Friday, September 6, 2013

An Author and the Lingo - Matt moore - Biggest 'Aha' Moments in Writing

For an aspiring writer, finding a publisher can be more frustrating than writing the novel. But the problem might not be your novel, but your presentation.

Writing is an art, but publishing is a business. The better you understand this business, the better your chances of being published. After all, publishers are looking for both quality work and authors they can work with.

So what can you do?

First, bury your ego. Never think you're so good that you don't need to follow the—formal or informal—rules. There are plenty of great writers out there. The ones who follow the rules get published. The prima donnas complain no one appreciates their brilliance and that's why they're unpublished.

Attend conventions where publishers and editors will be. Go to their panels. Listen to their advice, their frustration, their experience. Vow to never do the things that make them angry.

If you have a chance, talk to them. Introduce yourself as a writer and ask what writers should do to make the publisher's job easier. You'll learn a lot. But don't use this as a lead-in to pitch your novel. In fact, if you begin with "Don't worry, I'm not here to pitch my novel" you'll put them at ease.

If you do meet a publisher you want to pitch your novel to, ask permission: "Do you mind if I pitch my novel?" or "Are you hearing novel pitches?" If a publisher says no, that's the end of it. Don't then ask if you can just "describe" your novel.

Understand how to pitch a novel. A 10-minute ramble about how your parents encouraged you to write and how a character is based on your best friend shouldn't be in a pitch. Google "elevator pitch". Rehearse it in the mirror. Be able to deliver it at a moment's notice.

Never finish your pitch with "Is that something you're interested in?" You should already know, either through your research before the convention or asking the publisher what they publish. (Side note: Most publisher are happy to talk about their business, their authors and the work they publish.) And if the publisher is interested, they will let you know.

Never tell a publisher to check out samples of your work and contact you if they're interested. Publishers are already swimming in submissions. Instead, check out the publisher's work and if they publish what you write, submit to them.

Follow submissions guidelines exactly. Submit your manuscript in Comic Sans? Do it. Ideas for cover art? Send them. Some guidelines include unusual requirements just to prove you read them.

Learn publishing lingo. For example, you submit a "manuscript", not a "book". Know what these means: "unsolicited submissions", "line edits", "slush", "standard manuscript format", etc.

Overall, publishers want authors they can work with. If you show you know how the industry works, you'll be more successful.

Matt Moore is a horror and science fiction writer who believes good speculative fiction can both thrill and make you think. His columns and short fiction have appeared in print, electronic and audio markets including On Spec, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Leading Edge, Cast Macabre, Torn Realities and the Tesseracts anthologies. His novelette Silverman's Game was published by Damnation Books in 2010. He's a two-time Aurora Award nominee, Friends of the Merrill finalist, frequent panelist and presenter, Communications Director for ChiZine Publications, and Chair of the Ottawa Chiaroscuro Reading Series.

He lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Find out more here.

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