Another Mystery Solved!

My husband, affectionately known around these parts as “Mr. Kiddoc,” has baffled me for years.

He can make things disappear without a trace. Give him a set of keys or a remote control or a scrap of paper with a phone number on it and– in under a minute– it will be gone. He won’t even need to leave his chair.

Many times I’ve marveled at his ability to lose things. He can be holding his wallet one minute and asking for help finding it the next. And he has a bad leg… it’s not like he can speed in and out of my line of sight.

I’ve often told him the CIA should hire him to make things disappear.

Well, recently it happened again. He was sitting in the family room. I handed him the phone and a refrigerator magnet with the phone number of our local pizza joint so he could order our dinner. I then returned to the kitchen. Mr. Kiddoc never moved from the sofa. I could see the top of his head through our pass through.

And yet, by the time he hung up the phone, the magnet was missing.

We dug deep into the sofa cushions, but no dice. The magnet was gone.

A few hours later, I stumbled across it. About 15 feet away from where he was sitting, on the hearth of our fireplace.

I should add that the magnet is shaped like a slice of pizza and therefore disinclined to roll.

My BFF and I finally put it together. There is only one possible explanation.

My husband can create wormholes.

They are, evidently, quite weak, allowing only the transfer of small objects a few feet in any direction. But perhaps now that he knows, he’ll be able to hone his skills.

We can only hope he will use his powers for good. *snort*

U Got the Look: Novel Marketing and Prom Ensembles

Well, Prom season is upon us. You may wonder what the heck that has to do with marketing a novel. Well, I’ll tell you.

But first, I’d like to introduce this into evidence:

That’s me (with my sister) on my way to the prom circa 1992.

Now, if you’re like me, after looking at this picture, you’re rubbing your stinging nose with one hand while wiping the coffee off your laptop with the other. Which is hard to do when you’re shaking with laughter. I mean that is really quite the look, right?  Check out the asymmetric hair-do and the “floating pearl” necklace. Not to mention the white iridescent tights. And when you’re uberpale, the best look is almost always baby pink patterned satin over white tulle, natch.

Here’s the thing:

At the time, I thought I looked awesome. Other people thought I looked awesome, too. I overheard my date’s younger sister whining that her brother must have bribed me or something cuz OMG, she’s actually pretty!

Unfortunately, I believe writing is a bit like fashion. I finished the first draft of The Edge of Memory in 7 weeks. I did a quick grammar edit, and then shipped the manuscript off to a bevy of test readers for feedback, while I took a month away “for perspective.” (yeah, right.)

Over the next several months, I completed several major edits. I then decided I was done tinkering and ready to seek representation. I read the blogging agents mantras of “Don’t Query Before You’re Ready” and “Write a Great Book” and felt confident. I loved my manuscript. I didn’t think it was perfect, of course, but I thought I’d reached the point where I needed professional feedback to progress further.

I was both right and wrong.

Since that first stopping point (when my book was titled “Still Haunted”), I’ve done at least six more rounds of editing. And each time I finish a round of edits, I cringe to look at the previous drafts. Just like that prom picture, I look at those versions and wonder, “what the heck I was thinking?”

In February, an agent who had requested a partial and then my full manuscript pointed out a plot detail that bothered her. She gave me a eureka moment and I subsequently rewrote several scenes. I am very pleased with the resulting manuscript, and have not edited again since (which, of course, shatters my previous record of approximately nine minutes between edits). I think this time I finally have reached the most polished version I can produce.

Naturally, I wish I had known that I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was when I first began querying. But then, I’m not sure I would have reached this place without the submission process. Certainly, I might never have had the eureka moment without that agent’s input.

The take-home point here is that I’m glad I’ve never been a Query Player (much as I’ve tried). If I had queried a zillion agents when I first thought my manuscript was ready, I’d have burned all my bridges.

But since I’ve only queried a few agents at a time, I’ve got a chance to show my best work. And I’m grateful for that.

Empathyfail: A Writer-Doctor’s Thoughts on Agentfail

If you’re the sort of person that reads my blog, chances are outrageously high that you have heard all about Queryfail and Agentfail. I’ve read all 230+ comments on the BookEnds post.

