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re: Do Middle Graders Like Corny Metaphors?

in Narrative Voice/Teen/Middle Grade Fiction/Uncategorized by

Dear Editor…

An editor recommended I read a book that would be a competitor to my middle grade adventure WIP. The book was engrossing enough to keep me entertained, but I think a lot of the metaphors were rather corny. Here’s a made-up one as an example: “His words were as hard as stale pizza.” In some cases, the author actually has two or three of these metaphors on a page and I found it distracting. I do note that the book is supposed to be playful as well as adventurous. My question: Is it okay to have metaphors like that for 10- to 12-year-olds? It seems corny to me, but then I am 63 years old, not 10.

Sincerely,
Young at Heart

Dear Young at Heart…

Indeed, humorous MG fiction can feature intentionally corny metaphors; readers that age do still chuckle over such silliness. That’s not your cup o’ tea, though, and that’s okay. We all have different sensibilities when it comes to humor, even ten-year-old boys. (I have three of those creatures, so I know firsthand.) Hammy metaphor is just one device for building an MG narrative voice with sniffs of humor. If you can craft a youthful voice using other devices—and there are many—all the better. Knowing your competition means not just knowing what’s selling but also knowing how your book stands out from the others. You’ll use that info for positioning purposes when it’s time to submit or publish. For now, work on honing a narrative voice that sounds youthful because it reflects the perspective and concerns of that age group. Leave the ham and corn to those who like that fare.

Happy writing!
The Editor

News: 1 Call for Submissions & 2 Publisher-Sponsored Contests

in New Adult Fiction/News/Picture Books/Submissions/Teen/Middle Grade Fiction/Uncategorized by

Dear Readers…

Summer seems to be bringing out the editors! In today’s post I share news about two publisher-sponsored contests and a call for submissions for a new imprint. Check out the rest of the post for details on these opportunities.

Heads up: I post news like this and other publishing happenings on the DearEditor.com Facebook page and DearEditor.com Google+ page. If you haven’t already “Liked” the page, consider checking it out. I do my best to keep the news and inspirational items flowing there.

Happy submitting!
The Editor

Picture book contest: LEE & LOW BOOKS announces its 14th annual “New Voices Award” for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and a standard publication contract. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500. Click here to check out the Lee & Low Books announcement page.

Young Adult & New Adult fiction call for submissions: BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING is announcing their new digital-only imprint Bloomsbury Spark with a call for YA and NA submissions. Bloomsbury Spark will publish fiction eBooks for teen, YA, and new adult readers. Its list will feature multiple genres: romance, contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, and more. The inaugural list launches in Autumn 2013. Click here for Bloomsbury Spark’s submission guidelines and email addresses.

New Adult fiction Pitch Contest: NA ALLEY, a blog for writers of New Adult fiction by writers of New Adult fiction, is hosting a Pitch Contest with Senior Editorial Director Karen Grove and Assistant Editor Nicole Steinhaus from Embrace, the New Adult line from Entangled Publishing. Entangled is interested in “submissions of any genre with main characters aged 18 to 24. ‘We’re looking for strong voices, characters who jump off the page, and unusual twists to stories. Fresh. Exciting. Bold.’” The contest starts June 5 at 1pm PST and closes June 12 at 11:59pm PST. To enter, you will be required to submit via comment at the NA Alley blog. Your manuscript must be complete and polished, and it must fall into the New Adult category. Check out the NA Alley Pitch Contest announcement post for details about what to include in the comment.

Good luck!

re: Free Giveaway of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies & Guest Post by The Editor

in General fiction/Giveaways/Uncategorized by

Dear Readers…

Laura Howard of the blog Finding Bliss has just posted a free giveaway of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies to go along with a guest post by The Editor. To learn about “chunking” your revision as well as the details of the giveaway, visit ow.ly/dLkfr.

Good luck!

“Revision can be daunting. . . . Why not give your brain a break by breaking your task into focused chunks? With this approach, you’d pick a writing element, say plot, and ignore everything but that. Working Big Picture chunks to small detail chunks rather than page by page, you’d focus not on revising the story but on honing single elements. Gone is that scattered, overwhelmed feeling.”

To read The Editor’s full guest post “Chunking Your Revision,” pop over to Finding Bliss. Don’t forget to enter the book giveaway!

re: Life after an Editor Calls You an Idiot

in Submissions/Uncategorized by

Dear Editor…

Writers Digest asked Robopaclypse author Daniel H. Wilson how he got his agent. His answer? “I wrote a query letter to an editor — a friend of a friend. The editor called me an idiot, told me never to contact an editor directly, and then recommended three literary agents he had worked with before. Laurie Fox was one of them, and I’ve never looked back.” So, do NOT contact an editor directly nowadays?

