“Probably, indeed, the larger part of the labor of an author composing his work is critical labor; the labor of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, testing. This frightful toil is as much critical as creative. “
-T.S. Eliot (in essay titles _The Function of Criticism_)
Remember the mother bird who built her nest in the potted plant on the porch? Her eggs hatched! I don’t have pictures yet, but I saw a cute little gaping mouth this morning. Awww….
Anonymous: Were your Grandparents surprised when you decided to write Romance instead of practicing law?
Everyone was surprised. I did not tell a soul what I was doing until I had sold my first book.
Laura asks: I belong to a wonderful critique group who are helping me immensely. Did you have the same thing when you started out? Who crits your stuff now?
No, I didn’t. I edited TIGER EYE completely on my own because at the time I didn’t trust critique groups and I didn’t know anyone who would give me a straight unbiased answer. Critque partners, if they’re not good, can do more harm than good.
What’s interesting, though, is that after I had started submitting TIGER EYE, I bit the bullet and applied to Clarion, which is one of the best workshops for science fiction/fantasy writers in the nation. It’s six weeks long, you all live together, you write story after story, and you critique the heck out of them every day. It’s bootcamp. And it was a really big step for me, deciding to do that kind of thing. I loved it, though. I surprised myself with how much I loved it. The people were fantastic, and we’re all still friends. I sold TIGER EYE while I was there, which also makes the memory sweet.
As for who crits my stuff now, I usually do it on my own—though there’s two people I trust who give me honest answers when I’m feeling insecure or having trouble with the writing.
Anonymous: I’m just wondering how much control and input do you get for your book covers?
My covers are wonderful. The folks who do my covers are wonderful. And they really do try to get close to the descriptions and scenes that I describe for them, usually doing something even more delightful than I ever imagined. I’m very lucky.
There’s an article on the New York Times about whether or not excerpts help sales:
“The goal of any excerpt is to engage readers, to suggest that here is a book that will interest them,” said Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity for the Knopf Publishing Group. “But the key is not to sate them with the material. You want the hunger and thirst to still be there.”
But if such books “have just one revelation, one major thing that everyone has been waiting to hear, and they read it in an excerpt they�re going to think, �That�s enough. I don�t need to buy the book,� ” said Kristine Dahl, a literary agent at International Creative Management.
I’ve wondered about this myself, but on the other hand, I think it’s nice for readers to get a taste of the product before they spend their money. Not everyone has a style that fits.
This, from Monica Jackson, on marketing. Condensed, with style.