Category: Writing

Posts about my thoughts on writing, and the journey writers take to be published

The Pitfalls of #Pitmad

Twitter pitch parties are a fantastic way to get your work seen by as many agents and publishers as possible- well in theory.

Assuming you can condense two years of work, 85 thousand words, a ¬†little sweat, keyboard blisters and a river of tears into 140 characters, you then have to watch that feed. With only 3 pitches in 12 hours, post it wrong and you’ll be at the bottom of the feed before anyone worth worrying about see’s your hard polished pitch.

So you ignore your scheduled ‘tweetdeck’ pitches, and sit in front of the screen waiting for an agent to say they’re looking at the feed. You copy and paste, and then you wait, pray, cry a little and bitch at the pitches who have <3, ’cause we all know ours is better (dammit it better be).

When eleven hours in you haven’t had so much as a reply let alone a little love heart (dammit i miss getting my friends to RT) you’re ready to throw in the towel, and pitch that damn book into the recycle bin (see what I did there ūüėČ ). For some reason though the masochist in us never does give in, I think in some small way even the slap of rejection is a small pleasure, at least we tried.

The the ping of a phone, a new email, or the relentless refreshing of the notification page, tells us someone, somewhere has “liked” ( Twitter let it be noted i prefer “favourited”) our pitch. The skeptic in us then curses the idiot that didn’t read the rules and hits the button because they think it sounds cool. Only its not an idiot (well not always) it’s an actual person that has a tiny bio listing “agent” or “publisher”. Our hearts sing for joy and we praise the gods that our genius has been noticed. That query is composed, attachments added and sent off into cyber world the second we read the submission guidelines.

The problem is we probably should have read up on that little name a bit more. Is it a genuine agent? A publisher that thinks page 500 page listings on Amazon eBooks are the way to go? A vanity press? The fact that someone, anyone actually wants to read our work sweeps us away. Its all too easy to be smart after we get burnt being dumb.

Some of us know better, some of us will learn better when we get our fingers singed, and some of us (very sadly) submit just to see if our work sucks so badly even a vanity would reject it.

There has to be upsides too though right (other than being liked and signed by the best agent in the world if your that lucky (no i don’t want to hear about it if ‘¬†you, i’m bitter)), and of course there is.

When it’s all over, don’t¬†just move on to the next pitch party, forgetting the one you worked hard on. Take a few minutes, check out the feed, follow writers you like the sound of, make friends, maybe find a new beta, but best of all see which agents were watching (if they announced they were), find the ones who liked similar work to yours. Convince yourself they just missed yours, and (after your research) check their sub guidelines and send it in. ¬†What have you got to lose? The nail in the wall with your reject letters will fill faster taking you closer to that acceptance.

The way i see it, even the pitfalls… aren’t. We might not get what we hoped for, we might learn a valuable lesson, or just make a new friend. We will get something out of it.

Writing and Relationships

Writing often feels like a solitary task. Recently however, for me, its become something else. My partner and I share very different interests, he likes Xbox and Iron maiden, I like reading and pop music, but something crossed our interests together. Writing.

Not in the physical sense, sitting down and penning a novel isn’t something he wants to do, helping me build a plot however, he does. The last few nights we’ve sat up until the wee hours planning a novel, and that one novel has gone from a single, standalone, to a series, with input and ideas I could never have found alone. It got me thinking, how much do writers actually separate themselves from others?

Does writing really need to be something we do locked away in a room with coffee and nicotine?

Sure the physical writing might still be a feat we need to tackle ourselves, but the endless pouring over plotlines and staring at empty pages while we try and get over the block or past an irritating story point, is that something best shared?

A single mind is limited by its own imagination, but two heads together? Surely when you combine two imaginations, both with different thoughts and viewpoints, not only can you come up with something new, but something with unexpected twists, turns and a whole new beauty.

I cant help but think, it is time to stop living within the stereotype. No more closing ourselves away, locked in study’s and libraries, but time to share our passions with those we love, and let them feed our own creative energy. After all you don’t have to write, to create a story.

When the outcome is out of your hands

The scariest part of writing, is when there’s nothing left you can do.

My novel is polished so much it almost shines. My pitch for tomorrows #pitmad is written, and polished, and now there’s nothing left I can do. Tomorrow I’ll be posting that pitch on Twitter, and hoping for the best. That’s just it though, for the first time since I started writing, its fate, it’s out of my control. No matter how much editing I do, and how well I’ve written, I can’t control if people like it. I can’t control if an agent sees potential.

How do you deal with that?

I can see why people choose to self-publish. To have full control, and no fear of being rejected after all that work. Would readers like it? Yes I’m almost certain they would, but an agent needs more than that. They need to feel passionate about it. How do you inject the same passion you have for your writing, into somebody else? How can anyone feel as strongly about it as I do?

