Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Writer's Market 2008 vs Canadian Writer's Market, 18th edition

I just bought my annual copy of the Writer's Market, along with the 18th edition of the Canadian Writer's Market.

Even though I'm Canadian, I've never purchased the Canadian Writer's Market before.  Usually I have time to browse through books before I make a purchase, but I was in a hurry so I just grabbed both books and headed on my way (I've been dieting for over 2 weeks and haven't lost a pound, so I decided to give myself a "consolation prize" consisting of a Big Mac and fries...and the MacDonald's across from the bookstore was calling me...but that's another story).

When I got home, I eagerly tore into my copy of the Canadian Writer's Market (I'd already torn into the Big Mac in the truck).   I was immediately disappointed. Here's the first, disappointing line:

"You may write for your own enjoyment, or for the challenge of it, but it's not until your work is published--made public--that you can truly call yourself a writer."

Well, I disagree.  "Writer" means "one who writes"--I don't recall "for pay" being added.   A jogger is one who jogs; a swimmer is one who swims; and a lover is one who loves.  Joggers and swimmers don't often get paid, and if lovers do, well, they are usually called something else entirely.

"Write" is a verb; an action word.  It would be nice to be paid--in fact, I have been paid for my writing--I've even won first place in a funny pet story contest (but that's due more to my funny pets and my aunt's false teeth than to me)--but I digress.  If you write, you are a writer.  Period.  You may not be a PUBLISHED writer, but you are a writer.

Compare the previous first line with the first line in the Writer's Market, 2010:
"Successful people--whether freelance writers or professional athletes--have one thing in common: focus."
I think that's a strong first line...it gives me a sense of happy expectation...a feeling that makes me want to read more.  That's the feeling that usually makes me buy, and enjoy books, so that's a good thing.

The editor continues with, "They are able to come through in the clutch on a consistent basis despite the distractions swirling around them.  With uncertainty in the economy and as much competition as ever in freelance writing, many writers will likely give up on their dreams of selling articles, books, and screenplays.  Let them."

The editor, Robert Lee Brewer, then talks about the economy, and about writers who have written despite distractions.  He says, "Instead, they stay focused on their goals, pushed forward, and made it happen.  You can, too...Until we meet next, keep writing and marketing what you write."

There's a big difference between the two intros...to me.  The first one says, "You may write, but you're not a writer unless you sell."   It doesn't make me want to keep reading.  It's what my optimistic aunt would call "a downer". The second one says, "Writing is tough, being published is tougher, but with perseverance, you can do it".

I've never met either editor, but when I read the first intro, my mind conjures up the image of a skinny, grey haired English teacher, lips pursed, telling the class that they all write drivel (and while this may be true, a good teacher encourages her students; she doesn't discourage them).  The second editor calls to mind a cross between a sports coach and a guidance counselor...tough but encouraging.

Likely neither mind picture is true, but I have a vivid imagination, and that's what I see  when I read the intro's to each book.

The editor of the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th edition advises readers (would be writers) against sending out simultaneous submissions.  If you're querying about a fiction novel, she suggests allowing "3 months or more" for a response.  So, if you've written a book manuscript, rewritten it and polished it to the best of your abilities, and if it takes 3 or more months to get a response...provided you even get a response...then  you're looking at sending out...at best...4 queries/year.  Given the fact that very few books actually make it to publication, and given the fact that editors are notorious for rejecting books that later go on to be best sellers...a budding author can look forward to years of waiting.

I think a writer's best bet is to look inside the Writer's Market 2010...there you'll find a nice list of potential markets and they will clearly state whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions.  If they do, great!  I opened the Writer's Markets at random and it opened to pages 136-137...book publishers beginning with the letter "C".  Of the 9 companies listed, 7 stated explicitly that they ACCEPT simultaneous submissions.  1 stated that they want exclusive submissions only, and another said to check the website for guidelines (I didn't).  Flipping through other pages of the Writer's Market showed a host of companies that accept simultaneous submissions.

Perhaps Canada is different, I thought.  I checked the listings there and guess what...they don't mention simultaneous submissions at all.

Is it a Canadian thing, I wondered?
I went to the Canadian and International Book Publisher's section of the Writer's Market, 2010, and discovered that many Canadian Publishers do, in fact, accept simultaneous submissions.

In addition to the convenient maple leaf symbol, denoting "Canadian market", the Writer's Market 2010 also offers a host of other symbols...including "N" for "New Market".  One such market, Kunati Inc., is a Canadian Market (that accepts simultaneous submissions).  I decided to check the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th edition (copyright 2010) to see what it had to say about the market.  It said nothing...the market doesn't exist in the Canadian Writer's Market...even though it is a Canadian Market, even though they publish 26 books/year, 80% by first time authors, 75% by unagented writers, and even though they pay 10-15% royalties.

I decided to do the reverse...pick a market from the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th Edition,  and compare it with the Writer's Market 2010.  I chose "Goose Lane Editions", mostly because I opened the book to that page, but also because I love the name, and I like geese and have always wanted a white goose (yes, that's another story too).

Here's what the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th Edition had to say about Goose Lane Editions:
First it lists the market's name, address, email address; contact:  Susan Alexander, publisher.  Then there is a paragraph that says, and I quote "Established 1954. Publishes Canadian adult literary fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Publishes 18-20 print titles annually.  Considers unsolicited manuscripts, but first send outline or synopsis and a 30 to 50 page sample for novels.  No electronic queries or submissions.  Please send a query first for poetry, story collections, and non-fiction.  Guidelines available with a SASE."

The Writer's Market 2010 also has the name of the market, and the address, email address, etc.  It, however, says that the contact is Angela Williams, publishing assistant.  Hmm...so is it Susan Alexander, or Angela Williams, or both?
Whereas the Canadian Market just says "publishes 18-20 print titles annually," the Writer's Market goes on to explain that they publish hardcover and paperback originals, and occasional reprints.  20% are from first time authors, 60% from unagented writers.  It also explains that this market pays 8-10% royalty on retail price, along with a $500.00-$3000.00 negotiable advance.  The Writer's Market also includes subject matter that this market looks for, broken down into Non Fiction, and Fiction.  Recent Titles are given, and there is a whole long paragraph of tips from the editor (of this market).

The Writer's Market, 2010 has a lot more information, that's for sure.  I'm beginning to remember why I have always purchased the Writer's Market, but never shelled out the extra money for the Canadian Writer's Market.  If I would have had the time to do a comparison in the book store, I likely would not have purchased the book at all...but then I wouldn't have this to share ;-0.

The thing that dismayed me the most about the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th Edition, was the editor's decision to include literary agents that charge "reading fees".  The editor justifies the decision with these words, found on page 305:
"Typically, agencies work overtime to represent the clients they already have and are often reluctant to invest their time and money in an unproven entity.  That is why some of them charge a reading fee."

(This is a "no-no" in the writing world.  A big one.  There are enough leeches out there waiting to rip off unsuspecting writers without including them in a guide aimed at writers.  If you don't believe me, then check out the Predators and Editors website:  http://anotherealm.com/prededitors/.)

The Writer's Market, 2010, in comparison, has this to say about Literary Agents (on page 86):
"The literary agents listed in this section are members of the Association of Author's Representatives (AAR), which means they do not charge for reading, critiquing, or editing.  Some agents may charge clients for office expenses such as photocopying, foreign postage, long distance phone calls, or express mail services.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of what these expenses are before signing any agency agreement."

The editor clearly has the best interests of his readers in mind by excluding agents who charge reading fees.

All in all, I'd have to say that the Canadian Writer's Market, 18th edition, was a waste of money, in my opinion.  Other writers will likely feel differently, but they are entitled to their opinion, and are welcome to express said opinion in their own blog.

I highly recommend "The Writer's Market, 2010".  It's a must have for writers...published or as yet unpublished alike.

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