Monday, August 31, 2009

Won't Somebody Speak for the Trees?

Tip of the Day: Enjoy the end of the summer fruit season with a "French dinner": bread, cheese, and different fresh fruits cut up for the whole family.

It never fails to amaze me how many times I can read through a chapter I wrote and still find things I want to change.

The truth is, though, I don't catch a lot of problems in my manuscript on screen. I don't see the problems until I print it out. I can think a chapter looks great on my monitor. I have it perfect now! As soon as I print it out and read it in hard copy, holy moley, the problems shoot right out at me.

I don't know why that is. I think it has to do with flow: I can see more of the manuscript in print, where I'm studying whole pages at once. So I can see where things connect more. Also, when I print off a few chapters together, I can see how they transition better. Somehow, on the screen, the chapters don't mesh together as well for me.

I absolutely have to do at least one revision pass on hard copy, most likely two. I do my best to recycle paper and print on the back of pages that have been used already. My printer hates this. It jams if even the tiniest corner of a page has been bent, and once it jams, it refuses to restart a print job. I spend a lot of revision days cursing at my printer. My kids clear out on those days. "She's printing off pages, let's get out of here!" Stupid "multi-use" printer. And don't get me started on how much the plain black cartridges cost. It's highway robbery. I don't even know what those cartridges are made of (crushed beetles? toxic plastic drippings?), but I'm betting it can't be good for anyone.

So I wish I could revise on screen, but I know I do my best revising on paper with a blue ballpoint pen. My mind was wired that way, and I don't think I can unwire it. The same pages look completely different to me in print. There's probably a psychological name for this visual perception gap, and I'd love to know if the next generation will weed it out by learning to edit on screen from school days on or if it will always exist. Or maybe some people can actually see the same thing on paper as they do on the screen. Can you?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two books ain't enough??

Tip of the day: Stock up on school supplies now for later in the year, when things need to be replaced. They’ll never be as cheap as they are now, especially if you shop stores specifically to get their in-the-door specials.

Remember when I talked about how having a book released is similar to having a baby?

Recently I realized, that as you have more books, it’s also sort of like having lots of kids.

The first one, people get REALLY excited. They shower you with gifts and food, and just think that baby is the best thing ever. It’s the same with the first book. People you know can’t wait to run out and buy it. I know a real author, they exclaim!

The second one, people are still fairly excited. People come to the baby shower again, although a little less enthusiastic, because, after all, can’t you just use most of the stuff you got the first time around? With the second book, some people are still really excited. Your mother, of course. Your good writing friends. But some people think, I bought her first book. Do I really have to buy the second? I mean, she writes teen books. Not really my thing.

The third, fourth, fifth one? Yeah, the excitement kinda wears off and it almost seems like people turn the other way when they see you coming. People talk amongst themselves – how many kids are they gonna have anyway? And WHY? Why do they want so many kids? Isn’t two enough? And with more books published, some people look at you differently. Stop talking about yourself, they think. You’ve been talking about yourself and your books for four years now. We KNOW you write books. So what? So do a lot of people. Let someone else step in the spotlight. Like this amazing debut author over here. Haven’t you heard? Everyone is SO excited for this book and people are talking about it like it’s the next best thing since THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.

Yeah, it’s easy to feel like old news. But for an author, each book is new, different and special. With each one, it’s expected we’ll do some promotion. In this golden age of YA, where the shelves in the bookstores are expanding by the day it seems, we have to do everything we can to compete. We have book signings not because we intend to beg the same people over and over again to buy our books. We have them because hey, maybe there are real, actual fans out there now who might want to come.

I’m proud and excited about the fact that I have more books coming out next year. But I still have to work to sell them. I still have to put myself out there, even if people want a little less Lisa Schroeder and a little more of New and Shiny Debut Authors.

Don’t worry though. I don’t ever expect you to have me and my five books over for dinner.

Please note: I love all you debut authors and want the very best for you, I really and truly do. This post is more about how I feel sometimes with people in real life than people on-line, in case you were wondering. And really, it's all good. I'm very lucky to be building a body of work and just think it's fun to stop and ponder what happens at various points along the way.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Losing Control

Tip of the Day: Don't waste your time trying to make the people who work at the DMV laugh-- they're a tough crowd.

You may not know this about me but I'm a bit of a control freak. I don't like things to just happen to me that I didn't completely intend to happen. And with being an author and getting closer to my release date I'm learning that there are a lot of things that are just not in my control.

