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Showing posts from 2015

Some Thoughts on Negative Critique Peers

Are brutal reviewers always good for you? Are they more often right than wrong just because they're brutal, or are other factors at work? 

So what spurred these questions? A friend recently said she had a "brutal critique partner" that could be relied on. It got me to thinking about brutal reviewers in my own experience who were worse than useless and actually destructive. 

We need to keep in mind that the better an ms becomes, the harder such “brutal” critics are forced to dig for critique at all costs, inevitably focusing on matters of taste, e.g, “I don’t like that character's personality...” as opposed to “I think this point could be made clearer by doing XYZ.” You could put 10 of these brutal negative types in a room and they would shred an unpublished novel to pieces in their own special way. But if the exact same novel were actually written by a commercial author favorite of theirs, they would not only praise it but compete with each other to deliver the most po…

Should Mentors or Workshop Leaders Give Poor Writers False Hope?

Though the blurb below was published in The Onion, it is nonetheless a good jumping off point for discussing how creative writing instructors or mentors should approach students whose stories or prose need extra help:

"CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—In an effort to help his students develop inaccurate perceptions of their talents, University of Virginia creative writing professor Alan Erickson told reporters Monday that he takes the time to provide each and every one of them with personalized false hope. “Every student is different, and even though there may be 30 of them per class, I feel it’s important that I make enough time to sit down with them individually to let them know they have a unique voice worth pursuing,” said Erickson, explaining that he frequently extends his office hours and often stays after class to meet with students one-on-one to ensure they hear individualized, unfounded optimism about their writing and their prospects within the publishing industry. “It certainly ad…

The Writer's Edge Interview With Author Jenny Milchman : A Lesson in Tenacity and Smarts

I wish I’d known just how polished and perfected a work has to be to get published traditionally. I was lucky enough to get kernels from industry pros that allowed me to go back and hone my craft...

How long did it take you to get published?

Here are my stats: 11 years, 8 novels, 3 agents, 15 almost-offers from editors. An almost-offer happens when an editor wishes to acquire a book, but gets turned down by her editorial board, or by people in the marketing or publicity departments, or even (as happened to me with my seventh novel) the publisher herself. My first published novel was the eighth one I wrote. And of course, there’s “long” in the non-numeric sense, too. It took an age, an epoch, forever. I thought I would never break through. 

Why did you hang in so long versus, for instance, self-publishing?

When I started out, self-publishing as we now know it wasn’t an option. There was so-called vanity publishing, and it cost a chunk of change, and carried with it a stigma of failure. Thi…

The Pros and Cons of Hiring One-Stop Shops vs. Multiple Specialists for Book Publicity

There are many different services that publicity firms and individual publicity consultants offer to authors looking to promote their books. These services can include any combination of the following: ...
Creating media kits (press releases, fact sheets, Q&As, etc.), distributing press releases on the newswire services, and creating sales pitches targeted to specific marketsWorking with you to fine-tune your website and create the best possible web promotion for your bookScheduling book signing and reading events Contacting local and national television and radio station producers to set up interviews Working with local and national print and online editors to obtain feature coverage Helping you identify your personal brand, your target audience, and your potential reach as an authorSetting up speaking engagements at targeted venuesPlacing articles you’ve written in targeted print and online publicationsHelping you identify your strengths as a blogger, so you can capitalize on the…

Top Seven Reasons Why Aspiring Authors Fail to Publish

At a conservative estimate, upwards of 250,000 writers in the U.S. are currently struggling to write or find an agent for their first commercial novel or memoir. If you understand this business, you also know why an enormous percentage are unable to make it happen. Below are the top seven reasons why otherwise passionate writers will join the 99.9% never to become commercially published.

1. INADEQUATE WRITING SKILLS AND STORYTELLING PROBLEMS

In the case of the former, the writing itself does not display the energy, creativity, and polish necessary to convince an agent to go deeper. This is perhaps the number one cause of failure. Usually, the writer is not aware--or at least, not sufficiently aware to enable productive change. Perhaps this is a first stab at fiction, she or he not realizing that journalism or other nonfiction writing ill prepares one for the challenges of competitive commercial narrative. Obviously, the writer does not know a good editor or reader, and therefore, has …

Why Social Media Doesn't Always Work for Unknowns

by Jurgen Wolff

If you're a novelist who expects social media to lead to book sales, the truth may shock you. After all, everywhere you look you're told to get on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and other social media outlets to attract people. Get a lot of followers, then when your book comes out they will buy it.

"YES, MY  FOLLOWERS WILL BUY MY BOOK!"

A friend recently told me about one of her friends who started a blog about how to write children's books. He posted almost every day and the blog became quite successful.

Then he published a children's book of his own and mentioned it frequently on his popular blog.
Very few of his followers bought his book.

The reason isn't actually all that surprising. They go to his site to learn how to write their own books. A few may appreciate his effort enough to buy his book as a token of thanks, but not many. If your blog posts or tweets or pictures are not directly about your book, the odds are there will be…

In Defiance of The Iowa Writers Workshop and Samantha Chang, and Why You Should Ignore Them Both

by Michael Neff DISCLAIMER: the aim of this article is not to defame, it is to challenge the Iowa notion that an imaginary genetic pre-disposition is necessary before a writer can ever be defined as a really good writer, and secondly, to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that a writer does not have to attend the Iowa Writers Workshop in order to learn to write really well.

"I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit."                                                                                           - John Steinbeck
"I feel that if I just brought them [her students] into the room and fed them chicken soup they would get better any way."                                                                                           - Samantha Chang
“I felt the years go by without accomplishment.…