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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You want me to write what kind of letter??????????

9 months ago if you were to ask me how to have a fiction novel published I would have explained oh that's easy! You write a book, find a publisher and wait for the contract to be sent to you. Bam! Done! Instant glamour and success! (not quite......)

After finishing the first completion of my novel I started to research what I really needed to do in order to get my book published. I looked up publishers and agents trying to decipher who does what in the publishing industry.

I stumbled upon many wonderful blogs and articles from experienced and published authors that gave the information out honestly of what needs to be done. At that point I decided that writing the 100,000 word novel was the easy part.

I found out what a query letter was ( I had no idea I would have to query anything, or anyone for that matter) and figured out I better write one! I had myself convinced this would be easy. I practiced a few letters and saved them onto my laptop.

  Every day I spent an amazing amount of time on the internet researching everything that pops into my mind about writing. I am always looking for what I need to do to make my manuscript better. 

I automatically go to Google and type in whatever word that pops out to me at the moment.

I started researching query letters and how to go about writing one. Honestly, it was more like how to write an incredible query letter that will make my prospective literary agent run to the phone and beg me to sign a contract with them. And I found loads of much information, but of course that wasn't my first Google search on the topic, if I were being honest a safe guesstimate would be about 675 Google searches on query letters and how to write one.

After my countless hours of researching and finding out what works and what doesn't I finally feel I am ready to create the award winning letter and send it off to my selected and carefully researched agents.

So doing what I normally do after working 8 hours and spending 1 1/2 hours driving through Denver's lovely traffic, rush home make dinner, feed the family and the animals, and sit in front of computer and........nothing. My mind is a complete blank. Well, that's a bummer. But there is always tomorrow, right? Wrong! I force myself to begin the rehearsal of the magical letter that will determine if I am represented by an agent or not.

Somethings I have learned about writing a great query letter thus far:

* Keep it Professional
From the format, to the letterhead the query letter must exude professionalism. After all if I wouldn't take the time to know how to format and create a professional letter, why should an agent waste their valuable time with my manuscript?

* Keep it Simple
Less is more, from what I have read no more that 1 page and start out with the basic information. For the first paragraph....... who you are, the genre of your book and word length and title of the book. Second paragraph a brief synopsis of the book. Third paragraph is for any awards, affiliations and if your an expert because of you career choices, etc. and how that has given you an edge in what you are writing. And of course in closing, graciously thanking the agent for their outrageously precious time.

And still, as I write these words I have not gotten my query letters finished and will probably go dig around a little more to find out what works and what doesn't. But with all of this being said, I will write and rewrite those ever important words that will help get my story one step closer to becoming a published piece of fiction.

Time will tell, and eventually so will I! (in my book that is.......)

Sunday, June 26, 2011


My book is completed, for the most part and now comes the task of submission. Which leads me to my next dilemma. Do I have my work professionally edited? In my head I hear a voice telling me......duh.....what do you think?!?! Of course you pay to have the edit!!!!

And I don't mean proofreading. I have done that. I have gone over my manuscript time and time again trying to keep an objective opinion, and I always am able to find a typo or some random sentence that just doesn't make any sense. I then rework it and hope that it is better. But that is where I have my questions. By hoping my work is better, did it improve? Is my writing clear and concise? Will it engage my reader enough that they won't read the first paragraph and then toss the book to the side?

Thanks to the vast amount of information that is available on the internet, I have found that it is about 50/50 from writers and published authors if they hire a professional editor prior to submitting their work.
Some say they always hire out the job, some have used their crit groups and others are profoundly capable of self-editing.
I know my capabilities, which leads me to second guess every sentence I write, and I am sure I would benefit from hiring an editor to help polish my work, however the cost involved can be extensive. And the choices are endless. A google search on hiring a freelance editor yielded 7,680,000 results, wow, that's a lot to chose from. And it is not cheap. Most editing services I found charge anywhere from 1/2 cent to 0.5 cents a word to edit your work, and then if you want to have a more extensive study of your writing completed they will charge you by the length of your manuscript in pages. For my manuscript to be professionally edited it will be in the ballpark of $2000. I had a moment of sticker shock. I am serious about publishing my book (I love my characters and I have a burning desire to share them with the world) but to spend that kind of money as a risk, and no guarantee that it will get me published, I have a really difficult time of pulling the trigger and throwing my hard earned money over to someone for them to critique my work.

I did find a service through one of my many extensive internet searches that did fit into what I was looking for, and it offers a free trial for 7 days to see if it is any good.

It is called Grammarly and it is very user friendly, even if you aren't really computer savvy. All you have to know how to do is copy and paste, and away you go.

How it works is you put your text in the box and it does the magic. I started by trying to put an entire chapter in the first time, and my impatience came to the surface after 10 minutes of the program doing its work so I started over with about 3 pages of text.

After registering, it will give you a detailed report of where the errors in your work lie. There is a running list to the right of your work and it explains how many error it found, and what type of errors. After you are able to see your list running down the side, you are able to click on each one and it highlights the troublesome area and it explains the problem.
Some of the rules it explains are verb form use, limiting modifiers, punctuation within a sentence, vocabulary use, commonly confused words, comparing of two things, and the piece that I really like, synonyms. The list goes on and on of all of the correctness that this program is able to help a writer achieve.  (OK, this writer!)

I also like the program because it takes me out of just reading what I have written, and puts me in the roll of the editor. I have to find the place where the change needs to be made, it is a little tedious, but it takes the writer part of me out of the equation, and I am just focusing on the words, and how I can manipulate them to make my writing better. And it is still my writing, my voice that comes through.

It is relatively inexpensive too. There are options if you would like to sign up monthly, quarterly and annually. And if you just want to test it to see if it is the right help for you, they offer a 7 day trial for free. There is no limit to submissions in 24 hours that I have found, which I have found in other websites.

This may not be the right help for everyone, but it did work for me. I am sure I will end up using an editor on my own prior to sending in my manuscript, but by using this website first I have invested a little bit of money, but more importantly I have invested my time into my story, and my characters and I feel they deserve the best chance to be brought to life and shared with the masses. When I think about it that way, it doesn't seem like just a money thing, but more of a learning thing that I will be able to continue to develop as new characters leap out of  my mind and are forever immortalized in a story.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I wrote a novel

   Wow, here it is the first blog entry of my first blog. A simple step for many, a huge breakthrough for me. After reviewing many, many, OK many blogs from successful authors in my opinion, I have committed to taking the plunge and beginning my own blog.
   I apologize I can't promise that there will be pages and pages of useful material that people have been searching for, or any winning combinations for future lottery winnings. But what there will be is a step by step journey of what I will be attempting to go through in the weary world of book publishing. Yes, it is true I have written a novel. I know, I know the first blog ever dedicated to the journey of an aspiring author!
And although not a riveting platform or new concept in any respect, I will be posting what I have learned a long the way in my quest to have my novel published.
  The story is not completely finished yet, and I wonder when a writer is writing do they ever feel their work is complete? There is some fine tuning that needs to be accomplished before I am ready to release my hold on this story, but it is close! It is hard to decide if 98,000 words or 105,000 words will be enough. But every day as I continue to write and rewrite I find myself drawn to what others have experienced and also looking to every piece of advice that seems to be available and filing it into my internal memory as well as bookmarking everything I can find in my computer.
So as this first post closes I will be devouring everything I can find on the topic of publishing and be putting that information here.
I must admit the entire idea of having enough of an idea to write it down over a period of two years and being able to complete a first draft of a novel has been a very rewarding experience, no matter what the outcome.
Let's see if I feel that way in 6 months!