Like pictures. If you are an author, people are going to take pictures of you and they are going to post them online. And some of them might be really, really bad. You could look like a squashed up monkey. Now you wouldn't post a picture of yourself looking like a squashed up monkey of course but you can't stop others from doing so. Not that they do it intentionally-- I'm sure they think you look like an adorable little monkey. But still. They're out there. And it's not like you can find every picture of yourself and paste a label over it that says "Seriously, my head isn't this big. I think the picture got weirdly stretched." right?

Then there is youtube. You could be giving a chat or whatever and someone can film it and put it on youtube. And you wouldn't know. Until you find it that is. I made it on youtube this week (no, I'm not telling where!) and the person even told me there were filming for something. Didn't stop me from sounding like an idiot. Then I think well, maybe I came off as more of a sweet idiot. And I watch again. Nope, I sound like the babbling kind.

And of course there's your book. People don't know you and how long you worked on your book. They can say anything at all about it online-- even if they've never read it. A person wouldn't come up to you on the street and say, "man your kid is one ugly little bugger." But they might write that about your book.


See? Powerless. How do you guys suggest dealing with this losing control thing? My current coping mechanism is closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears and saying lalalalalalalala.

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Advice for a PB Dabbler? (or Dare I Try to be Concise?)

Tip of the Day: People-watch at summer festivals for some character inspiration!

I did it. I wrote a draft of a picture book. And not just any picture book -- a RHYMING picture book. Is that a death sentence or what?

It was fun to write! It was great to see the end of my story in just one page -- 250 words! And even coming up with the rhymes was kind of soothing in a poetic way.

Is it perfect? Uh, no. Does it need tons of work on the rhythm and rhyme? Yes. Am I happy I gave it a shot? Very much!

BUT -- I need advice here! How do I know when my rhymes and rhythms are perfect? Bc to be honest, sometimes I read it so much and make the rhymes fit in my head even if they're not right. And then there are some words that people in different regions pronounce differently!

In general, what advice does anyone have for a novel writer who is dabbling in picture books? What is the market like? Is it picking up for pbs at all?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moving on...sometimes it's a necessity

Tip of the Day: if moving on from a book is hard for you, try to visualize the end result. It might make it easier.

Two weeks ago I briefly mentioned that sometimes it’s okay to “give up” querying a book. Not as in give up on a book completely, but put a book down for now, move onto something else, and then maybe in the future come back to that book.

If you are serious about your writing, you owe it to your book to have it be the best it can possibly be when trying to query agents, and if during the querying process you learn it’s not the best it can be, I think you need to stop, make it better, and then get back to querying. But how can you determine when to stop?

Because there are several times during the writing and querying process when all of us want to give up and if everyone did that no published books would exist.

Here’s what I think.

  • If you just want to stop because you get a one or two rejection stings. Keep going. If it’s a hundred rejection stings, chances are you need to reevaluate your book.
  • Stop when you don’t know who to query anymore. Hold off, think about your book more, and then get back to searching for agents or editors.
  • When you get a rejection that resonance with you, you agree with it, and you realize you need more time to think about the book before being able to fix it.
  • When another project is pulling you more strongly. Now this happens a lot, so you have to be far enough along to make the judgment call on what is best to spend your time on. Querying agents isn’t that really labor intensive, so you should be able to do both. But if not giving up on your old book is keeping you from making your new book as best it can, then maybe it’s time to move on. Get the new book done, and then go back to the old book.

I don’t like saying give up on a book, because I don’t think you should ever give up on a book. Especially if you believe in it. But I think you have to be smart about the time you have available. Just like in your day job, you have to pick and choose what things to do first. And if you are seriously wanting to be a writer, you need to treat it like a career or business.

This is very subjective. We’ve all heard the stories of those that didn’t give up. Even our own Tina landed her agent with lucky number 87 for her book. But I do think there’s a point when you can determine when to at least set your book down. At least for a month, a year, or maybe even a few years.

Because your next book might be The One that launches your career, and if you don’t get that book done then you’ll never know.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 24, 2009

Make Your Own Writers' Workshop!

Tip of the Day: Don't just save your own writing to your thumb drive; save the critiques you receive. I carry a thumb drive in my purse with crits of the next chapter I'm planning to revise, so I can make revisions anytime, anywhere.

On Saturday, Deena and I met with our Rochester area YA/MG critique group for an all day, do-it-yourself writers' workshop. We rented an office in the city for the day. This was very reasonably priced, and the office had all the outlets and desks the five of us could ever need. The office we rented is a space designed for only that--they rent out the office space to people who want to meet and work.

And we worked! Now, I don't know about your writing friends, but my local peeps and I are chatty. Seriously, we could gossip about writing and, let's face it, everything else for hours. We knew that if we just showed up on Saturday, we'd find ourselves talking more than writing. So we drew up a schedule and we stuck to it like a German rail conductor.

