Stats and Formatting

How many of us have heard something along the lines of “you have as much chance becoming a professional [insert sport here] player as you have of winning the lottery” ? Some of us may have even had parents or teachers crush that dream when we were still young enough to believe that is possible.

I am coming to the conclusion, though, that getting published is the same way. I have now seen two agencies say they take 1% or less of all people who query them. One agent said she gets 1,200 queries a month, ten months a year. That’s 12,000 query letters a year, but 120 or less will be selected for representation. Yes, you must have a good book and a good query, but there’s also an element of luck in there–meeting the right agent at the right time in the right market.

Here are some formatting rules that I have seen for submitting requested materials to an agent or publisher:

  • 8.5 x 11 page
  • Double-space
  • Left-justified (not full align, as it would be in a published book)
  • Put your name, page number and book title on the bottom of every page (use footer)

Most agents want the sample / synopsis (if they want it at all) pasted into the body of an e-mail. I have seen one agent ask for this to be double-spaced, left-justified, so if you have full formatting capabilities on your e-mail, do it. (I don’t think you need to double-space your query letter or bio, but yes on the synopsis and writing sample.)

I use CreateSpace.com to make proof copies of my books so I can let friends and family read them and, also, it makes proofing easier (for some reason it’s easier to catch typos in print than on a computer screen). If you want to format your Word document for print, here are the settings:

Print margin size:
Top: 0.6
Bottom: 0.6
Inside: 0.5
Outside: .75 

Mirror margins
Page size: 5.13 x 8

*Note – My old version of Word is on crack, and it confuses the inside margin and the outside margin. What you are really doing is setting the inside margin to be wider than the outside margin, in order to allow room for binding. If your word processor is not on crack, you will want to reverse those numbers.

Rejection

File:Emelyn Story Tomba (Cimitero Acattolico Roma).jpgWell, back to the Pit of Literary Despair; my partial was rejected.

I was riding a high for a little while because I was asked for it–and that made it easy to shrug off other rejections of my query letter–but now it’s been rejected, and I think that’s worse than a query letter being rejected. Because if it’s just the letter, you think, “How can a letter of 250 words or less show the awesomeness of my book, the depth of my characters, the suspense of the plot?” But 50 pages? A rejection of my first 50 pages sounds a lot more like the first 50 pages of my book suck.

File:WLA lacma The Death of Lucretia.jpgTo throw myself a bone, I have now seen two agents mention, on their websites, that they only take 1% of all people who query them. Those are the odds I’m playing every time I send out a letter: am I going to be the lucky one out of a hundred?

I have exhausted my second list of agents, which means I need to find another list. 44 query letters out, and it’s coming up on a year (Sept 8th).

File:Herbert James Draper, Ariadne.jpgGetting published is harder than writing a novel. And it’s taking longer.

 

 

Surfing the Internet is Good for Your Work Ethic

A recent study has found that taking a short mental break from work (like to read my blog, check Facebook, or update your Amazon wishlist) actually helps productivity. Of course this isn’t true if you spend three hours on the internet at a time, but if you can look at one thing for a couple of minutes, then return to work, it will make you more productive.

My husband mentioned a similar phenomenon the other day. He said that, as a trainer, he was taught that people can only engage their brains for 15 minutes before they start shutting down from information overload. So, if he’s in a training class, he lectures for 15 minutes and then has people do a hands-on activity or takes a break for questions. This allows people to lock in what they’ve learned and once the interlude is over, they’re ready for 15 more minutes of lecture.

One could reasonably assume this same thing applies to work environment. You can probably only concentrate on a task for about 15 minutes before your work quality begins to degrade as you get bored and your mind starts to wander. Taking a quick look at the internet (or getting up to get a cup of coffee, if you are so pedestrian) gives your mind a break, and then you’ll be ready to hit it for another 15 minutes.

Now that you’ve read this, go do 15 minutes of work!

