Friday, May 23, 2014

Christina Daley on the Dumbest Things People in Publishing Say @cdaleywrite #AmWriting #Fantasy

My first book Seranfyll is three years old! To celebrate, I’m re-releasing it with the second book in the series, Eligere, and given them cover makeovers.
I didn’t study creative writing or illustration in school, so everything I learned was either from reading blogs, books, attending writers’ conferences, and practice. I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve heard some pretty dumb (and pretty great) things said by people in publishing. Here are the five dumbest (and one best) things that I’ve heard or read:
1. “Write what you know.”
I believe it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of writers have heard this at one point or another. It works, I think, for people aiming to produce a memoir or educational material. I, personally, know that I would produce very dull books about folding laundry or my very clever stacking method for dishes if I wrote about what I knew.
2. “Write what you are.”
I read this in one of the SCBWI bulletins some time ago. A publisher had apparently said this to a POC author, who went back and changed her whole book from being a fantasy to being a historical (or a contemporary—I can’t remember exactly). It’s great that she found a home for her book eventually, but I wonder at what cost. It seemed her fantasy was rejected because she didn’t fit the bill (i.e. was not white and did not have a “Western” sounding name) of a fantasy writer, and she was only accepted when she produced a work that was “acceptable” for a person of her ethnic background.
3. “Write and publish fast. Quantity, not quality, matters.”
This came to me three years ago from another self-publishing author when I was about to self-publish Seranfyll for the first time. It remains, to this day, one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. There are many great selfers who write and publish books quite quickly. I’m unfortunately not one of them, so it takes more time for me to release a full-length novel that I can be proud about.
4. “I didn’t like Twilight or The Da Vinci Code. And even if I had gotten queries about them, I still wouldn’t have taken them on.”
This was from an agent. While I’ve met some amazing agents who were awesome human beings, this was not one of them. I didn’t care for these books either, but this statement suggested to me that this agent didn’t know how to pick a profitable project. Granted, I don’t think anyone has a magic formula for picking a bestseller, but obviously Meyer, Brown, and their people figured out something that worked, and what their work has achieved is worth the respect.
5. “I don’t know enough about this art form to make a comment on it.”
This came from an art director at a recent conference I attended. We had an assignment, and I did mine in manga style that was more cartoon rather than graphic novel. I don’t mind having constructive feedback, but no feedback at all is pretty useless…especially since I had paid an extra couple hundred dollars for that feedback.

Now for the single best thing I’ve heard from someone in publishing:
“Write and draw only what brings you joy.”
This came to me during a conversation with an illustrator. She’s illustrated a zillion books, and she’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. When I told her about what happened in Dumbest Thing #5 and believing that I had done my assignment in the “wrong style,” she answered me with these words. It was a great reminder after an awful couple of weeks leading up to that conference, and it overwhelmingly trumps the five Dumb Things.

(Ages 10+) Rain has never chosen her own name. Nor has she met a polite apple tree, been caught in a house’s security spell, or ridden a horse . . . winged or not. What she does know is that, after having been a slave for all thirteen years of her common life, she’s free and has nowhere to go. 

That all changes when she’s taken in by the peculiar Domrey Seranfyll, who was drunk when he purchased Rain’s freedom and doesn’t remember doing so. Some say he’s part devil and spent time overseas learning the dark arts—not the sorts of things one hopes for in a housemate. And the longer Rain keeps company with Lord Seranfyll, the more magic and mayhem she gets tangled into, all the while discovering that being free can be far more exciting, and dangerous, than she ever imagined. 

(~ 85,000 words or roughly equal to 330 print pages) 
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Middle Grade Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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