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Old 9th May 2007, 04:36 AM   #196 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Bar none, the best short story I ever read in my life, and the one that lasts in memory to this day, is SANDKINGS. Totally bowled over by it.

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Old 9th May 2007, 09:16 AM   #197 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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I don't have the shelf space! Argh! Right now I'm sat in my comfy chair, with four Gemmell novels piled up on the right arm and two Eddings and a Piers Anthony on the left! Oh, and some chocolate biscuits on top (my supplies)!

Let's see, by my bedside at the moment I have BRASYL by Ian McDonald, REAPER'S GALE by Steven Erikson, THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES by Stef Penney, TOMMY - The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918 by Richard Holmes, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame and THOMAS JEFFERSON by Christopher Hitchens. Onwards!
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Old 10th May 2007, 02:59 PM   #198 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

I was busy typing away yesterday and it made me think of something. You know when you say publishers are looking for a recently published author to compare new writers to -- what does that mean exactly? Does it mean they're looking for work that is similar in style to an existing author, or do they judge the writing on something else?

The thing is, I don't think my work is similar in written style to anything else I've read. Therefore, I'm hoping publishers are looking for plot, characterisation, depth, scope, and other things such as this instead. Is this the case, or have I limited myself?

Thanks!
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Old 10th May 2007, 03:32 PM   #199 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

If you look at more recent big fantasy - it varies from Scott Lynch's LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA to China Mieville, so it's a wide area. But this relates to something the book trade did ten or more years ago: 'If you like THIS, you'll love THAT'. The publishers' sales directors have to be able to go to the bookselling chains' head offices, where most books are sold now, and say 'It's for readers of George R R Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay', or 'It's for fans of Iain M Banks and Alastair Reynolds'. So it's about a general area.

'The same but different' is something I've heard said all too often by sales people in publishing meetings...relating to crime, thrillers, SF, fantasy...
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:00 PM   #200 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Ah, so it's generalised to a similar author. Thank you for clearing that up.
The problem is, though, that I really am unsure where my work fits. As you know I've just started reading Gemmell, and odd bits of his writing are almost similar in style to mine. On the other hand (and I know a lot of people will shake their heads at this), when I started writing I hadn't hardly read anything (the idea of my story just wouldn't leave me alone, so I had to write, write, write!).

Once my book was finished I began reading other authors, starting with Clemens, followed by Martin, but then I found one of Martin's characters was identical in appearance to one of mine, and also very similar in personality. Because of this I haven't even dared read the rest of his series (I don't want to be influenced or be accused of plagiarism!) and I'm now sticking to other authors, Guy Gavriel Kay being next on my list.

But I really am having a hard time pigeonholing my work...

Maybe I'm worrying too much.
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:45 PM   #201 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

It is a commercial business, so market research is vital. Apart from anything else, you might have a brilliant, original idea...that was used to death ten years ago and is considered old hat in the industry (which is what mainstream publishing is). You've already found that out, in character terms. No one is writing in a vacuum...
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:52 PM   #202 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

That's why I'm trying to read a lot now! My family, who've read many, many books over the years, say my story idea (as much as one can claim anyway) is original once it gets going. So I have that notion to keep me ploughing on.

Yes, on with the market research!
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Old 10th May 2007, 05:35 PM   #203 (permalink)
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Rated R......

I remember when I read Brooks there was little (no?) cussing, the violence rare and implicit, and no one had a libido (correct me if Iím wrongÖ itís been 15 years). On the other end is Gemmell. Characters sometimes cuss like sailors, violence is common and gory, and sex is often present (as well as rape).

So, how does the Ďadultí content of a novel affect its marketability?



Thanks.
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Old 10th May 2007, 06:03 PM   #204 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Well, they both sell well - it's a big market and there is room for both. In general terms the top end of fantasy is more adult, darker and more sardonic than it was twenty to thirty years ago. If some of the enormous sellers in this genre produced their first books today, they probably wouldn't be published, but that is because they set the mark in the 70s and early 80s, and everything moves on...
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Old 11th May 2007, 01:14 PM   #205 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

I've got to admit, something I've learned from people such as John is to try and read recently published authors who may be writing similar to your own aims. I think it helps immensely, because not only does it provide suggestions on style and construction issues, you can also see if your "great ideas" have already been done and killed. And also you can use places such as forums to get feedback as to which character formats are fan favourites.

