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Posts Tagged ‘Maryland Writers Association’

Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some information about agents. Enjoy! (In case you didn’t see it, last Monday, Katherine stopped by with a guest post about writers and writing communities. Not to be missed!)

To Sign or Not to Sign with an Agent – Excerpt from Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Industry Like a Pro by Katherine Pickett

© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com “’Do I need an agent?’ I hear this question frequently from aspiring authors, many times with a tinge of fear in their voices that I might say yes. Agents mean having an expert on your side to get you noticed and to assist with negotiations. But they also mean adding one more gatekeeper to the mix. Can’t you get your book published without one? That depends on which publishing route you choose, which genre you write in, and which publisher you approach. Nonfiction writers have a slightly easier time getting a publisher without an agent than fiction writers; if you are writing fiction, you will almost certainly need an agent if you want to go through a publishing house.

While some university presses and small publishing houses are open to unagented manuscripts, they are becoming fewer and farther between. The so-called Big Five publishing houses—which include Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster—don’t accept anything without an agent. Each of these companies owns a dozen or more imprints that have their pick of books to pursue, and agents serve as a filter for the thousands of books that are submitted to them.

But what if you don’t want to work with an agent? You’re determined to find that small press that is willing to work with you as an individual. You don’t want to add the six months or a year that it can take to find an agent before you even reach a publisher, and you don’t know what the point of an agent is anyway. You are going to approach publishers directly. This is a viable option, and one that has worked well for many authors. But before you rule out agents entirely, you should know what signing with an agent means for you.

‘Generally speaking, an agented project will be picked up or rejected by most publishers within two to three weeks of submission,’ write Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, authors of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published.  That’s compared to six months for a response for unagented works. Agents get your book noticed, and they get personalized responses. This kind of attention can speed up the acquisitions process considerably. There are many other pros and cons as well, as shown in the following list.

You should know that agents:

Pros:
-Have established contacts within the industry
-Know best practices for preparing a proposal
-Are likely to get you a larger advance than you could get on your own
-Can negotiate terms of the contract that you may not entirely understand (e.g., foreign rights, subsidiary rights, royalty structure)
-Track your royalties and ensure you get paid
-Act as your advocate if problems arise between you and the publishing house

Cons:
-Are another layer of gatekeeping
-Can add six months to a year to the process
-Take 15 to 20 percent of your advance

Beyond the cons listed here, fear of rejection seems to be one of the biggest holdups for aspiring authors. For whatever reason, it is less scary for many authors to skip the agent and go straight to the source. The decision is yours to make, but I have always felt, what is the harm in testing the waters? Your ultimate goal is getting your high-quality, highly marketable book in front of readers, and an agent may be able to help.

Pinpoint the agents most likely to be interested in your work and see what happens. Maybe agents aren’t interested in what you have to offer. But you might be surprised. If agents respond to you, you can decide from there whether you want to pursue the professional relationship. If no one responds, then you have more information about the amount of work you need to do to self-publish or to find another route. And while you are doing that, you can continue writing and polishing your manuscript.

I must note, however, that it is false to think that any agent is better than no agent. There are predatory agents out there. Protect yourself by educating yourself and working only with people you trust. You should not sign with someone who wants money up front, whether he or she calls it a reading fee, an evaluation fee, or any other name. Reputable agents do not get paid until they sell your manuscript. The article “How to Find a (Real!) Literary Agent” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America advises that good agents will list recent book placements on their website; are accessible by means other than just e-mail; and won’t try to sell you on other services. Membership in the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) , the trade group for US literary agents, is also a plus. AAR has a searchable database that you can use to determine if your prospective agent is a member.”

PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services,  and the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro from www.HopOnPublishing.com  Since 1999 she has edited more than 300 books in a wide range of topics and genres. She is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the St. Louis Publishers Association, and is president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Want to discover more about Katherine Pickett and Perfect Bound? Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

And you can purchase Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro on Amazon.

Thanks again to Katherine Pickett for her informative guest post. Make sure to check out last Monday’s post on writing from Katherine. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and more. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some thoughts about writers, the writing community, and life. Enjoy! (By the way, in 2 weeks, Katherine will return with information about agents).

