Oct 04 2012

“When Are You Publishing?” He Asked

Posted by Mathias

A friend of mine, who adores my current WIP (Under the Darkened Moon) asked me, “So, when are you publishing?”

I don’t know, I said, probably once I find an agent and they find me a publisher.
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Sep 24 2012

Measuring The Ultimate Success Of A Writer

Posted by Mathias

True success endures long after the initial hype and flurry of desire has ended. There are so many tricks to getting on best seller lists for a few weeks that writers and their publishers pull off. But, let’s face facts. Most of the books that make these lists are going to be long forgotten in only a few, short years.

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Aug 04 2012

Being Serious Is Better Than Kissing Ass

Posted by Mathias

“Have you read this yet?” emails a friend of mine seeking an opinion on a book he was considering reading. The message contains a link to a fantasy book (self-published) on Amazon. I follow the link and, within five minutes, decide that the book probably won’t be going on my reading list any time soon.

The reason? All the reviews, save one, were nothing but hype. Lots of OMGs (often with lots of trailing exclamation points). Lots of people proclaiming the book as the “best” thing they’ve read in years. But no real reviews of the book. It was just post after post of nebulous praise. I bet the author called in every favor from every friend she had to accomplish this task. At least, that’s the way it seems. After all, if the book is so good, the “best” thing in years, why did it have to be self-published?  Not saying it isn’t good, and not that publishers don’t make mistakes and pass on good books, just saying that it is not likely to be the “best” book writen in years. (more…)

Jun 16 2012

Update: Under the Darkened Moon (Novel)

Posted by Mathias

Just finished up what I consider to by my first polishing edit for Under the Darkened Moon, my first actually completed novel.  Things went well.

To say that I am 100% pleased with it would be saying too much.  I’m 98% pleased though and I think that is pretty good for someone that is as big a perfectionist as I am.

As one of my friends told me, no novel is ever 100% perfect so don’t fret the last few percents.

Next up is going to be a live read edit.  My wife is going to actually read aloud the words so I can hear them from someone else’s mouth rather than my own.  This will hopefully help catch any final awkward sentences, missed commas, etc that my brain is simply auto correcting for when I read aloud because I know what is supposed to be there even if it is not there.

Hopefully, this edit will commence in the next few weeks.  If we do one chapter a day it will take slightly more than a month to complete.

It was July 18th of last year that I embarked on the ambitious project to write a novel.  Looks like it will be a little more than a year from then that it will be ready to be submitted, and likely rejected many times, to publishers and literary agents.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it isn’t too painful.  My review groups have all given it high praise, sometimes too high of praise if you ask me, but high praise none-the-less.  I guess it is almost time to find out whether or not people with the power to get books published feel the same way.

Jun 04 2012

Being Practical With My Showing

Posted by Mathias

You hear it all the time as an author.  They say, “show, don’t tell”.  The problem with that advice is that it is just too simplistic.  You can’t always show.  Everyone who has written anything knows it.  Prose becomes too unweildy and awkward if everything you do is “showing”.  A recent example of a book that I read which, I felt, suffered from bout after bout of over showing was The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko.

By about halfway through this story, I’ll be honest, I was burned out by the author trying to find new ways of “showing” the lead character’s fear.  Even when the showing was good, the constant showing still had ground me down.  As an author myself I would never do as much showing as Dyachenko did.  But, even though this is my opinion, there are people out there that love this sort of prose and over showing.

That makes it even more difficult as an author to determine how to balance the showing and telling in a story.  I’m still struggling with it.  All I know is that I have to pick my spots.  Every time I edit, I swap a show for a tell here and a tell for a show there.

Showing takes words.  It takes a lot more words than telling.  Telling can make prose move fast and has its places.  But short shows can have the same effect.  I

I’m trying to be more practical with my showing.  I’m not a flowery writer.  So I don’t try to write puffed up descriptions of what is goin on.  I try to make my shows short.  They almost seem like tells at times.  I’m trying to not speak outside my voice and so far, I have gotten no complaints from any of the reviewers that I did not “show” enough.  The problem is, what will publishers think? Will they agree?

Sad thing is, I won’t know for a while.  Here’s hoping that my trying to be practical with my shows versus tells is what publishers are looking for.

