Monday, March 31, 2014

BIG NEWS for A PATH TO PUBLISHING!

 

INTRODUCING Revise Your Novel in a Month Workshop

Congratulations! You have written a draft of a novel. You accomplished what many writers merely talk about and dream of doing – you have written an entire story from beginning to end. When you finish celebrating, it is time to revise: to re-envision and rewrite what you’ve written into a novel that agents, editors and readers will devour. 

PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month is the perfect opportunity to revise what you’ve written with step-by-step instruction and daily exercise. Writing a great plot involves craft and skill and know-how. Before you undertake a major rewrite, first consider your story from all angles. You know you’re ready when you’ve checked all the essentials elements for creating an exciting story with compelling characters and a meaningful plot. 

Here’s How Revise Your Novel in a Month Works
Revise Your Novel in a Month provides you with 8 instructional videos. Each video includes an in-depth look at specific plot elements and how to consider these essential story principles as you revise your story. Writing assignment(s) to guide you from draft to a finished novel provide you with step-by-step instruction how to analyze and revise your concept, characters, theme, plot and story before rewriting. 

To complete the course in a month, watch two videos a week. Or, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. PlotWriMo workshops are designed to fit into even the busiest of schedules. The workshops have no set meeting time. You sign in and watch video lectures, complete homework assignments, and ask questions in a public forum on a timetable that fits your needs.

You decide your revision pace as you explore and complete each video exercise based on your own individual needs in preparation for a major rewrite. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

You query an agent based on their ‪#‎MSWL‬ (Manuscript Wish List) and you get a rejection--my perspective on what the agent was thinking and how to turn this lemon into lemonade

So let me give you a little of what the agent was thinking and what positive reaction you
can have from this....

1) Agent was thinking he wants a certain book but although in your mind it is a perfect fit, in his mind he is looking for a certain voice/character/plot that is not the same as the ms you sent him, OR
 

2) (and this is hard to hear) perhaps your concept/writing/first pages are not as strong as you think they are.

You have a couple of choices...

1)you can keep querying if you believe you have made the query and pages the best they can be, OR


2)you can take this as sign that is time to relook and re-evaluate your concept, then your characters, then your voice, then your plot, and finally...the way your words form together on the page.

If you want to learn more, a discussion about this topic is happening right now in the A PATH TO PUBLISHING Facebook Group. 

Come on over and join the conversation!

The A PATH TO PUBLISHING Facebook Group. was created by Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and Plot Expert Martha Alderson as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a hopefully wonderful place for us all to advance our skills, our creativity, and our dreams plus learn about upcoming A PATH TO PUBLISHING workshops.

A PATH TO PUBLISHING's goal is ensure authors and illustrators understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

There are 3 things that, for me, distinguish a great writer:

There are 3 things that, for me, distinguish a great writer:

1)VOICE
2)CHARACTER DEV
3)PLOT
 in that order.

Be unique. Be yourself. Be confident. 



Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Posts and conversation about Craft, Book Biz, etc with Agents, Editors and Writers.

Please join the APTP  Facebook GROUP for posts and conversation about the Craft of Writing/Illustrating, Book Biz, etc with Agents, Editors and Writers.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/apathtopublishing/

Unlike a semi-static FB Page, this is much more interactive/conversational.

See you there:)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The A PATH TO PUBLISHING Facebook Group is now Public - Come on over and let's talk about the craft of writing.

I have now made the A Path To Publishing Facebook Group PUBLIC to create a safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a hopefully wonderful place for us all to advance our skills, our creativity, and our dreams.

Come on over and let's talk about the craft of writing.

To learn about upcoming workshops please check out the A Path to Publishing Website

A Path to Publishing is powered by an innovative interactive video chat platform that allows you to participate with Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and Plot Expert Martha Alderson aka The Plot Whisperer directly--as though you're in the same room. (think Skype on steroids!)