We started with a half-hour of set up time, followed by 2 1/2 hours of quiet writing time. The schedule built in a long lunch time to get the chatting out of our systems. We went back for two more hours of writing, then a short break, then another hour of writing. We all brought cold beverages and snacks, so there were no excuses for slacking. But we didn't want to slack. We were spending a Saturday away from our families and significant others. We had BETTER have something to show for it!

So how much can I get done in about 5 hours of writing uninterrupted by "Mom! Mom!"?
--I wrote a 7-page insert chapter from scratch
--I heavily revised another, longer chapter, which ended up being a complete rewrite. (I was only able to reuse a short dialogue exchange.)
--I revised most a third chapter

Most of all, I gained a lot more enthusiasm for the project. I've been stuck in the mucky middle, telling myself that I can't sit still for 5 hours of revising. Well, it turns out that I can! And I forgot how much I like my characters. They're funny people.

I loved our writers' workshop, and I hope we do it again soon. We were so productive planning and plotting. Maybe we should give our crit group a name: The Planners and Plotters!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do book trailers sell books?

Tip of the day: I recommend M2 Productions for an affordable book trailer. She did one for I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and I will most likely be asking her to do one for CHASING BROOKLYN.

So this week, we asked one of our Author2Author buddies a question related to writing or publishing. Just whatever was on our mind at the moment. Since I've been trying to decide if I should invest in a book trailer for CHASING BROOKLYN, I thought I'd ask Kate what she thinks of book trailers. Does she watch them? Does she ever buy a book based on a book trailer? Does she think teens watch them and like them?

Here's what she had to say:

I don't usually watch book trailers, but I'm not their intended audience. (I have lots of writer-like places to get book recommendations.) I do think that teens watch them. In fact, I asked a teenager who loves to read what she thinks of book trailers, and here is what she said:

"I've watched a few teen book trailers at my old school as an advertisment for our school book fair and they really did make me want to read the books! I even bought one of them!"

And kids do spend a lot of time on YouTube. Some of them like to make movies themselves.

I just searched Book Trailers on YouTube. The fan trailer for CITY OF BONES has over 55,000 views. In contrast, the "official" trailer for THE GRAVEYARD BOOK has about 15,000 views. A fan trailer for BREAKING DAWN has over 8 million views! I wonder if book trailers aren't a word-of-mouth thing with teens. It's a way they recommend books to each other. (Then again, I'm a sucker for fan art.) Check out this website: The Teen Book Video Awards by Kirkus Reviews. ( It's a contest for teen-made book trailers.

I think there is a growing place for "official" publisher/author-made trailers. I think they'll take off when they're easier to find. Movie trailers are easy to find and studios don't mind grouping them together, even though the studios are competitors. There's a movie trailers channel on YouTube but not a book trailers channel. Sites like Bookscreening ( will help. Actually, this is the only site that tempts me to sit around watching book trailers for a while. I don't have time to watch a trailer here and there as I'm checking Twitter or Facebook quickly. I'd like to watch a few at once when I have some time, like we watch previews before a movie.

So yes, I think it's a good thing to have a book trailer made because I believe that we're figuring out how to get book trailers to teens. By the time my book is published, it will probably be normal to see book trailers in bookstores and school libraries, on their own YouTube channel, all over Amazon, and aggregated together like movie trailers are. People will be scrambling to make videos of their backlist books. But I think there will always be a big following for fan art videos. If a teenager ever made a fan art video of a book I wrote, I would probably die of happiness.

I agree, Kate. It's a really cool thing to have a teen love your book so much, he/she feels compelled to express him/herself in a video about it!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Madonna did it and so can I!

Tip of the Day: Wonder what the average picture book author gets for an advance? Barbara Kanninen surveyed 100 authors and posted the info here.

As you know, Lisa’s (Miss Crafting a Career) first book was a picture book for little ones about lulling babies to sleep.

So she is the perfect perfect for today's question:


Ok Lisa, I'm going to tap into your children's book writer brain! You know I have a couple of dozen or so kids right? ;) Well, that means I hang out with a ton of moms of my kids. And over and over again a mom will tell me about her dream to write a children's book. And they ask me for any tips I have for getting into the children's book writing field. And I kind of go blank. If you ask me about how to get started in the teen fiction field I could go on all day and point you in a bunch of directions. But I never know what to tell these mom friends of mine in regards to children's books. So Lisa, could you please tell me how you would answer this question and then I can just steal what you said and pretend I'm the super cool smart one? Thanks!


Oh, this is a hard one.

Because I think people think picture books are super easy to write. And they aren't. You're supposed to tell a story with a plot and interesting characters that kids will want to listen to again and again in 700 words or less.

