Monday, July 5, 2010

Tidbits I've Learned Over The Years

So, you've sent that email to 10 people and you're still waiting for that miracle, huh?

Read on:

Writing a book takes more than just sitting down and putting your idea into words. There are a lot of things that you have to consider.

Keep an eye out for spelling and grammar errors. When typing fast with fresh ideas in our heads, we tend to forget ourselves. Check and recheck your work. Editors are very expensive these days. When checking your work over, try not to put too much trust into Spell Check if you’re using MS-Word or any other writing program. Words can be spelled correctly but used in the wrong context. Spell Check will not find those as being an error.

You’ll need to know how to write an effective ‘query letter’ to a literary agent. The letter will also include a synopsis that will hold the interest of the agent, and want to make him or her ask for the first three chapters of your work. Never send a manuscript to a publisher or literary agent without querying first. There ‘are’ some publishers who will allow this, but you have to make sure you follow the guidelines for submitting to a Tee.

You’ll need to know how to format your manuscript. This includes the fonts (size and type) that most agents, editors, and publishers want. These are usually Courier New and Times New Roman (12 pt). Short stories and novels are formatted differently. You will need to follow submission guidelines just as they are laid down for your submissions. Anything less will result in your manuscript sent back or destroyed unread.

You will need to know what Point of View (POV) is. Know how to write in First Person Point of View. You’ll need to know the can and can not of each.

Do you know how to write dialogue? How to format dialogue? This is very important and allows the author and his/her characters to communicate with the reader. Remember dialect as well. Dialect is how a person speaks. Your characters may be highly educated or dumber than dishwater. ‘Ain’t got none’ is highly acceptable when used properly by a character who is even less than street smart. Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to have two or more people speaking in the same paragraph. Each person speaking should have their own paragraph. Some may argue this point, but to be plain and simple, it’s not the right format. It’s confusing and it’s very amateurish looking.

It’s a good idea to know some of the publishing laws. The use of names and places.

These include
o Delivery Of Satisfactory Copy
o Permission for Copyrighted Material
o Grant Of Rights
o Proofreading and Author's Corrections
o Advances and Royalties
o Author's Warranties and Indemnities
o Copies to Author
o Option Clause

Learn how to get a ‘word count of your work. Some novels have a prologue and an epilogue. You’ll need to know how to write them and why they’re used.

Know what the word ‘genre’ means. Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction; These are all genres.

One of the most important issues in manuscript submitting is the proper ‘page set up’ for your work. This includes margins, indents, and paragraphs. Most editors will want to see your manuscript double spaced. This allows the editor to use his/her proofreaders marks between the lines. Most margins will be one inch all around with a ragged right margin and an even left.

Are you prepared to do a lot of ‘research’ involving your work? Remember that many professionals such as, doctors, lawyers, nurses, public accountants, judges, architects, bricklayers, engineers, and police officers read, too.

Do you know what a sub-plot is? This is a plot that comes ‘under’ the main plot. The hero may be after the vampire, but the mob may be after the hero as well. This is a sub-plot.

Can you take rejection and constructive criticism? If you’re easily hurt in the feelings department, then writing may not be your forte. Critics will tear you apart or build you up. The best writers in the world “King, Patterson, Koontz, J.K. Rowling, and many others” have been torn up one side and down the other. You can’t please everyone.

If you decide to hire an editor, remember: Your manuscript will be double spaced, which means there will be twice as many pages. A 600 page novel could cost you around $1800.00, some even more depending on what the editor charges per page. Then there’s the hourly rate that some charge. Usually it’s within the range of $65.00. So, if they work on your book for 18 hours, that’s another $1170.00 + $1800.00 = $2970.00.

Remember that if you are a minor you can’t get into a binding contract without your parents or legal guardians consent. Literary agents and publishers will remind you of this.

These are the things you must know to work at your craft. Don’t let these things deter you from writing. There are books in libraries and bookstores that can teach you all of these things. Buying these books (if you want to be a serious writer) is the best thing to do. Why? Well, because you can use a yellow marker to highlight all the points of interest. Then you can use the front of the book to make page references to those markings in order to check back on them at a later date, when you need to.

You’ll need to get a copy of Writer’s Market for the current year. This has literary agents whom you can send out query letters to. Some of them allow email queries. They also have a website. Google: Writer’s Market.