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Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:20 pm

The forums are open. Let the questions begin!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Taryn on Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:35 pm

Hi Alison! It's been foreverrrr since I've asked you questions, but I figure since I turn 20 next month (all the sadfaces in the world), I should bother you until then!

So my first question: All these self-pub books being acquired and re-distributed through a house. How does this work? How do rights work in this case? Tell me all the things!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:56 pm

What a great question, Taryn.

Well, it can work in different ways, like so many things in publishing. But here's my best explanation.

Getting your book published by a traditional publisher is hard! And if you do, you have to give up some of your money earned for the privilege. The publisher pays you an advance (hurray!), but until you've paid back that money through your share of book sales, you don't see a dime from your royalties. And your cut of the sales as an author is pretty small, so if your book isn't selling in a HUGE way, it can take a while. And it may never happen - the only money you may see is that advance. On top of that, if you have an agent (let's presume you do), your agent gets a percentage of all of the money you make (traditionally 15%), so your slice of the pie is even smaller.

Some people aren't up for all of that. With the prospect of self-publishing being ever easier, you foot the bill and pay for the areas necessary to get your book ready to publish however you like, you agree to pay a percentage of whatever you make from sales to the distribution center (like Amazon, maybe), and you get to walk away with all the rest. And if you decided to publish electronically only, you don't even have to pay for all the printing costs, etc. Sure, there's financial output from you, but your sales to earn that money back don't necessarily need to be all that high. And your book is out in the world, you're making money, and you're one happy customer. Maybe.

So, how do we get to this scenario where you've self-published, and now a traditional publisher is snatching your book up to publish it in a traditional way? If you've been able to generate really strong sales on your own (and by this I personally mean many thousands of copies sold), you've proven a bunch of things to a publisher: You know how to get your name out there on your own; you have a fan base and people want to read what you've written; you can make money as a semi-known quantity. And all publishers want to make money, too. As a self-published author, you may be connected, but you don't have nearly the connections or access or backing money that the big publishers have. So if you can do so much on your own, imagine what you could do with a big publisher behind you! You could sell millions of copies. You could be on the best-seller list. You could get foreign sales and be internationally famous (and you would have no idea how to broach this on your own).

How the rights work would really depend on the deal struck between the publisher and author. The author could sell all rights to the publisher, and the publisher would therefore manage getting you international sales, audio, whatever. Or maybe you hold them back to execute yourself. It's your call, like most publishing deals.

Hope that covers the bases.

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:34 pm

Is publishing a dangerous field? I hear there are lots of injuries, like pulled thumb muscles. Do these injuries happen often?

(Also, hi Alison!)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:36 pm

Hi Julie,

I think publishing can be very dangerous. I mean, think about all the paper cuts. And carpal tunnel syndrome. And eye strain.

(Julie knows my thumb hurts and she's making me miserable, guys.)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:41 pm

I'm well on my way to carpal tunnel and eye strain, so this sounds like the perfect industry for me!

(And I'm totally not making her miserable. She told me I should ask here.)
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  bribrimcb on Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:35 pm

Hi! I'm new to the website, I just created an account five minutes ago. Nice to meet you! Very Happy

Anyway, I'd love to ask questions, but I don't have any specific ones. I'm just clueless about publishing in general - how it works, the differences of having an agent or not, etc. So I guess I'll just sit back and watch and hopefully learn something along the way!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:40 pm

Welcome, bribrimcb.

The posters here are a really lovely, friendly bunch. And always feel free to jump in and ask anything. (No question is too silly.)

-Alison
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Amanda on Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:02 pm

Ooh, I have one, I have one! Hi, Editor Alison. Smile What are your thoughts on questions in close POV narrative—3rd or 1st—along the lines of, "It didn't make any sense. Did she think he was stupid? blah blah blah…" ? I used to use them because I thought it was a good way to show thoughts, vs. italicizing, but more and more I've been taking them out and finding ways around the question mark. I began to feel that readers could just go, "Yes!" and shut the book. Razz Do you have an opinion on this?

Also, related—do you feel that an italicized line of thought is more telling, vs. showing? I mean, I'd think one might prefer, "He is so dumb." to "She thought he was dumb.", because of the "she thought" tell, but are italicized thoughts better than trying to work the thought into the narrative, e.g. "She rolled her eyes. He was so dumb." ?

