Tag Archives: self publishing

Still On The First Draft Beginning…

Okay, so you’ve written the first draft. You’re ready to go back and find your starting place. Don’t get discouraged if you restart your manuscript several times. Questionable Ethics, the first in the Mel Addison Mystery Series, had seven beginnings before I finally settled on the one that it has. They all started in the same scene, just differently.

First, it wasn’t a good hook. Two or three drafts later, I had a good beginning hook but had to work on the first line. That was another two drafts. Finally I narrowed it down to the one that ended up the as the finished product. I thought I would never be satisfied with it. Then it happened. It was good.

Most beginning writers go through this process, so don’t let it get you down. Even now after I’ve been writing for this long, I still rewrite the beginnings several times. I’ve generally can get it to just two or three drafts now. The latest in the series, the beginning was spot on, I just needed to work on the first sentence hook.

Here is what separates the hobbyist writers from the professional writers. Hobbyist writers are willing to get it mostly right, but since they aren’t really trying to get published they’re willing to stop at okay. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you are wanting to get published, you must be patient with the process and continue working until you know, I mean really know, that it’s the best it can be. Sometimes that means letting your agent/editor tell you it’s ready. And that’s okay too.

It is still a process. A craft. A work in progress. And we are only talking about the first draft and the beginning. There is still the rest of the manuscript to come.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and an Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Free Advice (Continued) or Rules for Critique Groups

So as I promised in my last blog…. Here are some of the things I found that were important to having a face-to-face critique group.

*Determine what your critique group is for. Are you only critiquing in one genre? (It really depends on you. I’ve found that multi-genres worked best good for us. But everyone is different.) How many people will be in your group? (I’ve found that three to four is the best, less and there are not enough different ideas. More and it gets real confusing.)

*How often will you meet? This again depends on the schedule of the other people in the group. Once a month worked best for us, but it depends on how much time the members have available to spend, including giving the members enough time to give a deserving critique of the work.

*How much will be critiqued? This again depends on how many times you will meet and how big the group is. At first we worked on full novels. However, it became too much work in one month to do that and still write on our own manuscripts. Finally we settled on one or two chapters per critique session. This allowed the above conditions to be met.

*How will you determine who will be critiqued? We worked out our schedule on a rotation basis. Each of us took a month and stuck to it. The person’s who turn it was the next month to ‘be on the hot seat’, would send everyone else their work via the internet. Then when we met for the monthly critique, we were all ready to go.

*How will the actually critique session go? We would each give our suggestions in turn or ask questions of the person in turn. Usually we all opened our laptops and read down the work together, each interjecting suggestions or things the felt wrong to us. This is probably where I ought to interject that of course put-downs and other was of making each other feel bad is not allowed. We all went into the group knowing that what we brought to the table (literally, we always met in a coffee shop) were just our opinions and suggestions. The writer didn’t have to justify anything to the other writers and didn’t have to take any of our suggestions if they didn’t want to. This will only work if all of the members are professional and mature. Not always possible with some people. Other ways to do this would be to have the critique done only via emails or have the person ‘on the hot seat’ read their work out loud and then the others give their ideas. We found that when problems cropped up, say the scene wasn’t working, as we discussed the scene the group brainstormed and usually could find a solution. But how you do it ultimately must be worked out by the entire group.

*Set a time limit. This was the biggest problem we had. We would meet officially for two hours once a month. We would normally spend three hours or even longer sometimes because we were passionate and wanting to learn from each other. Our spouses didn’t always see it that way!

These are just a few of the rules that worked for us. You may find others work better for you. You have to find your own way. The biggest thing to stress it that everyone must be professional.

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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A Question Of Age

Is there an age limit on writing and publishing? I think it’s more a matter of convention. Of tradition. Most writers/authors are in their twenties to fifties during their biggest ‘publishing’ careers. In my opinion this si due to the ‘old boy’ network of the big seven publishers and the strangle hold they had on the industry until lately.

When I was first starting out writing, I knew of an older lady in her sixties writing her first book and most of the big publishers rejected her because of her age. (this was quite a while ago.) I guess their thought was that since she was elderly (she was very spry) they wouldn’t get many books out of her and therefore not a good investment. And as with any other industry, maybe even more here, the bottom line is the money. How much will a book or author make for the company?

For the most part, I think that younger writers just haven’t had the time to learn their craft. Not saying that there aren’t talented young people out there, just the majority are not good enough writers to actually get published. This was I’m sure the thought process of the executives in the big publishing houses.

I would like to see more manuscripts written my both young and old. Young because they have a new, fresh perspective on the world and writing. Older because they have lived and have the experience to put into their writing. So for us at Seventh Wave Books, (www.seventhwavebooks.com) there is no age limit. We judge the work, not the writer. So if you or someone that you know is looking for a publisher, give us a shot. Even if this is your first time trying to get published. After all, we all started with the first manuscript!

Stay tuned.

Angela Abderhalden is the author of the Mel Addison Mystery Series and Acquiring Editor for Seventh Wave Books, LLC

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Give’m What They Want

This is a phrase I’ve heard over and over in all of my careers, especially in my customer services positions. Give them what they want. It also holds true in my writing and publishing career. Maybe even more so.

What am I talking about? When a publisher asks for a particular way to send a manuscript, i.e. format or number of pages, that is what you need to give them. Anything else is just asking to be rejected. You must do exactly what they want, how they want, and when they want it. It is so true that the publisher is looking for reasons to reject manuscripts.

As a writer I followed this rule (give’m what the want) to the letter, and although I received tons of rejection letters, I followed their rules. As a publisher, I can totally understand why the publishers are so picky. If a writer can’t even follow simple instructions, how can they possibly be expected to be able to meet deadlines and expectations of the writing profession. So when I get a submission that doesn’t meet the simple instructions that the submission guidelines provide, yes, I will reject it.

This also holds true for any writing contest. I remember one time I submitted an entry which was supposed to be double spaced and I sent it in single spaced. It was actually my first entry into a writing contest. It was rejected with no time to resubmit. I was very disappointed but I learned an incredible lesson that I have NEVER forgotten. And I have never repeated that mistake again.

So don’t even make that mistake once. Give’m (publisher, contest, whatever) what they want. Stay Tuned.

PS- Speaking of submissions- we, Seventh Wave Books, are looking for a few good authors. We would like to put out at least three more books by the end of the year. But we need those submissions NOW, so that our editors have time to tweak them into perfection. Yes, we love first time authors. So if you write mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, or action/adventure, check out our website and our submission guidelines. http://www.seventhwavebooks.com

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