Archive for the ‘Publishing Industry’ Category

Writing a novel synopsis

The two-page synopsis is one of the toughest things I have to write. Yes, even harder than the chapter outline.

I mean, if I have 20 or so pages to convey my story in a detailed way, it’s kind of like writing a short story. The old line “Sorry this response is so long, but I didn’t have time to make it short,” carries a hidden truth. In many cases, long is easier than brief.

So, yes, I do think the two-page synopsis is murder. I like to start long and gradually pare down. (There are people who can pound out a synopsis in one sitting, but these people can never be my friends.) Read More…

Pitching a Novel

How do you pitch a novel? And why lavish time on it? Is it just so that we won’t be caught flat-footed when someone asks what the story is about?

The Point of Pitching

A pitch is more than a conversational gambit. It’s true that an intriguing, quick blurb for a novel makes us look more professional–and saves us the embarrassment of stumbling through a painful and confused rendition. But a pitch also has a deep marketing purpose that goes beyond elevator encounters with editors.

A pitch for your novel positions your story amid the world of books. In that larger context, it gives instant perspective on the story, pinpointing genre, tone, and unique features. Read More…

Landscapes of Fantasy

For those who attended my presentation at PNWA, here is the book list I promised:

LANDSCAPES OF FANTASY. A presentation by Kay Kenyon

The Books

Mythic

  • The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Last Unicorn, Peter Beagle
  • American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Fairy

  • A Green and Ancient Light, Frederic Durbin
  • Roses and Rot, Kat Howard
  • Thomas the Rhymer, Ellen Kushner

Read More…

It’s a Dog Eat Dog World

Today I continue my musings on the top myths of the writing life. Wherein I share some of the odd notions I started out with; and how they just ain’t true.

My journey in writing started over two decades ago. I don’t blame myself for not having had a clue about things. In fact, I’ve been delighted to be proven wrong. Over and over again.

Wrong about what? Things like how one big introduction or connection will launch my career; how cool and glamorous being a published author is (Go ahead, fellow authors, snicker!)

And today’s myth: how in this cut-throat competitive arena, authors basically wish you ill.

Myth #3: Other Writers Will Stab You in the Back

When I first started out, I was concerned about the hyper-competitive publishing environment. It’s a dog eat dog world, I reasoned. All those raging egos and jealous fellow writers!

What I was conflating is the competition for visibility and sales, which is real, but not the result of other authors working against you–and relationships with other writers. (Perhaps spawned in the memory of those horrid high school cliques of oh-so-together people.)

To be fair, the publishing world is tough, and one is going to get bruised in ego and pocket book. It should give aspiring authors a few moment pause before plunging in. But we don’t need to worry about everything. Some things will be remarkably rewarding.

Like people. Yes, published authors are usually highly competitive. They have enormous energy to invest in creation and promotion. We can’t help but envy them and worry that we’ll never achieve what they have. That’s natural. And if you find yourself feeling these things and wonder whether you have a nasty, paranoid mind set, stop beating yourself up. We all experience those feelings. Um, perennially.

The fact is, however, that other authors will end up being among your best friends. Remember, everyone is basically lonely and afraid. It’s human nature. Most writers relate to the uncertainty and frustration of the writing life, and are generous with each other. No one else “gets” the writing life as much as another writer. I even think that there may be more generosity among writers than in other fields.

And inevitably, you’ll click with a few writers, and you’ll share the journey with them–through the ups and downs, at conventions and signings, at writing retreats and worry sessions over the phone if your buddies are far away. When you make a big sale they’ll email you a picture of them toasting you! They’ll give you blurbs for your books. They’ll help you strategize, celebrate, and survive.

So much for stabbing in the back.

It’s a dog help dog world. And even when it isn’t, if you’re open to building friendships, there’ll be a group of writers who’ll be on your side. I guarantee it.

For the other posts on my Myths of the Writing Life series.

Myth #1. It’s All in Who You Know

Myth #2. The Glamour and Prestige

 

Oh, the unbearable glamour

This is my second post on the myths of being an author. Some of these casual assumptions are great fun, but they may not be at all true to life. The reality of being an author and getting and staying published is far less dramatic than many people believe when they start out. But the truth of it is also less daunting!

The last post on “myths” was on finding Mr. Big, or the person we assume will save us and how (not) to get this person’s attention.

Myth #2. The Glamour and Prestige

Most of us starting out would never admit that there’s a teensy part of us that imagines life as an author is glamorous. We say instead that we have always wanted to write, that we have stories inside us that demand to be written, or more self-deprecating: we just don’t feel suited to doing anything else.

But deep down, there are images: sitting at a desk in front of window, sun streaming in, ink flowing from the pen; the line of people at the bookstore eager for our signature on a book; holding forth on Oprah on How I Wrote this National Bestseller. “Oprah, it started when I found a tattered newspaper on a park bench with a minor story on the Prime Minister’s cat. . .” Read More…