Friday, October 31, 2008

Editor-Agent Submissions

Yesterday I promised to follow-up with specific submission requests from Rebecca French Smith, Susan Swartwout, and Anna Genoese, who were panelists at the October 25 Saturday Writers' Workshop. Here goes:

* When reading a query for Missouri Life, among the elements Rebecca is looking for are:
- How does it pertain to Missouri?
- How does it connect with readers?
- Have you writtten for Missouri Life before?
- If you are not a former contributor, send writing clips.
- A clear understanding of what you are pitching.
- A unique slant on a familiar topic.

* For the "Big Muddy" Susan wants stories, poetry, or personal essays rich in place and historical context. For Southwest Missouri State University Press, she also wants:
- Finished projects rich in place and historical context to the Mississippi River Valley.
- Books (fiction or non-fiction) with a Midwestern interest. Her best sellers have been works of historical fiction.
- Query first (everything goes to three readers who decide on acceptances)

* As a consultant for TOR/Forge and a genre editor for Paranormal Romances, Anna Genoese looks for submissions that:
- Are sent by an agent (only)
- Show conflict
- Have a strong narrator's voice
- Don't have anything too "precious" or cutesy
- Pass the reality test
- Are exciting
- Stick with POV
She also noted that "Gossip sells."

But wait, there's more . . . I'm also including some advice from Krista Goering, the agent who gave the morning presentation.

* Krista Goering is a lawyer and an agent, located in Kansas. Krista was the keynote speaker for the morning session. During her presentation, she:
- Discussed how distribution and marketing are key components to maximize book sales.
- Recommended query letters be limited to one page.
- Explained the difference between middle-grade and YA readerships.
- Talked how she works with writers to develop readership with their first book
- Sends manuscripts to six editors; if a ms doesn't sell after six editors have seen it, it probably isn't going to work. (Note: My understanding of what she said is that while she doesn't give up on her writers at this point, the six-rejection rule is usually a signal the ms needs to be revisited and either revised or reworked.)
Okay, that's about all I was able to scribble down in between my pitch sessions. Hope it is helpful. I'll be back on Monday.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do's and Don'ts from Editors' Panel

On Saturday, October 25, I attended the Saturday Writers' "Turn the Page" Workshop. One of the highlights was the Editors' Panel, where three panelists (ala American Idol) critiqued 100-word anonymously-submitted excerpts of short stories, articles, memoirs, or non-fiction features from workshop attendees.

Panelists included: Rebecca French Smith, Managing Editor from "Missouri Life Magazine"; Dr. Susan Swartwout, Director/Publisher of Southeast Missouri State University Press which produces books and "Big Muddy: Journal of the Mississippi River Valley"; and Anna Genoese, freelance editor and consultant for Tor/Forge Books (who announced she would play the role of Simon).

Here are a few of the panelists' Do's and Don'ts on how to grab an editor's attention:

Do:
Start fast
Put the reader in place
Show the narrator's voice
Put the speaker up front in an article
Give a clear picture
Be straightforward
Use dialogue, but not dialectics
Use strong, descriptive language
Show conflict early

Don't:
Start with a question
Start with a dream
Start with “imagine”
Start with waking up to an alarm clock
Show narrator looking into a mirror
Use repeated remembering
Use too much description
Summarize
Start with "it" or "to be" - they are killers for starters

Tomorrow I will share their market-specific suggestions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Post

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my new blog, Donna's Book Pub. If you haven't guessed, my name is Donna. I live in the Midwest state of Missouri, nicknamed the Show Me State, which is appropriate for a writer who has been taught to "show, don't tell."

My blog is a virtual pub for writers to hang out and share their thoughts about writing and publishing and for readers to talk about books.

So, here's to you, blog visitors. Hope you enjoy the postings, and have a virtual drink on me.