Genre’s Part One

pic2Selecting which genre your manuscript falls other is a tricky task. The problem for most stories is that they fall under more than one genre. Knowing which genre your story falls under will aid you when you seek out your agent or editor, and again later when you market it.

So, let’s start with what is a genre. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genre as “a distinctive type or category esp. of literary composition”. Dumbing it down: a genre is what classification your novel will fall under. Think of when you go into a library or a bookstore – or even a regular department store – the books or goods are divided up into sections. A library or bookstore will have the non-fiction separated from the fiction books, and romance novels separated from the children’s books and so forth.

So, what are the different genres you might ask. Well, there are many and even different categories or sub-categories of the genres. The most basic two genres are the fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction: something (as a story) invented by the imagination (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Non-Fiction: not fiction (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

– Stories based on actual people, places, or events.

A few genres’ that fall under the fiction novels:

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  • Historical
  • Action and Adventure

A few genres’ that fall under the non-fiction novels:

  • Biographies
  • Magazines
  • Self Help (Handbook/Textbook) / Cookbooks
  • Memoir
  • Essay
  • Journal

Each of these categories have multiple sub-categories (as mentioned above).

As an example:

  • Romance can have regency romance, contemporary, historical, etc.
  • Fantasy has epic, dark, magic realism, high, urban, etc.

There is also the different age group genre’s: Children, Middle School, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult.

I will explore each of these categories in upcoming weeks.

L. R. Mauck

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Writer’s Conferences

pitching

Being new to the writing industry, I never heard of a writer’s conference before until I read Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke. The following day, I looked up online and found that there are a lot of conferences and several close to where I live.

Not all conferences are the same. Some have multiple speakers spread out over multiple days. There might even be authors with their books to show case or agents to pitch books to. The price also have a wide range but can get pricy. There are even different levels of information available or scope/reach into the writing industry.

The things I had learned from my attendance at a writer’s conferences:

  • You have to socialize
    • Meet new people – authors, agents, editors, and publishers – these people are there for the same thing as you. Get to know them. Don’t start pushing your novel, unless they ask. They are human. Treat them as such.
    • Market yourself. Get business cards and exchange with others.
  • Listen to the guest speaker(s). They have a lot of helpful insight.
  • Listen to the questions that are being asked. I think I found out just as much information from the questions/answers as I did from the lectures.
  • If there are other services being offered – such as editing your query or pitching – take advantage of them. There is probably an additional cost applied, but it’s worth it.

Attending a conference can be your door to get into the industry. Maybe you’ll meet your new agent or another author who will pass you along to their agent or editor. There was even one I witnessed that offered another to join their writing group.

I think the most helpful experience I had was when they brought in some of the agents to listen to the first pages of the writers in attendance stories. The agents would say what they liked and didn’t like about writing styles, character voices, grammar errors, and such. I was very thankful that I brought in a notebook. It paid off.

With finding the local writer’s conference so helpful, I plan to attend next year’s one too as well as attend the Chicago or Indianapolis conference. I’m going to branch out and attend the WordPress conference this winter in Nashville to see what is available there.

Keep writing, keep learning.

L. R. Mauck

Novel Synopsis

synopsisWhat is a novel synopsis? A synopsis is a condensed statement or outline (as of a narrative or treatise) (Merriam-Webster)

In layman terms for a writer – the synopsis is a single (or two) page(s) of what your book is about – the plot. I have not seen any agencies that want a longer synopsis. With the thousands of emails that they receive daily, they want something that is a quick easy read. Remember that. You have one page to sell your story.

I have not researched yet what a synopsis pertains to for the non-fiction writer, so this is for the fiction writers. This is different from a query in that it should only detail your story. You do not need your credentials or information about you.

Most agencies request a synopsis at some point in the beginning – some request it alongside queries, others request it if they are interested in the story.

What your synopsis should include:

  • Protagonist personal journey
  • Key points / steps leading up to the climax
  • The climax
  • Resolution of story / ending

Verify that your synopsis is clear and free from mistakes. Be mindful of active voice, verb tense, and point of view. Have another pair of eyes to overlook your synopsis. Personally, I can read the same thing several times and still find mistakes, so it’s best to have someone else look at it too.

Go here to Writer’s Digest for more information: Learn How to Write a Synopsis

L. R. Mauck

Useful links for Writers

I’m going to keep updating this post as I get in more information. I’m looking for useful or helpful websites for writers, editors, and agents. Feel free to offer your suggestions. I don’t care if they are writing groups, youtube videos, or other blogs. If they have helped you, they’ll help others.

Here are a few that have helped me:

Editing:

Tracking your Query:

General information:

Twitter suggestions:

Youtube channel:

 

Feel free to list any other’s in the comment section. I’ll update this list so they are all in one location. I really appreciate the help.

L. R. Mauck

Author Bio’s

Writing an author bio was a little hard for me. A bio must be short – one to two paragraphs depending on your qualifications and if you are writing fiction or nonfiction.

pen

In my research, a bio is written in third person. A good example of a bio is to look in the back of most books. They’ll include an author’s bio.

List who you are, a pen name if you go by one. Write a short couple of background sentences about yourself, another sentence for schooling – if it relates to writing, and your qualifications to write your nonfiction topic. I, personally, hold a bachelors in Hospitality Management, and several associates in culinary arts and architecture. None of these degrees are worthwhile in the writer’s industry unless I was writing a cookbook or another degree topic. However, I did take several writing classes when I spent two years working on an English degree before switching my major. So, I list my creative writing classes.

Then list where you live – city and/or state in a closing sentence.

 

Websites to help:

How To Write A Bio – this one also gives a diagram

9 Tips on a Great Author Bio

Writing An Author Bio – this link offers links to writing organizations

 

L. R. Mauck

Current book word count total: 11,045 words

 

Agent Pitching

I’ll admit that pitching my book to an agent at a conference was one of the scariest things I’ve done as of late. However, it did not go at all how I planned it would.

pitchingThis picture is very similar to the setup I attended.

What is pitching? Well, that is where you, the writer, are seeking out an agent or editor to assist you on your road to publish your book and are basically telling them what your book is about (don’t give away the ending). It is the same information that would be in the body of your query or that you’d read on the back of a book jacket. Be sure to research the agent you are seeking first to make sure they cover your genre. If not, then switch. You’d be wasting your money, and both you and the agents time.

Where is pitching done? Pitching is mostly done at writer’s conferences, but there are online pitching (such as #PitchWars on twitter) or at book signings, etc.

How to pitch? Pitching to an agent/editor is typically done within a small window of time. So, you need to tell your book plot to the person you are meeting within a minute or two, then leave the remaining short time for the agent/editor to ask their questions. Do tell of your character’s personal battle of the story and even try to go against the common perceptions – men do cry, strong women, etc. DO NOT start off by trying to sell your book as the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. No one will know if your book will ever achieve that level of success starting out. Sell your book, don’t try selling other peoples success.

The online pitches – you need to have your story condensed down to a single sentence. On Twitter – it needs to be in that 140 characters with the hashtag of #PitchWars included. Trust me, it’s all doable.

What to wear? Dress codes are important. Most conferences or events want you to dress comfortably because you’ll be listening to speakers all day – BUT, you are basically being interviewed. Dress as if you are going to a job interview. Please no t-shirts or shorts. Go business causal.

I expected straight line agent with business suite and the word “no” just waiting to be uttered. However, she was really friendly and excited to even be there to hear the pitches. One common thread I heard was that the agents were telling people that they are human too, so treat them as such. My only regret was that I didn’t get more time. Ten minutes went by too quickly.

These youtube videos did help me the night before the conference:

Asking Agents How to Pitch

How to Pitch from a Writer’s Coach

What not to do (hilarious):

Not to pitch

Agent’s example of how not to pitch

L. R. Mauck

First 50 Pages

A few months ago when a literary agent requested for me to send her the first fifty pages, I’ll admit that I didn’t know what she meant. So, I Googled.

The first fifty pages, or partial manuscript, is exactly what it is: the first fifty pages of your novel. It normally covers the span of three chapters. Some agents will clarify by asking for the first three chapters, while others request the first fifty pages. This allows for the agent to read the start of your story. It’ll show if you have good characters, a solid start of a plot, your writing skills, the story’s pace, etc.

Several agents in my research said “no more than fifty and no less than fifty”. If it cuts off within a page of the close of your chapter, you may push for that fifty-one page mark, but a few agents are picky and if their rules aren’t followed, than you’re out. I could not find if the count included the cover sheet or not. I assumed since I met her at a conference and agents receive hundreds of query requests and submissions daily, that I should include the cover sheet so she would remember the story, but I did not count that towards the fifty pages because my chapter three did end on page fifty. I’ll leave the cover sheet option up to you.

Here’s a few helpful websites:

L. R. Mauck