And the picture book market is SO competitive. I mean, breaking in is tough. REALLY tough.

But, you can't really tell people, "don't bother," can you?

First, I would recommend they get a couple of books

1) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold Underdown.

2) The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM) (a new edition comes out every August) edited by Alice Pope.

These two books will give them a great starting place - everything from how to format a manuscript to what publishing houses take unsolicited manuscripts will be in these two books. Because not many agents take on picture book authors, I think it might be better for someone new to picture books to submit on their own, to houses that take unsolicited. When I started writing back in 2001 or so, there were quite a few. I know there aren't as many now, but there are still a few. If they can, they should get themselves to a writer's conference and get a critique. This is a great way to get some feedback and if they're paired with an editor at a publishing house, and the manuscript is good, it can be a way "in."

There are resources all over the web as well. is a great one. On the home page is a big thing that says, "Beginning Writer? Start here!" is another good one. It costs money to join but you'll get a newsletter, have access to their message boards, find out about local conferences, etc.

If your friend is serious about finding out how to do this and about writing the best story she can write, she'll take this information and run with it. If she was hoping you would give her your agent's phone number, she may look at you funny when you tell her to go get some books on the subject. There is no "easy road" as we all know. Each writer has to find his/her own path and be open and willing to learn as much as possible about writing and how to get published.

So, there you go. As an aside, you will get asked about what you do at book signings and things too, and people will want to pick your brain. So you may want to have a sheet ready that you can hand out that gives books, web sites, organizations, etc. all dealing with writing/publishing for kids and teens.

Hope that helps!!


Thank you Lisa!!! You gave such great information. And I LOVE your last tip—what a good idea to have a sheet ready to hand out! :)

Kristina, MIss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Confessions of an Online Goddess, Tina! (or Go Tina! Tina Tina Bo-Bina....)

Tip of the Day: For an editor's take on an author's online presence, check out this link to an interview with Molly O'Neill (who is also a great SCBWI presenter).

I asked Tina, Miss Delighted to Debut:

How do you decide what social networking sites to spend your time on? FaceBook, MySpace, LJ, Verla's, Good Reads, a webpage blog, The Debs, etc.... And how much time per day/week/month do you spend on those sites? Do you think they help you connect with potential readers or buyers? Or are they just a fun, rationable stalling tactic before working on your mss? Any tips on social networking?

Tina says:

Awesome questions Deena! It is so hard trying to figure out where to spend online time since there are so many great places to go. Let me give you my list in order of where I go the most:

1) facebook

2) twitter

3) 2009 Debutantes

4) LJ/blogspot

5) Goodreads

These are my everyday sites. On occasion I go to Verla's too. I went a lot more when I was seeking an agent because the section on response times is awesome. Now I go just to check in and see what people are up to. I like the good news section to see what's going on. And I like the happy vibes.

I spend a lot of time on the Debs board. It's a great place to post questions and share author experiences since we're all going through similar stuff around the same time.

Very rarely do I go to MySpace anymore. I just don't think many people hang out there these days. I'll go once or twice a month just to see what's going on.

I love goodreads because there are SO MANY readers on there! And so many good books and it's really easy to post reviews. I like posting reviews on Amazon too but for some reason it's a bit more of a hastle than on goodreads. This could just be me of course. I do think if you want to reach readers for say a book giveaway, goodreads is definitely a great way to do it.

I'm on LJ everyday just because I like to blog (and it generates to the front page of my Web site and Amazon. Bonus.) and read blogs. Though, I'll admit, I skim a lot. Maybe that's why Twitter and Facebook are my favorites. I like the quick updates on what is going on with everyone. And, especially on facebook, you're keeping up with not only readers and writing friends but all the rest of your friends and family too.

All authors should probably be on Twitter now. If you want to reach your audience it's probably the way to go. I'm not saying that I'm super successful on Twitter (well yet, I'm trying!). But I know a lot of authors have 500-1000 followers. And John Green has 621,000 followers. That's a lot of people! So it does work for many. And, true story, when I was walking around Printer's Row in Chicago this summer I recognized an author based only on his tweets. I stopped and said, "Oh my god, I love you on twitter!" He's just really funny. So I think it can bring you more readers if people like you on twitter. And it's kind of fun to follow celebrities too and see what they're doing RIGHT NOW. Except for Heidi Montag (from the Hills). I think I might have to unfollow her soon because her tweets are a bit annoying. She's usually saying stuff like, oh it feels so good to be healthy! Come buy my exercise video or whatever it is she's trying to sell these days. I think if you're just trying to sell stuff then you'll quickly become annoying on twitter. So none of those come buy my book please! tweets, ok?

