Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Hurt Me!

One of the hardest things to get as a writer is honest, constructive criticism.  People worry they'll hurt your feelings but I say, HURT ME!

Without criticism you can't grow.  And when it comes to trying to flog books, you need all the input you can get because rejection letters very seldom say why you are rejected.  It could be that the agent/publisher is not taking on new clients, or that they don't want to deal with someone who doesn't live in their country, or they aren't covering your kind of romance market, or half a dozen other reasons.  Maybe they think your book sucks.  The thing is, you don't know!  And in case it's your writing that's not up to speed, criticism is vital.

I'm now writing some fiction (romance! 2 finished, 1 almost).  I've contacted about 30 agents.  About 20 simply haven't replied.  A handful said they don't want new clients.  Two have asked to see my work.  One said she would take me if I lived in the USA (Grrr!!!).  So I know my stuff passes muster.  Now I need to know what I can do to make it good enough for people to take me on even though I live in Malaysia.

You'd think everyone would be happy to critique romance, right?  Unfortunately not.  Some friends who are romance addicts just raved over the two novels I showed them.  That's nice but it's not useful.

I'm pretty lucky in that my brother is forthright - and willing to read whatever I send over.  He gave me some useful tips and said he thought it was marketable but he is not really my target audience.  So I was really chuffed when my pal and ardent romance reader Ei-Leen volunteered and sent me a detailed email with comments for one of the books.

Bottom line: Ei-Leen thinks I need to nasty up my hero a little.  Also, she wants more conflict between him and the heroine.  It's do-able and I'm thinking of ways and means.  However, I have a problem.

I've finally got a UK publisher looking at both finished books and the unfinished one so this is not a good time to start messing about with the products.  Therefore, I'm going to wait until I hear back from her.

If the publisher is interested in the stories as is, that's cool.  (I'm kidding her.  It would be FANTASTIC!!!)  If she agrees with Ei-Leen and wants one or more of the books tweaked, then I'm in a good spot as I'm already considering how.

If the publisher says no, then I make changes and try someone else.

Any way you look at it, I'm moving forward.


BeadedTail said...

How wonderful that you are making progress on getting your romance novels published! We wish you all the best with the UK publisher!

A Bookaholic said...

Thx for the useful tips Ellen! Woww that was really an eye opener for me. I've also been wondering, how do you approach a publisher to print your story? Before sending your stories (like what you mentioned), do you send a manuscript first? Nxt question, what exactly is a 'manuscript'? What should it include?

Ellen Whyte said...

I'll answer those questions next week, OK?

Unknown said...

I'm totally happy for you really !!!! Good Luck on getting the stories published!!! *chuckles* I was pwhahahha-ing away at your article... yeah I like them bad boys !


A Bookaholic said...


Cezar and Léia said...

Dear Ellen, you are sooo talented!
Good luck!
It's a wonderful news!
purrs and hugs
mommy Léia and Luna ( WE LOVE LUNA )

Sharon Wagner said...

You have a great attitude about publishing. And the art of critique. That's a tough one!

Boo-Bah AKA Iris said...

It must be wonderful to be able to write stories. Good luck with getting your romance novels published.


Pam said...

Good luck getting your novels published. You are rare to want to know what is wrong with your story or how it could be improved. Whenever I have tried to do that in a book review I get nasty emails from the author telling me (basically) what a loser I am.

Angel Ginger Jasper said...

The very best of luck getting published.. Hugs GJ x

Teri and her Stylish Cats ~ Coco the Couture Cat, Brighton, Disco NoFurNo and Kely said...

How exciting! One of the fun seminars at BlogPaws was about publishing and e-books. I'd love to write a book-cat oriented, health oriented or just nice photos...but it's maybe in the future sometime.

Alicia said...

writing romance is the most challenging in my opinion. with so very many titles published every week, creating memorable characters and telling a invariably predictable story in a moving way is no walk in the park. i salute your courage and look forward to reading your work?

contemporary or historical?

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I love your cat, which is what got me over here but I understand how hard it is to get a real critique. I'm happy with the positive comments but really, I know that they all can't be great!
As for books, I like the characters and the story to have depth. Reasons why they do or think things. Make me care about the story whether or not they are likable.