When Are Your Darlings Ready to Fly? 


         March 2018  

  Cadens Corridor

When Are Your Darlings Ready to Fly?

When they’re old enough.

Spring is here, and birds will soon fill the skies. But is your little darling ready to push off that tree limb? Ready to lift their wings up, up, and back, exposing their hearts to the arrows? Yes. Arrows. Let’s do a pre-flight checklist.

Are all systems GO?

Many years ago, I wrote a sci-fi novella that was read and praised by friends and family (but not by a brutally honest critique group or a non-biased person who would have asked the right questions, the hard questions I needed to answer). It was passed by a Beta Reader, but not one well-read in sci-fi/fantasy. Finally, it had not been exposed to a line-edit or a developmental edit. I discovered, after the fact, there were places where the feathers hadn’t quite grown out just yet – even some basic things like adequate research, POV, consistency in character development. For instance, I tended to head-hop, and I didn’t realize it! Since I prefer omniscient points of view, I wasn’t as careful as I should have been when it came to whose head I was in!

Do you have a FLIGHT PLAN?

Being in a hurry to see it airborne, I put my little fledgling out on Amazon before I researched the company that helped me to do so (and charged me a great deal of money for the privilege). Again, this was several years before I discovered like-minded birds of a feather who flocked together every Thursday night—not only to critique one another’s work, but to exchange information on publishing options and articles/books/webinars to hone our craft. When I pushed my novella off the branch, I had no idea where it would go. I remember laughingly calling it “a learning experience.” It turned out to be not so funny. Know where you’re going and how to get there!

Can your fledgling make it back to the nest (i.e., what’s next?)

Now that we’ve survived the rise of the self-publishing robots vs tradition publishers and are accustomed to being buffeted about by the winds of change, we are told to have a platform. Imagine. Introverted artists being told to “put yourself out there,” like it’s the most natural thing there is. Duh. Like the majority of writers, I have great difficulty in that area, and tend to stay away from social media. However, I have left the safety of the nest (when forced to forage for food) and now have two websites and a presence on facebook. I even blog. Been there, done that. Whew.

It’s a cold, cold world.

And in order to survive, we have to stick together. Sometimes I hum the first three lines of an old Leonard Cohen song, “Bird On A Wire” (like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried…in my way…to be free), which brings me to my saving graces, my critique group and writers’ groups. Have you ever watched birds flying south for the winter, how they’ll lift off individually from tree after tree to join the others and form a perfect pattern? Writers need other, like-minded writers so we don’t get stranded for the winter. If you haven’t already, find a group. If the first one doesn’t click, find another. Form your own. Go online for groups in your area. Sure, it looks good on a bio, but more importantly, you hone your craft. And that’s what it’s all about.



Not Just Who, but When and Where!


         February 2018  

Cadens Corridor


                                           Not Just the Who, but the When & the Where!

In talking viable markets for self-publishers, Mark Dawson www.selfpublishingformula.com  reminded his listeners in a recent webinar that they might want to promote their self-published books in places other than America, where the competition is considerably less than in the USA.

He mentioned Amazon.au (Australia) and Amazon.uk (United Kingdom). Of course, interest in other countries depends on content and genres. Sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, and contemporary romance appear to be global and do rather well in both Europe and Asia, while historical romances set in 19th century Devonshire might find a viable market in Britain, but not in Germany. Always keep your target audience at the forefront, whether you’re writing or promoting.

Michelle Johnson discusses “going global” for those who take the traditional pathway to publishing (January 2018, Writer’s Digest). For many authors just starting out, the book should have “demonstrated strong sales in the author’s home country” before an agent or publisher’s attention shifts abroad. She adds that some agencies have their own foreign rights people, while other agencies use co-agents in other countries already familiar with the language and the issues involved. If a co-agent is used, the usual 20% foreign sales commission is split. If foreign sales aren’t the agency’s usual forte, you might want to seek out an outside agent who deals exclusively in foreign rights. Authors should also ask questions of either agencies or publishers if translation rights could become an issue later down the road. Global platforms are growing, and the reach of social media could give you access to a worldwide audience.

The “when” part of submitting  a query or manuscript to an agent is the subject of much debate on the internet. There does appear to be a consensus. Nathan Bransford with The Forums asserts the worst possible time to be December, and many concur. First, it’s the busiest holiday season. Second, it follows on the heels of November’s NaNoWriMo, and agents are flooded with those novels hastily written during “National Novel Writing Month” in November.

Karen Ball with the Steve Laube Agency repeats what we all know in our heart of hearts. You submit your story “when you read your story and sit back, heart pounding as you wonder…Did I really write that?” Simply put, you submit when it’s ready to submit.

Carly Watters, a Literary Agent, agrees that “publishing usually shuts down for December holidays,” adding that agents are busy during book fair months such as April and October. She says the summer, when agents are catching up on their reading, can be a good time to submit, but reiterates that “the important thing is that your manuscript is ready.” She reminds writers to query agents who are “actively looking for new authors” in that genre, and that a “well-written, targeted query will always stand out.”

So, when is your darling truly ready? That’s another corridor, one we’ll walk down next time.