book coaching

*MEMBER SPOTLIGHT* with Lainey Cameron

*MEMBER SPOTLIGHT* with Lainey Cameron

Member Spotlight interview with Author Accelerator writer, Lainey Cameron!

We don't joke around about meetups!

One of our favorite things to do is meetup with our writers, coaches, collaborators, and partners when we have the chance.

The Dreaded R&R

Cross posted from Michelle Hazen's Blog. 

What are your chances of getting signed if you get an R&R?

An R&R is one of the terms in the publishing industry that frequently has writers drawing a blank…or devolving into sheer panic.

Simply put, an R&R stands for Revise and Resubmit. It means that instead of rejecting or offering representation, an agent thinks you’re close but not quite there yet, so they send feedback, and invite you to resubmit if you choose to revise to their feedback.

They can be exciting (hey, it’s not a no!) but they can also be a lot of hard work. My husband repeatedly pointed out the irony of the acronym when I was working 15-hour, eye-bleeding days on an editorial R&R of my own. No, folks, it does not stand for rest and relaxation.

It also isn’t a guarantee of an offer, even if you follow their feedback to the best of your ability. I did a quick poll on Twitter about agent R&R’s, and this is what I found:

93 people completed R&Rs.

68 were rejected -73%

25 accepted- 27%

*Disclaimer. I am not a scientist. Well, I am a tortoise biologist, but that’s not quite statistician credentials. This is a Twitter poll, not a peer reviewed double-blind study, and the results should be read accordingly.

Dan Koboldt did an excellent blog on this same topic, only on the editorial end (R&Rs from publishing houses rather than agents). You can read it here. He found about a 80% rejected, 20% accepted rate, which is comparable to agents, if a little more discouraging.

Whether it’s from an agent or an editor, an R&R is not a requirement. You don’t have to use their feedback. And even if you use some of it, you don’t have to use all of it. Take the time to digest and decide if it’s good for your book and if it matches your vision for your piece. Or, try it out and if you hate the final result, throw it out. But do remember that an R&R is also an audition of your ability to take criticism, so remember to be professional and gracious. Don’t change two commas and send it back because then you’re just being a jerk and wasting everyone’s time.

However, when you compare these numbers (73% rejection rate) to the normal querying rejection rate (around 99% rejection rate), you can see that an R&R is definitely worth your time. The feedback won’t always fit with your vision, but if a seasoned publishing professional wants to take the time to tell you how they think you can improve your book, it’s always worth at least considering.

*MEMBER SPOTLIGHT* with Lisa Manterfield

 Lisa Manterfield Interview

Joined Author Accelerator on 01/2016

Book Title: A STRANGE COMPANION

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Book Coach: Sarahlyn Bruck

Interview:

1.)  Describe your book in one (or maybe two) killer sentences.

When a grieving young woman starts to believe her dead boyfriend has been reincarnated in the body of her adopted niece, she must challenge everything she believes about love, loss, and life after death.

2.)  What was your process for drafting and revising A Strange Companion?

I rewrote this story so many times that the earlier drafts wouldn’t even be recognizable as the same book. I would write, revise, polish, submit, get rejected, give up, and work on something else. But there was something about this story that made me come back to it over and over.

At the beginning of 2016, I signed up for Story Genius to work on another new project, but something clicked with that process and I started thinking about A Strange Companion again. It had been under my bed for about two years at that point, but I dusted it off and set about revising it once again. I had a crazy idea to publish it on my website as a serial novel, thinking I could use it as a marketing tool to introduce potential readers to my fiction.

I worked with Sarahlyn through Author Accelerator, submitting ten pages to her every week, then editing, polishing and posting them on my website. When I began getting really positive feedback from readers, I knew I had to publish it as a complete novel. I hired an independent editor (as I’d run out of people who’d never read a version of the book before) and did two more rounds of revisions before publishing.

3.)  What was the timeframe for completing this book?

Honestly, I originally had the idea more than 15 years ago. I tried to write it as a screenplay first, and then wrote an early version of the novel, which was a horrible mess. I wrote the first draft of this version about seven or eight years ago, but would abandon it for months and even years at a time. I wrote three other books while I trying to get this one to where I knew it needed to be. Once I became really clear on what the book was about and started working with Sarahlyn on revising, it took about nine months from my first Author Accelerator submission to publication. 

4.)  What did it feel like to get to “the end” and how did you celebrate?

Dazed. These characters have been in my life for so long, I think I suffered a little empty nest syndrome when I realized they were no longer under my control. I usually celebrate a finished draft by going to a little hole-in-wall burger place near my house. I get a messy barbecue chicken burger and sweet potato fries and eat them in a park overlooking the ocean. I’ve had a lot of celebrations for this book over the years, so when it was finally finished, I didn’t know what to do.

5.)  Did you encounter any surprises or important learning experiences when publishing this book?

I joke that this is the story I used to learn how to write, so the whole experience was a giant lesson. But two big things really stand out. One is that a cool premise isn’t enough to carry a book. For so many of those drafts I didn’t know what the story was really about. When I finally figured out that I was writing, not about reincarnation, or soulmates, or life after death, but about grief and what it means to let go of a loved one and dare to love again, it all clicked into place.

