Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lesson Three: Learn the Language

I am a good writer. I can relate facts and figures and feelings easily. I can craft new characters, although I am working hard to improve that skill. It is the greatest skill a good author needs. I am good at creating dialogue. My plots are strong. I thought that was all I needed to break into this literary world.

Oh, I was so wrong.

An author needs to learn a new language. It is the publishing language. It is putting all those writing skills into something that agents and editors will recognize and take under their wing. Being something familiar helps. I rolled my eyes at comments by a particular agent who says he filters potential candidates first by seeing where they got their MFA degree and then by whether they had an Ivy League diploma.

That was troubling because I have neither an MFA degree nor an Ivy League diploma. But I am trying to learn that common language. The novel I am revising and the second novel I have under construction both speak that language better than my earliest effort. It's part of the learning curve.

How am I learning that language? That will come in Lesson Four.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lesson Two: Rejection is rejection

How naive was I when I started sending out query letters? So naive that I wrote an early blog entry about how good some rejection letters were.

Note to self: Rejection is rejection. The fact an agent uses nice words doesn't improve that. It's like the woman who nicely deflects a marriage proposal.

"But you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with?"

"You are the best person I know, and the funniest, and the one with the best insight into who I am. But we just aren't made for each other. Good luck finding the right person. Good night."

Yeah, it's something like that.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lesson One: What's in a Name?

Time for some soul-searching. I will look back at the 10 best lessons I learned while venturing into this publishing business. The first lesson? Do better research on the name of a blog.

I started out with a really good idea for a blog. I was going to create a forum for all those struggling writers who hammer away without getting a publishing deal. I thought I had a really good title, too.

The First-Timers.

The name fits. All those writers who are aiming for their first publishing contract seemed like fertile ground for a blog. Am I right? Probably. I just didn't check out the name thing first.

Something called "The First-Timers" doesn't first bring to mind the publishing business, according to Google. That title is reserved for something much more intriguing, like first-time sexual experiences. Hmmm, Google is going to like that subject matter. My blog on the publishing business? Not so much.

The current name, "Fingertips on Keyboard," was born about two weeks after I started the blog. I comes from a line I wrote in my first novel (the one in dry dock for later revisions). It describes a big part of my life over the past few years. It works. The First-Timers? Only if I'm interested in reading about a person's leap into sexual adulthood. Uh, not so much.

Lesson No. 2 will be posted later Friday.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Time, time ... where's the time?

I haven't posted a blog entry in a long time. I know that. I understand the need to build a platform. I will build that platform in the best way I can right now, which is by revising the manuscript for my novel. After all, they say the best way to sell a book is through great writing.

Let me explain my long absence on this blog.

My literary endeavors are whittled down to working on revisions. Video blogs? Can't fit them into my schedule. This blog? Difficult to do. You see, I am working two jobs these days. I am the managing editor for nine regional "hyperlocal" publications in the Denver metro area. It is a full-time job. My second job is being editorial director for, the online entity for The Denver Post's colorful and successful columnist. I have a certain amount of social media duties involved in both of those jobs. Add in my time spent on revisions and that cuts "available time" to the absolute nub.

Here's the good part, though. I love all three jobs. The "hyperlocal" job means I get to lead 17 of the best young talents in the business. I am not exaggerating when I say that. I am blessed to work with these people. The Woody Paige gig is a hoot. I get to cruise each day through some of the best sports journalism in the world and select those stories that will go on the website. And I get to work with Woody, who is a great boss. Then there is my literary work. I am refining character, amping up tension in certain scenes and editing for consistency and impact.

I will hereby make a vow. I will post something to this blog for each of the next 10 days. This will have more power than the standard New Year's resolution. Just watch.