Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Road to Publication: Mechanics

I’m feeling a bit better today, but I’m thinking it might not be allergies since I ended up having a bit of a fever. I’m still stuffed up and coughing up a lung, but I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out every time I try to stand up. That’s good.

Anyway, before I move into the whole Road to Publication thing, I wanted to direct your attention to the amazing Maggie Stiefvater and her magical LINGER book trailer. If you haven’t seen it, you must go and watch. The things that girl can do with music (which she composed herself), paper cut-outs (which she made herself), and stop-motion camera work (she did that herself too) is absolutely breathtaking.

Okay, let’s get back on the road.

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at mechanics. These are the wonderful people/books/other resources that help keep us running. Let’s face it, everyone has a break-down at some point. The key is to get that car fixed and get it back on the road.

You need a mechanic.

A mechanic will tell you how to fix your car, they will guide you during the process, but the actual fixing of your car is up to you. Seems like a raw deal, I know, but no one knows your car better than you. There are many different mechanics, and not every mechanic is right for every car. It may take a few tries before you find the mechanic you love. You may find more than one mechanic, and that’s okay too. You may like the way one mechanic handles the spark plugs, but another mechanic is a whiz with the engine. It’s okay to have more than one.

Where can you find them?


Often, you can learn how to fix your car by attending a conference or workshop. There are many available and likely some near enough for you to attend. Yes, these cost money, but good mechanics often do. Conferences and workshops are invaluable to any writer on the road. They are inspiring and teach us what we need to do to keep our cars running. Visit as many of these mechanics as you can afford because they offer new information all the time. You will always learn something that will make spending the money worthwhile.

Writing books

There are hundreds of books about writing that will teach you “how to” write. These also cost money unless you have a library that stocks them.  Just like conferences and workshops, there are so many available that you’ll always be able to find some new technique to get your car running.

I have quite a collection of writing books, and I’m sure I’ll acquire more as time goes on.

A few of my favorite writing books are:

Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (and the companion workbook)

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories, and Scripts by Raymond Obstfeld

I could go on and on because there are many great ones out there, but these are the ones that came to mind without having to consult my bookshelf. Feel free to comment with your own favorites.

Agent/Editor/Writer blogs

These can be some of the most helpful mechanics available to you. And, they’re free! Not only do you get to find out more about the agent/editor/writer you are stalking researching, but you get valuable tips on writing that can give your manuscript a tune-up.

Some of my favorite Agent/Editor blogs: (Mary Kole from Andrea Brown Literary Agency)

Crowe’s Nest (Sara Crowe with Harvey Klinger, Inc.)

Guide to Literary Agents (Chuck Sambuchino Editor for Writer’s Digest Books)

Alan Rinzler blog

Query Shark

Nathan Bransford

Brooklyn Arden (Cheryl Klein with Arthur A. Levine)

There are many other agent/editor blogs out there as well. Feel free to post links to your favorites in the comments. I also have many helpful author blogs I visit, but since this post is already longer than I anticipated (I need to get to writing at some point today), I’ll forego posting them. Feel free to comment with links to your favorite author blogs.

Writing Websites/Forums

Having a place to go where others share some of your same experiences can be invaluable. Not only can you learn ways to keep your car running, but you can benefit from the camaraderie of other authors and professionals in the business.

A couple of my favorite sites:

SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)

Children’s Writers and Illustrators Message Board (Verla Kay’s)

Anyway, those are a few suggestions for finding the mechanic(s) who will keep your car in good running condition so you can continue on the Road to Publication.

Write on.

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