It's something I've been working with lately—it occurred to me that, unless I'm writing (or narrating life in my head/composing for the purposes of future writing) I don't really think in complete sentences. So the italicized lines of thought, aside from maybe a 1-3 word bit here or there, began reading unrealistic to me. I'm just curious to know if this budding objection to most narrative questions and italicized thoughts is just my being odd, or if I'm actually discovering something that will help me deepen my writing. Thanks! Smile
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:00 pm

Style is, of course, dependent on the house and author preferences, but internal thought should be italicized.

I think whether you choose to write in close third or first is about what you feel is best for your book. I'm not the kind of editor that loathes first (though I know many who do). Honestly, (and perhaps this is a mark against me as an editor) but the only time I consciously notice POV is when it's not working and is distracting me.

I always think if the reader is going to have a reaction that pulls them out of the read (like if there's a question where they shout "yes" and throw the book down) then it's better to try to find another way to say the same thing. You want your reader sucked into the book and wanting to read on, not frustrated and wanting to stop, right?

Back to the question of italicized internal thought - like everything else, it's a tool to be used, but not over used. I think of it more as dialogue - like you're speaking to yourself, the way you might think something to yourself, but not say it out loud. But if you find yourself italicizing almost everything, you're writing your POV wrong. If you're in first person, you're inside the characters head. There's no need to stat italicizing thought that way. You're thinking along with the person. In that case, it really should be reserved only for instances like the following:

I heard a crash downstairs. But I was alone in the house. Dad had gone to the hardware store (again). Joe was at his ballgame. Who on earth is down there, I thought. Who, or what?

Hope that covers all the bases.

-Alison
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Amanda on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:26 pm

Thanks for your answer, Alison! You did indeed cover all the bases—I guess the way I worded my questions kind of meandered, haha. Smile

Your example of italicized thoughts helped me narrow down what I meant by telling vs. showing—with something like, "I heard a crash downstairs. But I was alone in the house. Dad had gone to the hardware store (again). Joe was at his ballgame. Who on earth is down there, I thought. Who, or what?", I'm finding that I'm taking out those italicized thoughts and, I suppose, trying to include/imply them in the narrative. For that example, I might just take it out and imply it, like, "I heard a crash downstairs. But I was alone in the house. Dad had gone to the hardware store (again). Joe was at his ballgame."

Or to use another example: "Melody stared at the blank sheet of paper. Do I draw a unicorn, or a dragon? I need to practice wings." — I'd render that as something like, "Melody stared at the blank sheet of paper. Maybe she'd draw a unicorn—or a dragon. She needed to practice wings."

My question is, is the second version using a more showing technique—does it produce a feeling of being closer to the character—or is it just a different style of writing? Do they both get the job done, in your opinion, or do you find one preferable to the other?
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YA trends

Post  calandra on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:05 am

YA Trends
calandra Today at 3:00 pm

.Hi Alison,

I too just discovered this forum, and it looks great! I was wondering about your views on YA trends - i.e. fantasy vs non-fantasy, and this business of 'new adult'. I write non-fantasy YA (and my agent sent my book to one of your UK editors - fingers crossed for good news!), but whenever I go into bookstores, especially chains, it sometimes seems that all there is is vampires, zombies, etc. Thanks in advance for your response.

LAUREL REMINGTON

.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:09 am

I think the second version is actually more telling than showing. Your first example aligns the reader more closely with the character. We're in her head. Whereas the second one, we're more distanced from her because a third party - the narrator - is delivering us the information about Melody and what she is going to do.

That being said, I think that there both techniques to get the job done. When editors and agents say show not tell, what they're pushing writers to do is cut down on the imparting of information so that it can be delivered in a more interesting, engaging way. But I want to emphasize the idea of "cutting down." There is information that just has to be told. And that's fine - it's not wrong.

I think of all of this as tools in your toolbox, and when you're writing, you're job is to select the best tools for the task at hand. You wouldn't try to fix a hole in the wall by slamming it with a hammer, ya know? So once you've mastered your writing tools, you can build just about anything.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #25 (right in here!)

Post  Amanda on Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:46 pm

Okay, thanks! I see what you mean—that clears things up for me. Smile I may have been overthinking just a bit. And thanks for answering our questions. Very Happy
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