Archive | August 2012

Social media tips for writers – #writersmtip

I’ve started up a new hash tag that aims to give social media advice for both published and aspiring writers. Look for #writersmtip (no it’s not S&M tips for those trying to cash in on the Fifty Shades of Grey).

A couple of months a go I presented at Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival on social media etiquette and that lead me to start freelancing in social media strategy for published authors. I’ve nearly finished the plan for my first client, which is very exciting. So playing a bit more in this sandpit, and inspired by Adrien-Luc Sander’s, aka @smoulderingsea, regular #editortips, I wanted to get a hash tag going (imitation is the highest form of flatter =D).

Once a week I’ll collate the tips I’ve shared on the blog. Some are for writers who are aiming for publication and some are for authors who already grace the bookshelves. I started with Facebook, so here are this week’s:

@S_M_Johnston Tip of the
day: Don’t create a Facebook Page because you think you should. If you don’t
regularly update it then it’s useless #writersmtip
 @S_M_Johnston Think really hard about FB pages – do I need
it? And, will I maintain it? #writersmtip


 @S_M_Johnston For an example of
a well executed FB page, check out @Wendy_Higgins Sweet Evil page. 


@S_M_Johnston If the author’s
wall has mainly personal posts it’s probably not a public profile.


@S_M_Johnston Check the
author’s wall. If it’s private then it’s not a public profile.#writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston If the author
has lots of friends (like thousands) then it’s probably a public profile. #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston If the author
has only a few hundred friends it’s probably a private profile #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston Check these
things out BEFORE you send a friend request #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston If it’s a
private profile, don’t send a friend request unless you know them. Talking to
them at a conference doesn’t count #writersmtip

@S_M_JohnstonIf they
accept a friend request, don’t private message them, especially with a request
to read your MS #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston FB writers’
groups can be a great place to find critique partners and network. #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston Remember even
it’s a closed group your posts in a group will appear on your newsfeed. #writersmtip

@S_M_Johnston The only way
posts in a group won’t appear on your newsfeed is if the group is secret. #writersmtip

If you have any questions you can hit me up on Twitter using the #writersmtip or ask here on the blog.

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Look out for the Pitch Madness Snipers

It’s here! Well, not quite yet. The submission windows for the semi-annual Pitch Madness go live on Saturday, September 1 at 12PM EST and 6PM EST. The game theme this time is Paintball. What’s Pitch Madness, you ask? Well, its a game where Brenda Drake brings together a bushel of agents to compete for your pitches. My group blog, YAtopia, is joining three other blogs in this funtastic event. So I guess I’ll start by introducing them first.


Brenda Drake



Shelley Watters


Erica M. Chapman
Here’s the crazy awesome agents participating…
Dawn Frederick – Red Sofa Literary
Brittany Howard – Corvisiero Agency
John Cusick – Scott Treimel NY
Victoria Marini – Gelfman Schneider Lit.
Judith Engracia – Liza Dawson & Assoc.
Louise Fury – L. Perkins Agency
Sarah LaPolla – Curtis Brown Ltd.
Brooks Sherman – FinePrint Literary Management
Molly Ker Hawn – The Bent Agency
We’ll have more about the agents up in our Meet the Agents’ post coming September 4 and 5.
Now, here’s the submission deets …
Shine up your 35-word (exact-anything over will be disqualified) pitches and the first 150-words (if the cut-off falls in the middle of a sentence, go to the end of that sentence) of your finished Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade fiction. We’ll pick 60 entries to move on to the Agent Pitch Match.

We’ve doubled the number of entries we’re taking in this time. There will be a percentage of what genres make it in based on all the agents likes. You guessed it, there will be more YA in the contest than Adult, but the main thing we’re looking for is the WOW factor. Only one entry per person.

We have two submission times, and this year we’re holding it on a Saturday.
The windows open on September 1 …

1ST SUBMISSION TIME: 12:00 pm EST for the first 100.
2ND SUBMISSION TIME: 6:00 pm EST for the next 100.

