"Let the Editor Fix It"

Yea! Your manuscript is done and ready to start the submissions process.

Well, all but one little part in chapter X, that is. It’s not quite right and it’s bugging you, but you don’t know what to do about it. You’ve worked and reworked it, taken it out, put it back in, moved it around–nothing helps. Even your mom and your best friend and your cousin who teaches English in high school don’t know what to do with it.

So you send it in anyway, hoping the editor will catch it and fix it, because you’ve tried and you can’t. Besides, most editors think they have to change something just to prove they’re the boss, right? Even if you submitted a perfect manuscript, they’d change SOMETHING, so if you leave this part as it is, they can change it and feel like they’ve earned their salary, and maybe they’ll leave the rest of your stuff alone.

I know these thoughts run through your head. When on the writing side of the street, I certainly thought them. Even now when I know better, I find myself nodding and laughing in agreement when another author expresses these sentiments.

I understand that you’re impatient to get your manuscript out. And I know it’s frustrating to keep hitting a brick wall trying to fix problem areas. But I’d like to encourage you to keep trying. Even if it means putting your book away for a few weeks, or even a few months, and coming back to it later. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in a good writers group, have them brainstorm with you. But don’t submit yet.

Eventually you will be able to fix the problem. I know you have the ability to fix it by the simple fact that it bothers you; you notice the problem area exists. If it wasn’t within your skill level to fix it, you would be blissfully unaware that there was a problem to begin with. Let it rest. Give it time. Work on something else awhile. Then come back to it. Somewhere in the deep recesses of your creativity, there is a solution and you will find it.

And the reality is, if you send the manuscript in with a problem spot, the editor will most likely write “Fix this” in the margin and send it back to you. If there are too many problem spots, they’ll just send it back.

And trust me. If I received a perfect manuscript, I would feel no need to change anything just for the sake of changing it. I’d be doing the Snoopy dance and singing the hallelujah chorus because my profit margin just went up!

Getting On My Links

There are so many wonderful LDS writer blogs and websites out there that I could not possibly link to all of them here. So for now, to have your blog/forum/website on my links list, it has to be a site that is PRIMARILY for support and/or education for LDS writers; not simply an author’s slice of life, or even his/her daily experiences as an author. It also needs to be kept current and posted to on a regular basis.

If you’d like to be linked here, e-mail your site address to me.

P.S. All links will be listed alphabetically. I don’t want anyone accusing me of favoritism. (Although, favoritism has gotten a really bad rap. Every choice we make in life is based on favoritism of some sort…)

P.P.S. If you’d like to put a link to me on your blog, have at it. And thanks.

Never Try to Teach a Pig to Sing

Received several “edgy” submissions lately. All were rejected because I’m a “mainstream” LDS publisher.

If you want to save yourself time, expense and grief over rejection, here is a clue: Check out what the publisher has published in the past. If they’ve NEVER published in your genre, chances are you won’t get accepted.

The only exception to this might be a very small publishing house. Maybe they haven’t published fiction yet, but are willing to look at it. Maybe they’ve only published romance, but would be willing to look at fantasy. If this is the case, you can usually find another clue…

Check the submission guidelines on their website. Most will have a list of what they do and don’t accept, what they’re looking for, what they give preference too, etc.

Or a short phone conversation with the receptionist, “I’ve noticed you’ve only published pioneer fiction. Is your company thinking of expanding into other genres..?” (If they say no, politely thank them and hang up. Don’t argue with the receptionist who has absolutely no power to change policy. And don’t even think of arguing with the editor or the president of the company, who if they wanted to change their policy would have already done so.)

And if they say “mainstream LDS publisher” or “we want manuscripts that are supportive of LDS principles and beliefs” or other wording of that sort, then do NOT send them an expose (why won’t this do accents?) on Joseph Smith or a treatise on early Church doctrine that has been hushed up. Sorry, it’s not going to fly.

Reminds me of a postcard I used to have on my fridge, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Not that publishers are pigs. And not that we don’t sing. But you get the idea.

Don’t Mix Magic and Mormon

I had to reject yet another manuscript that had LDS people having magical, mystical experiences.

You just cannot mix the two and have your book sell in the LDS market. Mormons cannot wield magic. They cannot meet up with aliens or be whisked off to a fantasy world. And you just cannot have them dealing with talking animals who pop in and out of existence in one scene, and then have them (the people, not the animals) being baptised in the next. It doesn’t fit in our belief structure.

If you want to write fantasy, then write fantasy. Leave the Church out of it. If you want to write a conversion story, write that–but the character’s conversion cannot be based upon a fantastic experience.

Well, okay, maybe if you have time travelling teens who go back to the days of the Book of Mormon, (or vice versa) but even that is a stretch for me.

Send Me a Da Vinci Code Fast!

Yea! The judge ruled. Dan Brown did not infringe on copyright when he wrote The Da Vinci Code. Publishers everywhere are dancing in the streets tonight.

So here’s something. They said on the news this morning that Dan Brown has made $400 million dollars on that book. And the movie hasn’t come out yet.

$400 million! That’s just obscene. And it’s not even his best book. I’ve read all four and I liked Angels and Demons best.

$400 million. And while he’s a good writer, he’s not the best in the world. His plots are pretty good, but after you’ve read two of his books, you know who the bad guy is going to be. (He must have father issues or something.)

$400 million.And the publisher has made more than that. So figure they pay him 20% (which is absurdly high, but he might have been able to negotiate it after he hit the $5 million mark). That means they earned…well, I can’t do math that high.

So let’s say they spent another 30% on expenses (production, marketing, sales, support staff, etc.) That means they still netted $800 million.

Well, maybe not. Because they could have done a 50/50 on foreign rights, book club, and stuff like that. Okay, so let’s say they ended up at only $600 million.

$600 million. Someone send me a Da Vinci Code fast! Actually, I’m not greedy. I’ll take a book that only does 1% of that.

Tips for Perfect Pitching

If you get a chance to pitch an agent or editor at a writers conference, here are some great tips.

Pitch Perfect