2c.
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Old 11th May 2007, 05:39 PM   #206 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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I've got to admit, something I've learned from people such as John is to try and read recently published authors who may be writing similar to your own aims. I think it helps immensely, because not only does it provide suggestions on style and construction issues, you can also see if your "great ideas" have already been done and killed. And also you can use places such as forums to get feedback as to which character formats are fan favourites.

2c.
That's very good advice.
Personally, I'm finding I didn't really make too many style and construction errors, but that was mainly because I spent the first couple of years planning the series and the background to my world beforehand. During this time I'd also read a few books on composing sentences, grammar, and other things like that; and I'd also bought a few books on how to improve my storytelling. In short, I did everything I could to ensure I wouldn't fall into one of the many pitfalls that most new writers do. The only thing I didn't get to do was to read lots of "normal" books as well. As said, I know I should have (since that in itself is a pitfall), but, suffice as to say, since I don't want to go into details, I had a choice between wrting (which involved all the things I mentioned) or reading: I chose what I love best, writing. But I'm reading loads now! I just hope it's not too late...

As for ideas on character favourites, I've already got enough people in my story -- and they're all unique (hopefully). I spent a long while thinking up the correct personality for each, and, in fact, someone complimented me over how well I'd portrayed them. In my opinion a character fits the story; for me, I can't just say "Ah, people love that type of character, I'll have one of those in it". My writing just doesn't work that way...

But, I agree, this forum is definitely the place to chat, swap ideas, help other writers and such. I love it here! The only problem is the longer I'm here, the less time I'm spending on my writing. That's the problem: this forum's too addictive!
So thank you, Brian and John, this is a wonderful place for advice.
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Old 12th May 2007, 04:28 PM   #207 (permalink)
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Art

Back to the issue regarding cover art... Does the author/agent have any power to affect it? Surely no one asked Gemmell if that posted picture was ok. But once a book is set for printing, can authors/agents chime in regarding the art, or even bring in their own artist for review?
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Old 13th May 2007, 09:00 AM   #208 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

Contractually, there is usually a clause that the author will be 'consulted' regarding cover art. I always involved the author from the concept through the roughs to final artwork. But that is in the UK - I'm not sure that is the way of things in the US. I know that David only saw final art for that specific cover, for instance...
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Old 13th May 2007, 09:05 AM   #209 (permalink)
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Re: "Personal" question(s) to John Jarrold

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Originally Posted by I, Brian View Post
I've got to admit, something I've learned from people such as John is to try and read recently published authors who may be writing similar to your own aims. I think it helps immensely, because not only does it provide suggestions on style and construction issues, you can also see if your "great ideas" have already been done and killed. And also you can use places such as forums to get feedback as to which character formats are fan favourites.

2c.
It's something I say regularly to the new writers with whom I work editorially - know your market, know your genre. No one writes in a vacuum and you can't come in, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, assuming that what you are writing is brand new, if you don't know the genre well. That's naive, and naivety doesn't work in commercial publishing - or any other commercial enterprise.

I'd read SF and Fantasy avidly for over twenty years before I started publishing it, and attended SF conventions for fifteen years, where I'd met and spoken to authors, editors and agents. That experience was priceless...
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Old 13th May 2007, 09:09 AM   #210 (permalink)
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Re: Art

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Back to the issue regarding cover art... Does the author/agent have any power to affect it? Surely no one asked Gemmell if that posted picture was ok. But once a book is set for printing, can authors/agents chime in regarding the art, or even bring in their own artist for review?
And something else I should say is that authors will sometimes have a 'great' idea for the cover that simply doesn't work commercially, so as an editor you have to explain clearly why that is so - or why that artist they love is no longer working commercially...if you don't use a cover that the book-selling chains love, the public will never get a chance to read the book.
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