Only the best of the best will make it to the final round.
Here’s how to format your entry …

Name: Brenda Drake

Title: The Britanika Journals: Around the World in 80:45:07

Genre: Middle Grade Adventure

Word Count: 50,000

Max and Annika use a transporting globe to find her missing father. With evil men in an airship on their tails, Max must use his sleuthing skills with Annika’s inventor ones to rescue her father.

Maximilian Drayson knew that a masterful sleuth had to pay attention to one crucial thing—the details. He tightened his grip on the white apron he had snatched from the Britanika’s laundry room. It took several hours into his investigation to find it, and most would think it was just a soiled apron, but he believed it to be a clue.

He paced the manicured lawn of the Britanika’s residence, scratching the back of his neck and searching the ground. This particular mystery came about after he had overheard one of the Britanika’s housemaids, Molly, sobbing to another servant about losing her mother’s brooch. At hearing Molly’s distress, he went into action.

Before beginning his investigation, Max interrogated Molly, asking her a series of questions: When had she last seen the brooch? Did she wear it while she worked? What were her household duties? He needed every bit of information he could obtain if he wanted to mark this case as solved.

For those that don’t make it into Pitch Madness we’ll be hosting a twitter pitch party on the hashtag #PitMad on September 13 from 8AM to 8PM EST. So get those twitter pitches ready!

That’s it. We’re so excited!
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Critique Giveaway and a bonus!

MS editor extraordinaire, Aimee Salter, has stopped by today
to give away a first chapter critique – yah! She critiqued my manuscript, so speaking from experience, her advice rocks.
Aimee also did interviews with me on my two group blogs YAtopia and Writing Teen Novels, so check them out for some great free advice on making your manuscript sizzle.


So some quick questions before the giveaway.


Sharon: What’s the best thing
about editing other people’s manuscripts?


Aimee: Without question, the best thing about critiquing is what I
learn about my own writing from identifying the problems in others. We writers
are always too close to our own work to truly edit effectively. But by
identifying structural, phrasing or plot problems in someone else’s manuscript,
I’m able to better see where mine has gone wrong.


Sharon: And, what’s the worst
thing about editing other people’s manuscripts?


Aimee: Having to tell people their babies aren’t perfect.


Can I say, in defence of all critiquers / editors: We tell
you what we see because we want your story to be even better. Don’t view suggestions
for improvements as criticisms of your talent or your story. See them as the
rungs on a ladder to making your story shine and revealing your true talent to
your readers.


Sharon: So, how did you get
into freelance editing?


Aimee: I learned how to critically analyse a manuscript in a
critique group which included published and represented authors. In any
“clinic” we’d each give our full manuscript to the Administrator who assigned
it to someone else, then gave us another manuscript to read in full. When I saw
how much my writing improved as a result of being on both sides of that coin, I
knew every writer should do it.


Once I’d been doing that for a couple years, some of the
authors approached me outside of the group structure because they’d found my
comments helpful and wanted to start working as partners. I was excited – but I
remembered how hard it was to find that group and gain credibility in those
circles. I knew there wasn’t enough of that kind of help out there for everyone
because most authors with that kind of experience already have a critique group
they trust. They aren’t often looking for new blood.


I also know most fledgling authors can’t afford a full
editorial consultant. So I decided to offer critiques at an affordable price
(usually in the vicinity of $225-275 for an entire manuscript up to 100,000
words) because I want to see more authors watch their babies grow up like I got


Sharon: What advice would you
give to other people considering hiring a professional editor, such as


Aimee: Do your homework. Make sure the editor can actually help
you. Then make sure their style works for you. Everyone works differently and
you need to make sure you can accept the tone and structure of any given
editor’s work.


Don’t pay money to anyone who can’t provide an editorial
sample (and by that I mean a portion of an actual manuscript with their notes /
marks on it as they would present to you in your work), or who hasn’t been
recommended by someone you know personally.