Organizing Your Drafts

Here is some advice I will pass on to people who are just beginning writing:

When you start writing your book, just write in one document (although make sure you frequently make backup copies of it on more than one device!). If you find yourself deleting things early (which you generally should avoid doing, but, hey, it happens), cut the section and paste it into another document and save it under a title that reasonably explains what’s in it. Sometimes things I cut out of my first book wind up, in some form or fashion, in my sequels. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that you will want to put something back in that you cut out. (That happened with an entire chapter that was cut from my first draft, but was put back in the second draft.)

Once you more or less have your book completed, and it comes time to do the editing, start saving your book as a different file every time you work on it. For instance, I have “Book Two 081511.” When I save changes that I make to it today, I will do a “Save As” and save it as “Book Two 081811.” I have found this is easier to keep up with than copying and saving every paragraph and sentence that I end up deleting. If I end up needing to find something I’ve cut, I can just pick an earlier version and go to the appropriate chapter. I can also search Word using a word or phrase which I remember being fairly unique to the portion I removed.

Score!

I have been sending out queries again (total count so far is 41) and this morning someone asked for my synopsis and 50 pages!

Speaking of which, I joined AgentQuery Connect yesterday (it’s a free forum for writers) and read that a general rule of thumb is that your query letter should generate a 10-20% positive response. In other words, of all the agents you query, 10-20% of them should ask for more material. If you’re not getting that (and I wasn’t getting anywhere close to that before), your query letter is probably the problem.

Cainite Language

A friend expressed interest in how I made my vampire language, after my last post on the topic. In order to keep all my words organized so I can use them (also, Cainite words are formed from common roots, so I have to be able to find related words in order to maintain root consistency), I keep everything in an Excel table. Here is my dictionary, as of this date. (Note: all words subject to change; sometimes I go back and change a word because I decide I like a different root better, or I rethink the grammar a bit.)

Word Literal Translastion Plural Verb Form Verb Meaning
    ah i  
Food and Taste Senses
Om Food/Human Omah Omi To eat
Omeh Food of the Soul (blood) Omehah Omehi To bleed
Mu Taste Muah Mui To taste
Tigmu Bitter taste      
Ilamu Sweet taste      
Ohimu Sour taste      
Isha Salt Ishaah Ishai To salt
Ishamu Salty taste Ishamuah    
         
The Body
Meh Soul Mehah Mehi To live/to be
Omeh Food of the Soul (blood) (none) Omehi To bleed
Mehjima Soul’s Dwelling (heart) Mehjimaah    
Cho Flesh/skin (none)    
Omehnirinir Blood river (vein/artery) Omehnirlioah    
Shoshu Hand Shoshuah Shoshui To give (hand over)
Imumeh No soul (dead/death)   Imumehi To die
People and Relationships
Canichmeh Person descended from Cain (Cainite) Canichmehah    
Imuechmeh Not me (other; non-Canichmeh vampire) Imuechmehah    
Om Food/Human Omah Omi To eat
Omtu Human child (first year Yaechahre)      
Nichmeh Person of descent (descendant) Nichmehah    
Meh Soul/spirit/person/life Mehah Mehi To live
Echmeh Me/I      
Yameh You      
Nameh Man Namehah    
Namehom Human man      
Ashmeh Woman Ashmehah    
Ashmehom Human woman      
Rumeh It      
Yaechmeh We/Us      
Nashmeh They      
Orumeh All souls (God)      
Orunameh All men (everyone/people; Cainites and Yaechahre collectively, when capitalized) (none)    
Mehtu Child Mehtuah    
Namehtu Boy Namehtuah    
Ashmehtu Girl Ashmehtuah    
Yosh Parent Yoshah Yoshi To parent (to take care of)
Yoshomeh Parent by blood (sire; feminine and male prefixes are not used–this stays generic)      
Nayosh Father Nayoshah    
Ashyosh Mother Ashyoshah    
Omehechahre My blood (vampire child) Omecharheah    
Choechahre My flesh (biological child) Choechareah    
Nachoechahre Boy of my flesh (biological son)      
Ashchoechahre Girl of my flesh (biological daughter)      
Ish Sibling Ishah    
Naish Brother Naishah    
Naishcho Flesh brother (biological brother) Naishchoah    
Naishomeh Blood brother Naishomehah    
Ashish Sister Ashishah    
Ashishcho Flesh sister (biological sister) Ashishchoah    
Ashishomeh Blood sister Ashishomehah    
Eruj One (leader) (none) Eruji To lead
Useruj Fifteen (the Council) (none) (none) (none)
Erujmeh One soul (alone)      
Emotions
Icu Emotion      
Osheicu Sad      
Tralicu Happy      
Mehnir Soul’s water (tear) Mehnirah Mehniri To have tears (to cry)
Tral Smile      
Traltah Big smile (laugh) Traltahah Traltahi To make big smile (to laugh)
Traltahtu Little laugh (giggle)      
Oshe Frown      
Oshetu Little frown (pout)      
Im Pain Imah Imi to have pain (suffer)
Arumeh Two souls (love)   Arumehahi to love
         
