How important is a blurb to readers?

I had an itty-bitty blog break – just like on my 40th, I’ll have a ‘few’ wines. But like any comeback, I wanted to return with a bang and say, ‘Yeah, that’s right! This is why I blog: because I love to get stuck in, not because I have to.’ And I was bogged down in query hell where Blurb is a king who rules with an iron fist alongside his younger, less important but also unforgiving brother, Synopsis.

But since Blurb and I have had such a close relationship, I thought I would look into the true power that it wields. Does the king become the pauper when you take  it away from this kingdom of hell? Or will it shine because what makes it king will make it influential wherever it is?

So as a reader, how important is a blurb? As a writer, I’m trying to get the attention of an agent. But do the integral components I’m including, bonded together with a voice meant to create interest, translate to a reader as well? If I took this query blurb and used this on a self-published book, would it hold up?

We know there’s a time for creativity when you’re selling and there’s  a time for sticking to the rules. Even with contemporary music, over all the years, we still have a verse and a chorus. And dissonance, while some people don’t mind it, we still prefer the sound of music that is harmonious – in general. So with a blurb, I guess the creativity can be included with your voice, but you can’t add this to sacrifice character, conflict and consequence – in a query.

So when you pick up a book, do you read the blurb, and if so, what is it about a blurb that pulls you in? I have to say, most times I’m halfway through a book before I even look at a blurb; my reads come from recommendations.

But when you do look at a blurb, you expect it to start like this:

Like anyone, Nancy puts her pants on one leg a time. That is, until she wakes up and finds out she has 60 legs, and the only way she’ll make it to school on time is by doubling her efforts.

So there must be a reason a blurb follows a pattern. But how important is it these days? And when you are in a book store, is it the blurb you rush to, or the first few pages?

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Critiques: The truth hurts, but it will gain you entry into the Feedback Protection Program

I made the decision a month ago to enlist professional assistance with my query.  I felt I was gathering conflicting feedback on all aspects of selling my MS, where the only certainty was confusion.

Over the past six months, I’ve been building my own understanding of the submission process, querying and pitching. I’m not going to lie: it’s been a tough six months. But it’s six months that I will never have to endure again. Of course, I’ll always be learning. But that learning curve, like a child introduced to the complexities of the English Language and school bullies, will never be so steep again.

I needed a gauge. A reference by which I could work from. Rewriting and rewinding and spinning and freakin’ cartwheeling ideas in my query was only costing me time on whine and money on wine.

But here’s the thing. Unless you’ve been round the block a few times and caught up with the cool kids for a smoke, you might be surprised at how your work is viewed objectively. It’s daunting. And demoralising. And yeah, I’ve swallowed the subjective angle to make myself feel better. But I needed to accept that there are aspects of my MS, query or synopsis that are confusing and need work.

So, just as an alcoholic has to admit  that they have a problem in order to progress, I needed to accept how far along I was in the process. And just like those brave alcoholics, I have my own support network: The Feedback Protection Program.  And without my honest critique partners who support me when I’m down, I would need a drink also.

So  initially, it set me back days. And after those days of WTFing, I realised it’s going to set me back months.  But if I’m lucky enough to get a partial or a full request, I don’t want there to be any surprises that I didn’t plant throughout the plot.

And that could set me back years.

 

 

 

 

Rebuilding myself as a writer: I’ve been thinking. And yes, it hurt a lot.

I’ve been quiet lately. Silence can be powerful, especially when you’re having a conversation and you want the other person to spill the beans. But with social media, silence will get you nowhere.

I’ve been rebuilding myself. And out of all the reconstructions, I would say this has been the most painful: I’ve never felt reverberations like this. The good news is that I’m back with a sturdier structure. So, next time there’s a tremor, it’s going to take more than people’s opinions to bring me down. I’ll also be able to take a lot more on without cracking.

I’ve been thinking. Looking at what’s hot and what’s on peoples wishlists makes me realise that no one will be hunting my MS. But do you write a book that everyone is after? Or can you transcend tropes and cliches and a glutted market if you write what you’ve always believed in?  You know what’s hot to me now? My book. Always will be, or I don’t think I’d bother selling it. Would an agent want a book that wouldn’t sell? No, and neither would I.