Keep in mind that online recommendations (especially Twitter
/ Facebook) could easily be dummy accounts set up by editors trying to drum up
business. Don’t pay any money until you know what you’re paying for.


If you can’t afford a super-reputable editor who freelances
outside of a traditional publishing career, read self-published books until you
find one whose prose and plot make you wish you’d written it, then find out who
edited it. Hire that person – or someone they recommend.


And if you weren’t able to anticipate the majority of my
answers here, hire me. There are samples of my critique work on my website. I’m
a lot cheaper than a qualified editor, and when we’re done, I guarantee your
manuscript will be noticeably improved (if I can’t improve it, I won’t let you
hire me).


Most importantly, because I’ve worked with published
authors, I know what a “submissible manuscript” looks like. And because I don’t
believe in critiquing the same manuscript more than once, I won’t lie to you
about how close (or far away) yours is.Thanks Aimee!!

So, you can enter the competition below to win a first chapter critique from Aimee, and I’ve also thrown in a $15 B&N voucher. You’ve got until September 3, 2012 to enter.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

A new contest is coming!

Pitch Madness is coming up in September (genres tbd). We already have 8 agents signed up! Submission windows will be on September 1 and all the fun starts September 7-12 with a Twitter Pitch on the 13th open to everyone. Rules of the game, agents’ bio, and instructions will be up the week of August 26.
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For the love of eBooks

I must confess that I used to be so against eReaders. I just didn’t get it. For most of my day I’m stuck looking at a computer why would I want to then spend my spare time reading off a computer instead of having a book in my hand. I thought it would be a fad that would die out.

But it didn’t.

And then my husband bought me an iPad and I decided to download a couple of eReader apps. Well, then it was on. I realised how quick and easy it was. Now I’ve got more books waiting to read on my iPad then physical books around the house that I haven’t read yet.

Here’s what I love the most about it:

  • My massive book addiction isn’t on adding more weight to my already over flowing bookshelves.
  • There’s an automatic night light built in so I can read while hubby’s sleeping.
  • I’ve got books at my fingertips that I used to have to special order in (being in regional Queensland Australia for some reason means extremely limited book choices. I had to order in Beth Revis’ A MILLION SUNS because no where in town had it in stock).
  • I don’t have to wait for the Australia release, which can be up to a year behind the US release date (we’re Down Under, but we’re not Mars!)
  • The books are cheaper, so of course that means I can buy more books with money I’m saving.
  • I’m finding books that I love that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered buying (Lux novels, I’m looking at you).

I seriously doubt the physical book will ever disappear. But I’m so excited about the reading world eBooks are opening up.

So, what’s your view on the rise of eBooks?

PS – keep an eye on the book as a competition is coming soon.
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Sharing some lovin’

I have crawled out of my editing cave. My manuscript is off to my agent and I’m getting back into the writing groove with my work-in-progress, KARMA.

But before I get too buried in my writing I’d like to acknowledge my latest kick-arse critic partner and my new copy editor.

Aimee L. Salter and I met on Twitter when she put a call out for a critique partner. I had just finished a major write for a revise and resubmit for an editor and I wanted to make sure that I’d addressed the editor’s notes. Aimee was one of the best critique partners I’ve had and her notes, while only requiring subtle edits to the manuscript, made a huge difference to the flow and impact of the story. She has a great eye for characterisation, plot flow and what will gel with a YA audience.

The other person who helped out was my mum. Retirement gives her some spare time and having read all the various versions of the story she was the perfect person to give it the final once over.

I know that a lot of new writers are apprehensive about sharing their stories with others, but if you network you can make the right contacts to help you find people who are eager to help out a fellow writer and are trustworthy.

Not only do you get great feedback on your manuscript, but getting to see another person’s writing style can help improve your own. I really enjoyed the swap with Aimee. Her story was fantastic and I hope it finds a home with an agent or a publisher soon.
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