Numbers
Ruj Number      
Imuruj Zero      
Eruj One      
Aruj Two      
Aeruj Three      
Oruj Four      
Uruj Five      
Ahruj Six      
Ehruj Seven      
Iruj Eight      
Yruj Nine      
Seruj Ten      
Eseruj Eleven      
Aseruj Twelve      
Dseruj Thirteen      
Oseruj Fourteen      
Useruj Fifteen      
Ahseruj Sixteen      
Ehseruj Seventeen      
Iseruj Eighteen      
Yseruj Nineteen      
Saruj Twenty      
Saeruj Thirty      
Soruj Forty      
Suruj Fifty      
Sahruj Sixty      
Sehruj Seventy      
Siruj Eighty      
Syruj Ninety      
Teruj One hundred      
Weather and Heavens
Li Sky/heaven      
Uch Light      
Liuch Heaven’s light (sun)      
Linir Water from heaven (rain)   Liniri To rain
         
Interrogatories and Answers
Mehg Who?      
Seg What?      
Drog Why?      
Shug When?      
Juag Where?      
Merig Do…?      
Ranag How…?      
Oreh Yes      
Imu No, not, nothing      
         
Time and Place
         
Shu Time/now      
Jua Place      
Rojua There      
Rajua Here      
         
Misc. Nouns
Nir Water Nirah Niri To water (to flow)
Nirinir River      
Jima House   Jimai To house
Jimatu Room (in a house)   Jiamatui To take a room (board)
Shoshua Gift/present Shoshuaah Shoshuai To present
Triu Speech/word Triuah Triui To speak
Ca Fire Caah Cai To burn
Cauch Firelight      
Se Thing   Sei To (be) a thing (verb to be)
Nich Descent (none) Nichi  To descend
         
         
Misc. Verbs
Meri To do      
Jahni To take      
         
         
         
Misc. Miscellanea
Oru All      
Imuo But/except      
Gin And      
Dod With   Dodi to join

I am limited on the width of my table here, so a few rows of conjugation are cut off. But they are all easy suffixes.

For the past tense, add a “t” to the end of the word.
For future tense, add an “at” to the end of the word.
The diminutive form (equivalent to -ito or -ita in Spanish) is “tu.” “Meh,” the word for “person” becomes “child” when it is “Mehtu.”
The magnification of a word is done by adding “tah” to the end. “Mehtah” specifically means an “adult.”

These are my basic rules of grammar/functionality:

Rules
Grammar: Subject (Object) + adjective + verb + adverb + interrogative
Instead of a ?, eh is used to indicate a question.
There are no double letters in words except when prefixes or suffixes are added
Only nouns can be made plural.
There is no equivalent of the articles “the” or “a/an” in Cainite.