sallyhanan’s blog

A writer’s blog

Research resources February 4, 2010

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 1:43 pm
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I’m currently writing an article on how to get teenage boys to work when all they want to do is play video games and ignore their mothers. Because this epidemic is viral, perhaps I should charge for the advice. . . . 😀

So where does a girl go to get the information she needs for such an article?
The local bookstore
Personal experience
Friends
Forums
HARO
The local library

I went to the bookstore rather than the library this time, because I had to kill time and I wanted the most up-to-date books on the subject. I had my notebook, I had extra shots in my fancy coffee (that I deserved because I was working), I had half a shelf of parenting books; and I folded myself into a corner of the coffee area to take notes.

When it comes to personal experience, all most people want to know is a) that you can identify with their pain, and b) what you did to fix the problem. The same goes for stories from friends. If you can tell the story with humor, all the better. People need to laugh at themselves or they might cry.

I posted a question on a forum I enjoy—one that has a high level of interaction—and within hours I had many responses on what other moms do with their sons. While I won’t quote these in my article unless I have express permission from the women who wrote them, it’s always good to have a variety of opinions and suggestions. I never put last names in articles, especially, in this case, when moms are bemoaning the laziness of their children.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is something I am relatively new to, but it is a wonderful place for reporters and writers to glean from the savviness of experts. HARO sends out an e-mail 2-3 times a day to their 80,000 subscribers with a list of questions needing input. So let’s say I want to break open the story of a politician’s illegitimate child—I could post a query that looks something like this:

Seeking news on personal life of politicians. (Anonymous)

Reporter is looking for the low and dirty on politicians in the city of Washington D.C. All sourced will remain anonymous.

Ok, I am seriously just kidding about this one, because I hate people exposing others when they aren’t exactly shining angels themselves; nevertheless, I think you get the idea.

The library is also a fabulous place to find info. on just about everything. You have current magazines, books, reference books, etc. all waiting for you to delve into them. The librarians usually love being asked for help, too.

Perhaps you have loads of ideas for articles but you have no idea how to go about getting your writing into magazines. That’s another topic, but basically you find the magazines you’d like to write for (start small), and query the editors with your ideas. Here is some help on how to write those queries:
How to write a query letter.
How to write a successful query.
Writing a bulletproof article query.

Good luck!

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

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Writers’ market guides—which one should you buy? January 2, 2010

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Writer’s Market, one of the standard submission guides writers use, seems to have taken its 2010 edition down a rocky path. Amazon reviewers are not impressed.

“This edition missed the boat completely.”

“This edition is substandard.”

“This 2010 Writer’s Market is the last edition of this book that I’ll be buying.”

“Somebody needed to proof the manuscript before publication.”

Other online book sellers seem to copy the reviews from Amazon, so I am limited in my resources; nevertheless, my thought is that the researchers and editors for Writer’s Market may have taken to resting on their laurels rather than upgrading (or even maintaining) the quality and content of the 2009 guide.

Needless to say, I won’t be buying this year’s Writer’s Market. My choice would be Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents 2010.

Amazon reviewers, so far, have given it four and a half out of five stars, and to top that,

“the twentieth edition has been has been completely revised. The updated layout includes new symbols and callouts designed to give readers the information they need most in a quick and accessible format.”

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Litmatch—agent search and submission tracking September 28, 2009

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LitMatch is a free service that helps writers find and secure an agent. Apart from the necessary ads in the right-hand column, the site is beautifully designed—crisp and clean looking. It’s dead easy to use, too. [Since writing this post, LitMatch has changed its name to Author Advance]

Tracking
For each novel, record the submissions you’ve made to agents. (You would not believe how easy it is to forget.)
Records: Day, agent, agency
Follow up info
End result

Agent search
Find an agent who represents your genre—LitMatch’s search feature could not be any easier.

Literary agencies and agents
LitMatch lists 1757 agents in 821 agencies. You can pull up any agency and find:
The list of agents
What they prefer to represent
All their contact info
Personal info/publishing experience
If they are currently open to submissions
If they accept e-mail submissions
If they accept postal submissions
A pie chart of the percentage of offers, requests, and rejections
Responses
Response times
Submission guidelines
Clients and projects represented
Comments

Agent blogs
Lists and links to all of the blogs agents have

Hotlist
When you find an agent or agency you like the look of, you can hotlist it, grading it out of five flames.

LitMatch blog
Talks about what LitMatch hopes to offer in the near future

I’ve just registered so I can track who I’ve sent my queries to. Hopefully you guys will find it just as helpful as I have.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Make the most of your writing conference September 22, 2009

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I’ve been at the ACFW conference for the last few days. I went without expectations, and was duly impressed with what I saw. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of yours.