Give More than You Take by Katherine Pickett

“Human beings can tend toward the selfish side, taking from others more than they give out or giving only so they can get something in return. This is particularly true when resources are slim and people become concerned that their livelihood is at stake. This phenomenon plays out on the large and small scale, and the writing community offers one excellent case study of how it happens and why it is not the best approach when trying to achieve personal and professional success. Don’t be one of these people. Give more than you get. When you do that, your writing will be improved and so will your relationships.

Read Other People’s Writing
Many writers spend their time reading their own work, rarely looking up long enough to read something from someone else. However, reading other writers is a great way to improve your own writing. Offering your time as a beta reader is one way to do this. Reading one of the many literary journals available to you is another. Before you submit your next flash fiction or essay for consideration, take the time to read the other authors included in the journal. Read related journals as well, and think about how you can learn from those who have gone before you.

Buy Other People’s Books
PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Some writing communities are home exclusively to budding writers, while others also include traditionally and self-published authors. It’s easy to feel competitive with the ones who have already reached what you yourself are striving for. You may feel tempted to tear down what they have done, perhaps feeling they had some unfair advantage or their book really isn’t all that good. The negativity this generates takes its toll on you as well as those around you. Instead, support these writers by purchasing their book and sharing it with others. Add to their success rather than knocking it down. This is the essence of community.

Turn Off the Self-Promotion
We get it: you have a book coming out or a manuscript to sell or a signing to host. Now turn off the self-promotion and start paying attention to what other people are doing. Once again, it’s about supporting those in your community. Contrary to what some people think, there are no self-made men. We have to engage with the world in a meaningful way if we want to achieve any level of success that matters. Attend someone else’s signing. Help get the word out about someone else’s news. Be involved in more than your own small world. Then notice how many more opportunities come your way because you were willing to get involved.

Erase the Scoreboard
‘Tit for tat.’ That is the attitude some writers seem to have when they decide whom to help and whom to ignore. When you support someone in a tangible way, it is normal to expect a little support yourself down the road. However, that is not the reason to do something nice for a fellow writer or other publishing professional. Rather than keeping score with each good deed you do for someone else, waiting to cash in that favor, put good things out into the world and let them go. People can tell when you have an ulterior motive, and it’s a turnoff. Give selflessly and others will notice that too. You may not get back exactly what you put into your relationships, but it will likely be more valuable than whatever tangible gift you have given.

When you’re trying to ‘make it,’ it’s easy to become self-absorbed. With every new person you meet you may think, ‘How can this person help me get where I want to be?’ The thing is, life is much more enjoyable when you turn that around. So, when you receive help with writing opportunities, speaking engagements, a new job or publication in a coveted journal do what you can to return that to the universe. I truly believe giving more than you get makes for a much more rewarding life and career.”

Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, LLC and the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro from www.HopOnPublishing.com  Since 1999 she has edited more than 300 books in a wide range of topics and genres. She is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the St. Louis Publishers Association, and is president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Want to discover more about Katherine Pickett and Perfect Bound? Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

And you can purchase Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro on Amazon.

Thanks again to Katherine Pickett for her wonderful guest post. Make sure to stop back on Monday, September 8, for an excerpt about agents from Perfect Bound. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a pay-it-forward day! – Vonnie

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Skean copy As I promote my Young Adult fantasy/adventure novel, The Enchanted Skean, I’ve given talks for several writers’ groups. The latest program was sponsored by the Annapolis Chapter, Maryland Writers Association on the Young Adult/ Cross-Over Market — and it also included The Enchanted Skean‘s strange journey from a scribbled first chapter to a published novel.

As you’ll see and hear, my presentation is animated and enthusiastic. A couple of the points I made: Be ready when opportunity knocks (I wasn’t). Be persistent (I am). Writers don’t always agree with their editor’s comments, but an editor is editing for the reader and (sigh) they’re usually correct in their suggestions. And, yes, it’s hard to admit my editors are usually right about their suggestions – I really don’t like to revise work, but I know it’s part of the publishing process.

I had fun doing the program, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. (Please ignore my rather disheveled appearance. I drove over 2 hours in rush hour traffic on a hot day to do the presentation). So here are the 2 links. Thanks to Annapolis Chapter MWA for inviting me, and thank you David Joyner for recording the talk and sharing. Enjoy!
Part 1:  https://vimeo.com/73053339
Part 2:  https://vimeo.com/73054182

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I’ve always found the number 13 to be lucky. I know many of the people reading this post will disagree, whether they suffer from Triskadekaphobia (fear of the number 13) or not.