And you asked about how much time I spend-- well, I kind of do a drive-by of each site throughout the day. Think about how often you check your e-mail. When I check mine I'll also take a look at each site. So they are not long sessions, but brief stops. Hey, I sound like a meal plan. "Eat 5-7 mini meals..." "Check your sites 5-7 times throughout the day..." :)

So to sum up, authors should definitely:


join goodreads,


and join facebook. :)

That's my two cents anyway.

Thanks, Tina! Wow -- I JUST got on facebook and now I realize I'm behind on goodreads and twitter -- ack! :)

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miss Subbing for Pubbing Speaks

Tip of the Day: make sure to check back next week for a post on trying to figure out when to put a manuscript down for good.

Today I interviewed our own Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing about how her job as a librarian and being at the forefront of YA books changes her other job as a writer:

Q: Do you think being a librarian affects how you approach writing a novel?

D: Being a librarian has affected my reading, my critical analysis of the books I've read, so therefore my writing -- but I'm not sure how much.

The reading part is bc I have so many choices of what to read since they are all there in front of me for the taking! So I read a ton, and what I pick up often has to do with the wonderful covers more than ever before (I'll pick up a book like GENTLEMEN that I've never heard a word about simply bc the cover is so intriguing -- and the book was fantastic!).

The critical analysis part comes from lurking on librarian listservs, hearing what other librarians say abt certain books -- and what their teens think -- and getting a ton of review journals and reading more review websites than before I was a librarian. So not only am I hearing what my peers have to say abt books, but what the "larger professional community" says as well. Then there's me just talking to teens to see what they think about certain books. And watching what they check out.

So when I go to write my own YA work, I have all these things in the back of my mind -- yet I'm not sure that it changes HOW I write knowing these things. I know they up my own standards on what is good in my own writing, which has got to mean something. I also know I don't have a faerie or vampire book in me and those seem to have sold well the past 3-5 years or so, despite how badly the teens want more of them.

I suppose I have self-censored a couple of times due to my librarian background. Recently I made the "older man" who had sex with a 15yo girl 19 instead of his original 20 bc 20 just sounded so much more scandalous and would libraries be afraid to put that book in their libs due to the age? My CPs seem to think he should be 20 though so we'll see.... I would buy the book with the 20yo character for my lib, but would other libs in more conservative areas? I'm not sure. I guess I could start throwing my synopses out on the listservs and asking the librarians if they would buy my book for their collections!

E: Thanks for stopping by today Deena. I agree being an avid reader definitely helps and being around so many books all day makes it easy to get inspired.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 17, 2009

Author2Author Interview Speed Round

Tip of the Day: Buy yourself a lunch bag while they're on sale. The good ones are hard to find when the back to school sales end. Here in Upstate New York, we have three more weeks until school starts.

Author2Author has a mission. We're five YA writers at different stages of our careers talking about the craft and business of writing. This week, we picked each other's brains. What are we dying to know about writing, and each other? It's an interview speed round--we only got to pick ONE question to ask, so it had to be a good one!

I asked one question of Emily, our Miss Querylicious, something I need to work out in my own writing:

What do you do when you're possessed by a new idea for a writing project, and how do you know when it will be a good idea you can work on for a long time?

Emily says:

"Inspiration is everywhere and for someone with a bad memory it’s important to preserve my ideas. If I don’t, then the idea vanishes in an instant—no matter how unforgettable it appeared. As a result of learning my lesson, I keep an “ideas” file on my computer that I constantly add to.

"Before those ideas turn to books I’ve found it often takes several random ideas to click “together” to make a story grow. For example, wanting to write about a girl that gives advice she read in a self-help book with disastrous results combined with wanting to write about a missing celebrity became one of my books Don’t Ask Ally about a girl that gives advice to a celebrity and as a result the celebrity goes missing. The plot combines with ideas I’ve had about character traits, motivations, etc. that are jotted down. All of a sudden things become clear and a book idea forms.

"Sometimes it takes weeks of thinking about the idea: sometimes it takes months. Just depends on if I’m working on something else or not, and how strongly the idea is “calling me.”

"When the idea just won’t stop bugging me, then I at least try to write something down. Usually the first chapter, a synopsis, outline, or something to get the story out of my head. If it seems to have potential, then I might move onto writing the whole thing. If it doesn’t, then it usually just rests in my head for longer—until the day when I get another idea that “clicks” with the story and I can’t help but write more of it.

"It’s really a never ending cycle.

"Since I haven’t sold yet, I’m now finding new ideas to update old books and give them new life. Sometimes it’s small ideas, but it’s also been bigger “concept” ideas that make me rethink previous attempts at a novel. I haven’t completely rehashed the old books yet, but I’m giving them more time to settle in my brain until I can’t help but write them."

