The online diary of a dreamer creating Contemporary Romantic Fiction - because Every Woman needs Love and Laughter in her Life.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Words from the Wise

J A Konrath has been summarising some of his words of wisdom over on his always stimulating blog *- and several resonated with my few remaining brain cells, crispy as they are.

‘Before you make the key, study the lock.’

‘It’s about what you have to offer, not what you have to sell.’

‘You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than landing a publishing deal. But understanding the market and working to improve your craft can have the same effect as climbing a tree in a thunderstorm, carrying a long iron rod.’

The last quote is particularly relevant in light of the recent interview with Neil Nyron, who said this -‘Whenever I get a new ms, here’s what I want to see:

1) Something different, a situation or character or voice that I haven’t seen hundreds of times before (or if they are familiar types, presented so damn well that I can’t resist them);

2) A sure command from the very first page - I want to feel immediately that the author knows what he or she is doing - if it’s wobbly, I’m just going to move on to another manuscript;

3) Something extra. This is hard to describe, because you only know it when you see it, but for me it’s a special intensity, a fierceness or passion that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

After all that, I’m interested in who the author is, because if the author has something about him or her that’ll help us gain attention for the book, give us a leg up amidst the sea of new fiction pouring out, then that’s helpful.’

Then, later..
‘Action or detail? The answer is both - I want to get swept away, get the adrenalin pumping, and that’s what the best thriller writers do so well. They don’t give you time to hesitate - you have to keep turning the pages. I often think of the writer and the reader at opposite ends of a rope, and the writer is pulling the reader forward, steadily, inexorably, not letting the rope slack or the pace sag, until the reader ends up, exhausted but happy, at the last page.

I also like the thriller writer to create his own universe, if appropriate, and invite the reader into it. That’s always been one of Clancy’s secrets - he brings the reader into his world, makes him feel he’s learning things no one else can tell him, whether it’s about technology or geopolitics or the way institutions think and act. Cussler does the same thing in a different way. He digs deep into history and technology, then transforms them into complicated interlocking what-if storylines and set-pieces.’

Neil S. Nyren is senior vice president, publisher and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons. He came to Putnam in 1984 from Atheneum, where he was Executive Editor. Before that he held editorial positions at Random House and Arbor House. Some of his fiction authors include Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Jack Higgins, W.E.B. Griffin, John Sandford, Dave Barry, Daniel Silva, Ken Follett, Randy Wayne White, Carol O’Connell, James O. Born, Patricia Cornwell and Frederick Forsyth.
At one point in 2007, he was the editor of 4 out of the 10 New York 10 Bestsellers

You can make your own conclusions from these selected extracts, but they have consolidated my own personal views that to be a professional PUBLISHED working CONTRACTED writer in 2008 you truly need a deep understanding of craft, creativity and business.

In other words. You must become an artisan.
A professional entrepreneur.
Trying to persuade another human being to invest their time and energy and money in the product you are trying to sell.
And sorry if that upsets the ‘artistes’, but that is the reallity of the publishing business as I see it.

From interviews such as this, I take away a range of key challenges and questions for my work.

For now - On with the show.


Debs said...

It certainly helps when someone in the 'know' lets you know what they're looking for.

Now I just have to figure out how to give my writing some of the same.

Ray-Anne said...

Then that makes the two of us.
Sounds so simple when he says it.
I am about half a million words in and I still think I have a very, very long way to go.
The more you know, you more you realise you don't know etc.
Best of British to one and all.

Now, why are we doing this again??

liz fenwick said...

Good stuff again. Head down and hard work ahead - bring it on!