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Editor Jen Arena's Expert Advice on Writing Chapter Books

CHAPTER BOOK TIPS by Jen Arena, author of 50+ books and most recently line manager of Random House Chapter Books.

Most kids’ book authors gravitate toward a certain type of books when they start out, usually picture books, middle grade, or YA (young adult), but there are many other formats—easy-to-reads, novelty, board books, graphic novels, and, one of my personal favorites, early chapter books.

So . . . what is an early chapter book?

Have you ever seen Rainbow Magic, Junie B. Jones, Ivy and Bean, or Captain Underpants? Those are all early chapter book series. The thing is, few people write naturally for this level. Here are some tips if it’s a format you’d like to explore:

1) Early chapter books are short . . . but not too short. You still have plenty of room to develop characters, build the action, and have a satisfying climax and conclusion. Usually an early chapter book is between 5,000 and 12,000 words.

2) Make sure the problem that needs to be solved is clear early on in the story. A good rule of thumb is to reveal it by the end of the first chapter.

3) Since the audience for early chapter books is kids who are fairly new to reading, the reading level should be on the low side (above 1.0 and lower than 3.5). You don’t want to frustrate the reader and have them put down the book. This means shorter sentences and simpler vocabulary. How do you find out a manuscript’s reading level? In a Word document, run the Spelling and Grammar Check (under Tools) with your Preferences set to Show Readability Statistics. At the end, a reading level will pop up (it will say “Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level”).

4) Try to keep the plot fairly straightforward. Elements like a switch in the narrator or a flashback might end up confusing a reader.

One of the nicest things about early chapter books is that, more than almost any other format, these books work really well as a series. So if you like writing for this age level, there’s a chance you could end up doing a lot of them!

Jen Arena: Formerly an editorial director at Random House BFYR, Jen Arena has written over 50 books for kids under her maiden name, Jennifer Dussling, and under the pseudonym Tennant Redbank, including fiction and nonfiction, licensed and original. Her first book, Stars, was published in 1996, and has never been out of print, and some of her other titles are Gargoyles, Bugs, Bugs, Bugs, Slinky Scaly Snakes, Pink Snow and Other Weird Weather, Fair Is Fair, Deadly Poison Dart Frogs, Gotcha!, and The Rainbow Mystery. Her books have been published by Scholastic, Grosset & Dunlap, DK, Scholastic, Kane Press, and Bearport Publishing and translated into French, Spanish, and Arabic.


Jen Arena's most recent book One Little Flower Girl won an Oppenheim Gold Award and was featured on Martha Stewart's wedding website, plus she has a number of books coming to print later this year including books with Amazon Children's Publishing, Penguin Random House and Little, Brown.

When she's not writing or editing, you can find Jen in her garden, on a volleyball court, or curled up with a good book.

http://www.jenarenabooks.com/
http://jillcorcoranliteraryagency.com/clients/#/jen-arena/


Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

HOW I READ A CLIENTS' WIP/REQUESTED FULL

As an agent, there is so much to read that there is the danger of primarily reading clients' manuscripts and requested fulls via queries, rather than published books. I've done it, other agents and editors tell me that they've done it, and writers, I wonder if you are doing the same regarding reading more unpublished than published words per month.

What I have found is that I am much more successful at choosing salable manuscripts if I stick to a discipline I discovered when I first started agenting, to always first read a fabulous, strong-selling published book in the genre of the unpublished WIP waiting on my e-reader.

For example, I have a client's WIP waiting for me that is contemporary boy mc. It is not a weepy book or a book in which anyone is sick, however I am reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS right now (and LOVING IT!) because it is generally in the same genre and when I finish TFIOS, my taste radar will be on such a higher plane than if I simply started my clients WIP post Thanksgiving turkey leg. What I am saying here is that I am not comparing one book to the other, rather I am lifting both my conscious and subconscious reading eye so that when I go to read the WIP, I will more easily 'feel' its flaws as well as its shiny goodness.