Thanks a lot, Emily! I like how your favorite story ideas seem to accumulate more ideas to them like they have gravity. Does anyone else have this experience?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it (sing it!)

Tip of the day: I blogged about the SCBWI conference here and here if you’d like to read a little about my trip. As always, the best part of the conference was meeting and spending time with other authors.

So, I’m excited.

A new book deal, you ask? Some amazing award I’ve been given? Will one of my books soon be featured on Good Morning America?

No, no, nothing like that.

I’m excited because…I’m writing a book! And I don’t think it’s half bad. Woo hoo!!

I had about 10,000 words there where it was tough. I’m not sure why it was tough, it just was. And you know, sometimes it’s going to be that way.

Jenn Hubbard had an awesome blog post recently where she talked about process versus final product. Everything she says is so true. In the end, the reader doesn’t know how easy or how hard a book was to write. And they really don’t care.

We just have to battle our way through those time times, word by painful word. And know in our hearts that in the end, it will be worth the pain. Hopefully.

So what did I do to find excitement toward this particular story, 38,000+ words into it? I took the time to read it, from page 1 all the way to where I last left off. I didn’t cringe as I read it. I didn’t want to throw the thing into the garbage can. No, what I wanted to do was finish it so I could see how it all turns out. If I can manage to make it all turn out the way I want to!

Over and over again I heard at the conference that the ONLY thing we have control over is our work. All the other stuff is out of our hands. I am excited because this book is different from anything else I’ve ever written. It’s making me stretch as a writer, and that’s a good thing. Will anyone like it? I have no idea. But just like always, I write for myself first. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it’s what I do.

I am a writer.

Isn’t that exciting!?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Making your Bookmarks

Tip of the Day: Drop off a stacked of signed bookmarks in the teen section of your local library.

I just got my bookmarks in the mail and they are sooooo pretty! See:

Here's a close-up:

When I was doing my bookmarks I ended up asking a lot of people what they did. And for today's post I'm going to share that info with you.

First, you need a snazzy design. If you're photoshop savvy, this will be easy for you. You just need to create a bookmark that includes your cover, some book info or a tease about your book, release date, ISBN, your website URL (and e-mail if you'd like), and don't forget to put what age your book is for! For mine I put 12 and up. This design needs to be 2 x 7 on average (you may need to adjust this depending on where you print). You can choose to add a back to your cover if you'd like. Here you might go ore in depth about your book. I decided to leave mine blank since I'm only showing the one book. And I thought it would be nice to have space to sign in case someone wants a signature. You never know.

Lucky for me my husband is awesome with photoshop so he whipped these up for me. But if you're not awesome with photoshop or married to someone who is, fear not. The super talented Saundra Mitchell (author of SHADOWED SUMMER) has been designing bookmarks, postcards etc. for lots of authors at a really reasonable rate. You can check out her awesome portfolio here. Contact her for more info through her Web site.

Once your design is ready to go you need to send them to a printer. I used Printrunner and it cost $59 for 1000 bookmarks. And they shipped pretty fast.

Another option is to have the printer design your bookmarks as well as print. Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career, uses Kelley at Iconix Digital Arts. Didn't hers turn out great?

I'm thrilled with mine too and now I'm just trying to think of places to hand them out. I'll have them at signings of course but does anyone have any more ideas for me?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Book Is Fab -- I Swear! (or Editorial Contradiction Affliction)

Tip of the Day: Bring a cardigan to public buildings during the summer months, even if your manpanion calls it an "old lady shawl;" you'll be happy you have it when the a/c is blasting.

The life of those Subbing for Pubbing is not all the glitz and glam you imagine. Much of it is waiting and revising and thinking and, well, getting rejected. I know that rejection is all part of the process, yet I can't help but scratch my head and wish there was some magic formula to run my ms through that would pop it into just what the editors want.

Example: On one ms that is in Editor World, I got a rejection that said the story "wasn't layered enough." Later, I got another rejection on that same ms stating there was "too much going on."


Aren't those practically opposites?


At this point, those Subbing for Pubbing have to clean up their head explosions.

After the floor is mopped, I re-analyze my manuscript/rejections/comments/choice of nail polish color/feng shui positioning of my laptop in the living room/chocolate supply in the house and think, "OK, there could be a similar problem that both editors are hinting at, but are using different terms to describe."


Maybe "not layered enough" means they want more dimensions to a CHARACTER, but "too much going on" means there are too many "dramatic" SCENES. Maybe?

I don't know! Does anyone have any insight? Or guesses/similar experiences? Or spare Swiffer cloths?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When to stop querying a project

Tip of the Day: Capri Suns aren't just for kids!

