Why I Am Anonymous

Hi there, I just happened upon your very creative and humorous blog. (Thank you. I'm blushing right now.) Of course you realize, what I'm doing right now is wracking my brain to try and figure out if you're someone I know. How anonymous are you remaining? Any hints? Maybe even a "Yes, 'Beulah', you know me" or a "No, 'Beulah', you don't know me?"

No hints.

I have made comments in public forums like this before and I have a couple of friends who blog in a "professional" capacity. And what happens is, it becomes a mess at work. Blog readers call you at work and want to argue with you over some comment you made. It drains away my work time.

My job is to find new authors and publish them; not to spend 10-20 minutes on the phone arguing over the fine points of the SASE or the finer points of e-queries vs snail mail. As a representative of my company, I can't really tell these callers to shut up and go away. That would be mean and rude--and reflect poorly on the company I am with. But spending a lot of trivial time on the phone also wastes company time.

Now, YOU would never call me over something this trivial. YOU would only call if you were submitting a manuscript, or inviting me to a conference, or wanting to bribe me with lunch or chocolate. But past experience has taught me that not everyone attends to these professional niceties. So I choose to protect myself (and the company) with this cloak of anonymity, even though it means I may miss out on the lunch and chocolates.


"Let the Editor Fix It"

Yea! Your manuscript is done and ready to start the submissions process.

Well, all but one little part in chapter X, that is. It's not quite right and it's bugging you, but you don't know what to do about it. You've worked and reworked it, taken it out, put it back in, moved it around--nothing helps. Even your mom and your best friend and your cousin who teaches English in high school don't know what to do with it.

So you send it in anyway, hoping the editor will catch it and fix it, because you've tried and you can't. Besides, most editors think they have to change something just to prove they're the boss, right? Even if you submitted a perfect manuscript, they'd change SOMETHING, so if you leave this part as it is, they can change it and feel like they've earned their salary, and maybe they'll leave the rest of your stuff alone.

I know these thoughts run through your head. When on the writing side of the street, I certainly thought them. Even now when I know better, I find myself nodding and laughing in agreement when another author expresses these sentiments.

I understand that you're impatient to get your manuscript out. And I know it's frustrating to keep hitting a brick wall trying to fix problem areas. But I'd like to encourage you to keep trying. Even if it means putting your book away for a few weeks, or even a few months, and coming back to it later. Or, if you're lucky enough to be in a good writers group, have them brainstorm with you. But don't submit yet.

Eventually you will be able to fix the problem. I know you have the ability to fix it by the simple fact that it bothers you; you notice the problem area exists. If it wasn't within your skill level to fix it, you would be blissfully unaware that there was a problem to begin with. Let it rest. Give it time. Work on something else awhile. Then come back to it. Somewhere in the deep recesses of your creativity, there is a solution and you will find it.

And the reality is, if you send the manuscript in with a problem spot, the editor will most likely write "Fix this" in the margin and send it back to you. If there are too many problem spots, they'll just send it back.

And trust me. If I received a perfect manuscript, I would feel no need to change anything just for the sake of changing it. I'd be doing the Snoopy dance and singing the hallelujah chorus because my profit margin just went up!

Getting On My Links

There are so many wonderful LDS writer blogs and websites out there that I could not possibly link to all of them here. So for now, to have your blog/forum/website on my links list, it has to be a site that is PRIMARILY for support and/or education for LDS writers; not simply an author's slice of life, or even his/her daily experiences as an author. It also needs to be kept current and posted to on a regular basis.

If you'd like to be linked here, e-mail your site address to me.

P.S. All links will be listed alphabetically. I don't want anyone accusing me of favoritism. (Although, favoritism has gotten a really bad rap. Every choice we make in life is based on favoritism of some sort...)

P.P.S. If you'd like to put a link to me on your blog, have at it. And thanks.


Please Include a SASE

Got an unsolicited manuscript. (Our website clearly states query first.)

It's not a genre I publish. (Website also states what we're looking for--again, very clearly.)

No e-mail address in the query. (Ok, not everyone is connected. I'm not in the Writers Market so if the author doesn't have Internet, I can overlook those first two errors.)

And no SASE.

Can I just say that including a SASE says to me that you're professional and respectful?

Not including a SASE does not kill your chances with me (as it does with some others in the business), but I do wonder why it's not there. Are you uninformed? Are you being rebellious? Do you have poor short-term memory? Or are you just cheap?

Or maybe you intended to include a SASE and were mortified to find it still on your desk the day after you mailed your submission.

Because the latter has happened to me, I will respond to your submission sans SASE in a polite and professional manner. But for those of you who may be thinking a #10 SASE is not necessary, please, think again.


Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing

Received several "edgy" submissions lately. All were rejected because I'm a "mainstream" LDS publisher.

If you want to save yourself time, expense and grief over rejection, here is a clue: Check out what the publisher has published in the past. If they've NEVER published in your genre, chances are you won't get accepted.