Writers, I hope you are doing the same--reading well-written, strong-selling books that raise your game as a writer, as well as a reviser.

I'd love to hear what you are all reading, as well as genre.


Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

WHAT IS A PLOT PLANNER & HOW DO YOU USE IT TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING?

We used the Plot Planner as a place to help you balance your intuitive impressions of your story with an equal counterforce: logic. The exercises are pathways to deepening your understanding of your story on all plot levels:

Thematic Significance
Dramatic Action
Character Emotional Development
Cause and Effect
Antagonists
Setting
Subplots
Secondary Characters
Beginning, Middle, End
Scene Development
Tension and Suspense

*****Time is running out to sign-up with literary agent Jill Corcoran and Plot Expert Martha Alderson for the 1st ever online, live Plot Whisperer Workbook Workshops evening chats beginning next Tuesday (1/7/14) from 5:45pm - 8pm PST for four weeks in January. Two daytime spots left beginning Thursday (1/9/14) 9:45am - 12 noon PST.
You benefit from:
1) being held accountable
2) receiving constructive feedback on your plot and concept
3) learning from other writers
join us and continue to deepen your plot and your understanding of your story concept with a comp analysis -- all ages, all genres, characters.

Each Workshop = 2 1/4 hours per week x 4 weeks for a total of 9 hours of Online Video Chat Face-to-Face with Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and The Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson. Each participant will receive weekly feedback as well as have the opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A Discussion.
SIGN UP NOW at apathtopublishing.com

Here is more on Plot Planners from Martha Alderson: Plot Planner: Plot your story using the universal story form for structure and impact. 

A Plot Planner mimics the universal story and is the framework for developing a gripping story. Rather than creating a dry, episodic list of scenes to cover, arrange your story by cause and effect to best engage the reader.

Think of the Plot Planner as the route or map of the journey you envision for your story. When you first plan your plot, your route is likely to be sketchy with lots of gaps and dead ends. These gaps will smooth over and fill in as you come to know your story and characters better. Along your story's route, the plot elements of dramatic action, characters, and thematic significance will rise and fall, like waves cresting. The flow of these elements is like the flow of energy the Chinese call “qi” (pronounced “chi”). The qi is the mainstay of life force, inherently present in all things.

Within your story, the energy undulates. Although every story has its own energy, a universal pattern of energy rising and falling repeats itself. The greater your understanding of this stable format, the better able you are to determine where and when to allow the energy to crest, to make your story most compelling to the reader. Allow the energy of your story to direct the flow of your scenes. The closer you can re-create this pattern in your presentation to the reader, the stronger and more compelling your story. A plot planner helps you map your story's energy and direction.

DESCRIPTION

All great stories have a beginning, middle and end.

1. The Beginning

The beginning usually encompasses one quarter of the entire story. Most of us start out strong in the beginning, but struggle to keep the momentum going.

2. The Middle

The middle is the longest portion of the project – one half of the entire story. It commands the most scenes, and is where many writers fall short. When the allure of the beginning is over, the story starts getting messy. Writers often know the beginning and the end of their story, but bog down in creating the middle. Crisis is the meat of the middle.

Place crisis – the scene of greatest intensity and highest energy in your story thus far – around the three-quarter point in your story, when your audience needs a recharge to combat fatigue, frustration, and irritation. Crisis is where tension and conflict peak – it is a turning point in your story. Crisis is developed through the scenes to provide the greatest impact in the energy flow of your story.

The crisis is the false summit of your case, where the audience can perceive the true summit. Here, your story’s energy drops after the drama of the crisis, giving your audience the opportunity to rebuild energy in anticipation of reaching the climax.

3. The End

The final quarter of your presentation represents the end, which comprises three parts: the build-up to the climax, the climax itself, and the resolution. The build-up to the climax represents the steps you take to lead the reader to envision how the story should end. The climax is the point of highest drama in your story, the crowning moment when the thematic significance of your story becomes clear to the reader. The resolution is your opportunity to fully tie together that significance and make your story complete.