So we've gone through all the aspects of querying, except for when to give up. Our mother's all raised us to "never give up," but when it comes to writing I think you have to be smart about this. Most of us have limited time to pursue this dream, because we are also working full-time jobs, raising families, and have other dreams we are chasing.

So just because one book doesn't sell, doesn't mean you have to give up on writing. Or that this book won't eventually sell when the market changes and "puppet-loving girls from Louisiana" become the new "vampires" just when you happen to be shelving your book about a small-town girl from Bonita, LA that makes children's puppets out of Capri Sun juice bags to raise money to pursue her dream as a professional ventriloquist (which we all know is clearly where the YA market is moving).

Don't be afraid to move on if one book isn't working. Take it as a sign to focus your attention on that other book that's screaming "write me."

By no means, does this mean you have to shelve the book completely, but maybe step away from it for a few months, go back to it later, and see if you can pick up on why people were having issues with it.

Next week, I'll try to talk more specifically about how to figure out when is the right time to move on.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 10, 2009

"i" before "e", except ... does anyone care?

Tip of the Day: New to Twitter? Type #scbwi09 into the search box on the right column, and you'll see only tweets from or about the 2009 SCBWI conference. (I didn't go to the conference, but you can find me on Twitter @katefall).

Are you a writer who ignores grammar and spelling as you write your early drafts, only to worry that you've missed corrections on revisions? Or are you like me, unable to write another sentence while you're mentally stuck on wondering if you've just placed a comma correctly?

I'm sort of a grammar snob. I don't mean to be. I know it's irritating. It irritates me, too. I struggle to resist the urge to re-punctuate manuscripts I'm critiquing. When I apologize for it, crit partners often tell me, "Oh, go ahead, I want you to do that. I'm not all that good at commas." That always makes me think, "Then why would you trust that I'm putting them in correctly? Won't you just ignore my marks?"

The next logical question: Is any of this important? Does ANYONE care about commas? Well, anyone other than us grammar snobs. But we sell our stories on plot, setting, and characters. What's important in a manuscript is tension and story arc, not grammar. If I sell a story on the merits of the story, won't some copy reader come along and try to change all my correct commas anyway? And let me tell you, I'm not arguing essential vs. nonessential clauses with a publisher. They can put the commas wherever the heck they want if they pay me.

There are two ways of looking at this:

1. The editor thinking of buying your manuscript could also be a grammar snob, and those incorrect commas will grate on her soul like tin foil on a cheese shredder.
If your story is great, it probably won't stop her from buying it anyway. Will it?

2. If you know the rules, you can manipulate them.
Although I'd be really hard pressed to tell you who's going to be impressed by your manipulation of commas and semi-colons. So many people use them incorrectly that I think most readers will assume your creatively placed semi-colon is simply used incorrectly--if they notice at all.

All I can say in favor of being a grammar snob is that writers I've met who don't feel they have a firm grasp of grammar seem insecure about it. So I have one less insecurity in the writing world. Um, yay me.

If you want to write but you don't feel you know your "rules" well enough ... for God's sake, write anyway. People like me who will fix your grammar are a dime a dozen. It's not a real valuable skill on the marketplace; trust me on this. If you have a story, tell it!

Are there any hardcore grammar nerds out there willing to make a better case for grammar than I have?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Short and Sweet Post

Tip of the Day: When packing clothes, try rolling your clothes instead of folding. I find they don't get as wrinkled that way.

As you read this, I'm on my way to the national SCBWI conference in LA to hang with friends and be inspired by awesome authors. Please, God, let me find lots and lots and LOTS of  inspiration. I really need it to finish that book I've been working on for months. And to find interesting things to blog about in the coming weeks.

Since today, I have very little inspiration, you get a picture and me squealing "Tina's book is SO cute and fun and you must all go out and buy it when it comes out in a few months!!!"

Aren't books the greatest thing!? And the authors who work their butts off writing them? 

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 6, 2009

School Visits

Tip of the Day: Try not to be too jealous of all the people having a fantastic time at the SCBWI conference in LA. I know, it'll be tough.

I was all ready to blog about bookmarks today but mine didn't get here on time so stay tuned-- I'll talk about those next week.

Instead I'll talk about something else that's been on my mind-- school visits. What do you all think about them? Is it important that every author do school visits? Or does it depend on the type of book the author writes and if it fits into a lesson plan?

I know some authors do TONS of author visits. Cynthia Lord comes to mind. I follow her blog on LJ and she's been talking about her school visits for her book RULES for years. The schools just LOVE her.

And I know some authors count on school visits for additional income. I've even heard that there are authors who make more from their school visits than from the books they sell.