Maybe it’s because my daughter was born on the 13th of the month – though I liked #13 long before then. Perhaps it’s because a baker’s dozen gives the buyer one extra donut to eat. As a writer, maybe it’s because there are 26 letters in the alphabet (2 times 13). Or perhaps it’s simply because the number 13 is unloved by others.

Skean copy Two thousand and thirteen has been a good year so far in my writing life. My fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, was published by Mockingbird Lane Press, and a collection of speculative stories, Owl Light, is due out from Cold Moon Press within a year. Plus I’ve gotten to interact with my readers at the Bel Air Authors Day (Maryland, USA), Balticon (SF/F con), the Black-Eyed Susan Book Celebration at the Towson Library (Maryland, USA), a Harford Writers Group meeting, and I’m due to speak at several other events including meetings of various branches of the Maryland Writers Association.

And June 13th has turned out to be a good day, too. I have a guest post up on writer Anne E. Johnson’s Jester Harley’s Manuscript Page: http://anneejohnson.blogspot.com/2013/06/vonnie-winslow-crist-on-using-fact-in.html I talk about using fact as the beginning place for writing fiction. You can read about several of the facts that were incorporated in The Enchanted Skean.

I also have a new interview up on Lindsay and Jane’s Views and Reviews: http://lindsayandjaneviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/2013/06/interview-with-vonnie-winslow-crist.html I really appreciated the thoughtful questions posed by Romina, the interviewer, and I hope my answers will prove to be interesting to readers. And thanks to Romina for reviewing The Enchanted Skean. A brief excerpt of her review: “The book evolves around a mystical world that in such a well-written descriptive is easy for the reader to imagine. The characters are fun and defined well in the story…This is a book full of creatures of folklore and…fantastical moments that will appeal to a…reader with a passion for this genre.”

Happy June 13th everyone – and in my next post I’ll tell you about one of my fears and how I was forced to confront it on May 31, 2013.

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As 2012 draws to a close, I look back on a year filled with professional highs and lows.

pillywiggins My young adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, once represented by a successful New York literary agent found itself homeless when the agency closed. Due to family obligations, I couldn’t go to a science-fiction/fantasy convention I wanted to attend, and another con didn’t even acknowledge my desire to participate. My 2nd collection of speculative short stories, Owl Light, needed at least 2 more stories and I couldn’t seem to write the right tales. Plus, I had to wait my turn in the publishing schedule (not always easy to do when you’re anxious to see your work in print). A fantasy painting accepted for a magazine cover was not used when the editor left her position. Several stories I thought well-written were rejected from what seemed to me to be perfect markets. And I could go on.

But wait, before I cry in my tea, for every setback, there was something positive in my author-illustrator life.

My young adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, found a home with the wonderful folks at Mockingbird Lane Press, and is due to be published in early 2013. I was able to attend and participate on writer panels at the Library of Congress,  Balticon, and Darkover. And I had several unexpected book signing opportunities at the Bel Air Authors & Artists Holiday Sale and the Carroll County Farmer’s Market Authors’ Day. Ideas for the 2 tales I needed to write for Owl Light sprang into my head like nibble sprites, and my turn to be published by the excellent Cold Moon Press is rapidly drawing near. Though that one painting hasn’t made it to the cover of a magazine yet, 2 others were used for the covers of Bards & Sages Quarterly and Scifikuest. Perfect markets accepted and published several of my stories: Tales of the Talisman, Ocean Stories, and Zombies for a Cure. And I will go on!

Harford’s Heart Magazine featured one of my paintings as a cover and did a feature article on me as an illustrator. Bards & Sages accepted another painting for a 2013 cover. I had 2 ebooks published by Cold Moon Slivers and, yeah!, I got to do the cover art. I had the opportunity to appear as a guest on several blogs. The reviews for my 1st Cold Moon Press book, The Greener Forest, continue to be good. Broad Universe, a fabulous group that supports women who write speculative work, featured me 3 times on their Broadpod podcast, and once on Broadly Speaking. The beginning of an unpublished YA fantasy novel won the Silver Award from Maryland Writers Association. I felt honored to judge both a poetry competition and an art contest.

