Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Note on Literary Agents

I am considering submitting to a handful of agents before self-publishing my WIP. So I started working on writing a query. And man is it a difficult task. With so many queries for agents to dig through you really have to find a way to stand out, represent your work, and catch their interest.

While taking a break for the arduous task of query writing - I started research agents. I did a search on Google for "middle grade fantasy literary agents" and started reading through bios.

Umm.... yawn.

So is it wrong of me to think that if I as a writer have to put in all this work to craft the perfect query that will catch you attention and draw you in - that maybe you should put more effort into your bio then just a list of your credentials and what you want to get queries for?

I read one agents bio that kept me laughing through the whole thing. It showed spunk and personality and I immediately thought - I want to work with this guy. (He is currently number one on my list).

After some thought I have decided to use this agents bio as the standard. I will not submit to any agents that have dry bones boring bio's with not personality. Just like they wouldn't read a query that was a list of events with no voice.

What do you think? Do agent bios need a little more umph?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Should Authors Review Books?

Michelle Argyle, a writerly aquantence of mine started (or rather joined) an interesting conversation about Authors reviewing books.

This got me to thinking. How do I feel about the whole subject? So here are my personal thoughts.

As writers, we read. So we are consumers of books. Some may argue that we also 'professionals' in the world of writing and books (especially as published) so we should not comment on the works of others. However, I take a different point of view.

First of all - I always review books from a readers stand point, not a writers. Yes I do make comments about how well 'written' I think the book was. But you don't have to be a writer to be able to see the quality of writing. Secondly - I never bash. And finally - I am always honest. I think of reviews as if a friend had asked me - how did you like that book - do you think I should read it/buy it?

No imagine that your friend asked you this question about a book for which you knew the author. You knew your friend well enough to know that she would not like the book and would find it a waste of time and money. Would you tell her to get the book? Say another friend asks you about a different book (to which you also know the author). But in this situation you did not like the book at all. You felt the focus was too much on the action and not on the characters. So you tell your him to read it. Why? Because that is the kind of book he loves to read.

Do you see where I am going?

What really helped me nail down my feelings on this subject came from my 'other job' - computer programming. I am a computer programming professional and am often called on by many to review, rate, or recommend both software and hardware. Do I decline because I am a professional in that field? Nope. I give my honest feedback and the best recommendation I can. But here is the difference - I comment on the work and the value of the product. Not on the developer or company. So I will take the same approach to reviewing books.

It is perfectly fine for me to like or not like a book - even as a writer or author. And it is fine for me to share that opinion as long as I don't degrade to attacking the author. And I share my honest opinion of the book.

What do you think? Am I way off base?

P.s. Star ratings are a scale, not an either or. Three stars means they liked it. So you can get a good review and a three start rating. Rant over.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Query Hook for Trusted, a Poll

Okay, so I am playing around with writing a query for my current work in progress: Dragons' Trust Book One: Trusted. I figure I can either use it to find an agent or adapt it to a book blurb based on my final traditional/indie decision. And... I need your help. Below are some options for my opening paragraph - or hook. Which do you like best?

Do you find writing queries to be a daunting task?

Monday, July 1, 2013

What Genre do you write?

I love it when someone asks a writer what genre they write - and the response is "YA" or "MG"

YA and MG in and of themselves are not genres. It is an age category, as is state on wikipedia. (Yes I know it is not the greatest source ever, but it works for me.)

Imagine I am a potential reader. I am terrible at remembering names and titles, not to mention my short comings as a speller. I meet you at your sons fifth birthday party and we get to talking. I find out that you write and have published a few books. Excitedly I ask what genre you write (so that I can look you up). To which you reply, YA.

The next day I go to the bookstore thinking to myself, I want to read that one persons books that I met at the party yesterday. So I head to the (massive) YA section. There are three decent length shelves with YA books filling every inch. They are subdivided into category (such as contemporary, sci-fi, and fantasy). I ponder to myself - what kind of YA did they write? Well I remembered that the book had something to do with a rose, or the title was rose or something. And the authors name was Something Somethingson.

Bravely I start at one end of the first shelf and start browsing. By the end of my journey I have picked up three books to purchase. None of which are yours.

Consider for a moment if you had said - I write YA Urban Fantasy. That is say two little sections of shelf in the book store. Again I leave the store having bought three books - this time all yours.

When someone asks what genre you write - they want to know specifically, in fact I wouldn't mind if some responded like this:

I write upper middle grade fantasy books that mostly feature magic and/or dragons and are set in medieval like worlds.

What genre do you write