Editor? Agent? Lawyer? Right for You?

Editor? Agent? Lawyer? How do you choose which is right for you? The answer depends on what you need and what it’s worth to you.

New York publishers are commonly viewed as the Ivy League of the publishing world. Unless you are extremely lucky, you’ll need an agent to gain admittance there.

But just as the Ivy League, a large university, or any college at all is not the best choice for everyone, not all books are suited for New York. You and your book may be better served by a smaller publisher who will devote more time to you.

What if you submitted directly to a publisher and received a contract. If, and this is a big if, do you need an agent who will collect 15% of your earnings if the only thing that agent can do for you is review the contract?

Choosing a lawyer to negotiate a contract can be expensive, too. How can you keep that cost down?

Jane Friedman has 20 years experience in the publishing industry as a publisher, author, consultant, and teacher. Check out her advice here..

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Experienced Pros Share Free Author Advice

The ALLi online event packed with free author advice starts March 18. This will be the 3rd year I’ve attended.

What I love is the solid content without the sales pitches usually found in other free events. I’ve learned more here than in some online multi-session classes I paid for!

  • As an author conference, Indie Author Fringe is unique:
    • its faculty of speakers: the top author influencers and services
    • it’s run by authors, for authors
    • it’s absolutely free to attend
    • it’s global
    • it creates a repository of advice and education that will be promoted all year long by the Alliance of Independent Authors

For 24 continuous hours, 24 events will be broadcast, so no matter what time zone you’re in, you can probably catch some of them live. While you sleep or tend to other things, everything is recorded so you can catch up on them (and the free offers!) when it’s convenient.

Do yourself a favor and check it out. This series of sessions focuses on Writing and Making a Book.

(For those of you on the U.S east coast like me, 10:00 AM GMT on March 18 is 6:00 AM EDT. I’ll be watching while I eat and early breakfast.)

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Corn Flake Battles

What food people ate is one of many things I researched for my historical novel, American Gold. One example: What breakfast cereal options did Americans have in 1911? Did they have corn flakes?

Not only did they have corn flakes, they had competing brands. The Kellogg brothers started making corn flakes in 1906. The corn flakes were part of the healthy diet promoted and served at their sanitarium.

Fir the eagle-eyed among you, you may be able to see Canada mentioned at the bottom of the ad on the right. That’s because Kellogg’s began selling cereal there in 1914. Early globalization?

Many others jumped into the profitable cereal business. A former patient at the sanitarium, C.W. Post, created his own version: Post Toasties.

Post claimed his corn flakes were lighter, crispier, and toastier. When my mother was young, she might have heard this radio commercial.

By the time I came along, even Bugs Bunny sold Post Toasties.

If you’ve shopped for cereal lately, you know that Kellogg’s won this cereal war.

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Pocket watch? Wrist watch?

When a character in my historical novel, American Gold, wanted to know the time, would he or she check a pocket watch or a wrist watch? Another one of those nitpicking details I needed to check that had nothing to do with the plot!

Because American Gold takes place during 1911- 1913, my male characters would check a pocket watch to see the time or to determine compass direction. Prior to the war, a women might wear a wrist watch, but a “real man” would not.

During World War I, soldiers discovered how inconvenient it was to take out your pocket watch when you were otherwise occupied. After WWI, men began to change to wristwatches.

The watch to the left is similar to my grandfather’s silver one. When I took it to an appraiser, I learned that the chains on these old watches are often worth more than the watch.

If you’re wondering how to use a watch to determine north/south, you can find out here.

My grandmother also had a pocket watch, but hers could also be attached to a decorative pin and worn as a brooch. The gold case is elaborately decorated with scroll work and yellow, white, and rose gold.

Although her watch no longer works, I can’t bear to part with it because it is so beautiful. It’s similar to the one pictured on the right, but the photo does not do it justice.

These mementos of days past remind me that our ancestors appreciated the extra work required to make utilitarian things beautiful.

A friend once said her father told her, “surround yourself with beautiful things.” I smile just thinking about that. It’s one way to make our personal worlds a little more beautiful.

