Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday 20

It's been like a Chinese curse around here this week, hasn't it? Next thing you know they'll be featuring our decapitated heads stacked on the cover of Publishers Weekly.

One thing that made me laugh: a day after I posted my Reality Novelists spoof, the New York Times ran this article about Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint holding an online reality novelist competition. First prize appears to be publication of "a book by a first-time author who wins a contest on Gather.com, a social-networking site that might be described as MySpace for grown-ups."

A MySpace for grown-ups. Check.

Despite my rather excellent timing, I am not psychic, nor do I have an inside source at S&S or the Times. I've probably spoofed the Times too often to have any friends there. Shame, too, as I think Dave Itzkoff is kinda hot, mainly because the Borg haven't been able to assimilate him.

One more treasure I unearthed from the bookmark cellar during an interesting discussion in comments over at Robert Gregory Browne's place: Lakshmi Chaudhry's article on the various theories about why most readers are female versus male.

For the benefit of our newest visitors, Fridays are usually Q&A day here at PBW. This is how it works: you post any writing- or publishing-related question in comments, and I do my best to answer it, or point you to a better source of opinion and/or information, from midnight EST Thursday to midnight EST on Friday.

Ready? Ask away.

32 comments:

  1. Given that there are more women than men reading, do you consciously write for a female market?

    How, in your opinion, is writing for women different from writing for men?

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  2. Dean wrote: Given that there are more women than men reading, do you consciously write for a female market?

    For a female market, no (or, not consciously. Subconsciously is anyone's guess.) I think as a woman writer I'm probably going to have a natural advantage with open-minded female readers because we'd share some of the same basic curiosity and philosophies; just as a male writer would have with like-minded male readers.

    How, in your opinion, is writing for women different from writing for men?

    I would think that if you're going to write fiction that is deliberately gender-specific, you'll probably want to create a story that deeply resonates in some fashion with your target reader. But what that is, is anyone's guess.

    It can also backfire on you. Lizzie Skurnick wrote a piece back in December about "mom-lit", the label being given to the latest trend in women's fiction. In it a couple of people she quoted revealed some of the problems of trying to write gender-specific fiction. Some of the ways young mothers were being depicted in the books have actually offended their potential target audience (and if you want to read the article, the Times will make you pay for it, but you can see a copy for free here.

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  3. I just read an article about Ad-supported e-books that are being debuted. The service charges advertisers to place ads in the books, publishers share in the advertising revenue and an eventual share goes to the authors.

    I believe you posted something about this some time ago. Perhaps you have psychic abilities you’re not fully tapped into, or maybe the industry has spies lurking at Paperback Writer to see what brilliant ideas you come up with next!

    Happy Weekend!

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  4. Love your blog, Lynn! We're featuring your "January: Plan" post on the AuthorMBA Best of the Biz report today (authormba.blogspot.com). Thanks for all the great posts.

    Kay Lockner
    Founder, AuthorMBA
    www.authormba.com

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  5. Jill wrote: I just read an article about Ad-supported e-books that are being debuted. The service charges advertisers to place ads in the books, publishers share in the advertising revenue and an eventual share goes to the authors.

    Excellent news -- thanks for the heads-up, Jill.

    I believe you posted something about this some time ago.

    Last year I indulged in some wishful thinking on the subject with this post. :)

    Perhaps you have psychic abilities you’re not fully tapped into, or maybe the industry has spies lurking at Paperback Writer to see what brilliant ideas you come up with next!

    Has to be spies. I can't even predict what I'll be making for dinner tonight, lol.

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  6. Kay wrote: Love your blog, Lynn!

    Thanks for the kind words, Kay.

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  7. I'd be grateful for help with two knotty questions... part of research for a planned LJ post.

    1. How come Romantic Fiction and TV&Movie Romance seem to be in lock step, but prose SF and TV&Movie SciFi seem to be diverging, with the former shrinking and the latter doing fine?

