Creative and Memoir Writing

$3,500 + Publication Awarded
Thought some of you might be interested!

September 22, 2022 Carol Brennan King

Well, it felt familiar but not as much fun, meeting in our class on zoom compared to the classroom. Still, it did my heart good to see you all.

And those of you who read this post, I am so grateful to have you along on the ride to being better and published writers.

This week in class provided by Abington Community Library, we talked about the language, the words, and their definition that will help you along on your journey to publication, so here we go:

First of all, if you don’t know your audience, you cannot very well market your book or story or article. So let’s talk about genre or markets.

  1. Picture books: can be written for any age. I was a beta reader for a writer who wrote a book that combined full-page photos from different places in Pennsylvania with a poem, for an adult audience. You can also use photos, line drawings, or even any kind of paintings of critters, places, or situations to illustrate a story or historical event…ending up with a picture book with a few lines per page.
  2. Middle-grade books aim for an audience of 8-12 year-olds.
  3. Young adult books focus on the 12-18-year olds.
  4. New adult books are aimed at the 18 to 25 age group. Notice the difference between these books for young adults and other adult-oriented books. New adult books feature protagonists or main characters between 18 and 25 who deal with the natural issues of that time in life: college, first jobs, and relationships, for example.
  5. LGBTQ. You probably guessed this audience and the fact that the protagonist or main character identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and or queer.
  6. Then we hit general adulthood and finally seniors. They don’t name those two audiences, but you need to have an idea of who your reader is, and who will pick your book off from the shelf. Or what journal will be receptive to work with the focus you have.

Secondly: the business language of writing:

  1. A query is the letter you send to an agent or editor which tells who you are, why you are the one to write this work, and what that work (book or article or story) is about. Note this query may be an e-query as requested by the publisher. Usually, there is an address on their website or a box to use to submit the work. Check this site for very helpful info.

It may be that traditional mail query letters are rarer today. Generally, they are from smaller or older markets.

2. Proposal: this is a packet used to pitch a nonfiction book that includes a sort bio, your qualifications to write the book, a table of contents, market analysis – to show that you know who you are competing with, completed chapters, and more. Check the website of your target publication. Note that by the time you

3. Platforms are also a part of your proposal: the platform is all about the avenues you already have to promote your book: think social media, like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and even Tic Toc. You should also include anything you currently could use to pitch your book to an audience: think speaking engagements (tied to your skill or area of expertise, blog, or professional affiliations, related to your employment, or even an interest that has organizations for followers.

4. Synopsis: often asked for by publishers or editors or agents: generally a front-to-back summary of the book or story or article, generally in full. You may be asked to include a 100, 300, or 1000-word synopsis in your query or a more complete and longer one. Read carefully your publisher’s requirements.

5. Sample chapters: these are completed chapters of your manuscript or proposed book. Generally, novels or memoirs require the first chapters of the book. The publishers want to know if you can write an engaging story, with a plot and characters that draw the reader in and keep them there. For nonfiction, think how-to) you should choose the chapters that best illustrate the style and tone of your work – your perspective on the subject.

6. A last note on this area is the word upmarket. Here, we are talking about literary fiction with commercial appeal, usually found in women’s fiction. These books target serious readers who want beautiful language and exploration of the character’s motivation. Thinking of the opposite may help you here: books that tell a good story, a good narrative, but who do not linger to go deep into the character – more showing.

Lastly: odds and ends, and bits about genre.

I do more than writing. This photo is of me and a two day old goat, being raised by my son’s wife, Jessica. A baby is a baby is a baby. Someone said that. Anyway, when you are exhausted from packing up your home of thirty years and moving to a new one, a baby goat is just what you need…for a few minutes! PS, she took this photo!
  1. Dummy: the physical mock-up of a picture book enabling the publisher or agent to know what you want your finished book to look like.

2. MS: abbreviation for manuscript. Should you be including more than one, use the abbreviation MSS.

3. Narrative nonfiction: True stories written in narrative form like a novel

4. Historical fiction: related to the above: true events in history, told in novel form, but which contain fictional or unverifiable elements…but which “could” have happened that way.

5. Speculative fiction: growing in popularity. This is fiction that encompasses supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements. The author may have created new worlds, perhaps new specie, with new abilities. Or the author may have given events or characters or elements of the physical world significant changes creating a new reality.

There’s more to the topic but this information will get you started. We have been talking about the business of writing for the last three weeks. For the next weeks, we will be considering words like plot and there’s a lot to that subject, character development, protagonists, and antagonists.

It was great to have you here, and I hope this has been helpful to you.

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