Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wannabes Talk About Craft. Writers Talk About Money.

Seeing a lot of queries of novels and biographies set in Alaska right now. You can probably guess why that is.

So it seems that if you want a lot of free books, all you have to do is set up a blog saying you're going to review books and people will send you books. You can even specify genres. Then you don't even have to review the books, or just claim you're really busy and have a long list and the publisher will act all not surprised.

My publicist and I have been working together to send more and more copies to more and more blogs. Sometimes this involves me sending the book myself so it's signed, and then the publisher reimbursing me with new books (but not cash for having spent money on postage, of course). Trying to get paid is like trying to get blood from a stone - that is, if you're not Penn and Teller. Even though my second book is due on the 15th of November and the third due Jan 1st, neither have a signed contract (just a draft of one). If we signed, they would have to pay. I expect they'll drag it out until I threaten not to submit the book or something. I also found out that they pay royalties twice a year, so I won't be seeing my royalties from my first book (which have no exceeded my advance several times over, something I would be more proud of if my advance wasn't tiny) until April 2009.

I'm not whining - I love being published - but it's something you can expect when you're published. Like that famous New York Times Book Review article, "Publish or Perish." Someone in my grad program had it on her office door. Anyone have a scan of that hilarious article?

Monday, October 20, 2008

At least it's not a feel-good Oprah book. Though it seems like she likes books about incest.

Hi Rejecter,

So glad you're back. Congrats on the book doing so well!

So, I'm pitching a memoir, and in my first-draft letter, I say, "this is not some feel-good Oprah book; it's more like [name of snarky, popular author this agent represented]." Is it okay to say your work is like someone else's, or is that amateurish, or a potential set-up for failure? (ie, I say I'm like Author X, agent reads my first chapter, and thinks I'm nothing like Author X.) Should I just leave out references/comparisons to other writers altogether?


I'm not going to say, "No, never mention another author and compare yourself to them." There's very few "nevers" in publishing. That said, it's not a good idea. I know a lot of sites and books recommend it and I don't know why they do that, because it always looks tacky to us. If we work in that genre, we're probably already familiar with bestselling authors in said genre anyway, and can make the comparisons ourselves if we want. Let your summation of the book in the query speak for itself.

P.S. I'm logging off tonight for Shemini Atzeret/Simfas Torah, so don't expect your comments to be approved until Wednesday night.