    2. For SF, does prose have any advantage over screen?

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  8. Lesley12:32 PM

    Is it okay for writers to review books?

    Recently I decided as there seems to be a lack of reviews on Amazon UK (I find I have to continually go to Amazon.com for reviews) that I thought I would do something proactive and write some instead of moaning about it.

    But if/when I manage to get published should I then stop reviewing. I know that some review sites require that their reviewers are not published authors.

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  9. Any advice on how to write that 'perfect' ending to a story? I'm not talking about the climax, but about the page (or paragraph) that happen AFTER the climax and AFTER all the subplots have been resolved. How do you craft that last page such that it feels "finished" vs the climax is over thus the story is over...

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  10. Zornhau wrote: 1. How come Romantic Fiction and TV&Movie Romance seem to be in lock step, but prose SF and TV&Movie SciFi seem to be diverging, with the former shrinking and the latter doing fine?

    I think it's because it's very easy to translate the romantic fiction being written these days to the screen, but much harder to do the same with science fiction.

    2. For SF, does prose have any advantage over screen?

    It puts me to sleep faster. ;)

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  11. Lesley wrote: Is it okay for writers to review books?

    It's okay by me. Lots of my writer friends are reviewers.

    Recently I decided as there seems to be a lack of reviews on Amazon UK (I find I have to continually go to Amazon.com for reviews) that I thought I would do something proactive and write some instead of moaning about it.

    Sounds reasonable. Your views might stir some other people to post their opinions.

    But if/when I manage to get published should I then stop reviewing. I know that some review sites require that their reviewers are not published authors.

    I think that's up to you. If you want to keep reviewing when you're published, you could avoid those sites you mentioned and only review for the ones who don't care if you're published, or create your own review site.

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  12. I've forgotten the question I wanted to ask you. What was it?

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  13. Tamith3:27 PM

    Just something that's been confusing me for a while: Does posting up a work online affect your chances of later shopping it to an agent or publisher, by using up your electronic rights to a story? Or is that not a hard rule? Does it count as first publication to have it up on a website or blog or forum?

    Thanks for giving me another reason to look forward to Fridays!

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  14. I saw that gather competition and I joined because I wanted to read the articles of entries... my friend asked me what I thought of it... it does look like there's quite a bit of crap in there. Anyway, just wanted to say hi since I was reading your blog.

    Cheers.

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  15. Happy Friday!

    I just read Peter Watts's "Starfish" and am I am completely enthralled. Would love to write something in the same vein as that, but not a copycat work -- I want to use his idea of bioengineered humans as a jumping off point, but create my own story (if that makes sense). How do I avoid writing something too similar? I have been brainstorming this all week, and keep coming back to the things in "Starfish" (particularly the idea of humans living in deep sea ....)

    There are so many ways I could go with this, but I'm coming up empty. And advice, suggestions on brainstorming?

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  16. jzaku7:44 PM

    Hi! This is less a question than a desperate plea for help, but here goes:

    My SPAG is fine, my style is pretty good, but my plots are dreadfully boring. Do you know of any good books or sites that can help teach me to develop, yanno, a story worth telling?

    Thanks!

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  17. Sandra wrote: Any advice on how to write that 'perfect' ending to a story? I'm not talking about the climax, but about the page (or paragraph) that happen AFTER the climax and AFTER all the subplots have been resolved. How do you craft that last page such that it feels "finished" vs the climax is over thus the story is over...

    I feel a story is finished when a final, small detail that the reader has probably forgotten is wrapped up in an unexpected moment, or something mirrors something else that happened in the very beginning of the book. The first gives more of a direct sense of having gone full-circle, but I am infatuated with mirror-endings and feel most satisfied when I can do both. The endings I feel I've done that were near-perfect were in Blade Dancer and (upcoming) in Night Lost.