The only exception to this might be a very small publishing house. Maybe they haven't published fiction yet, but are willing to look at it. Maybe they've only published romance, but would be willing to look at fantasy. If this is the case, you can usually find another clue...

Check the submission guidelines on their website. Most will have a list of what they do and don't accept, what they're looking for, what they give preference too, etc.

Or a short phone conversation with the receptionist, "I've noticed you've only published pioneer fiction. Is your company thinking of expanding into other genres..?" (If they say no, politely thank them and hang up. Don't argue with the receptionist who has absolutely no power to change policy. And don't even think of arguing with the editor or the president of the company, who if they wanted to change their policy would have already done so.)

And if they say "mainstream LDS publisher" or "we want manuscripts that are supportive of LDS principles and beliefs" or other wording of that sort, then do NOT send them an expose (why won't this do accents?) on Joseph Smith or a treatise on early Church doctrine that has been hushed up. Sorry, it's not going to fly.

Reminds me of a postcard I used to have on my fridge, "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig." Not that publishers are pigs. And not that we don't sing. But you get the idea.


Don't Mix Magic and Mormon

I had to reject yet another manuscript that had LDS people having magical, mystical experiences.

You just cannot mix the two and have your book sell in the LDS market. Mormons cannot wield magic. They cannot meet up with aliens or be whisked off to a fantasy world. And you just cannot have them dealing with talking animals who pop in and out of existence in one scene, and then have them (the people, not the animals) being baptised in the next. It doesn't fit in our belief structure.

If you want to write fantasy, then write fantasy. Leave the Church out of it. If you want to write a conversion story, write that--but the character's conversion cannot be based upon a fantastic experience.

Well, okay, maybe if you have time travelling teens who go back to the days of the Book of Mormon, (or vice versa) but even that is a stretch for me.


Send Me a Da Vinci Code Fast!

Yea! The judge ruled. Dan Brown did not infringe on copyright when he wrote The Da Vinci Code. Publishers everywhere are dancing in the streets tonight.

So here's something. They said on the news this morning that Dan Brown has made $400 million dollars on that book. And the movie hasn't come out yet.

$400 million! That's just obscene. And it's not even his best book. I've read all four and I liked Angels and Demons best.

$400 million. And while he's a good writer, he's not the best in the world. His plots are pretty good, but after you've read two of his books, you know who the bad guy is going to be. (He must have father issues or something.)

$400 million.And the publisher has made more than that. So figure they pay him 20% (which is absurdly high, but he might have been able to negotiate it after he hit the $5 million mark). That means they earned...well, I can't do math that high.

So let's say they spent another 30% on expenses (production, marketing, sales, support staff, etc.) That means they still netted $800 million.

Well, maybe not. Because they could have done a 50/50 on foreign rights, book club, and stuff like that. Okay, so let's say they ended up at only $600 million.

$600 million. Someone send me a Da Vinci Code fast! Actually, I'm not greedy. I'll take a book that only does 1% of that.

Tips for Perfect Pitching

If you get a chance to pitch an agent or editor at a writers conference, here are some great tips.

Pitch Perfect

How to Get Your Query Rejected in 10 Easy Steps

I am not the only, nor even the most clever and informative, blogger on the topic of writing and publishing. I regularly read several good blogs/websites on the subject. Occasionally I will link to one here.

Kristin's Top 10 List is such a one.

All I can say is "Amen!"

Writers Groups

I just finished my first manuscript. I have a friend who wants me to join her writers group. She thinks this would be a good way to get some feedback and determine if I'm ready to submit. But I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I've heard horror stories about critique groups. What do you think? Is this a good idea or not?


Dear Groupie,

The good news: A good writers group can be an invaluable resource. It can be a great incentive to write according to schedule. Sharing information, successes, rejections is a great support to the often lonely world of writing. The bad news: Good groups are hard to find.

A good group often has a mix of beginners and published authors. It may also help if the group is specific to your genre. You don't want to be in a group that is too nice to give you honest feedback, but you also don't want a group where flaming and destructive criticism are allowed or encouraged. Good feedback should point out what you did right, as well as places that need work. All feedback should be given with respect. You also want to avoid groups with overbearing personalities that dominate the group. Interaction should be a give and take among equals, not bossy know-it-alls condescending to share their advice and experience with the ignorant. (I’m not a bossy know-it-all. Well, not always.)

Go to the group. Read a few pages. Listen to the comments. Think about the feedback. It only takes one or two visits to determine if the group is a good fit for you or not.

And don't be offended if a group invites you to attend on a trial basis. There are a lot of new writers who start out with a bang, but then become hit-and-miss non-producers. This is a burden to the group. A screening process allows a healthy group to protect the integrity of the resources they offer. If you are rejected because you're not a good fit for them, you probably wouldn't have had a good experience with them anyway

Getting Started Here

Woo-hoo! I have a question.

This is exciting!

End of the Long Stuff

Now that I've got all that stuff out of my system, it's time to get on with the process. Looking forward to hearing from you.