Homegrown sales from foreign soil

Author Elliott Katz details how he went about selling the foreign language rights to his book and then leveraged those agreements to produce promotional fuel like this back home: “Translated into 24 languages by publishers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.”

The series of dreadpunk novellas I’m currently working on is set in nineteenth century Montreal, so it would make perfect sense for me to sell the rights for a French translation (at minimum) when the time comes. I’ll definitely refer back to Elliott’s success story.

Any followers of this blog had experience with foreign-language rights sales? Let me know down below!

Rejection dejection!

Are you an aspiring author who is feeling down about the number of rejections you’ve received? Instead of engaging in some retail therapy this Black Friday, take five minutes out of your writing schedule to peruse this incredible collection of rejection snippets.

Future best-selling author.

Future best-selling author.

Here are a few good ones:

Despite 14 consecutive agency rejections Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight goes on to sell 17 million copies and spends 91 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

“An absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” Rejection letter sent to William Golding for The Lord Of The Flies. 15 million sales.

“You have no business being a writer and should give up.” Zane Grey ignores the advice. There are believed to be over 250 million copies of his books in print.

Apparently, continual rejection may even be a sign of future success, so hang in there!

Photo credit: KatLevPhoto / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Underwriting can be deadly to any story

Great advice from Rachel Starr Thompson about the pitfalls of underwriting. No, that’s not the insurance industry kind of underwriting, it’s when an author tries too hard to show without telling and then skips the interesting stuff going on in the characters’ heads that actually makes any story compelling.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY

Where do you get your ideas?

This is a question that authors get asked a lot. I’ve thought about my own creative process before and produced unsatisfactory answers like, “They just come to me,” “When I’m in the shower,” or “I dreamed up my second book. Seriously, it literally came to me in a dream.”

But today an idea popped into my head as I was making my lunch. So that just proves that I have ideas because I’m hungry. No wait, that’s not it. This idea was about having ideas. And what I realized was that ideas come from reading a lot of non-fiction, be it news articles, books, scientific studies or bathroom graffiti:

graffiti

Thought-provoking bathroom graffiti.

Here’s why non-fiction can provide the inspiration for fiction: it’s because the human brain is wired to make connections and produce those sought-after eureka moments. That’s why human beings are so successful; our evolutionary advantage is that we can create solutions to problems. Of course “divine inspiration” is the non-scientific explanation for this phenomenon…

Even invertebrate animals come up with ideas based on their surroundings, so people definitely can (even those who lack backbones). The key thing is the fuel. Reading fiction might produce ideas – and it’s definitely important to read a wide range of fiction to learn about craft and style – but it’s all-to-easy to consciously or subconsciously fall in love with another author’s idea and simply reproduce it with a twist. Truly original creation comes from the juxtaposition of unrelated information that sparks something new.

Reading extensively is essential for any author, whatever their level of experience, but I would argue that while immersion in the very best fiction can provide stylistic inspiration, unique ideas are sparked by non-fiction. Maybe even by blog posts…

Photo credit: Chris Blakeley / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Story Structure and Character Arcs in Breaking Bad

Novelists can learn a lot about crafting stories from the structures and character arcs that play out across many of the stunningly successful non-network TV series that have been produced over the last fifteen years. I’m talking about shows like Mad Men, Sopranos, The Wire, House of Cards, True Detective, and Breaking Bad. Therese Walsh of the great Writer Unboxed website has written a very insightful article about the latter and delved into how Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan managed to turn mild-mannered chemistry professor Walter White into a scheming drug lord over the course of six seasons and still keep the audience rooting for him.

The article ends with this golden piece of advice:

  • Persevere. Considering Breaking Bad’s incredible success, you’d think it was in a Hollywood bidding war or something, right? Nope. The show was famously turned down by many before AMC picked it up. Sometimes different is scary to the Establishment. Don’t let that stop you from creating innovative works or pursuing publication.

Do libraries and chain bookstores carry self-published books?

I think in most authors’ minds, the answer is no. But there are ways to break into these seemingly impregnable fortresses of traditional book distribution for indie writers, and most of them involve a lot of leg-work. Plus driving (unless you live next door to a library).

Library

As one commenter says below this informative article from Publisher’s Weekly, “Don’t just dream the dream — crunch the numbers and decide what options are best for you.”

Leeds Library photo by michael_d_beckwith / Foter.com / CC BY

Slaves to the readers?

Interesting article in today’s Guardian about the Writer’s Manifesto to be presented tonight at the Manchester Literature Festival by Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, among other works.

“She’s putting forward a really interesting question about boundaries,” said Writers’ Centre Norwich chief executive Chris Gribble, “and about what we expect of writers … and what the limits are of being a reader.”

What are your thoughts on this? Are the boundaries between authors and readers becoming unhealthily fuzzy?

Fraudulent five-star fakes finally forestalled!

I’m sure those aren’t the only F-words that pop into the minds of honest authors and publishers when they read about their less scrupulous competitors’ mendacious review-buying activities. Now Amazon is taking fake reviewers to court in the US. I’m no legal scholar, but I bet that not only is review-buying cheating, it’s also criminal fraud. Personally, I’d rather a fan illegally download my book than have another author boost their Amazon rating by purchasing fake reviews.

Here’s what real reviews look like, in this screenshot from Silent Symmetry’s Amazon.com page:

Symmetry reviews

Clearly this wasn’t the right book for the 1-star reviewer, and that’s the way it should be for any work, whether lowbrow or highbrow. But I’m proud to have taken the True Review Pledge and encourage other authors to do so.

Amazon isn’t altruistically taking a legal stand on behalf of honest authors, the company also has to protect its brand, and fake reviews make it harder for book lovers to judge before they buy, therefore tarnishing the trust they have in the platform.

Fiction authors lie for a living. But they don’t have to cheat.

Fantastically adventurous new book by Zachary Thomas Dodson

Goodreads interviewed author/designer Zachary Thomas Dodson about his debut book, Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel. It looks and sounds like a stunningly crafted multi-layered adventure set in the past and the future.

As the Goodreads article says,

With hand-drawn illustrations, meticulously detailed maps, a novel-within-a-novel, and even a sealed envelope the reader must not open until the final moment, Zachary Thomas Dodson’s debut novel is a feast for the imagination.

Read the article for some fascinating insight into Dodson’s process.