    Standalones are a bit easier to end than a novel in an ongoing series. With series books, I have to work it so that I end the primary conflict of that novel without killing the series premise, and at the same time providing at least a small taste of what the reader can expect in the next novel. Sometimes it's like juggling an egg, a chainsaw and an apple.

    You don't have to use my approach, either -- look at endings of books you've read that you consider perfect, and analyze their elements. Determine from a technical standpoint why they made you feel they were perfect, and try to do something similar in style with your endings.

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  18. Come on, BuffySquirrel, you're not going to trick her into revealing her psychic abilities that easily. Are you?

    {Looks quizzically in PBW's direction...}

    By the way Sheila, I'm getting multiple search hits on my site about "paperback writers salary" You didn't post that in a comment I missed somewhere, did you?

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  19. I just finished "Plague of Memory" and was stunned by how you turned Cherijo into an entirely different person. In fact, with Jarn now taking center stage, I think "Stardoc" is stronger than ever. What made you decide to take the series in this direction?

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  20. Buffysquirrel wrote: I've forgotten the question I wanted to ask you. What was it?

    Let me concentrate....were you going to ask me where you could find some decent submission info for Blackwell? If you were, it's here.

    Or maybe you just wanted to know why Mr. Blackwell snotted on Camilla along with Britney and Paris. I think it's a morality call rather than anything to do with fashion. Mr. Blackwell has very high standards for the women whose clothes he stoops to admire.

    Was I close?

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  21. Rashenbo wrote: I saw that gather competition and I joined because I wanted to read the articles of entries...

    An insider! How cool. Thanks for stopping in. Will you be blogging about the competition? I bet a lot of people would like to hear how it goes from someone who's actually participating.

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  22. I goofed and accidentally skipped over Tamith, who wrote: Does posting up a work online affect your chances of later shopping it to an agent or publisher, by using up your electronic rights to a story?

    I would say it might with more traditional publishers. There are a couple (off the top of my head, Baen and Tor) who have published authors who published their work first on the internet or simultaneously with the release of the print version. I don't know how online publication affected the terms of their contracts.

    Does it count as first publication to have it up on a website or blog or forum?

    The last definite answer I got on this question was "Yes" from an editor from a major publisher.

    I always recommend tryng to sell your novel to print publishers first and hold off e-publishing it until you've made the rounds of the publishers you'd like to work with. You can also write something specifically as an online publication that you intend to give away, and save the work you feel has the most potential to land you a print contract for submissions (this is what I do.)

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  23. Erin wrote: I just read Peter Watts's "Starfish" and am I am completely enthralled. Would love to write something in the same vein as that, but not a copycat work -- I want to use his idea of bioengineered humans as a jumping off point, but create my own story (if that makes sense). How do I avoid writing something too similar? I have been brainstorming this all week, and keep coming back to the things in "Starfish" (particularly the idea of humans living in deep sea ....)

    You might want to take a break from roughing out the idea for a couple of days, and let some of Peter's story filter out while your own ideas percolate.

    The idea of bioengineered humans is not new; it's one of those staple ideas that many SF writers run with (including Yours Truly.) Mine started way back when A.M. Lightner's The Thursday Toads set my brains on fire when I was a kid, and then later modified by the research horrors detailed in Jeremy Rifkin's excellent nonfic work The Biotech Century.

    There are so many ways I could go with this, but I'm coming up empty. And advice, suggestions on brainstorming?

    I would definitely weed out anything that you may have unconsciously lifted from StarFish (it may require a friend to help by reading the book and then looking at your synopsis and pointing out any similarities you may not recognize.) Then I'd take the extra step of going out of the way to make the story unique by taking the core concept of bioengineered humans in a completely new and different direction. Sometimes this is easier if you let the idea simmer for a time, which is why I suggested the break.

    You know that old publishing saying that "Everything has been done"? Well, it hasn't been done by you. Make your mark on this idea with your strengths, your imagination, and your style.

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  24. Jzaku wrote: My SPAG is fine, my style is pretty good, but my plots are dreadfully boring. Do you know of any good books or sites that can help teach me to develop, yanno, a story worth telling?