I’ve gotten to meet many readers and writers in 2012, both in-person and via Facebook, Goodreads, etc. And I was lucky enough to have a poem in the final issue of EMG-Zine, an online speculative magazine. Yes, I said final issue. Though the archives are supposed to remain available, EMG-Zine has closed its doors to new poems, stories, articles, and art work. The editor may be gaining time to work on her own creative endeavors, but readers and writers will surely miss this lovely publication.

And so, 2012 draws to a close. On this last day of the old year, I have an interview up on Highlighted Author- http://highlightedauthor.com/2012/12/welcome-vonnie-winslow-crist/ Thanks, Charlene A. Wilson for allowing me to finish 2012 on a high note. (Okay, that was a little punny.)  I look forward to 2013 with all of its ups and downs, unexpected curves, and joyous surprises. And may 2013 bring good things to each of you.

PS: Though I try to count my blessings accurately, I’m sure I’ve over-looked a publisher or 2 who has used my work. Thanks to them, too.

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Yes, I know the title of this blog is cheesy. But some days are cheddar & gouda days. I decided to add a couple of fun links that are related to The Greener Forest to my blog.

First, I’d mentioned earlier that I’d drawn a maze which was included in the Balticon 2011 BSFAN book. For those of you who weren’t at that convention, my publisher has kindly scanned the maze, and it can be downloaded for FREE at the Cold Moon Press website: http://www.coldmoonpress.com/forreaders.html

 Second, I participated in a Broad Universe podcast. I must admit to being very intimidated as I stared at the microphone on my computer and tried to confidently read an excerpt of “Birdling.” I had to keep my reading, including intro & sign-off, to about 5 minutes. I “motor-mouthed” through a chunk of the text, then realized that if I wanted listeners to understand what I was saying, I needed to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. After editing the story and stumbling through multiple read-throughs, I finally managed an agreeable reading of a snippet of the 1st story in The Greener Forest (which also appears in Faerie Magazine Issue 22).

If you’d like to take a listen, I start reading a portion of “Birdling” about 1 minute & 51 seconds into this podcast: http://broadpod.posterous.com/may-2011-celebrating-motherhood

If you’d like to meet me & hear what I have to say about submissions to The Gunpowder Review 2011, I’ll be participating on the editors panel on Weds., Aug. 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM in room 205, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis, MD. This event is sponsored by the Annapolis/Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Maryland Writers Association: http://www.marylandwriters.org  I’ll also have copies of my book & the literary magazine available for purchase that evening.

And finally, take a few moments this week to step outside one night and listen to the cacophony (gosh, I love that word!). Summer is drawing to a close at Wood’s Edge (and in many other parts of the USA & elsewhere). The cicada, katydids, crickets, frogs, night birds, and a few unidentified critters are making quite a racket beneath the blanket of stars.

My advice for today: Do something fun (a maze perhaps?), do something outside your comfort zone, get out and meet people with similar interests, and enjoy the magic of a summer night.

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I’m back from a week in the mountains of West Virginia, and I’m filled with both longing for the quiet of the deep forest and eagerness to resume my “normal” life. Coming home after a trip is always like that. I miss the excitement of adventure and travel, but relish the familiarity of Wood’s Edge.

 I think my writing is like that, too. As a writer, I was first a poet. This spring/summer, I worked hard on an essay, “Fairies, Magic & Monsters,” that appears in the latest issue of “Little Patuxent Review,” and on a number of short stories for various magazines and anthologies. By tomorrow noontime, I need to finish my next column for “Harford’s Heart Magazine” and get it emailed to my editor. And before next weekend, I really need to complete an article promised to an editor ages ago. Then, I suppose I’ll write a poem or two. You see, poetry for me is like a faded, well-worn pair of jeans — comfortable and easy to slip into.

 For those who might like to read a couple of my poems, the fabulous new anthology from Maryland Writer’s Association, “Life in Me like Grass on Fire,” contains “Harpers Ferry” and “Venus.” Per usual, I used myth, folklore, and legend in both poems. As a bonus for being part of the book, I got a chance to share “Harpers Ferry” and chat about contributing to anthologies at a meeting of the Howard County Branch of MWA in July. It was lovely to spend an evening with a group of enthusiastic readers & writers.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Sharing the love of words with like-minded individuals. So thanks, MWA for including my poems and inviting me to participate in several special presentations based on “Life in Me like Grass on Fire.”

Now, back to my column…

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