Friday, 14 September 2012

QueryDice Hijacker

Introducing the lovely Lauren Roth:

"I’m the assistant publisher of four digital-only imprints of Entangled PublishingCovet, Brazen, Bliss and Scandalous.I began my career at Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone/Fireside imprint in 2008. Shortly after, I hopped over to the agency side of the business and rapidly climbed the ranks to become a literary agent  at BookEnds, LLC, where I had way too much fun for a person sitting in an office and gained an invaluable perspective on this ancient and ever-evolving industry."

 Lauren kindly accepted my request to join her blog Slushpiletales as a QueryDice Hijacker.  Readers may submit a query and Lauren and/or one of her ninja hijackers will provide a friendly critique of the query.  As Lauren notes, the idea owes its incarnation to the tremendous Ms Janet Reid who runs the chum-chomping Query Shark blog for writers in dire querying straits (as you know, I've been there.  I've no doubt I'll be there again!).

Lauren and her team provide great commentary - and it is a fantastic opportunity to have someone from 'the other side' offer expert opinion on how to move from "meh" to "manuscript, please!"

If you have a finished manuscript and you want to know if your query is pitch-perfect, drop it here.  Have fun and good luck.

Suspense and Thriller Reviewer At Brazen Reads

That was an email that blew me away!

I signed up online at Pam van Hylckama Vlieg's bookalicious and thought no more of it - until Danielle penned me a lovely welcome note a few days ago letting me know I'd been selected to review for Brazen Reads.

Still making up my mind which book to review first - and floored when a trade publisher agreed to my request for Alexander Soderberg's The Andalucian Friend.

I'll try to keep track here of which requests are approved.  If you have a particular book in mind about which you'd like to know more, drop me a line and I'll request it.  No harm in trying.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

To Be or Not To Be

The manuscript is out on requested submission with two larger (why is this important - see below) Aussie publishers and a US literary agent tweeted me asking for a query.  A bunch of Aussie school librarians have agreed to provide feedback around the beginning of next month - based on their own and their students' opinions.  So far so good.

Except I'm:
  1. doing the equivalent of chewing off my fingernails worrying the publishers won't like it - and then what?
  2. not worried if the librarians and the kids don't like it because their feedback is vital - I'll shelve the manuscript and crack on with the other projects I have in mind;
  3. wondering if I should take the plunge and do what I wanted to do two years ago - set up my own press - with all the usual caveats:  am I far enough from my own ms to know whether there are any structural or stylistic problems?  And do I want to work on other people's books - yes and no - I just found a really lovely piece of work by an Aussie author who deserves a lot more marketing than he's receiving - I'll be interviewing him on Badass Books in the coming weeks; does my previous corporate work really equip me well enough to do this?
  4. knowing that setting up my own press is the equivalent of being canned by the majority and considered unpublishable - BUT the more research I do on this, the more I'm convinced that lack of quality isn't the only reason publishers reject manuscripts.  Henry Rosenbloom of Scribe Publishing in Australia (whom I haven't queried) writes an excellent blog on the state of publishing down under.  One of his articles mentions some extraordinarily depressing statistics - over a 35 year period, despite population growth, circulation of the major Australian newspapers has decreased from between 50 - 86% (for no less than Melbourne's The Age).  That trend is also reflected in the distribution numbers of books.  On the other hand, he also laments the downward spiral in the quality of prose - from straight typographical errors to journalistic bastions of the English language ignoring and printing clobberingly bad syntax.  All of which means you need an editor.  You need an editor.  You need an editor.  I can do this for other people's work - I can't do it for my own;
  5. gnashing my teeth because my expat status (from Australia) means I can't enter any of the writing competitions (these are a great way to put your full manuscript in front of people) - and therefore more reason to take the plunge in setting up a private press;
  6. fuming because two smaller Aussie publishers already turned me down - not because of the manuscript - rather because being currently domiciled in Singapore means I wouldn't be available to do promotional work - and they decided that without asking me just what I might be willing to do first (you'd think they'd never heard of planes, for instance, or social media networks?!?!).  Since the setting for my ms is Australia, it doesn't translate so well to an overseas publisher - this is high concept fantasy realism, not a dystopia, or off-world adventure.  Another reason to go it alone?
Now you might think that Singapore would be the last place to set up a press.  Hey, I speak Japanese and can squint through a few Chinese characters, but the most Singaporean I can manage is not much, lah!  Because of the government focus on the English language and the majority of young Singaporeans' adoption of US culture (they're rather fond of Australia, Perth in particular, too), there are large numbers of bookshop chains and indie bookstores, a healthy online book-purchasing community, and the Singapore National Library has more outlets per capita than a millipede has feet (meaning that for an island that fits more than twice into Sydney's land area with a population of  around five million, you don't have to walk far to locate your local branch).  Schools are equally thick on the ground - there's one undergoing renovation right behind our estate (no, don't ask about the noise - it's a demolition job on my head as much as the buildings).

This coming Friday we have our we-are-foreigners-not-second-class-citizens-applying-for-permanent-residency interview with the gate-keeping ministry responsible for changing our status.  I'm already eligible to set up my own business - and this will also legitimise a dialogue with the rest of the folks here involved in putting books in readers' hands.

Now if you know all that and you know how distribution and book warehousing, selection into bookstores etc works, doesn't that make the idea of establishing your own wordsmith sound at least a little appealing?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Guest Reviewer

At Badass Book Reviews

I'll still be posting reviews at Goodreads, but some of these will also belong on Badass.  I'll also be looking to interview up-and-coming authors over there.

More later.