May 27 2012

I Feel Better After This Advice

Posted by Mathias

My friend Dan is a literary agent.  Unfortunately, he and his agency don’t deal with Fantasy novels so he cannot accept my manuscript.  But he has given me some names and suggestions about who I should submit my novel to and has given me great advice on my novel Under the Darkened Moon to help me out along the way.  But none of his advice has been as valuable or helpful as this:

“You hear about how 95% to 99% of all manuscripts are rejected right?  Well, I don’t know that you should have to worry about the odds being that high against you.  First of all, you have two things going for you that those 95% to 99% don’t have!  First is that you have written one heck of a manuscript for being a first time author.  I am very impressed with it.  Secondly is that you are going to make sure that you submit your manuscript to the right people!  I know you are because we have talked about this.

See, those there are the two reasons why so many books get rejected.  They are either not submitted to agents or publishers who deal with the material the author is writting about or what is submitted are horribly written first or rought drafts with zero thought put into them.  Plus, remember this please, that high rejection rate includes all the rejections of every manuscript sent to every potential agent or publisher.  You submit to 99 times and are rejected by all 99 then you are at 100% rejection rate.  But when you submit to the 100th and are accepted you are in that 1%.

I really hate how people in my industry try scaring off new authors with daunting figures that makes getting published look like an insurmountable moutain.  It is hard.  But when people put the time in they can be rewarded.  Now go and submit!  I am not saying you will get offers and ink a deal.  However I do deeply feel that anyone who rejects your manuscript is going to wish they hadn’t.”

This kind of encouragement makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Apr 03 2012

Interesting Conversation With A Friend

Posted by Mathias

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today who has been repeatedly published in the genre of science fiction.  I am withholding his name for reasons that I think will be obvious by the end of this post.

For the past few years my friend has been trying to break out of sci-fi and into another genre.  He has however been repeatedly hassled by the publisher of his past sci-fi books to present them with a new manuscript.  It is important to note that he has no contractual obligation with his current publisher, they just want him to write another book because they see him as an established author who can sell books.  However, as he put it to me, he just does not feel that he has anything worth writing about in sci-fi anymore.  But he does have ideas for other genres.  Unfortunately his current publisher does not publish said genres.

He has been polite in refusing them but confided in me that he was becoming very annoyed with the constant badgering.  Apparently this publisher is very light in the funnel.  The other day when they called he mentioned my name and gave me a reference because they also publish fantasy and let slip that they are interested in such as well. They told him that they were not interested in developing new talent and, such was his take, that they wanted to stick with past sucessess.  Yes, he said, even if what those past successes gave them a subpar story to work with.  They said they wanted “anything” from him and commenting that “quality does not matter.” (more…)

Mar 06 2012

Adding Heft And Garbage To Stories At Publisher’s Insistence

Posted by Mathias

Almost every novel I read seems to have segments where bulk has been added needlessly. Whether it is myriads of little details getting heaped on top of other, little details that will never be played out beyond their introduction, or sidetracks from the main story that seem to have little significance to what is going on an that painfully drag on, I used to think that these sorts of things were authors just babbling and trying to maintain a rigid, dictatorial grip over ever aspect of every leaf on every tree in “their story”.

But, in talking to authors it has lead me to realize that many times, not all however, these sorts of things are put in to appeal to publishers who demand a story be of a certain length or a certain concept within the book be further explored. One friend of mine, currently going through the process of getting his first book published, is adding nearly 30,000 words to his novel because the publisher demanded a longer book after accepting to publish said book. Last night he told me of the horror he was going through to stretch out his story. In some places he gripped about having to “over describe” scenes to the point where reading them nauseated him. He has also added an entire chapter early in the book to included some “action” where the publisher said the book was dragging. But now, with the addition of that chapter, he is finding all sorts of contradictions that need cleaned up elsewhere and changing other aspects of the story. He wants published so he is doing all this grudgingly.

To an extent, we all hope that anyone putting the time and effort in to publishing a book for us as authors knows what they are doing. Sometimes though, based on experience as a reader I do have to wonder. When it comes to a choice between publication or trash bin I think we all, with a few exceptions, choose publication. But in the back of my mind I do have to wonder how much of the things that I find distasteful about so many books I read were not by the author’s hand but rather from the publisher’s ardent insistence.