    Holly Lisle has some excellent workshops you might check out: Beyond the Basics: Creating the Professional Plot Outline, Creating Conflict: or, The Joys of Boiling Oil (this one especially might help you since it's already written); and Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure.

    A web site I recommend to all writers at any stage is FMWriters. Holly Lisle created and ran the site for years, and passed it along to Lazette Gifford, the present owner. It's a writing community with thousands of members that offers just about any type of assistance a writer needs, including critique groups, online classes, challenges, dares, market research, discussions, etc.

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  25. Jean wrote: Come on, BuffySquirrel, you're not going to trick her into revealing her psychic abilities that easily. Are you? {Looks quizzically in PBW's direction...}

    The heck with my cover. BuffySquirrel is always leaving very cool comments, she deserves my best! Lol.

    By the way Sheila, I'm getting multiple search hits on my site about "paperback writers salary" You didn't post that in a comment I missed somewhere, did you?

    Not that I recall. We've been so careful about the secret bank accounts in the Caymans, too.

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  26. I feel a story is finished when a final, small detail that the reader has probably forgotten is wrapped up in an unexpected moment, or something mirrors something else that happened in the very beginning of the book.

    Oh, that is neat. I've mirror endings in several NiPs, but the the small detail idea is great. I can have some really good fun with that. *cackles*

    I see my plots as weaving tapestries, so knotting up those blue yarns in a pretty flower looks better than just have them hanging on the back of the weave.

    BTW Have you and idea already when to have the next e-book challenge?

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  27. PJ wrote: I just finished "Plague of Memory" and was stunned by how you turned Cherijo into an entirely different person. In fact, with Jarn now taking center stage, I think "Stardoc" is stronger than ever. What made you decide to take the series in this direction?

    (For those of you who haven't read my StarDoc novels, major spoilers follow.)

    I knew going into writing StarDoc that I would need a very sophisticated character arc for the protagonist if I intended to sustain the story for ten books or longer. Epic elements like virtual immortality, an always-rocky personal relationship, and Cherijo's ultimate purpose in the universe helped, but I knew that living such a life would also put Cherijo as a person through epic changes as well. That's why when I plotted the original series outline in '98, I decided to (in effect) kill Cherijo in book five as part of a major shift in her character arc.

    Discovering who Jarn is as a protagonist in book seven shows a bit more of how the character arc has shifted to a new level, and provided new momentum for series conflict. And I'm not done yet. :)

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  28. I decided to (in effect) kill Cherijo in book five as part of a major shift in her character arc.

    Discovering who Jarn is as a protagonist in book seven shows a bit more of how the character arc has shifted to a new level, and provided new momentum for series conflict. And I'm not done yet. :)


    I shoulda stopped reading the blog before this. grumble grumle...and we get to read more stardoc... WHEN?????

    groan....

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  29. Gabriele wrote: I see my plots as weaving tapestries, so knotting up those blue yarns in a pretty flower looks better than just have them hanging on the back of the weave.

    There you go. I love your imagery. :)

    BTW Have you and idea already when to have the next e-book challenge?

    I have to look at my schedule, but I was thinking April 1st might be a good date. Definitely before I have to start getting ready for hurricane season. :)

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  30. Shiloh wrote: I shoulda stopped reading the blog before this. grumble grumle...and we get to read more stardoc... WHEN?????

    All is not lost that can be found. And with the cryptic remark, I should mention that I've decided to write a StarDoc novella for the next e-book challenge. So, if the schedule holds, around April 1st.

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  31. oh goodie... a fix. :OD

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  32. I have to look at my schedule, but I was thinking April 1st might be a good date.

    I should not have asked. Now I have a plotbunny (a much needed one, yes, lol). I can only hope that bugger doesn't play the same trick Ricmar did and turns into novel length. I can only do a novelette for the challenge.

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