And what struck me most about the more angry comments posted there was the lack of understanding. I hate the crickets treatment as much as the next writer, but despite the fact that, indeed, it would take only a few seconds to send a reply, I understand why some agents can’t do that.

It’s true… if an agent reads a query and knows instantly that the project is not for them, it would take only a few seconds to paste a rejection. But if they waffle just a bit, they might not want to reject it instantly. Maybe a day or two later, one of those not-instant-rejections will stick out as something that interests them after all. Keeping track of every yes, no, and maybe can quickly get overwhelming, as any bride can tell you. Since the default response is “no” regardless of the agent’s policy, I can understand why a no-reply-means-no policy is the path of least resistance, given the numbers of queries received. Don’t get me wrong… I greatly prefer to receive a response, and certainly favor agents who take the time to respond, but I understand the ones who don’t.

Perhaps the gripes that hit home the hardest for me were those where people complained about agents tweeting or blogging about things like snack foods and reality TV, arguing that these agents had no right to be behind in responding to queries and manuscripts if they had time for such trivialities.

Yikes. I have been on the other end of this argument too many times. I totally get this. As a physician, I have worked crazy hours for over a decade. I frequently work through meals, go without sleep. On several occasions, when I’ve taken a break to run to the bathroom or down a cup of coffee, I’ve had family members chastise me.

“Glad to see you’ve got your coffee, Doc, while we’ve been waiting here for an hour.”

And I get it. I get that they’re frustrated, cuz they’ve entrusted their kids to my care and all they want is for someone to give them an answer on what’s going on and what to expect. A cup of coffee seems unbearably trivial when you’re worried about someone you love.

And so I put things like coffee and meals, my own medication when I’m ill, etc. on hold a lot of the time, but I can’t do it always. I know that sometimes I need a few minutes or a graham cracker or something to keep my stamina up, or I won’t be any good at my job in the first place.

A lot of writers love their books like children, so I understand the frustration and the desperation. But, you know… we’re writers. We’re also supposed to be better than the average bear at putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Agents need to look after their own needs… which includes indulging on occasion. No one can work every second and be good at what they do.

I’m not saying agents or writers are perfect, cuz heaven knows none of us are, but I do think we deserve to try to understand each other a little better.

Talk to Me: In Deep Smit (03-06-09)

So… um… it’s Friday again. Actually, it’s been Friday more than once now. I think with my posting on the QueryTracker.net blog, my In Deep Smit posts will become more biweekly-ish.

But I definitely have something I’m deeply smitten with to share this week.

I’m in the middle of another manuscript revision. An agent who loved my partial and requested my full manuscript identified a plot point that didn’t work for her later in the story. Her comment gave me a eureka moment for a small backstory change that I believe makes the novel stronger.

I rewrote the chapters primarily affected, and now I’m finishing a detailed line edit to make sure I haven’t missed any inconsistencies along the way.

And since I’m going through word by word, I figured I’d take the opportunity to tighten my manuscript wherever possible.

Now, you might think this post would be about the agent who inspired the idea. And I am indeed, deeply grateful to  her for her time and insight. But the object of my affection for discussion today is the Narrator tool on my PC.

I had heard that text-to-voice software was included on most recent PC’s, but I’d never bothered looking up how to use it before. I find reading aloud to be a great editing tool, but have noticed that when I read from my manuscript, I sometimes miss problems like missing or repeated words anyway because I know what the text is supposed to say and my brain corrects it without my noticing.

I wanted something that would read my text to me, so I looked up where to find the preinstalled software.

And there she was… Microsoft Anna, the robotic narrator, hiding under “Ease of Access” in my “Accessories” folder.

Together, Anna and I have obsessed over each word of the first 3/4 of my manuscript. Despite frequent careful editing by myself and hundreds of beta readers, I still found a few small typos. I’ve also found a few overuse quirks, like my apparent fondness for starting dialogue lines with “Well,” which each of my characters indulged to some extent.

Hands down, this is the best edit I’ve done. So I’m deeply smitten with Microsoft Anna, and I’m not afraid to shout that to the blogosphere. 🙂

Now, if you don’t mind… Anna and I would like to be alone for a while. 😉

Geekiness to Spare

A long time ago, I celebrated my uber-geekiness here when I discovered how to use Palm Markup Language to create my own ebooks with formatting, table of contents, etc.

