April 22, 2018
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but my excuse is I’ve been writing. And it’s been too cold, and I’ve had other projects on my agenda and I have been procrascinating, etc. Take your pick. All are true.
I’ve never seen a winter like this one. It’s like it didn’t want to leave. Snow one day, 65 degrees the next, then come the weekend, snow, sleet and ice. In April! On Easter Sunday three inches of snow covered the ground. It was gone the next day, but still cold.
Yesterday the temp reached 65. It was also the day I did an author presentation at the Tri-City Public Library in Buffalo, IL. I had no idea until the day before that I was to speak. I thought it was a booksigning, meet the author event. I quickly typed out a “lesson plan” on the process of publication, starting with the “sit your butt in the chair” and write to the marketing that comes after the book is published.
This is the day the weather should have been cold as the turnout was low. Everyone were working in their yards, and I can’t blame them after the long wait for a good day. My nephew and his wife and two children attended, and they made up half my audience. It didn’t matter. I was grateful for the chance to make a presentation. It was my first public speech.
The library staff appreciated my time and effort, and told me they enjoyed what I said and taught them. And I’ve been asked to come back and help with their youth program this summer.
This is the basics or outline I used when I spoke:
THE WRITING AND PUBLISHING PROCESS
by Debra Daugherty
WRITE (While writing, attend writing conferences, join a writers group, join SCBWI – The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, watch webinars on writing, start a social media presence – a blog, twitter, Facebook, etc. and read books in the genre you write.)
(PANTSER or PLOTTER?– Do you just sit and start writing or do you outline and know what goes in each chapter and how the story ends?)
REVISE, REVISE, REVISE
EDIT, CRITIQUE, REVISE, REPEAT
QUERY – Send letters and sample chapters to agents and/or publishers.
Basics of a one-page Query letter:
INTRO – List word count, age and genre (picture book, middle grade, YA), sub-genre (Humor? Mystery? Suspense? Romance? Etc.)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS or PITCH – Tell what the story’s about without giving the ending away. Entice the agent or publisher to want to read more.
AUTHOR’S BIO – Tell something about yourself and your writing experiences.
CLOSING – Thank the agent/publisher for their time. Offer to send more pages/chapters upon request.
NEXT STEP – OFFER OF REPRESENTATION from an agent who will then pitch your manuscripts to publishers or a CONTRACT OFFER from a publisher. – Take time to study the contract and voice any changes you want or concerns you have.
PRE-EDITS – Heavy revision per publisher’s guidelines – example: watch for ly words, (go easy on the adverbs), eliminate words like surely, very, so, etc.
CONTENT EDITS – spelling check
LINE EDITS – POV (point of view) changes, words added, tenses corrected, sentences changed or rearranged.
PROOFING EDITS – The format is changed, including spacing, titles, scene breaks.
GALLEYS – The final read through – last chance to find and fix errors.
COVER ART – Sent for your approval.
PUBLISHED! Your book is now available for purchase either at bookstores or online
MARKETING – Now you need to market yourself and your book with school visits, appearances, book signings and constant online presence.
My great-nephew, DJ, and great-niece, Anna, were at my presentation yesterday. DJ is going to be the next writer in our family. He just turned eight, and when I visited him two weeks ago at his home, he showed me the book he is writing. He had several typing papers stapled together and had handwritten the start of his story about a dragon and a fairy. He even drew illustrations on his pages! Hopefully, DJ listened and took in some of what I said yesterday at the library about the steps to publication. And my nephew, Dylan told me he enjoyed my talk as he saw I was passionate about writing.
And truthfully, I have been writing and submitting. I’ve written a new picture book story about a ballerina sheep and just finished a 27,000 word middle grade novel about a boy and his bulldog who runs for mayor. The dog story took one month to write, although I only worked on it 15 days of that month. The story flowed from my fingers and was fun to write. I can envision it as a series, with more stories of the dog’s adventures.
And since January, I have been diligently submitting my work to agents and publishers. Query letters are sometime harder to write than the actual novel.
Thank heavens for my writers group. At the March meeting I shared the first 2 chapters of my dog story, and one comment from Juli changed my entire plot. I had been concentrating on the dog, and her comment was, “What does the boy want?”
Although I started writing as a pantser, by the tenth chapter I had worked out the outline and ending to my story. Even then I waivered and added chapters as I went along, as the characters seemed to dictate me to do. (I believe that sometimes my characters tell me what to write.) The final project gave me a happy feeling, and a hopeful one, too. This is the book children will enjoy and connect with.
Another note about my writers group. Thanks to SCBWI’s grant for programs, I was able to invite Alexandra LaFaye to do a presentation. This noted author gave each of us advice on the opening pages of our works-in-progress.
Even though I have procrastinated at times, I still feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal since this year has started.
So, it’s time for “Butt in chair” revisions.
Write for the joy of it, as I do.