Category: The Road to Publication

The Future of Publishing

Caught you attention with that, didn’t I?

Before I elaborate, a preface: I am possibly the world’s worst texter. My missives are all over DYAC. I’ve reached a certain level of infamy amongst my friends and family. In real life I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to spelling and grammar, but when I’m using my phone and tapping away at the speed of light on that tiny screen, all rules go out the window.

A typical example. (Me on the right)

A typical example (me on the left). Who can tell me what I was trying to say?

More nonsense. More profanity.

More nonsense. More profanity.

But tonight my errant thumbs may have stumbled upon a new way for authors to bring their works to the wider world:

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it's gotta be true, right?

Me on the right this time. The Oracle said I would be published, so it’s gotta be true, right?

I mean, at least for SFF, right? But until those elves start accepting queries through normal means, I suppose I’ll keep trying to achieve publication the traditional way. But who knows what the future will hold?

(all opinions on elves, elf- and self-publishing are my own. I admire and applaud those who have the wherewithal to self-publish books either about or not about elves, and take on all the work that’s involved. It’s just not for me.)


Good Idea, Or…

Sending queries on Friday the 13th. Very bad idea? I’ve had a pretty fantastic day so far… in fact there could have been a lot of disasters, but everything’s gone off without a hitch.

I’ve got Grimes and Alt-J cued up and the firepit’s lit. The evening air is warm and the beer is cold. I’m going to try my luck.

Face. Meet Keyboard.

And then meet screen. And then meet tabletop.

Query letters are bastards to write. Really there’s no other word. Writing the book was easier. Even editing was easier. Since I wrote the first draft of my query, I’ve done more drafts than I did of my novel (12 vs. 6). It’s also taken the same amount of time as my manuscript revisions took (four months), and nearly as much time as the first draft.

That’s insane.

Now I’m at the point where I’m obsessing over single words. Leave it in or take it out? Where to put the most weight, voice, hook, concept or pacing? And the big one for me, Canadian or American spelling?

I’m losing sleep over it. I’m waking up at 4am to take out a comma or move two sentences around. THE QUERY MUST BE PERFECT YOUR ENTIRE PUBLISHING CAREER IS DEPENDING ON IT the internet screams.

I’m giving myself 48 more hours and then whatever I have at that point is what goes out. Seriously, enough is enough.


I did something extraordinarily dorky in Portland a couple days ago.

Maybe you’ve heard of Powell’s City of Books – it’s certainly one of the largest bookstores in the United States, and in the opinion of many, the best. I love the idea of having the used and new books shelved together, and the fact that you need a map of the store to find your way around.

Anyway, we spent a couple hours in Powell’s, browsing, and bought a rather large bag full of books. With reverence we entered the Rare Book Room and I almost bought a first-edition, first-print-run Nancy Drew book (sadly, with the amount I’ve spent on typewriters in the last month, it wasn’t in the budget).

But that’s not the dorky part. Eventually I made my way into the fiction section, and I went and found the place on the shelf (two places actually, since I couldn’t decide if they’d put me in fantasy or paranormal romance) where my books will be someday. Even though it’s up to sheer alphabetical chance, the company of authors around that spot was pretty first-class. And I had this moment with the shelf and I told it that someday I’d come back and my book would be in Powell’s and that would mean that I’d accomplished what I’d wanted to.

And then I bought some shadow puppets for my kids and cried in a corner because I missed them.

I found my spot on the shelf. That spot is my spot. Maybe by the time I get back to Powell’s, it won’t be empty any more.

My Newest Beauty

A 1943 Underwood Noiseless

A 1943 Underwood Noiseless

Isn’t it lovely? I got it today. A friend sent me a link to a kijiji ad where it was listed for $50. $50! I could not email about it fast enough. That was yesterday, I went to see it today and the woman who owned it was so nice. This machine used to belong to her mother, who bought it used in the 50s, but it’s been sitting in a box for about 50 years, untouched. It’s quite dusty, and she thought some of the keys might not work. I told her I wanted to clean it up and fix it, and she said I could have it for free if I did!

With a bit of research I was able to date it to 1943 and also found out that it’s the same model John F. Kennedy used when he was in office. How cool is that?

I’ve been playing around with it and it actually seems like it’s in excellent condition. All the keys work after all and there’s lots of ribbon left. Inexplicably, although it was made in Canada, it has the £ symbol instead of the $ symbol, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure Canada didn’t use the pound sterling as its currency in the 40s. I’m going to give it a good cleaning and since it works better than my Smith-Corona, I may try my hand at writing on it a bit.

I can’t express how thrilled I am to own this machine. My kids love it too – they both want typing lessons now! This one feels like karma brought it to me, since I wasn’t even looking for it, it just fell into my lap.

Today is Tuesday which means it’s time for another round of queries to go out. Last week I sent seven so I’ll aim to do the same tonight. Hopefully I’ll have better results this week than I did the last!

Want to learn more about my typewriters? Check them out here.


Away they go, off through the intertubes, and who knows what will become of them?

Safe travels, brave queries. May your reception be warm and encouraging.

Deep Breaths

I’m done my last round of edits on The Unravelling. It’s time to send it out into the wide world and see what becomes of it.

Maybe I need a paper bag to breathe into.

One of my latest goals was to have at least one query sent by the end of the month. Well that’s likely going to be achieved tomorrow (I don’t actually remember what the other goals were – I should probably go check those). At that point I expect to have an absolute crisis of confidence and spend the next few days in my pajamas until I’m over it.

The good news: I have a query letter I’ve worked my ass off on and a nice long list of agents I’d like to send it to. And today a friend sent me the nicest message about how much she liked the draft I sent her. That’s a great boost to start the query process, I think!

And being done with editing means that I can go back to writing, which is extra exciting! I’m still figuring out my point-of-view problems so I might take a week or two to ponder those some more/watch lots of Netflix.

Exclamation points!

First, Probably Not The Last

I got my first form rejection today. Last autumn I submitted my book to Harper Voyager’s open call for unpublished works, a month after I’d finished the first draft.

I was surprised at how not-upset I was. I’m notoriously thin-skinned, after all. I take very nearly everything personally.

I fully expected rejection. Thousands upon thousands of people were submitting, and I rushed through editing my first draft in order to get it in on time. I also wrote my first query letter with absolutely no research beforehand. “Still,” I thought, “I’ll be sad when that rejection comes.”

I totally wasn’t. It was a very nice form rejection, actually. It didn’t say my book sucks. It didn’t say I’m a terrible writer. It didn’t suggest a career change. And so I feel emboldened, ready to try again somewhere else, with something that’s changed so much from what I enclosed in October.

I may be singing a different tune when I have a hundred form rejections under my belt (although let’s be optimistic and assume I’ll never amass that many), but for now, I’m actually weirdly proud of that rejection letter. It means I submitted my book in the first place. That’s kind of a really big deal for me.