I’ve gathered together my list. I’ve actually ended up with seventeen of them, and that’s just from doing a Google search and some fairly casual browsing — I’m sure I can find a lot more in future.
(Oddly enough, no one on Twitter recommended any book bloggers when I asked. Really, Internet? I thought you people had an opinion about everything!)
In a burst of organizational enthusiasm, I put together all the relevent information in this Excel spreadsheet, which you’re welcome to look at if you’re curious, or if you’re looking for a starting place for your own submissions. (Don’t just rely on my spreadsheet, though — visit the sites and actual read their guidelines, ‘kay? ‘Kay.)
You’ll note that there’s a column for “query date,” which is currently blank, ’cause I haven’t sent any of them out yet — I’ll do that tonight when I get home. (Yesterday’s lunch hour was spent finding these blogs, and today’s lunch hour was spent putting together this spreadsheet.) This seems like a very good idea to me, to make sure I don’t end up querying any of the same bloggers twice for the same book in future.
So why am I being so public about all this? Three reasons. First, if you’re a writer, I thought you might be interested in seeing my process to see if any of it would work for you.
Secondly, if you’re a reader, you might like to see how the sausage is made.
Finally, this keeps me motivated. If I say, “Hey, I’m gonna do a thing!” I don’t want to have come back here tomorrow and post, “Oh, actually I didn’t do a thing. I spent all night looking a pictures of kittens on Tumblr instead. Sorry.”
So come back here tomorrow, and I’ll let you know how sending out the queries went. Or I’ll at least have some pictures of kittens.
One of the biggest complaints I ever hear writers make — and here I’m even being generous and including people who call themselves writers but never seem to, you know, write anything — is that there’s never enough time.
Time is the one commodity that no one’s making more of. It does slip through our ink-stained little fingers, if we let it — especially if you’ve got a day job, a spouse, kids, a home to keep clean, errands to run, and a three-hours-a-night television habit. (Well, maybe not that last one. If you’re guilty of that one, go stand in front of your mirror for me, slap yourself in the face, and scream, “what the fuck are you doing?” Thanks.)
Well, listen, I can’t give you an extra day in your week, but tomorrow, you’ve got something to think about — an extra day in your year. It’s Leap Day, February 29th. You actually, for once in every four years, have some extra time.
I just wanted to say, let that inspire you. Think of all the times you’ve said, “if only I had more time, I’d — ” What? Drop those short story submissions you keep putting off in the mail? Drag out that trunk novel and start revising it? Toss aside your current manuscript, the one you’re so bored with by now, and finally get started on that big new project you’re really excited about? Here it is! More time! Do it!
In fact, let’s stretch this metaphor out a little more — since tomorrow is called “Leap Day,” make a real leap. Don’t just do something you’ve been putting off — do something you’ve been a little scared to do.
Putting my money where my mouth is — I’ve been a little scared to contact book-bloggers about Slices. “Oh, they’re probably not interested in short stories, and it’s hard to find reviewers who will take self-published books, or who are interested in horror, or — ” Blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse. Anything I’m making that many excuses about I figure I must be scared of, and that means the only way to face it is head-on.
So, I’m going to go out and put together a list of — oh, let’s say ten book-bloggers, and drop them a line. I’ll let you know how it goes.
That’s the Leap I’m going to make tomorrow. What’s yours?
Last weekend I went down to Los Angeles for the 23rd annual Gallifrey One convention, which, for the uninitiated, is a Doctor Who convention. So, in other words, it’s the longest-running convention in the world for the longest-running science-fiction television series of all time.
Doctor Who is probably quite literally my very favorite thing in the entire world. If you enjoy my stories, you have Doctor Who to thank for it — in a very real sense, the mysterious adventures in outer space and the many monsters I watched the Doctor fight when I was a child permanently warped my fragile, delicate little developing mind, and left me with a deep love for the strange and terrifying.
This is only the second time I’ve been to Gallifrey One, but I’m sure this will be an annual pilgrimage from now on. I’m not sure I could even tell you how amazing it was. This is an incredibly enthusiastic, friendly, creative, engaged fandom. And you know how actors and the like in their public appearances always go on about how much they love their fans, and they do this all for them, and thank you so much and blah blah blah and it always comes across so fake?
Not here. Everyone up on that stage (and there were a ton of guests) seemed to be absolutely genuine when they said that kind of thing. They love the show, they love being involved in it, they love the fanbase.