Sincerely,
Kate

Dear Kate…

Gads. I hope Mr. Wilson was summarizing the sentiment of the letter, not quoting it. It’s hard to imagine an editor using such unprofessional verbiage with a writer. Kudos to Mr. Wilson for sticking it out and landing his agent… and a movie deal with Steven Spielberg (2013)! There’s sweet revenge, eh? Wilson’s was a “referral” submission and is quite common. As it should be—that’s called networking. Editors learn early in their careers how to respond to all kinds of referrals and rarely include accusations of idiocy. The best way to go about a referral is to have your friend contact the editor personally and ask if and how the submission could be made. This gives an editor who isn’t open to such submissions a chance to decline and provide agent names or submission hints, keeping everyone’s dignity intact.

Happy writing!
The Editor

re: Did That TV Show Just Kill My Book?

in Creative Process/Publishing Biz/Submissions/Uncategorized by

Dear Editor…

I just pitched my book as “Glee meets West Side Story” to an editor, who loved the idea. Yesterday, I read that Glee is doing WSS. I’ve never even watched the show. What do I do? Is my novel dead? I’ve been working on it for three years.

Sincerely,
Cathy

Dear Cathy…

Brace yourself, because you’re not gonna like my answer: I think you’ve been beaten to the punch. It doesn’t matter that high school music departments have been doing West Side Story for years. One of the most popular shows on television is basing a good portion of its season on its fictional high school’s production of WSS. The burden is now on you to distinguish what makes your book different from what’s happening on TV even though you wrote your story first. Comparisons will be made. You made the comparison yourself in your pitch—albeit without full knowledge of just how on the nose you were. Some editors may be wary about potential difficulties, others may be intrigued by the possibility of piggybacking on a popular show. The concern there is that even though Glee doesn’t have a lock on WSS, the people behind the show have a propriety interest in the franchise and may be active about protecting it. Defending against claims is the author’s responsibility, not the publisher’s. The legal wrangling could be costly and stressful to you even if you prevailed. It would be wise to have an experienced publishing attorney vet your manuscript to judge the amount and significance of the similarities and assess your risk. See, I told you: I’m a total bummer. Sorry I can’t paint a rosier picture.

The Editor

re: Happy Thanksgiving!

in Uncategorized by

Dear Readers…

The Editor realizes that next week will be full of vacation, family, and food. Hopefully, you’ll spend some time with your WIP, too. In the interest of not contributing to the massive backlog of emails that will likely greet you upon your return to the regular grind, The Editor will take Thanksgiving week off. (Plus, she’s got vacation, family, and food plans, too!) Look for the next DearEditor.com post on November 29.

Best wishes for a safe holiday.

Dear Readers…

May you get some writing time in between the turkey and pumpkin pie service.

Happy Thanksgiving!
The Editor

re: Verifying a (Novel) Novel Idea

in Uncategorized by

Dear Editor…

How do I tell if my novel’s basic premise is unique, and how can I research to see what other books have been published similar to my new idea? I’ve heard some editors do this for marketing purposes and in-house meeting proposals, so they must have SOME way of going about it!

Thanks!

Carol

Dear Carol…

Editors generate those lists primarily from their own market knowledge and that of the editors and the marketing and sales staff that surround them. To check if they’ve missed anything, they turn to a source available to you, too: Amazon.com. Go there, type in any similar titles you can think of or just type the topic and genre into the Book search field (i.e., “tanks memoir” or “vampire young adult”). See what appears. Click promising titles and consult their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought” sections. Now click on the reviews for relevant Also Bought books to see if the reviewers mention other books. Follow those leads. Also, ask your writer’s group if they know of similar books, and ask the staff of the independent bookstore near you, too. If it’s a children’s book, ask your children’s book librarian.

This targeted search is no substitute for developing your knowledge of the marketplace long term. That’s how editors spot a fresh idea when they see one. At a minimum, you should be getting the free Publishers Lunch enewsletter every day. Bump that up to a Publishers Lunch Deluxe subscription to learn which editors are buying which projects from which agents and for (generally) how much—that way, you’ll know your competition before it even hits the market.

Happy writing!

The Editor

re: Happy Holidays

in Uncategorized by

Dear Readers…

With Christmas just days away, I am officially doffing my editor’s hat in favor of a warm, red Mrs. Santa cap. I will switch hats again on Monday and field a new writing question. Until then, my best wishes for a happy holiday full of family, fun, and stockings bulging with writing supplies.

The Editor

“There are three stages of a (wo)man’s life: (S)He believes in Santa Claus, (s)he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, (s)he is Santa Claus.”
– Author Unknown, irreverent gender editing by The Editor

NEWSFLASH: One Week to Phone In Questions to the Editor

in Uncategorized by

Dear Readers…

Have you emailed a question that The Editor hasn’t gotten to yet? Been mulling something but haven’t asked? Now’s your chance to phone that question in to The Editor—for a short time, anyway. Read on for details….

Dear Readers…

Next week author Katie Davis is taping an interview with me for her podcast “Brain Burps About Books.” As part of the fun, I’ll be fielding questions phoned in to Katie’s toll free number in advance. If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in the podcast, call toll free 888-522-1929 by Thursday, November 18, and leave a message. I’ll post an update later to let you know when that podcast is available for listening.

Happy writing!

The Editor

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