PLOT PLANNER BENEFITS

A Plot Planner helps you visualize your story. Use a Plot Planner to place your ideas and sequence your scenes to greatest effect. A plot planner allows you to experiment with changes in the storyline or presentation to evoke stronger reaction and interest from the reader, and gives you a sense for how the story may be paced. A plot planner also allows you to collaborate with others to generate ideas for better developing your story and to solidify your understanding of the story's core elements, and helps ensure that you understand the story you are presenting. Importantly, the plot planner enables you to keep the larger picture of your story in full view as you concentrate on creating the story’s individual parts, helping you maintain paramount focus on crafting a story that will convey your core message to reader or audience in a compelling way.

CONSTRUCTING A PLOT PLANNER

I recommend building your Plot Planner on big pieces of banner paper, running horizontally. It takes up quite a bit of space, but serves as a continual visual reminder of the entire project.

The Plot Planner is merely a line that separates scenes filled with conflict and excitement (above the plot planner line) from those that are passive, filled with summary and back story, or heavy with information (below the plot planner line). Scenes are where the story plays out, where the action happens moment-by-moment in your presentation.

The external dramatic action of stories told in scene and filled with conflict belongs above the line, like the white caps on the sea’s surface as a wave swells toward the shore. Scenes that show complications, conflicts, tension, dilemmas, and suspense belong above the line. Any scene that slows the story’s energy belongs below the line.

By placing ideas above and below the line, you create a visual map for analyzing critical story information, presentation flow, and weaknesses in your story’s overall sequence.

The Plot Planner line is not flat – it moves steadily higher, building your story slowly and methodically as tension increases. Each scene delivers more tension and conflict than the preceding scene, with intensity building to your story's climax.

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ON THE DEVALUATION OF WRITERS, BY WRITERS

Do you all get bookgorilla? This is an email with a listing of $3.99 and under books on kindle. bookgorilla does NOT set the prices, they simply report on the listing, offering a link to that price on Amazon. For a long time this was free to authors and publishers, but with demand outstripping supply, they now charge a reasonable amount to get your book seen by their subscribers. And yes, this is just one of many such services. Here is a link to how bookgorilla 'chooses' which books to include: http://www.bookgorilla.com/advertise

The newest proliferation of $0.99 for 8 book sets is now all the fad. Writers, I know there is a good marketing reason for capturing readers with our first 'free' book and then have them coming back for more, but now that the reading public can fill their e-readers with practically free 'bestselling' books, what is their incentive to pay you a fair price for your next book? And what is a fair price these days?

There is an article in the WSJ today that talks about clothing prices, "Looking for New Ways to Set Prices, Retails Take Cue From Customers". Here is an excerpt: "Now that list prices have grown so detached from what shoppers actually pay, some retailers are experimenting with new ways of determining what their goods should cost....It turns out customers are sometimes willing to pay a higher price than retailers would have otherwise charged. ...Pricing an item too low at the start can signal that it isn't worth much, Mr. Zhang [a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business] said. But the practice has led to a cycle of discounting that frustrates retailers and confuses consumers."

I get it, we all want our books to be read and with the voices of bloggers and twitter-parties often trumping professional reviewers when it comes to sell-through, getting your foot in the door/getting your ebook on anyone and everyone's e-reader is the first step to [hopefully] selling these buyers your second book. BUT, if your self-pubbed book is free, and, according to bookgorilla, John Green's THE FAULT OF OUR STARS ebook is worth $3.99, then all of us in publishing will need to downsize our houses, our food bill, our lifestyles because unless you are selling a heck of a lot of books, at $3.99 or 1/8th of $0.99 or at the golden 'price' of FREE, we have all just devalued ourselves to a point of below the already pitiful American minimum wage.