I’ve been going crazy. Wait a year? Write a new book? Start with a great hook and then write a book? By hook or freakin’ crook, just sell this book! You know I’m losing it when I go all Dr Seuss on you.. I’m going in circles, chasing a tail that will forever be out of reach. But crazy is what makes my book what it is. And there are other crazy people out there. And when I reach them with my writing, I hope they feel as though I’ve always been there. You don’t have to wear black, read books and loan friends to feel different. There’s a cliche right there that I want to break.

I’ve been learning. I’ve always stayed true to myself and haven’t felt the need to conform. But now I’m looking at this book and feeling like I shouldn’t stay away from new adult just because my book isn’t racy. I’m going to embrace what I was passionate about in the first place when I wasn’t trying to fit in a box, and I will make it work this way because I will have my passion behind it. And am I jumping on the new adult bandwagon? Nope. And if Mae isn’t jumping anyone, will that mean it won’t sell?

I don’t know, but I hear people wanting books that break through boundaries, not conform to them.

And I want to be that person.

 

 

 

Approaching agents online: is there a protocol?

If you have done your homework, you know that there is an accepted way of approaching an agent with your query. This process takes a long time ( in my opinion), and it is only once you have all the information in hand that you can look back and think, ‘Ah, I get it now. Why did this take me so long?’

Not only is there a structure for your query to follow, but there is an etiquette surrounding your approach, your response and your professionalism. No different than a resume for a job really. I mean, if you didn’t tick the right boxes and if you didn’t hold the experience the employee is after, they would pass you over for the job, right? And most times, they wouldn’t call you to tell you that, or to offer advice on where you went wrong. Submitting a query should be no different; it’s not as though we are approaching the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld…follow the rules, don’t be too chatty, get to the point, move to the side and wait.

With pitching competitions becoming so prevalent online, and writers following agents on twitter for information on the literary industry,  are we breaking down the barriers? Are literary agents more approachable? Do we have a more direct route to information?

I follow agents on twitter, and I believe I have only responded to one of their tweets. In my head, I changed my tweet a number of times, resulting in a much wittier response that would never be read. My clothing can’t withstand that sort of sweating pressure again. I could just tweet sans clothing, but I would prefer to withhold a response.

But could I approach them directly regarding query information? Regardless, this is what I would do after: Oh my God…Did I use the conjunction comma in the correct place? Do they prefer the oxford comma? DID I JUST SAY ‘SHOULD OF’ INSTEAD OF ‘SHOULD HAVE’??

In most cases, information on their querying process is available on websites, publishing sites, query sites. So should we feel comfortable in treating them as we would a fellow writer we follow, an author we follow?

 

How do you make the most of Twitter?

It’s 6 months on from when I started my blog (or it might be 6 months; I’m too scared to actually check), and I thought it about time that I tackled Twitter. Then apologise for my aggressive behaviour…

I don’t blog unless inspiration hits me to the point I can’t sleep.  It should be at least once a week, right? But I have a dog that’s like a cat, and cats that are like dogs, so as you can see, I like to do things differently. It might stem from the fact I was born on the cusp of Leo and Cancer. I’m the astrological bad girl, writing a book on the cusp of YA and NA,  uf and pnr,  humorous and dark. But I also have a habit of falling off track and losing people with my tangents.

I’m back on track. With any of my blog posts, I find a more collaborative approach works better than an informative one. I show you what I’ve learned and you show me yours, and inevitably, I find myself off on another tangent, down the wrong freakin’ road… So we could call it the flounder approach. But I prefer to believe it looks a little more like the worm dance. A little more structured, but certainly has its up and down moments. Although at the start of my process, it feels a little like this:

Back on track. This time for sure…

I started using Twitter at the same time as I set up my blog, and after a few months, I found I just couldn’t keep up. I’d be worried about missing the feed for ten minutes, where yesterday’s news was about 10000 tweets ago. And when you feel you can’t keep up, there are those that slog on and might check the feed twice a day instead of twice a minute, and those who check twice a minute and give up.