The other big lesson was trusting my own process and my gut instinct about whether I’d truly written the best book possible. I’m glad I didn’t publish earlier versions of the book, because they weren’t ready. When this book came out I really felt that there was nothing else I could do for it and it was ready to find its own way in the world.

6.)  What do you feel you did right in any part of your process?

Not giving up on a book I really believed in, but also knowing when I’d reached the limits of my talent and needed the help of a professional to take me to the next level. It took Jennie, Sarahlyn, and two other independent editors to accomplish that.

7.)  What do you wish you had done differently?

Surprisingly, not much. I wouldn’t recommend this circuitous process to anyone and I don’t want to take such a messy route to a finished book ever again, but I learned something at every step of the process. In fact, I probably learned more from every draft that didn’t work than I could have ever learned from a class. I think the reason Story Genius had such a profound impact on me was that I’d already learned all the ways to break a story and Story Genius just knitted together what I already knew from experience, but didn’t know how to apply. 

8.)  What’s one piece of advice you would tell a writer who feels like she’s never going to finish?

Everyone’s path is different. It’s not helpful to compare your process to others’. At some point you do need to commit to your book and put a stake in the ground that says, “This is the story I want to tell and this is what this story is really about.” Then, go for it.

9.) You chose to self-publish A Strange Companion. Why?

After ten years, I realized that being a writing professional, i.e. making a living around writing, was what I wanted to do when I grew up. That meant taking control of my career and making it happen, instead of hoping it would happen someday. Once I decided to publish the story in its entirety as a serial novel, I knew it was unlikely to get a traditional deal, so I committed fully to self-publishing. I put together a fairly ambitious plan to get this book, and my next one, out within a few months of one another to maximize my marketing efforts. It’s a bit of an experiment, but at least I feel as if I’m being proactive.

10.) How will you market the books?

I’ve committed to a year-long plan, so it’s more of a slow burn than a launch day blast. I’m starting with early adopters and influencers, which in this case means asking book bloggers to read, review, and recommend it (hopefully) to their followers. The idea is to keep casting the net wider and wider, until I reach that sweet outer circle of readers who want to read what everyone else is reading. I’ll let you know if it works!

Sarahlyn Bruck writes women’s fiction and is currently querying the novel, Designer You, and working on a new book. When she isn't writing, Sarah teaches writing and literature full-time at a local community college. She also coaches writers at Author Accelerator, where she's been for two years and counting. Sarah lives in Philadelphia with her husband, tween daughter, and cockapoo.

ABOUT LISA:

Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. A Strange Companion is her first novel. Learn more at LisaManterfield.com.

ABOUT SARAH:

Sarahlyn Bruck writes women’s fiction and is currently querying the novel, Designer You, and working on a new book. When she isn't writing, Sarah teaches writing and literature full-time at a local community college. She also coaches writers at Author Accelerator, where she's been for two years and counting. Sarah lives in Philadelphia with her husband, tween daughter, and cockapoo.

Writing Away the Winter Blues

 

Cross Posted from John Robin's Blog

I don’t know what weather is like in your part of the world, but here in Winnipeg, we’re in the midst of extremely cold temperatures, and have just had four blizzards in the course of five weeks. Thus, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors and am grateful to finally have a desk for a proper ergonomic chair in my office now. Days spent editing are often accompanied by a recording of a yule log, with a space heater keeping me warm.

The holidays have come and gone and, like a lot of people, I’ve made a few resolutions for 2017. I try to keep my resolutions achievable, but still lofty. If a resolution is easy to achieve, then it’s not a challenge. However, if a resolution is impossible to reach, then it just becomes frustrating.

One of my resolution is to keep my weekends devoted to writing time, while focusing the week days on honing my professional editing skills. I will finish writing the second draft of a novel by March with this discipline, and plan to keep the weekends free for meaningful writing projects after this. This way, while I continue to hone my professional skills as an editor, I continue to improve my skills as a writer. There is personal value in this for me, but from a professional standpoint, becoming a better writer makes me a better editor as well, because I believe that one necessary quality of a good editor is the ability to empathize with the writers I work with.

Many writers make finishing their book their resolution for a new year. While this is good, it can sometimes be a trap because it’s a goal, and not necessarily the definition of a solid process by which that goal will be attainable. So instead of saying, “I want to finish my book this year,” try exploring answers to the question, “If I want to finish my book this year, then what regular discipline will I try in order to do this?”

Be experimental! Some writers must write every day. Some writers set weekly milestones (myself included with my weekend routine). I didn’t arrive at my routine until after I tried writing every day, writing in bursts, then finally separating work weekdays from writing weekends and realizing that was just right for me.

In answering the question on HOW you are going to create a regular writing practice through which you will get your novel written, you might notice a shift away from finishing your novel. You might realize that, when you begin a regular writing discipline, you’re on your way to getting your novel done, but guess what? That’s just a milestone, a midpoint on a bigger journey.

For 2017, see if you can find the writing discipline that will not only help you finish your novel, but kickstart a writing habit that will be the cornerstone of your writing career.

Member Spotlight: Interview with Craig Gibb on Finishing A Rough Draft

Join Jennie Nash interview Author Accelerator member Craig Gibb on finishing a first draft and what he plans to do to move forward. This is a common question we get at Author Accelerator as most of our members have been working toward finishing their first draft with their book coach.