Packing list
Comfortable shoes
Clothes that meet the “relaxed professional” look
Notepad and pen
Laptop, power source
Business cards
Snacks
Water
Extra room in your luggage for all the books you’ll bring home

During the conference
Do advance research on the workshops offered.
Don’t miss a thing.
Get to your agent and editor appointments at least five minutes early.
Be ready to hand out your card to anyone who asks.
Chat to all the other writers—some of them have terrific advice.

Have ready to show editors and agents (only if they ask)
The first five pages of your novel/book (double spaced)
One-page synopsis of your novel/book
Writing samples
Bio page with all published credentials and social media activity

The editors and agents will usually only scan your papers to see if they want to work with you, and even then, most agents won’t ask for the full MS until they have read the first three chapters, which they will ask you to e-mail after the conference.

The best advice I can give you is this: If you have a completed novel you’ve pitched, and an agent or editor asked for more, send in the partial that’s been requested ASAP so that the agent does not forget you among the heap of other writers they showed an interest in.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Espresso: In-store book printing August 6, 2009

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What is an Espresso machine?
This is an Espresso machine. It makes you coffee and serves up a warmed chocolate croissant. . . .
Kidding!

“Up close and personal it is as if the Gutenberg Press met with Willy Wonka, and the chocolatier come out on top.” ~ Felicity Wood, editorial assistant at The Bookseller

What can it do?
The Espresso machine is like an ATM for books because it prints books while you wait. The exact number of minutes it takes to print a book depends on the number of pages being printed and the size of the book, but in one machine,
pages are printed,
a cover is printed,
the spine is glued,
the pages are evenly chopped,
and a finished book slides out of the chute.

How fast is it?
Version 2.0 will print a book of 300 pages in about four minutes. The older version is three times slower.

What can be printed on it?
Books can be printed from the Public Domain list, as can books from a PDF file. Publishers that work with Lightening Source have made their titles available. Writers and content owners can also print their own books on it.

How much will it cost to print a book?
The cost to the store owner for one book is about $2, but we have yet to see what price the retailers settle at for having the machine in their store. The older machine costs a store/library $75,000, and the newer one $175,000. The store also has the option to rent it for $1,000 a month.

If a newer machine prints 60,000 books a year when it’s working 24/7, then it produces 20,000 if it only works an 8 hour day. If the retailer charges double the cost to make a book, then he will only make $40k in the first year, assuming that books will be churned out of it like play-dough. It will take over four years before he begins to make a return on his money, so I assume that he will charge the public about $7 in order to pay off the machine inside of two years instead. Add on the royalties for the publisher and the writer, and you shoot up the price even more. This would end up costing more than the basic price of a paperback, so who benefits, then?

Writers might.

How might it benefit writers?
Writers can send their files electronically to the Espresso machine and have them printed while on their way to pick it up. As long as retailers settle at $8 a book, it ends up cheaper for writers to print their books on an Espresso than print the book with print-on-demand companies. Most print-on-demand books end up charging the writer over $10 just to print, and that’s before shipping costs are added. As long as retailers make the use of the Espresso machine cost effective, a writer can price a book to be more competitive with bookstore prices and still receive some sort of royalty.

Another beauty of printing on the Espresso is that writers and publishers can see exactly where their content has been ordered and produced, and the system tracks all the data needed to divvy up royalties, production costs, network fees, etc.

“We’re looking forward to a rapid expansion of available content, moving us much closer to our goal of 1 million titles available on the Espresso Book Machine.” ~Andrew Hutchings, Blackwell Group Chief Executive Officer.

All of this is only good news to writers if stores and libraries are smart about their pricing system. In England there is a set fee of $17 a book, plus 4c for every page, although a popular book costs the same as its cover price. Rare books could cost about $25. Not so smart. . . .

Where are these machines?
Libraries and bookstores will be the main outlets for this machine. As I write, the Espresso machines are available in the following places in the US:


Internet Archive, San Francisco
New Orleans Public Library
University of Michigan Library
Northshire Bookstore, Vermont
Brigham Young University Bookstore, Provo, Utah
University of Arizona Bookstore, Tucson, AZ
University of Missouri Bookstore, Columbia, MO
The InfoShop, The World Bank (exhibition, 2006), Washington, District of Columbia
New York Public Library, SIBL (exhibition, 2007), New York, New York

Click here to find the location of Espressos in other countries.

Click here for more information about the Espresso machine.

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

Review of Joy in a Box July 25, 2009

Filed under: Writing — sallyhanan @ 12:23 am
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Recent review of Joy in a Box

I liked the old 50’s feel that it has, kind of like reading James Joyce or Steinbeck. Very nice job.

Rie McGaha . . . fantasy that keeps you up
http://www.riemcgaha.com

 

 

Every piece of writing needs to be clear and precise. With microscope in hand, Inksnatcher’s writing and editing service will hone any work until it glitters in the light of a 1,000 watt bulb.

sallylogo3 INKSNATCHER.COM                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 
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