I’m going to be upfront. I have been lacking in the tweeting area. I am one of those that can’t keep up. But I am not going to lie down and give up. I’ve taken a snap, which is what my daughter calls a short nap. I argue it should be called a shnap, and a snap should be a super nap, but if start talking about super naps, I’d never get her to have one.

So how do you make the most of Twitter when there are so many tweets and so many retweets and repeated tweets and repeated retweets? Two words: coffee and eyeballs. Two words: lists and notifications. Technically three words, but I find ‘and’ does not help me with Twitter organisation.

I have lists for bloggers, publishers, agents, and authors. I can go in, check the feed for those groups, and jump out. Is that wrong? Am being unfaithful to the 1000 people I am following? Who on earth could check all those tweets and eat?

And just a quick sidetip. You can unfollow those who don’t follow you back, or those who follow you to get your follow only to unfollow you. Confused? The program I use is called justunfollow. I lot less confusing than my explanation.

But who makes those lists and what is twitter etiquette? I might be old fashioned, but if someone follows me, I follow them. If they aren’t tweeting about my hot spots, then I probably wouldn’t put them on a list I can check all the time. But if they are tweeting about my hot spots, firstly, that sounds disturbing, but secondly, I would retweet them, put them on a list and add notifications for them. Hopefully they retweet me now and again.

There are a number of ways people will use Twitter to promote themselves and increase their following, but today, I’m interested in how you keep on top of all those followers: How do you make the most of Twitter?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My New Years Revelation: I’m all or nothing, and I’m okay with that.

I hope you had a wonderful break 🙂 There will be those of you that let all your hairs hang out, responding with, ‘What book?’ when asked what there is to cook, and there will be those scoffing at my first sentence saying, ‘Pfft. What break?’ Either way, we are who we are, and if we aren’t happy with the decisions that we make, then self-punishment will manifest in an excruciatingly painful way. Bless it 🙂 There is no escape. You know it; I know it.

Even if I do relax, my break is never lacking in the stress department. In that little shop of horrors, I’m buying up tension like it will cure other drivers of the disorder that causes them to lose sight of their indicator. You can stress and relax? Yes, it’s a gift.

But this was not, for a change, book related. For the past three weeks, I have only spent time with my family or invested time in ridding the world of demons. Hey, I did say that I was pretty stressed; that’s a pretty important job.

Other than playing Diablo 3, which can loosely be considered inspiration for my series,  available hours have been spent reconnecting with my daughter and disconnecting with my son. Don’t judge me just yet; he is also ridding the world of.. something. Creativity maybe?

But my son and I do have a special connection, and it takes few words to cement our relationship. Five in fact: What level is your hunter?

My daughter, in comparison, requires validation of a very particular, specific nature. Very particular. Very specific. Detailed even… So, we talk about monster high dolls and ever after high dolls, and then I turn to my daughter and ask her what she wants to talk about. 😛 Disclaimer: I have nothing against boys playing with dolls, I just couldn’t help myself. 

So, instead of spreading myself over the course of the day, getting little bits of everything done and grumbling in the process, I’ve been ridding the world of demons while simultaneously wooing my own little devil. I’m a confused, multitasker with split loyalties. 🙂

But if that means I get nothing done writing wise,  at least I’m ‘all’ to them.

And I’m okay with that.

 

 

My Christmas Message

Everything’s crazy around Christmas and New Year, so rather than suggesting ways of trying to fit in your writing through crazy times or crazy writing through normal times, I’m going to suggest an alternative.

I’m not going to get into whether I’m religious, spiritual or whatnot.

Regardless of your beliefs, the message of this ‘retreat’ angel card is clear. I’ll even take out the preachy parts in case you prefer to just hear the message.

Spend some time alone in quiet thought.  Clear your mind, and focus on your truth and priorities.
Think of the mighty oak tree that grows in spurts and then rests.  It draws its nourishment from deep within the Earth, and takes its time before growing upward again.

It’s a simple message, but one that we often ignore.
So take some time my fellow writers, to relax and shut down. And don’t beat yourself, my mighty oak trees. There will be plenty of time to grow again.
Merry Christmas and thank you for your support in 2014 🙂