From Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and memoirist of News to Me: Memoirs of an Accidental Journalist (U. Of Minn. Press), some sound advice on publishing your memoirs. They are your memories, but how do you separate your life from the lives of those around you? Can you write your memoirs without offending anyone?
Laurie H. offers clear thinking without proposing a clear or ‘right’ way (as expected; it’s writing, after all). But she shares one solid piece of advice worth passing along:
“Beware the small, gratuitous hurt.”
The whole piece over on Brevity Magazine’s Non Fiction Blog is worth a read if you’re struggling with the same issues as Laurie H. Follow the link below.
Congratulations go to [WoMentee] Emma Viskic for securing a book deal with Echo Publishing. The Melbourne-based publisher announced today that it will publish Emma’s debut crime novel in September. Echo Publishing, part of the Bonnier Group, opened earlier this year.
As a writer, what holds you back from completing your novel? What are you afraid of?
I urge you to listen to Éireann Lorsung’s terrific talk, given at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, on the links between creativity and writing, fear of failure and unproductivity. For first time novelists, especially, she speaks to the fear of spending a long time writing into the unknown and the fear that impedes our forward momentum. We are afraid that we will fail, that it is all a waste of time. She offers comfort and strategies for overcoming fear and taking risks, and explores the tension between writing and not writing; how taking a walk, watching tv, cooking, knitting … living, are an important part of the writing ecosystem, part of what makes our writing unique.
The talk is full of insight and wisdom, good humour and empathy.
I love the image she paints of failure as a ghost that follows us, watches us, holds us back while we strive to complete a writing project.
Over and over I hear my students, my peers, and my own interior voice talk about failure as writers. Often this is linked to an idea of ‘productivity’, and in particular to a perception of others as ‘more productive’. As publication online increases the speed at which writing can appear in public, the distance between writing as a process and writing as a product closes. Consequently, the concept of productivity is measured more and more in terms of visible, finished objects, muddling the relation of publication to the act/process of writing.
I’m pleased to announce my involvement with a new initiative called The WoMentoring Project, which is being organised by the author Kerry Hudson. The project is bringing together women writers, agents, and editors, to offer free mentoring to up and coming female writers. Details of the project and how to apply are given below and can be found on the new website which is launching today: 15th April.
If you’re a female writer and you think you’d benefit from free mentoring, do take a look at the website for full details about how to apply.
The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.
The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors.
Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project – from the project management to the website design to the PR support – is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project.
Why do we need it?
Like many great ideas the WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers – largely writers, editors and agents – who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.
The WoMentoring Project is run on an entirely voluntary basis and all of our mentors are professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given.
In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.
In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn’t possible so instead we’ve tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that our mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.
Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor’s discretion.
Michael Szczerban is to be congratulated on this insightful, packed interview with Amy Einhorn, the editor of Amy Einhorn Books (an imprint of Putnam at Random House Group) in the current issue of Poets & Writers. His questions tease out the important facts about editing that beginning writers overlook in their eagerness to submit their precious manuscript. I’m not surprised to hear she undertook four major developmental edits on The Postmistress (I still think it needed more) but I’m pleased she took a chance on Sarah Blake when other editors passed on her new book. Amy explained her process of acquiring the book:
Not only did I pass on that novel originally, everyone in town passed on it. Sarah Blake’s sales track was not great, and when I got to page 100 of this novel, I knew I was going to reject it. But I read the whole thing. I never do that.
Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was at a Riverhead sales conference presentation, and one of the reps got up and talked about how one of the books made them feel. I had this visceral reaction. I thought, “Oh, I just felt that. What was I reading?” It was that book I passed on from Stephanie Cabot. I went back to her and said, “Did you ever sell that novel?” And I had a very long conversation with Sarah. My first editorial letter to her was seventeen pages long.
Have a coffee and indulge fifteen minutes of your time with this fascinating insight into the editor’s role on the path to publication. It’ll open your eyes to how an editor will assess and work on your manuscript. It’s not just whether it’s a great story, but lots of other decisions are in play: will it sell, what do other editors think of it, what’s the author’s track record (with this kind of book), can my editorial experience and input ensure its success – and choosing a market-pleasing jacket cover. Amy says she took seventeen attempts to get it right for The Help, – now that’s attention to detail!
Here’s the Penguin/RH introduction to Amy Einhorn Books
Amy Einhorn Books / Putnam was founded in 2007 by Amy Einhorn and launched in February 2009. The imprint publishes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and commercial nonfiction. The overarching tenet of Amy Einhorn Books is to hit the sweet spot between literary and commercial—intelligent writing with a strong narrative and great storytelling. The first title published in the imprint was the number-one New York Times bestseller The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. It has been translated into more than forty-one languages and made into an Academy Award–nominated movie. Other New York Times–bestselling titles from the imprint include The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan, and The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha, which was also a number-one international bestseller. Upcoming titles include A Good American by Alex George, the number-one Indie Pick of February 2012; The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (March 2012), which has already received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal; and the eagerly awaited debut of Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess’s memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.
Writing tips and clear-sighted, informed advice on the children’s book market – via the Writers’ & Artists’ website:
Just up on the W&A site today is an impressive link list of useful writing tips from top children’s writers and publishers,- including, Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman; Emma Blackburn, who is editorial director for picture books at Bloomsbury Publishing; and from Alison Stanely, who has commissioned books for Puffin and HC Children’s. [note- the Debi Glori link is broken today but may be sorted by the time you link].
Are you writing the NEXT BIG THING? Are you starting to think about where to send it, to wonder who will be interested in your book?
You know all about the pages and pages of listings in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook – they’re seared into your memory. You know how to compile a list of suitable agents and publishers and to target those people and places where your book will find sympathetic readers; people on the same wave-length, people who ‘get’ it.
But wouldn’t it be more helpful if you knew the kinds of books that editors and publishers were looking for right now? Wouldn’t it be helpful to know where your book fits into their current list?
Andrew Lownie Literary Agency posts an annual round-up of what editors are looking for in the year ahead. Once again, they’ve very helpfully asked a range of UK and US editors what they’re looking for, and have compiled a “wish list” of the books that editors are looking to commission in 2014.
If nothing else, take fifteen minutes out of your WIP and read through the entries. What have you got to lose? Does your book fit into any of their plans?
Check out the different lists on Andrew Lownie’s site – links below:
Whatever you think of J. K. Rowling, it’s fascinating to learn how she writes. I’m waiting for the advertisement from Apple using her admission that “The Mac Book Air changed my life”.
Christine A. Hurd‘s report on Rowling’s talk with Ann Patchett at the Lincoln Centre in New York gives a glimpse into her working methods on The Casual Vacancy (and what imaginative event planning to put them together!).
“The challenge [with “The Casual Vacancy”] was the structure of the book, and I put a huge amount of work into that … The tricky thing is not showing your workings, for the reader never to realize how difficult it was. And that’s what took me the better part of five year…. I had complicated diagrams, strange little notes…cryptic things…I had to remind myself what the hell I was talking about.”