Anyway, since this is my writing blog, and not my geeking-out-about-Doctor-Who blog — I don’t have one of those, but maybe I should — I’m mainly posting this to tell you I finally got a chance to meet Simon Guerrier, who was the editor of How The Doctor Changed My Life, the Doctor Who anthology that features my story, “Relativity.”
Working with Simon had been a real pleasure. Since that was technically my first professional sale, it was the first time I’d ever really worked with an editor, and the process was surprisingly fun and painless. His suggestions and line-edits genuinely helped to improve the flow of the story and make the characters seem more authentically British. He was more than willing to let me push back on the few changes that I thought would change the intent of my story too much. The version that ended up in print still feels very much like my vision of the story, and that he just helped make that vision clearer.
I’d heard he was going to be at the convention, and was looking forward to meeting him. No matter what the picture on his Amazon profile may have you believe, he is not, in fact, a raygun-toting space badger. In person, Simon turns out to be a tall, pleasant Londoner, who is disconcertingly younger than I am, dammit. He promptly mocked my costume, gave me a glass of some rather lovely wine, and then introduced me to L.M. Myles, who also had a story in HTDCML — the story immediately proceeding mine, in point of fact. (Hi, neighbor!) He introduced me as “one of his discoveries,” which charmed the hell out of me.
We didn’t get to talk much, but I’m glad I was able to thank him in person for having selected my story — to tell him that being able to officially write something for Doctor Who was a life-long dream, and to thank him for helping make it come true. No matter what else ever happens in my writing career, I will always treasure that little bit of immortality — getting to carve my initials on a story that started before I was born and will continue long after I’m gone.
…. I don’t necessarily mean me, mind you, unless I actually happen to be your favorite author, in which case bless your little ink-black heart. But I can guarantee you that no matter who your favorite author is, whether they’re a traditionally-published best-seller or a struggling indie, they’ll greatly appreciate it if you do any of the following things, today or any other day:
Uhhh — let me look at my notes again, here. Yeah, no, scratch the “doorstep” one. But the rest of it’s good.
(If you’d like to show my book, Slices, a little love, here’s a link to it’s Amazon page. Give it a thumbs-up, a couple tags, or even a review, and I will love you forever, I honestly will. Happy Valentine’s Day, you lovely people, you.)
You might notice, looking back on things I’ve linked to and posts I’ve written, that I’m a big fan of blunt advice, the kind that grabs you by your shoulders and shakes you up a little. Tough love, you might call it. I think any problem is best tackled with a wide-eyed, clear-headed, no-nonsense approach, and I don’t think that you help someone get to that point by talking around the issue and sparing their feelings.
I think this is especially important when we’re talking about writing, because writing is not just about truth, it’s about Truth — capital-T, 48 point gold-embossed type Truth. Even if we’re writing about spaceships and monsters and vampires with rayguns, if there isn’t real human emotion contained in your fiction, it’s not going to be worth reading. You can’t bullshit your way through telling a story, not a story that matters, so I don’t think you should bullshit yourself about the process of how you tell those stories, either.
So I appreciate reading any writing advice that makes me sit up and pay attention and say, “Oh, crap, you’re right.” This list of six reasons you’re not going to make it as a writer did just that:
Wondering when you’ll reap the fame and fortune that come with your dream of being a writer? Well, probably never. If:
1. You don’t read
At least, not the right things. You read all the books on writing and polishing and publishing, and all the books that literary critics are praising, but nothing of any real value. You don’t read books that light a fire under you, you don’t read in your genre, you don’t read non-fiction for fun and inspiration. You don’t have an Audible membership or a library card and you couldn’t name a book that has meant anything to you since you turned 20.
[...] 5. Your Writing Sucks
When you do make the time to write, it’s hard. The words do not come dripping off your pen easily; all the elements in your story don’t come out in the right order; your characters are flat and uninteresting and they speak in cliches; you want to give up.
And that is what Anne Lammot calls your ‘shitty first draft’. It has to be got through in order to get to the second draft, the third, and the polished end result. If you are too scared to suck, too scared to fail then you will never be a writer, because all writing involves putting some truly terrible prose on the page — and excising it later or, like William Faulkner, throw it out entirely and start again.
That first point hit home for me especially hard. I’ve known for years that I wasn’t really reading as much as I should be if I wanted to write well. Fortunately, that’s really turned itself around — since I first got my Kindle, less than a year ago, I’ve probably read more novels than I’d read in the last three or four years combined.
The rest of the list was definitely worth checking out, too, and contains some great quotes from famous writers. You should go read it.