Category: author collectives

Full Frontal Nude Craig Parker; Anne R. Allen Collectives; Noah Lukeman The First Five Pages

Full Frontal Nude Craig Parker

Someone who knows I find the lack of male full frontal nudity in films interesting sent me a link to a full frontal nude of actor, Craig Parker. He’s from New Zealand and he’s been in films like The Fellowship of the Ring and Spartacus.

From the way it looks, Parker is taking a selfie in a shower, with full frontal that doesn’t get much more detailed than this. And it’s times like this I wonder why we rarely see much full frontal in films. The photo is actually something I would consider more artistic than erotic. I guess that’s subjective, though.

You can check that out here.   I can’t post it for copyright reasons. The photo above of Parker is from wiki commons, link on photo itself.

Anne R. Allen Collectives

There’s a post over at Anne R. Allen’s blog that discusses an interesting concept: author collectives. From what I gather what this means in a general sense is that several authors form their own indie publishing collaborative and they all work together instead of working alone. It’s not actually like working with a small press, and it’s not the same as going totally indie because the authors have the collaborative experience. The books and authors don’t necessarily have to be in the same genre either.

The author collective offers a way to have the best of both worlds. If you’re a “team player” who wants the control indie publishing offers, but you don’t want to go it alone, the collective may be for you. But you do need to choose your team carefully, and dedication is a must, as you will see from Liza’s story.

I have to admit I’m intrigued by this, and not just because I’m a fan of Allen. I’ve worked with many small presses over the years and I’ve always preferred working with them over indie publishing because I get that collective experience. All of my books published by presses have been a collaborative effort from a developmental POV in every single case. In other words, when I did the Virgin Billionaire series, the concept was born through the publisher, we brainstormed about it more than once, and we continued to collaborate right down to the cover. The only thing I actually did alone was write the books.

I love indie publishing, too. But with all my indie books everything from developmental editing to cover choices I did on my own without any collaboration at all. I hired people to execute my ideas for the cover. I had a copy editor. But the entire concept was mine and frankly I’m not always that comfortable going it alone that way. It’s hard to be objective about anything creative. And I actually crave the creative input.

In any event, you can read more here about author collectives on Allen’s blog. I think I’ve actually been doing some of these things without even knowing it with other authors all along. Behind the scenes we talk about covers, look for input, and just this week I helped another author decide something more developmental.

Noah Lukeman The First Five Pages

I think I’ve posted about this before, but I wanted to mention it again because I see so many new writers all the time searching for how to do the right thing. And there’s so much information on the Internet it’s often hard to choose what’s right and what’s wrong. Those who read this blog often know I’m not anti anything and I hate to give advice. I support trad publishing as much as I support indie publishing and everything that comes in between those two extremes. I also think it’s important to work with a great literary agent if you’re lucky enough to land one because it will usually help your career move forward. I never actually signed a contract with one agent in particular. But I have worked with an agent in the past, we have always had an off-the-record agreement, and I wouldn’t do anything significant with my career unless I contacted her first and got her on board. Although most of my e-books have been sold by me without an agent, the times I’ve garnered work through this agent have been very productive (a publishing deal with Alyson Books for An Officer and His Gentleman). And one of my dearest friends in the world whom I’ve known for almost twenty years has been a NY literary agent for almost forty years. Our friendship happened through coincidence and the fact that he has a weekend home in New Hope. We’ve never actually worked together and we never will because you don’t mix friendship with business, but I sometimes ask him advice off the record, too. So I don’t think it’s even possible to explain how much respect I have for good literary agents.

There’s also another agent who changed my entire concept/outlook on publishing. I’ve never met him or even contacted him, but I read his book, The First Five Pages, and that book changed the way I thought about publishing and querying agents. His name is Noah Lukeman and he blogs here (regularly for the most part). The blog is great, but it was the book, The First Five Pages, that helped me most. Though it was written about a decade ago and many things in publishing have changed since then, it was his advice on how editors and agents look for material that helped me the most. It’s hard for me to explain in one short post, but the book taught me what not to do when querying or pitching by showing me what most editors and agents look for at a glance. The key phrase here is “at a glance.” They get so many queries they learn how to look at them fast and it’s the writers that do things right that get attention. It’s the little things like whether or not the narrative is balanced with the dialogue. If there’s nothing but dialogue (or nothing but narrative) at a glance it could hurt an author’s chances. I know all this sounds very technical, and it has little to do with actual storyline. I also know every writer has a different voice and style. But when you’re querying an agent or editor the goal is to hook them fast, at a glance, and draw them into the book with what often turns out to be just the first five pages. Think audition: if the first few lines of the song you’re singing on stage suck, they’ll call you, don’t call them.

After I read Lukeman’s book several times I had that proverbial “Ah-Ha” moment and it all seemed to click for me. I’d already been published in many books with LGBT publishers by then and I’d been working as an editor for small publications as well. But for some reason I just didn’t understand I wasn’t getting replies from agents. Once I read Lukeman’s book and I reworked the first five pages of the books I was querying I started to see immediate results. It’s not an art, but it is a science and there is something to how a novel is crafted in a traditional sense. Editors and agents know what they are looking for, in this technical sense. So if you’re having problems querying and you’re not getting replies at all, you’re doing something wrong and The First Five Pages might help. As I said, the book is a little dated in some respects, but everything writing related in the book can be applied to e-querying agents and editors today. As an editor of several anthologies I can state that I’ve turned down more than a few short stories because I didn’t like the way they looked at a glance. I had so many submissions for The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance I had to look at the stories this way otherwise it would have taken over a year to get that book out. I didn’t have the time to go through each story that was submitted to me in detail at the first sitting. And the stories that made all the mistakes from a technical POV were the ones I rejected first. Those that looked the best at a glance were accepted. And I wasn’t disappointed when I read them in detail. The authors knew what they were doing. I also knew I wouldn’t have any creative issues with the authors because they knew what they were doing.

The other reason I’m bringing up The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is because I saw another literary agent slam the book this week, and she did it in a way that suggested she didn’t actually read the book. Unfortunately, this particular literary agent blogs, too, and I’ve seen some questionable advice on her blog. I don’t want to get into that in detail because it’s not exactly bad advice. It’s just questionable and it rarely ever changes. But more important, Noah Lukeman has a few big books to his credit. The agent who slammed Lukeman doesn’t. I’d rather take financial advice from Donald Trump than Joe at the barber shop. I feel the same way about the advice I get in publishing, too. Which is also the number one reason why I don’t give advice here. I just offer suggestions from my experiences I think might help. You might read The First Five Pages and nothing will happen for you. But it might also change the way you think about querying and making pitches. Most of the Amazon reviews seem to agree with me.

To show you I’m not full of crap, there are 220 reviews for The First Five Pages.  131 are five star reviews. 12 are one star reviews. (The link to Amazon is above)

Here’s one quote from Amazon. There are 64 more reviews similar to this. And take into consideration that most people who’ve read the book didn’t even leave a review. I didn’t leave one.

“I highly recommend this book for any writer who aspires to be published.