Tomorrow is going to be hell. Watching other posts get favourited, while mine may get nothing. If it does get nothing, what comes next? Will that be an indicator that no one can feel as passionate about it as me? Or does it just mean I need to keep searching, or keep editing, or start a new project?

How do you keep motivated?

Of course there is a tiny part of my brain that thinks “what are you worrying about, there will be lots of favourites?” I guess though, we have to have that part, or we’d give up.

Pitch in under 140 Characters

Tonight I found a new kind of hell. A post on my favourite writers website informed me of the twitter pitch event. You have the length of a tweet to pitch your novel/short to agents. That 140 characters has to include #pitmad and a # of your genre for me that’s #A, which lowers the count even more.

I thought I’d take the short paragraph I have in my query letter and see how far over it was, and if I could then snip it down. 340 characters over the limit, I was screwed. How do you turn your baby, into something interesting in such a short space? You need your character, and your story line. Why hell, why did you do this to me?

So there I am, staring at my sticky notes, wondering how the hell I can make my blood sweat and tears, sing in what is effectively two sentences. I did consider just screaming in cap[s “Please, please you want my book I promise”, I don’t think that’s going to work however.

This made me wonder though, is that what hooks an agent really? A short paragraph is good, a synopsis required also, but does the fact you can sum it up, in such a little space, really tell them more than any query ever could? Does that one or two sentences, show just how skilled you are as a writer? Lets face it “this novel is about a girl who goes to a fantasy world and has lots of kinky sex, and fights evil creatures” isn’t going to cut it. It needs to stand out in what is going to be hundreds of pitches, if not thousands. How do you stand in a crowd and convince someone your novel is the best one? You could argue the person who shouts the most, or the loudest will be the one to get the prize, but in the world of twitter, where a post can disappear in seconds, is loud enough? If we want to show we are the best person to write what we have, how do we make what we write stand out, not how we shout it?

As I write this, I have a rough, and I mean rough version of what I will post. Its under the limit, with a few characters to play with. How did I do it? I took the strongest line from my query, the one that shows what  have written is different to other novels, and worked my pitch around it. Its not the full plot line, not even close, but it does (I hope) show I have something to offer.

Isn’t that all any of us can do?

Of course by the end of the event, without a single bit of interest, I may just be ready to slit my wrists. Ok, i’m being melodramatic, i’ll just take up fire eating or something.

Sweet, Soul Destroying Writing

Why do we do it?

Ok so we know we have to get the ideas out of our head, and onto something tangible. Why not leave it at that though? Instead we send our work out for crit by people we’ve never met, we edit meticulously, and for what?

Most life goals have an end in sight, be it a career you train for, or seeing your kids grow into happy adults. Writing has no end.

The work in progress is always just that, in progress. It’s never perfect, it’s never finished.

Then even when you do get to a point where you think “this is it, I’ve got it as good as it can be (I’ve said that about six times to date), send it to an agent or two, then find a giant glaring hole. You hang your head in shame and try to ignore the inbox/post as you know a nice fat, form rejection is coming your way.

For this exact reason, I haven’t yet submitted to the agent I really, want. I guess I’m more willing to screw up my chances with others, than I am with them. The silly thing is, even if it was perfectly edited, with no typos, no misspellings and every comma perfectly placed,(yeah right) they still might send that dreaded form rejection in return. The spelling might not be my issue, maybe I tell a really poor story. Maybe no one even wants to read about BDSM with no fucked up Dom who actually treats his sub right. We just don’t know. We never know if we’re ever good enough.

The light at the end of the tunnel, is only switched on when an agent or publisher actually accepts! How do we keep going ’till then?

An acquaintance once told me, after I mentioned I was writing a book, to give up on an agent. She wrote too and no agents were taking new writers. She was published by an online eBook publisher. Website was bad, book covers appalling, and about ten links to jump through to even buy a book. Now, I think its fairly safe to say, agents are taking on new talent, if it’s good enough. Yet to maybe make herself feel better, or just to save time or even because all she needed was validation, that author chose to short-change her work and give up on the elusive representation.

How?

How, do you invest so much time and energy, to just give up? Especially when you have a quick Google of how many, now, bestsellers were rejected, multiple times. A simple “thanks, but no thanks” from a few agents/publishers, doesn’t mean the work is bad, just not right for them. How do you know if yours is worth pursuing?

Is it really possible, that if you just keep querying, keep editing, keep sending out submissions, over and over again, eventually one will accept? Or is it more likely, you’ll just run out of people to sub too?

Which raises a new question, if when you get to the bottom of that list, after many, many edits, could you start at the top again? Is it possible¬†the time that has lapsed, and the edits that have been made, would mean they won’t remember the piece they rejected a year ago? Could they even look at it differently? Could they accept?

If that is possible, isn’t it also possible, that anyone with time, determination and a story to tell can and will be accepted eventually. After all, you only need one “yes”.

Is it more about how determined you are, than whether or not you’re “ready”?