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Create Custom Word Dictionaries

Writing my historical novel, American Gold, I find myself using Czech words and names, but Word keeps flagging them as misspellings. I don’t want to add them to my main dictionary because I’ll probably never use those words or names again.

Bird with glasses checking dictionaryOne writer recently told me she creates a custom dictionary for each book. How could I not know about custom dictionaries? Or how to tell Word to use more than one dictionary?

For instructions on how to create and use custom dictionaries plus other neat tricks in MS Word, check out this article from PCWorld.

 

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Oranges and Sunshine: Empty Cradles

I just watched the powerful movie, Oranges and Sunshine, based on the empty cradlebook Empty Cradles by Margaret Humphreys. (Later editions were titled Oranges and Sunshine: Empty Cradles.) Now I want to read the book.

The movie chronicles Humphreys’ journey investigating the plight of English children sent to Australia and elsewhere. Some of them were orphans, but many were taken from poor families by the government.

Instead of helping the children and families in their native country, the government deported the children aboard because it would cost less money than keeping them in Britain. Families were told their children would have a better life with other families who could provide more.

Children were told they would be living in a land of constant sunshine where they could pick oranges off trees at breakfast. In reality, many ended up in orphanages or other institutions in harsh, sometimes abusive conditions. By the time Humphreys learns of this, the children are adults with no knowledge of their real families.

The movie states that an estimated 135,000 children were sent away on large ships in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, but other estimates range up to 150,000. Humphreys’ mission was to try and reunite as many children as possible with their families.

The movie focuses on only a few of the children’s stories and how Humphreys could or could not find their biological families in time. The book has many more stories.

The deportation scheme was finally exposed in the press in 1987. It took 23 years for Britain and Australia to apologize to the families and children.

If any of you have seen the movie or read the book, please share your reactions in the comments.

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CIA Connections to Paris Review

According to this article in Bomb, the publishing world has known for a long time that the CIA was involved in the founding of the Paris Review. I only found out two months ago. but then I’m not in the loop.

I always thought of insiders at literary journals as rather bookish intellectual types. Who knew that some of them were on the edges of the spy world. Hmmm, could be a setup for a thriller.

 

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Your first five pages

I received a professional critique of the first five pages of my historical novel in progress, American Gold, from Jodi Henley. Your first five pages are the most critical when submitting to an agent or publisher, or  grabbing a reader who’s browsing online or in a bookstore.

woman with handwritten pagesI’ve taken classes with Jodi before and found them worthwhile. She is known for being generous in her workshops. In this case, she went beyond critiquing the first five pages. She offered participants a a cursory review of additional pages.

The writing I submitted was private between Jodi and me. The other workshop participants saw neither ,y pages nor Jodi’s specific feedback.

The class I’m in is sponsored by All Writer Workshops (AWW) and runs until Feb. 11. AWW offers affordable classes on a variety of writing related subjects where you get to interact with your instructor. They are not pre-recorded sessions.

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A Man Called Ove

I didn’t want this book to end. I wanted to keep on reading more about Ove and the situations he gets into. The book is both humorous and sad. It’s written in present tense in conversational tone.


Ove is a curmudgeon who can be both exasperating and kind. He reminded me a lot of my father and somewhat of my husband. (I refuse to consider that Freudian!)


Read A Man Called Ove. If you’ve had a lovable curmudgeon in your life, you will smile at the similarities in Ove. If you haven’t yet experienced a curmudgeon, memories of Ove will help prepare you in case you do. If you’re unlucky enough to never have a curmudgeon in your life, at least you can experience one vicariously.

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Find Your Perfect Writers Conference, Retreat, or Workshop

solitary writer in natureIt is so frustrating when I learn about what sounds like the perfect writers conference or retreat only to find that it’s already happened or registration is closed.

Instead of waiting for your favorite writers magazine or author group to list a conference, retreat, or class that suits you, try targeted searches instead. They’re much more efficient way to find what you’re looking for.


You can find a great listing of conferences, retreats, etc. courtesy of 
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Shaw Guides has long been the goto place for finding events aimed at writers. Their site lets you search by genre, location, or month and year.

Hope you find something of interest! If there’s a writer event you’d like to recommend, share it in the comments.

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