I love having a copy of my manuscript handy on my palm pilot, and I love reading my crit partners’ manuscripts on the go this way. Ebooks also display nicely on the PC (with ereader) when I’m only looking to read, as opposed to adding comment. I like to read manuscripts I’m critting through once for big-picture feel, then I go back in Word with track changes and all. 😉

Anyway… ebooks=highly cool. Since I posted last May, I’d been planning to post a tutorial so that other folks could make their manuscripts into formatted ebooks. Last night, I finally sat down to write it up.

And I discovered it wasn’t necessary. The geek requirement has been dramatically decreased by a super-easy program called “Publish Ebook“. Seriously, you can do this without a smidge of geekiness whatsoever.

If you have ereader installed on your computer, handheld, phone, or whatever, you’ll be able to read your manuscript. The files are tiny, too, so you can store a lot of them even on devices without much memory.

Here’s my ebook for The Edge of Memory displaying on my PC.

It has a clickable Table of Contents and everything.

In other news, my blog stats show that someone is searching for “Heather Dyer UIUC” and “Heather Dyer poetry”. So if you’re looking for the quirky bio major and Linsey-Woolsey Lit Magazine staffer who wore bell bottoms and was often the only person dancing at O’Malley’s (despite sticking to diet coke all night), you’ve found the right person. 🙂

And either way, thanks for stopping by.

It’s My Blogiversary! (sort of)

It’s not quite Friday yet, but I have a very good reason to celebrate my weekly “In Deep Smit” a day early…

It was one year ago today that I signed up for this spiffy blog on WordPress.

I started this blog when I was just one month (and about 40K words) into The Edge of Memory, mostly as a way of documenting the process.

I was quite private at first. Only my husband and BFF Clara knew I was blogging, and I kept the blog out of search engines and whatnot.

After my first round of editing, I asked for test readers on a number of internet chat boards to which I belong. I set up the Test Readers pages so folks could discuss their thoughts after reading.

But aside from my clandestine beta-readers and a handful of close friends, no one knew I was here.

In May, when I started marketing my novel, I made this a public blog. So Trying to Do the Write Thing has only been public for six months, but it’s a year old today.

I’ve come a long way in a year. Finished a novel and started another. Revised my query letter approximately 72 million times. Learned that publishing is to weeks what football is to minutes– it’s a slow process. I’ve reached a zen-like state of understanding there.

As a physician, I’m used to ordering things “Stat” and that really doesn’t apply in publishing.

I mean REALLY doesn’t apply. But there is an element to that fact that is kind of refreshing. It makes me appreciate the journey.

A journey on which I’ve met (and virtually met) a lot of fabulous people. If you’re reading this, THIS MEANS YOU. 😉

Thanks for stopping by!

Angst in Writing– Back on the Chain Gang

Blog Chain time again!

This chain’s topic was selected by Carolyn over on Archetype Writing. If you didn’t find your way here from Leah Clifford’s blog, you should check out her post.

The topic is:

Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?

Is angst necessary for good writing?

Well, when I was in high school, my writer friends and I certainly thought so. The word “Angst” became a sort of mantra among us, emerging as a guttural grunt to be shouted when appropriate. And I certainly wrote angsty things during that time… poetry mostly.

Breakdown

A smash
Through the glass
Would leave my
Hand
Tied with pretty
Red ribbons

A walk
With a train
Would leave me
Thin
At last

But
His key
In the lock
Leaves me
Heaped
And shaking.

But I don’t think good writing is angsty all that often. And I don’t think of angst as something a writer must acquire in order to write well.

I think of it more like research, I guess.

As a writer, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. Actually, scratch that… as a HUMAN BEING, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. I’ve always tried to learn whatever I can. When I was 13, I made my young cousins show me their piano lessons, so I could teach myself. I learned sign language and translated for the Children’s Theater productions when I was in high school. Calligraphy, hula dancing, coding for electronic books, medicine, palm-reading, law, Spanish folk songs… all these things widen my personal experiences and make my writing richer.

It’s the same way with emotional experiences. The more personal extremes you’ve experienced, the more genuinely you can empathize and express those sentiments for your characters. Every emotion– including angst– is valid and useful in writing.

So, no… I don’t think a writer needs to suffer for their art, per se. I don’t think making yourself miserable or melancholy is going to improve your work. But I do think a writer needs to be OUT THERE, taking risks, making themselves emotionally vulnerable and just plain embracing the rich up-and-downs of life. The benefits for the writing is just a bonus. 🙂

Next up on the chain is the fabulous Jessica Verday, so tune in tomorrow and see what she has to say about this topic.

A Thought on Rejections…

I believe I’ve finally settled on the proposal that works best for The Edge of Memory.  But Holly Root’s post on the new Waxman Agency blog today reminded me of how the query process started for me and for several writing buddies.  If there’s one thing that comes up over and over again when discussing proposals seeking representation, it’s how difficult it is to know what works and what doesn’t.

I mean, sure… Janet Reid is doing what she can to help over at Query Shark, and the gang at QueryTracker is very helpful with query revisions.

But it still comes down to a fundamental problem:

Many authors are willing to make changes to their proposals and manuscripts, but don’t know what needs to be changed.  Many agents would be willing to make suggestions, but do not have the time and fear hostile responses to even the most constructive criticism.

So it occurred to me a while back that it might be possible to bring these two together so that everybody wins (Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!).

In a subjective business like publishing, we have to rely on trends.  To define a trend, we need data points.  But to obtain data points from simple “yes” and “no” responses is difficult and slow.  Let’s take a hypothetical example:

Author submits a proposal for “The Spoon That Moved” to Agent consisting of a query letter, a brief synopsis, and the first 5 pages.  Agent sends rejection.  Author only knows that the proposal didn’t work on Agent.  Was it because Agent can’t stand stories about spoons?  Was the query yawn-worthy?  Did Agent read the query with excitement but the sample pages didn’t hold up?  Did Agent actually love the proposal and seriously consider it before passing?

Author has no way of knowing.  So she has two choices… submit the same proposal to someone else, or change the proposal.  And she can’t be sure what to change.  The process becomes a twisted game of Mastermind, where you never find out how you’re doing unless you happen to win.

Do we have the right query letter and synopsis, but the sample pages need work?  Do we have all the right components but just on the wrong agent’s desk?

So… what if we embraced the Mastermind element?

Here’s my proposition… a standard rejection card WITH data points.  Then, with only a handful of submissions, an author could identify a potential weak spot and fix it.  The rejection card would take seconds to complete, and hopefully its standardness would ward off overly-emotional responses.

Here’s what I had in mind…

So what do we think? Helpful idea, or big pain in the butt?

Give your opinion in the comments!

Willy Wonka & The Publishing Industry, Part II

You may remember a few months ago, I posted that Everything I Needed To Know About Publishing, I Learned from Willy Wonka.

At the time, I admitted it was not really everything I needed to know.  As proof, here are a couple additions to that list:

7.  One is Enough for Anyone. Moonrat made a lovely post yesterday in celebration of the Little Novel That Could.  What is striking about this story to me is that sometimes, one champion makes all the difference for a project.  Certainly, in order to get a book published, a lot of different people need to believe it can be successful.  But sometimes just one person… if it’s the right person for the right project… can make them believe.

8.  What Are You At, Getting Terribly Fat? I participate in several online writers groups where people share their query letters for critique, and I’m surprised at the number of intelligent, otherwise well-informed folks who seem to be unaware of appropriate lengths for novels.  Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint posted a great breakdown of wordcounts by genre a while back.

Class Re-Dismissed!

Hmmm… Is Sarah Palin Watching My Book Trailer?

My book trailer is posted on youtube.  Along with a shorter version.

I’ve discovered you can view various stats on your videos when you post them.

For my original book trailer, I have viewers from about 20 states so far, but mostly it’s just one or two random views.  Most of my viewers, naturally, are in Illinois.

But today I peeked at my stats and was quite surprised to see that Alaska is coming in as a strong number two.  I have half as many viewers from Alaska as from Illinois, and that’s including myself in the Illinois group (I haven’t found a way to copy the code for my video without accidentally triggering a “visit”)

I don’t know ANYONE in Alaska.  I don’t even know OF anybody in Alaska, except for the Palin family.

So… what other explanation is there?

In Deep Smit– 09/26/08

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Another Friday is here! Today I have a very writer-friendly deep smit posting. 😉

Today, I am deeply smitten with Lulu.com

You can use Lulu for print-on-demand self-publishing, of course, but that’s not why I love them.

Back when I was finishing up my first round of major editing, I noticed that I found different changes I needed to make when I read my manuscript on the computer vs. on paper. I wanted to print it up like a novel to read-through for my next round of edits.

Unlike a lot of other POD options, Lulu gives you the option of a private project, which means you can print up a nice-looking, bound paperback without ever making your manuscript publicly available (so you still have first publication rights to sell).

I decided it was time to reprint, since I’m done with editing until an agent or editor wants changes.

My manuscript for The Edge of Memory is ~275 pages. In 11-font standard paperback format, it makes for a ~350 page novel and cost $11.77. You can design your own full wrap cover.

I ordered it last Tuesday, and a week later my package arrived.

I know it’s nothing close to getting published, but it still feels amazing to hold what looks like a novel in your hands and know you wrote it.

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Words: They’re Not Just for Writing Anymore

One of my chittie peeps found an awesome site where you can create Wordles.

What is a Wordle, you ask?

Well, I didn’t know either.  Turns out what a Wordle is– is HIGHLY COOL!

You can paste or type in passages of text or have Wordle grab it from a blog feed if that’s your thing.  I pasted in my synopsis for The Edge of Memory and made some ubercool word art:

Or maybe you prefer this option…

I also did one for my blog feed:

You can change fonts, color schemes, the number of words, etc.  The word size is dependent on how frequently you use the word in the sample text.

I seriously Photobucket them. I thought about doing Wordles for my next In Deep Smit entry, but I just plain couldn’t wait! Photobucket

So, my writer friends… I challenge you to stick YOUR synopses into the Wordle creator. Or other blog readers… go to town with whatever strikes your fancy! Let’s see what awesomeness we can generate. Put a link in the blog comments to your best creations!

Back on the Chain Gang: Get Real!

PhotobucketAnother round on our ever-growing blog chain! Photobucket

The current topic was started by the lovely Leah Clifford : How Real Are Your Characters?

I’m only the second blogger to post on this topic, but I will bet big money that every blogger after me will insist their characters are quite real to them. Photobucket

Cardboard cut-outs just don’t inspire people to write about them. 😉

So how real are my characters? How much do I know about them? Photobucket

Like most writers, I know an awful lot more about my characters than will ever make it into my book. Photobucket

Although I could tell you tons of details about any of my characters– from why Raymond has a Buckeyes magnet on his refrigerator… to how Dr. Evans ended up practicing in a little town like Gladstone… to what Helena ever saw in Vincent– I think it’s only natural that I have special affection for my protagonist.

Beatrice was a bit of a challenge to write, and I hope I’ve finally hit upon the right mix for her. Given her incredibly traumatic background, despite having repressed the memories, she simply can’t be well-adjusted. Her relationships and development had to be subconsciously influenced by the trauma she can’t remember.

Which is why she puts up with Dane’s crap.

Why her self-esteem barely registers.

Why she struggles to interact socially.

Why her emotions are stunted at the beginning of the novel.

And as she reclaims control over her past, she begins to recover. There are components of her character that are almost teen-like, as her social skills and sense of self catch up with her chronological age

Beatrice changes dramatically throughout the novel (as all protagonists must) but even as she triumphs over her demons, she also needs to incorporate that traumatic past into who she is at the end.

So, yes… I could tell you how Beatrice takes her coffee (two sugars and a drop of cream) or what kind of music speaks to her (think Smokey Robinson), and while those details certainly help to define her as a real entity, to me they contribute less to her character than her motivations.

Our characters have to want something. If there’s no goal, there’s no conflict. But it’s the complexities of the WHY they want what they want that really adds depth for me. 🙂

That’s about as coherent as I’m going to get on this topic since I’m on hour 38 of no sleep. Photobucket But you all can look forward to a gorgeous and organized post on this interesting topic coming up on Mary Lindsey’s shiny new blog! Photobucket

In Deep Smit– 08/21/08

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Lately, it seems like Fridays are just whisking by.

Well, if you’re an unusually observant blog reader, you might have noticed a new addition to my sidebar over here.

I’ve had a couple of people ask if they can subscribe to my blog by email. So, like a good little googler, I looked into it. And for the last week, I’ve been testing a site called Feedburner, which was recently acquired by Google.

The site tracks a lot of stats for your website or blog, but it also allows email subscriptions. I’m glad to report that it is working great! So if you’d prefer to receive posts by email, just click on the link in my sidebar.

Whenever I post an update, Feedburner emails the subscribers a copy with a link to the original post. If I don’t post, no email.

So, Yay!

Subscribe away, if you’re so inclined. But please come here to post responses. I Photobucket blog comments!

Back on the Chain Gang: Genres

My Blog Chain Gang is back at it again and our new topic is Genres. We’ve had to skip over one blogger who’s moving, so the previous post from Elana Johnson is here.

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that Genre has been a hot topic over here on Trying to Do the Write Thing. I had a heck of a time deciding what genre in which to market my novel. One of the more amusing discussions of this is listed in my Blog Hall of Fame in the sidebar: Genre Crossing and The Edge of Memory.

I read all sorts of genres, and so influences of several genres found their way into my novel. It’s a mystery, but not a whodunnit. It’s suspense/thriller, but personal. It prominently features romance, but it isn’t a romance novel. It has paranormal elements, but they’re subtle and late in the novel.

This might suggest a feeling of “something for everyone” but conventional publishing wisdom states this is not a desirable place to be. Publishers and editors (and therefore agents) need to know where your book will be shelved and how it will be marketed. Simpler is better. Which does leave a more complicated book a bit nowhere.

Based on my research, it seems that a book with elements of multiple genres would be classified as mainstream fiction. This might lead you to wonder how I came to be marketing in Upmarket Women’s Fiction.

When I first prepared to market my novel, I had a hard time finding a good definition of “women’s fiction”, other than that women ought to like it. Women make up the majority of readers anyway. My novel was long on romance, so that suggests a female audience. I sent a survey to my test readers asking them to write in what shelf they would expect to find my novel on, and got a wide variety of responses ranging from “Psychological Thriller” to “Family Saga” to “Mystery” to “Romantic Suspense” to “Whatever shelf Jodi Picoult is on.”

If I had paid more attention to that last suggestion, I would have been on the right track sooner.

In that same survey, I asked if there was an author or a novel that my test readers considered my novel similar to in style or audience. I received a number of flattering responses, including Fannie Flagg, Nancy Pickard, Maeve Binchy, Anita Shreve, and most frequently Jodi Picoult. After a little research, I realized these awesome authors are categorized as “women’s fiction” when they’re not over on the “Bestsellers” shelf.

At long last, I found a clear definition of women’s fiction from the FWA:

Women’s Fiction: Fiction which includes subjects and themes that range far beyond romance. The woman is the star of the story and her changes and emotional developments are the subject. Relationships are at the core of the plot. Could involve relationships with siblings, parents, friends and not necessarily just a lover. Doesn’t have to have the standard “happy ending” but there is a life-affirming resolution to the story. Focuses on the hopes, fears, dreams and even secret fantasies of women. (Examples: “Shellseekers” Rosamonde Pilcher, “Fortunes Rocks” Anita Shreve, novels by Sue Miller and Elizabeth Berg.)

YES! That’s The Edge of Memory, absolutely.

So, why upmarket? Well, this part I’m actually less certain of, as it seems that not all agents have embraced this particular term which I am given to understand means a novel bridging from commercial to literary fiction: a book club sort of novel. My novel does use symbolism, echoes, and allusion, but not in a way that is distracting to the story.

My second option for genre would be suspenseful women’s fiction. When I get farther into the query process, I may find that fits better. This whole publishing thing is a learning process, after all.

So Take Home Tips from what I’ve learned on Genres:

  1. It’s important in marketing your project to identify the best fit for genre category. This gives agents, editors, publishers the most efficient way to pitch your book up the chain.
  2. There are different expected book lengths by genre, so bear that in mind when marketing. I posted about wordcounts here and included Colleen Lindsay’s wordcount breakdown by genre.
  3. Once you’ve identified your genre, read the current releases in your category to get a feel for the current market.
  4. Although important, genres can be flexible, too. I’ve seen agents posting that they market a cross-genre book in either category, depending on the pitch-recipient.

Okay, Chain-gangers, Kiddoc out. Next up, I believe is the lovely and talented Mary Lindsay.