Mark Terry

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reality TV

March 22, 2010
I know, it's hard to beat yesterday's post and pics. Oh, and if you're still having problems with your RSS feeds, etc., try it with the site now. The URL is different and everything is in place.

Anyway, here's my train of thought this morning. I saw a headline about Kate Gosselin being on Dancing With The Stars (can't you just hear brain cells committing suicide?). Since, as far as I can tell, Kate Gosselin is only really famous for having had 8 kids (and both her and her ex-husband appear, to me, to be miserable, narcissistic, self-involved, vain... oh never mind), I started contemplating reality TV, which I don't watch. But it got me to thinking about the original starter of the execrable (always wanted to use that word) trend in so-called entertainment, Survivor.

As has been pointed out on Survivor, the people who win are not necessarily the people with the greatest survivor skills. They are people who understand the rules of the game and play the game to win.

Well, now, I just brought that back to writing.

Publishing has rules, whether we like them or not. And for this post, let's just skip over self-publishing, POD publishing, e-publishing, and stick to traditional dead-tree-stuff publishing and bookstores.

The rules, I think.

1. Write competently, ie., your story makes sense, there are few if any spelling or grammatical errors, the story is compelling, the main character is interesting, the plot involving. Graceful, lyrical writing not necessary, but appreciated if it works for the story. It at all possible, story must grab readers emotionally. Needs to be of a salable length, which typically means 70,000 to 120,000 words, depending on genre. (And Jessica Faust just made a comment that if you query her with a 500,000 word novel, the answer is "no.")

2. Must be marketable, ie., publisher has some idea of what genre it falls into, which allows them and bookstores to identify what type of book to call it. A short hook is nice so the acquiring editor can sell the book to their boss and to the sales department in one or two sentences.

3. Writer than has two options. Find an agent or find a publisher that's willing to read it directly from the writer. Dean Wesley Smith's advice notwithstanding, I have not had luck approaching major publishers without an agent (or with one, for that matter). I would take his advice with a grain of salt on that issue, although I think it's worth thinking about.

4. If you need to find an agent or if you are approaching an independent publisher that will read unagented materials, either way, you need to learn to write a compelling query letter, a skill rather different from writing a novel. You need to learn to boil your plot down compellingly with specificity into one or two paragraphs, then an additional paragraph about who the hell you are, if it's at all relevant to the query.

See. It's simple, when you break it down that way. :)

Now I need to think about the rules of book promotion post-publication. I'm still learning...


Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I love your pictures! And the cake - yum!

I think your rules make sense. I follow all of them. So far they're not really working for me, but maybe someday...

12:19 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Maybe someday soon...

12:35 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

I pretty much agree with what he says, except that bit. I wouldn't give up or limit myself because of an agent or no agent, but I'm not sure I'm going to discount that method from the start.

I've noticed that I seem to think I have to write better than the best thing out there in the genre I'm attempting. I've noticed this is a lot of pressure. I'm unconvinced this attitude helps, LOL...

1:16 PM  

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