. Really talk. It was wonderful. And as I finish up my current verse novel, I'm ready for some more of that conversation.

So, characters in my next book, get ready. Have glasses of water nearby. Because you'll be doing a LOT of talking. 

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Talking to Myself

Tip of the Day: Trying to figure out what to write next? Check out this post where a ton of cool librarians talk about what they'd LOVE to see in the MG/YA section of their library.

When I write dialogue I try to BE the character. Really. Now I don't mean that I dress up in costumes and run around town or whatever. I’m not that wacky.

But I try to go through what is happening to my character and feel what they feel and react as they react. So if you pop into my Starbucks in the evening you may see me talking to myself in the corner of the room. I might be telling nobody in particular how they just ruined my life and I’m never speaking to them again. You may see me gasping and then writing the details of how I just gasped. Or if you saw me about a week ago you would have seen me hitting my head on my laptop repeatedly so I could describe my main character doing this just so. Yeah, it’s strange. More than once I’ve looked up to see groups of teens staring at me in a what-on-earth-is-she-doing way.

And in my defense I try to do most of it in my head but it can’t always be done. And there is usually this other guy there too who sings these religious hymns REALLY loudly and continuously. (And when I say continuously I mean sometimes three hours straight. Talk about dedication.). So I’d like to think I’m not as bad as hymnal guy. Of course the teens are probably thinking dude, can’t a kid get a frap without the freaks? But hey, this freak is trying to write a great book for you to read some day. I think hymnal guy is just working on people's taxes. Focus your anger on him okay? And I’ll keep working on my dialogue.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut