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Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:36 am

It's November, and it may be a couple of days late, but there's no reason to stop the joy that is Ask the Editor Days. So, here we go. Hit me with your hardest publishing, book, or general questions. Sky's the limits.

I'll start you:

What's that book that you go back to and read over and over again?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:07 pm

Pride and Prejudice ALL THE TIME. More recently, Hourglass, Shatter Me, Incarnate, and Defiance have gotten rereads. As have several Pride and Prejudice retellings I adore.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Rachel on Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:58 am

Ditto on Pride and Prejudice. Glorious book. Also love The Near Witch, Incarnate, Daughter of Smoke and Bone...and lots of other ones. Code Name Verity would be an automatic reread, except it's so emotionally intense that I'm not sure it's a good idea when I have to be a functioning member of society. Razz

And since we've mentioned Incarnate...if one were to query (hypothetically) a MS as science fantasy, would it be clear what it is? Is there a place in the market for works like that, or would it be hard to pitch them?

Also, how effective do you find a plot progression that is not strictly linear? I'm thinking of storytelling similar to CNV, Between Shades of Gray...the way they mix present action with events in the past interspersed.

What are some of your rereads, most awesome Editor Alison?

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:13 pm

And since we've mentioned Incarnate...if one were to query (hypothetically) a MS as science fantasy, would it be clear what it is? Is there a place in the market for works like that, or would it be hard to pitch them?

Hi Rachel! Great questions. Let's do this one at a time. I think that you're describing a totally acceptable genre. I think it's fine to mash genres as long as you're clear about it. I always say it's important to know where your book fits in the marketplace, but some of that positioning does rest on the shoulders of a publisher. So I'd say it's something you should categorize, but not worry too much about.

Also, how effective do you find a plot progression that is not strictly linear? I'm thinking of storytelling similar to CNV, Between Shades of Gray...the way they mix present action with events in the past interspersed.

I don't think plot progression has to be linear. (BTW, I want to take this moment to say that all of the teens in these forums impress me so much with their grasp of narrative construction and publishing savvy. You guys know more than most writers I deal with, and sometimes I think you know more than me!) But, back to the question, I think experimenting with the timing in plot progression can be incredibly effective. It's a great way to deal with building in back story that you don't want to info-dump. It can also be highly useful for building tension and suspense. The trick, though, is to make sure time is delineated clearly, so your reader is drawn in, rather than confused.

What are some of your rereads, most awesome Editor Alison?

This is going to shock you guys. I'm not much of a re-reader. I think it has to do with my mission to read as many books as possible in life. As an editor, you obviously read the books you work on a bazillion times. But that doesn't count. Wink

I will agree on Pride and Prejudice, as well as Persuasion. To Kill a Mockingbird, Holes, The House at Pooh Corner, A Bear Called Paddington, Mary Poppins, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Five Children and It, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy.

There are some for you!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Stephen on Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:59 pm

Hello Smile

rereads? I think I read the first Harry Potter in English and in French at least once each but I don't remember any other book that I read more than once due to the fact that I love buying new books and finishing series of books, and I just don't find the time to read books again no matter how good they are Smile

I was wondering, does it matter if a book is only divided into three parts but no chapters?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Amanda on Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:10 am

Looking over this…I'm saying lots of words. Sorry. -_-

I reread all the time—I'm so picky, I have a hard time finding books that I like, so I stick with those and revisit their worlds often. Smile The main ones I come back to are my inspirations: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, and the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson.

They each have something very special about them that keeps me coming back. The Goose Girl has lyrical writing and great characters, and is just a wonderful, romantic story. The Abhorsen trilogy has awesome worldbuilding. I'd hate to live there, but it's fascinating, and so is the plot. And Wind on Fire has great writing, great characters, and a great plot. Nicholson handles a large cast extremely well, so that's something I can take away every time. But I think I'm adding a couple newer books to my often-reread group—Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson, and Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. The first for character and richness of culture, and the second for plot and worldbuilding. Smile

So! I actually have a couple questions this time! Very Happy Firstly: I got into an argument with a couple adults I respect greatly about publishing. They have published two non-fiction books, one through a small press that treated them horribly, and they self-pubbed the second. Given this, when they found out I'd written a book(which I already hate talking about), they told me I needed to self-pub and sell a couple thousand copies, then go to a publisher.

I told them I have no interest in the time-intensive, exhaustive marketing I'd have to do to accomplish that, and also that if I couldn't sell that many copies, I would've used my first publication rights for nothing. They said that self-pubbing doesn't use your first publication rights, so you can still sell them. I tried to explain it to them, but I could tell they weren't really listening to me(because I'm a "kid" and they know best, right? Rolling Eyes)

SO basically—am I right? Self-publishing counts as publishing, so you could only sell a traditional publisher(or any publisher) the second publication rights, correct? Or am I way off base? I'm just really hoping I was being difficult because I was right, not because I thought I was right. Razz

And here's my second question: do you have a philosophy about when it's okay for characters to shed tears? A CP of mine is allergic to them, so I'm trying to find another perspective—perhaps slightly less biased, lol—on how much is too much, and when it could be considered acceptable vs. not acceptable. More specifically, does a mid-book, reconciliatory brother/sister meet-up after five years, where the brother caused the accidental death of the mother, warrant tear(s) from both parties? I put the 's' in parentheses b/c the brother sheds only one. *dramatic look into the middle-distance* Razz
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:31 am

Hi Stephen,

I was wondering, does it matter if a book is only divided into three parts but no chapters?

Absolutely not. There's nothing to say a book has to have chapters. It's about what's right for the book. I think chapters give readers handy places to stop and pause. But think about when you read a book yourself. Do you always finish a chapter before stopping? Do you sometimes stop in a break in the text in the middle of the chapter? Do you just stop in the middle of a page? (I know I do!) Just because something is very often done in the construction of a book doesn't mean it's the only way to do it. So don't feel constrained by how you wish to tell your story.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:10 am

Amanda,

What a great post! I'm very impressed by your rationale for why each of your favorites has found its specific place in your heart. And I, too, love Shannon Hale's writing. The Goose Girl is a glorious piece of writing.

As to your self-published rights question, I think it's a bit more complicated than first publication/second publication or the cut and dry that your friends gave you. Here's my take. I think it's important for an author to make the decision about whether to go the traditional publication or self-publishing route for themselves based on what they think will really be best for their book. Self-publishing is a lot of work. A LOT. But so is traditional publishing. And I think weighing the pros and cons is important.

I think it's interesting that they say self-publish and sell a couple thousand and then shop to a publisher, though. Because, honestly, if you did that and then came to me only having sold a couple thousand, I would probably not be impressed. Ten thousand is impressive. It means that you, yourself, have the get-up and go to really move a book. So imagine what the book could do with other connected people pushing it, with money behind it, with expertise, behind you and the book.

In terms of first publication/second publication rights, that doesn't come into play so much. The publisher would work with you about the best way to proceed with publication. They might skip hardcover and focus straight on paperback. They might ask to edit the book, and then publish it. It depends on the project and what they think makes the most sense.

I presume you would have given up the ability to sell first serialization, which is when you publish the book in chunks before publication as a whole, but that's not really done much anymore, so it's not something I'd worry about.

Does that help at all?

As to your second question--crying in the course of the narrative--like so many other expressions of emotion, I think it has to be what is right and honest to your character and your narrative. If it feels right then it's fine. If it feels cliche or forced, then maybe best leave it out.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Amanda on Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:08 pm

Alright, thanks! Good to know. Smile They actually did say ten thousand, I think, but I'd forgotten. Either way, that's a LOT of copies, and a LOT of work! Shocked They were telling me to do it because, hey, put it on Kindle and it'll go viral just like that, and then you have leverage with those manipulative, cruel overlords of publishing! *sigh* Rolling Eyes

Oh, that brings up a third question—so if a publisher bought that self-published book, they might not even edit it? I'm assuming that's the implication in that you said they might ask to.

And thanks for answering my question about the crying. Razz I'll be checking over each instance to make sure. Thanks again! Smile
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #23 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:03 pm

I mean, if it was me, I'd probably want to edit it. But I think it depends on the project. If it's the sort of thing where it's of a a really hot moment and waiting means the world will have moved on, then that's a really powerful thing to consider. Does that mean that you're potentially forgoing a huge number of sales? Will the wait be worth it? So many things to balance!
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