And is it just me or are there A LOT more authors doing school visits now than say, 15 years ago? I tried to think of one single author that ever came to one of my schools and I couldn't do it. We never had author visits. So is it just a modern thing then?

Speaking of modern things, the Skype author visit is becoming quite popular as well. My local indie had a Skype visit with Sophie Kinsella a week or so ago. And there are loads of YA authors online who offer free Skype visits too. Author Kate Messner wrote an article about it recently for School Library Journal and gave a huge list. (Lisa and I are on there too!).

I know there will be some school visits in my future so I'm curious as to what students want to know when an author visits. The publishing process? The writing life? How to write a book? How to revise? What would you want to know if you had 45 minutes with an author?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Riled up Writer (or Help! My Brain Won't Turn Off!)

Tip of the Day: Measure your room before you buy a ping pong table off of Craig's List.

When I get cranking on a story, I hate to go to bed even when it gets late. In a way, it's a great feeling. I drag myself away saying I need to go to sleep bc I have to go to work the next morning.

Many times that I force myself to shut down the laptop and go to bed, I should've just kept writing bc my brain won't shut off. And when that happens, I can't sleep. Thoughts and ideas for the book are writing themselves into my brain.

Then I'm torn: Do I get up and go back to writing, or let the ideas stew in my head and get them on paper the next day? Will having the thoughts ferment for a night make them stronger or diluted?

Honestly, I usually stay in bed and toss and turn until sleep overtakes. The next day I jump back into my book with vigor. Are the new words written as I imagined them the night before? I'm not sure. But I know that I'm still psyched to write.

What about you? Do you jump back into night time writing, or try to get your zzzzzs?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Believe in Yourself...and your book will follow

Tip of the Day: You can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you believe!

Now, I'm not sure the tip of the day is 100 percent correct, but I do think there is some merit to it. I'm reading the book Evermore now and without spoiling too much, parts of the book talk about making stuff happen by believing. I think that translates over into getting a book published to.

1.) You have to believe in your book to get it published. Because if you don't love your book, how can anyone else?

At the same time...

2.) You need to believe you can get it published. Because if you have negative thinking and think every query is going to be a rejection, then that can sway the opinions in others. Confidence translates over without you even realizing.

Now all I need to do is follow this advice, and I think with enough hard work it will eventually happen with one of my books. As well as all yours :) So get working, so I can read all your wonderful masterpieces!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 3, 2009

E-readers, E-books

Tip of the Day: If you use iTunes, you can save song samples of songs you don't have yet to a separate playlist. Find the 30-second samples on the iTunes music store and drag them to a playlist. Then when it's time to buy music, you have a wish list already set up.

Last week, Barnes and Noble announced that they're giving away free e-book reader software for your PC, Mac, Bluetooth, iPhone or iTouch. A small library of free books comes with it, and additional titles are about ten bucks a pop. Also last week, John Green blogged about the possibility that physical bookstores are going the way of physical CD and music stores: going, going, gone. In the electronic world, he argued, covers won't matter as much. You'll download your books online.

As a reader, I have a hard time accepting that books will be downloaded like songs. Songs are only 3 minutes long so I need lots of them. Oh, alright, I need a lot of books too, but not like I need thousands of songs. Plus it's hard to beat the portability of a paperback. If I lost my iPod, the mourning period would be long and painful. If I lost a $5 paperback on a beach trip, I'd recover quicky with a margarita.

Now talk to my husband about it, who cringes every time I bring a book home because we don't have room for the books we already own. He says, woo-hoo, finally, let's get back some space!

What about the library? I argue that most of the books I read are checked out of the public library. But I have to admit that it wouldn't be that hard to work out a system where e-books could be rented. In fact, it might cut out the hold period for popular books, or the nuisance of having to reserve books from other branches. Gasp! Is it possible to have a world where every book you want to read could be downloaded from the library on demand? That seems too good to be true.

There are some books I'll always want a treasured copy of. But the more I think about it, the more an e-reader appeals to me. Could my eyes actually take any more screen-staring? I could increase the font and control the lighting on an e-reader. If I wanted to find a passage in a book, I could use a search feature. I've always had trouble reading books in a car (motion sickness) and I wonder if reading on a device might help that.

Right now, I don't read e-books. I would have to read them on my PC. I read a lot of manuscript on my PC for critiquing purposes so it's not like I don't read on my PC. They're just not officially e-books (not yet anyway). I think to get me to buy e-books, I'd need a good reading device so I could read in bed.

If you're published or shopping a book, how do you feel about your books going electronic? Do you and your agent have a plan for it? Does your publisher support it aggressively or sidestep the issue?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages