For the writer’s toolbox – QueryTracker

This one probably lands squarely in the ‘no-duh’ category for most writers who have considered, or are succeeding at, the traditional publishing route but it was new for me. And hell, if it’s new to me then there are probably plenty of others out there who haven’t heard of it yet either.

qt QueryTracker is an online database for people looking for an agent or publisher for their book. I discovered it recently in an online workshop run by Carrie Cuinn (thanks Carrie!).  She’s also running a workshop at the end of October about plotting short stories that I may end up taking as well, find out more here.

I’ve only just begun to poke around QueryTracker but I like what I see so far and for a free membership, you can’t beat the price (premium option available). There’s also a fairly active forum and a blog that gets updated pretty regularly.

Nutella and tears – I try to learn how to hold my horses

Last week I wrote with some bravado about how I was ready to start submitting the book to agents and publishers. I even offhandedly said, “I have some rewrites on the horizon from the feedback I get from beta readers but those will happen fairly quickly, I think.”

To which I now respond, haha. HAHAHAHA.


And so on.

Because, as it turns out, I’m going to need a lot more work than I had originally thought. How much? Well, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one. But here’s where the book sits now: I have a full manuscript that has been edited. It has some plot holes and is in need of more line edits than I have given it so far.

The other issue is that I need to take my secondary character, Isa and turn her into the protagonist.oh-shit-o She wrestled constantly with my current protagonist, Joe while I was writing the first draft. Since this was the first book I had ever written, I thought this was a natural part of the process and didn’t recognize it for what it was, a HUGE flashing warning sign. One that said, “hey asshole! You can’t ride a tyrannosaurus down this highway! It’s too big and it’s from a different dimension!”

I rode my dinosaur apace, snarling at the passing motorists.

So now I’m going through and creating a summary for every chapter. Something that hits the bullet points about what’s happening so that I can look through and say, tear out 10,000 words while weeping hysterically and shoveling fistfulls of Nutella from the jar into my mouth.

But everything’s fine, no really! ::barfs into hat::

Seriously though, while this does mean some more work, potentially a lot of work, I’ve never felt in a better place to pull it off. It’s just another part of the learning process and it’s helping me understand what it truly means to be a writer.

Time to start pitching the novel!

I’m feeling ready, like a runner who’s trained for months for a marathon. It’s time to put out my feelers and start pitching my novel to publishers and agents.

Photo courtesy flickr user David Paul Ohmer.
Photo courtesy flickr user David Paul Ohmer.

I have some rewrites on the horizon from the feedback I get from beta readers but those will happen fairly quickly, I think. Also, chances are high that even with a successful pitch, I’ll still get a list of things that require rewrites. I’m cool with that.

I hear some of your questions, “but Nathan, why would you submit to agents or publishers when you could self publish and retain control of your work?” I hear you, dear reader, I do. And over the last couple of years of reading opinions on blogs, twitter, reddit and news sites, my answer is this: while publishers have become somewhat diminished by the rise of self publishing they are still behemoths in the market place. Yes there are self pub success stories like Hugh Howey out there, but I believe that he represents the grazing edge of a very keen blade. His success is astonishing and invigorating. It’s also enormously unique to him being at the right place at the right time with the perfect content. While I may get that lucky (and I’m not diminishing his talent by saying that), expecting to duplicate his performance would be foolish on my part.

Undoubtedly, self publishing is a rising star in the industry. People are finding lots of success without the help of agents or publishers. There may come a moment in the near future, after I’ve collected enough rejections to sink my canoe when I’ll decide to go ahead and release my novel as a self pub. But I want to give the traditional way a shot before I do.

Some of the best success stories that I hear about are from those folks who are using the hybrid model of publishing right now. This is the direction I will likely try to take, where I release some things on my own and some things through a publisher. In my head, this approach just makes the most sense.

What are your thoughts? Are you getting ready to pitch? Have you foresworn traditional publishers? Am I way off base?

Have the confidence for Clarion?

The Clarion Write-A-Thon started yesterday, mirroring the 6-week timeframe that those accepted into the Clarion writer’s workshop are doing their work. The Write-A-Thon is a fundraiser for the workshop.

Over on his blog, Write-A-Thon’er and class of ’08 participant Ferrett Steinmetz shared an email he had received. The email talked about how Neil Gaiman was giving a talk at Cambridge University and mentioned a conversation that he had with a student in 2008.

one of the students came up to him one day and asked, “So, who here do you think will make it?” The student pointed at a couple of the more ‘advanced’ writers, and said “Them?” And Neil said “I don’t know who’s going to make it. But I know that to make it you have to write. Just write, as much as possible.”

Ferrett went on to explain that while that was true, if it hadn’t been for Clarion, he never would have challenged himself to become a professional writer.


I used to question how people could afford to attend Clarion. After all, it’s a 6-week, immersive program in San Diego (or Seattle for Clarion West… aren’t they both pretty much ‘west?). You have to come up with the money for tuition, room and board and you can’t telecommute to your job during that time. The total cost minus travel expenses and application fees is just under $5000. There are scholarships available, however the answer it would seem, is that very few people have the time or resources to make it happen. Only those who are ready to ‘make the leap’ as it were in the hopes of a grand payoff. And that’s not said in a bitter way, it’s more of a realization. You have to have complete trust in yourself as a writer and your future as a professional in order to make this step. I would love to be able to cultivate that degree of confidence.

Have you ever considered an immersive writing program? Have you made the leap? How did  you (or would you) make it happen?

Open market notice: Lightspeed Mag taking submissions

Lightspeed Magazine, the high quality SF monthly, is open to submissions again and now paying 8 cents/word. So storm the gates, friends, because I’m sure they won’t be open for long!