And according to the WSJ, we may be too late to change our consumers' mindsets. In a related article in today's paper, "Black Friday's Illusion of Discounts", Suzanne Kapner writes, "Retailers, having trained customers to shop for deals, are stuck with the strategy for now. Macy's tried to cut back on coupons in 2007. "Customers stopped shopping," said Macy's Chief Executive, Terry Lundgren, "so we knew that was a bad idea."

P.S. 11/27/2013, just received my bookgorilla email and FAULT OF OUR STARS is now $2.99, and DAVID AND GOLIATH by Malcolm Gladwell is $3.79. And these prices are not Author-induced. For this we have a little help from Goliath.


Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WHAT IS A YA KINDLE SERIAL & HOW CAN YOU WRITE/SELL ONE?

Kindle Serials are books published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, with future episodes delivered at no additional cost. If you buy the book while it is still being serialized you get to read the story as the author creates it, and whenever you buy it you can discuss episodes with other readers in the Kindle forums.

Right now the only Young Adult Kindle Serial available for sale is Erin Fry's THE BENEFACTOR. Currently three episodes are available out of an estimated six total episodes, with new episodes delivered to your Kindle every week.

In January 2014, Amazon will be selling THE BENEFACTOR in its entirety in paperback for a higher price than the $1.99 serialized price.

How did Erin get this gig?
Erin and I were talking about Kindle Serials and she came up with a great idea that fit the format to a T. We presented it to Amazon and they jumped on it.

I think the key is to come up with a book that is enhanced by the episodic presentation. THE BENEFACTOR is a story about eight high school seniors who compete for a college scholarship on a reality show where do-or-die challenges require more than high SAT scores to avoid elimination. Each episode is an episode of the 'television show'.

I know that future Kindle Serials are NOT based on fictional television reality shows, but for THE BENEFACTOR I think there is no better format for this kind of book. A true opportunity for both author and publisher.

Does Amazon pay well for YA Kindle Serials?
I can't speak for any other deal than Erin's but I can tell you we were very happy with the advance and royalties that we all finally agreed upon.

Do you want to write a YA Kindle Serial?
I'd suggest coming up with fantastic concepts that are enhanced by the episode delivery format. Make a list of ideas and see how you can use the format to enhance your concept, and your writing. For more information on writing concepts and how to brainstorm them please read my post WHAT MAKES A BOOK SELL.

I'd also suggest you fork over the $1.99 and see why Amazon chose THE BENEFACTOR to be the first YA Kindle Serial, and what sets it apart from other novels.

THE BENEFACTOR by Erin Fry

They come from different walks of life, with different problems and different hopes and dreams. But they have one thing in common: they need a scholarship to college. And they’re ready to battle seven other contestants on a reality TV show to get it.

There’s:
Mei, a budding artist with a secret disability;
Henry, not in it for the money but for the chance to follow his true dream;
Lucy, a tough Texan from a new kind of family;
Tyrell, an injured football star with a sick sister at home;
Sam, a musician with no family to fall back on;
Allyson, a devout Christian with a good reason to pray;
Cassidy, a beauty with a secret; and
Hiroshi, a varsity swimmer who left behind his true love.

But only one contestant can win on The Benefactor. Who will take home the big prize? Tune in to find out.

Episode List
An additional episode will be delivered every week until the book is complete. New episodes will be added to the same book on your Kindle, keeping your place and retaining your notes and highlights. You'll be notified via email when a new episode has been delivered.

Episode 1: October 8, 2013. 54 pages. The eight contestants arrrive in California and compete in their first challenge.
Episode 2: October 15, 2013. 51 pages. The results of the first Elimination are revealed, and new alliances form as the contestants compete in their second challenge.
Episode 3: October 22, 2013. 47 pages. The contestants' true colors begin to show, as one person is sent home and the remaining six compete in the third challenge.
Episode 4: October 29, 2013. 49 pages. A devastating tragedy sends one contestant home.

Discuss the episodes with other readers in this book’s Customer Discussions Forum on Amazon.com.

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

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