I don’t think there’s a “One Weird Trick” approach to building a writer’s toolkit that will work for everyone. The ways I’ve written in the past don’t work for me today, and today’s method may not work for me a year from now. What’s important is that your infrastructure blend into the background; you should use it, without being aware that it’s there. And when it doesn’t work, change it up.
Although publisher/agent guidelines vary in the specifics, most novel queries require a cover letter, one to three sample chapters and a synopsis. Synopses, however, tend to bedevil early-career writers. They’re presented, usually, as an afterthought, or as some sort of back-of-the-cover tease — and therefore, the synopsis becomes the silent killer of what otherwise could have been a perfect pitch.
Like it or not, although writing as an activity is inherently solitary, writing for publication is an astonishingly social cultural phenomenon that requires much networking and relationship building.
A few quick items of interest from your friends at Caffeinated Press — Open office hours today, Sun. Mar. 13, from 10a to 4p. Please feel welcome to drop in, have some coffee, plug into the power and the Wi-Fi,
Even though it might be embarrassing, an occasional trip down memory lane is useful. And it’s worth remembering, too, that your first or second novel will almost surely end up in the back of your file cabinet. That’s OK. It’s healthy. Your goal shouldn’t be to write and then to publish, but rather to write until you’re ready to publish.
Dive deeply into author one-page bios, glossy headshots, writers’ blogs, social media marketing and book synopses.
Writers’ conferences open several valuable opportunities to authors — the chance to learn from peers, to buy books, to network with other writers, to stumble upon new potential markets, etc. But before you sign up for every conference in a 150-mile radius, consider your goals and the conference’s agenda. Even a free conference might not be worth what you paid to attend it.
The Caffeinated Press Community Advisory Committee welcomes applications through Feb. 15.
Seminars and conferences and guidelines revisions … oh, my!
We believe best practices depend less on how a document looks on the screen, and more how it’s internally structured for interoperability among the different programs that contribute to a robust editorial process flow.
Visit community.caffeinated-press.com for an exciting new one-stop source of news and information about local literary life, writing opportunities and new book releases.
Many authors rely on Word or Writer and they do just fine. But those programs weren’t designed for long-form creative writing in mind. Word and Writer are ubiquitous; people tend to have these programs and they already know how to use them, so they use them. And no one begrudges them that. But wouldn’t it be great to use the right tool for the job? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make use of programs designed for long-form writing and optimized for use with publishing software, or to add plugins to Word to make it more useful for long-form writing?
Stop by the office to write or edit in peace — we’re keeping the doors open over most of the end of December!
So, you say you’ve landed your first publishing contract? Good for you! We have some advice for you, whether that contract was with us or with some other publisher.
A self-directed writer’s retreat, even if lasts just one marathon day, can help you get your bearings for the year to come and to re-acquaint you with your portfolio.
We’re evaluating the release of a mobile app — for Android, iOS and Windows (Universal) — to connect authors, readers and activities in a seamless and low-friction fashion.
Join Caffeinated Press for a three-hour focused seminar intended to give you practical advice for taking your manuscript from the “Yay, I’m done!” moment to the “Yay, I’ve got a publisher!” party.
Caffeinated Press is proud to honor six authors with nomination to the annual Pushcart Prize.
A NaNo novel that “wins” by Nov. 30 probably isn’t ready for shopping until the spring, after rounds of self-editing, beta reading and professional editing.
In the very large publishing houses, authors typically have zero control over the formatting of a book’s interior or the design of its covers. Even well-recognized writers often don’t know what the book will look like until it’s delivered into their ink-stained fingers. The smaller the publisher, however, the more the author can exert influence over a book’s aesthetics.
The Mad NaNo Scramble incurred almost 30k words by 19 authors in one exciting evening of plotting, writing and revelry.
Caffeinated Press is pleased to announce the release of two new titles. “A Broken Race,” a speculative-fiction story, marks the debut novel of Holland-area author Jean Davis. “A Crowd of Sorrows,” a poetry collection, represents G.R.-native Lisa Anne Gundry’s first launch into publication.
You’ve done it: You’ve written a novel, pitched it to a publisher and earned a positive response. Congratulations! Now what happens? Let’s explore. Manuscript Review and Contracting. The process starts with a successful query. That query leads to a solicitation
As we see more and more poems submitted to markets like The 3288 Review, it’s worth offering a few tips from a publisher’s perspective about the best ways to get your poetry in front of a larger audience.
Be consistent and don’t get fancy; there’s plenty of time for beautification when you’re meeting with the designers before the book hits the printer.
Some people do NaNo for fun. Others, however, think that maybe this time, this novel is the one that will make its way to publishers or agents.
Publishers may ask you to submit a writing sample, a project synopsis or both. The way you execute on that request can significantly affect your odds of having your material accepted.
Join us for our NaNo Prep ’15 event on Saturday, Oct. 31; doors open at 1p and don’t close until 2a on Nov. 1.
Caffeinated Press is pleased to release the inaugural issue of “The 3288 Review,” our new literary journal.
Going through edits for The 3288 Review and Brewed Awakenings 2, I’ve come across several trends common to several writers. Study these errors to improve your technical proficiency as a writer.
You can buy a real, physical cabin in the woods. But if your head’s not in the right place, it still won’t be enough.
The main value to a writer — even a fiction writer of short genre stories — of following a stylebook is consistency.
We get a lot of questions from friends, family, local authors, etc. We love questions. They help us share the wealth of knowledge, and they help us shape our thinking about what kinds of products and services we should offer.
Take advantage of tools like the Service Corps of Retired Executives, the Small Business Administration or online communities ranging from Reddit to AT&T’s Business Circle, to help your business launch successfully.
With a slush pile that, all told, now approaches a half-million words, we’ve had the opportunity to evaluate submissions from more than 80 different authors, in genres ranging from single short poems to overly long novels
Drop by our office for open hours — write and research in peace from our common room. Or, sign up for a session of our Business of Writing seminar scheduled for mid-September.
I had heard of them, but it wasn’t until recently — running through the Brewed Awakenings anthology slush pile — that I encountered a few in the wild. Writing experts caution us against such beasts, although the retrograde savages inhabiting
We don’t enjoy squashing dreams any more than you enjoy getting your dreams squashed. But careful guidelines adherence, good cover letters and the use of beta readers will go a long way to getting your manuscript from No to Yes.
June 2015 marks the one-year anniversary since Lianne, Brittany, Jennifer, Julie and I filed the articles of incorporation establishing Caffeinated Press with the State of Michigan. Much has happened — e.g., the inaugural volume of the Brewed Awakenings anthology and the corresponding kick-off events at UICA and Schuler Books and Music. And much will happen soon.
The 2015 submission deadline for Brewed Awakenings 2 passed on May 31. We received a final tally of 67 separate submissions by 58 different authors. Sixty of the 67 are eligible for review by our in-house editors.
No two writers have the same technique. Nor should they. What works for Author Bob isn’t going to necessarily work for Author Jane, because we’re all wired differently ‘twixt the earholes.
The more that authors seed their stories with oh-so-common plot contrivances, relying on twists instead of depth to drive the plot, the less top-shelf readers will pay attention. And also, for that matter, the less that publishers will be persuaded to license a manuscript.
The single biggest challenge with contemporary fiction, assuming the prose is otherwise clean, is verbosity — using “plenty of words” when a few choice alternatives would suffice, or relying on strings of prepositional phrases or subordinate clauses in lieu of a single rarer word or a shorter phrase.
Although every publisher has its own set of checks and its own standard editorial flow, it makes sense to shed some light into how the Caffeinated Press editorial process unfolds — at a minimum, to provide insight to writers about how at least one publisher prepares manuscripts for marketing.
Over- or under-thinking a cover letter could lead to outright rejection without any substantial review. A well-thought letter, however, often gets the material reviewed at least once.
As an author, you want a manuscript so polished that the publisher doesn’t read the first page and say: “Obviously a first draft.” You’ll be better equipped to pass that test if you have tough beta readers who make you sweat the small stuff.
When you do your online research about publishers or agents, remember — some of the water in the well has been poisoned, and its up to you to test the waters before you sip.
We authors can do better than two-dimensional, plastic-banana characters in our stories.
Scene-setting isn’t easy. There’s no magical paint-by-numbers approach for getting it right. When done well, a perfectly described scene can make a story; when done poorly, the story collapses.
The world benefits when authors tell their stories. But the stories that move us the most are informed by a deep understanding of the trends and ideas that undergird them. This understanding comes from reading or otherwise experiencing each individual plank on the scaffold of our story.