The Revision Process – From Beginning to Final Product

OWFI August Virtual Workshop Transcript
August 3rd, 2017

Sabrina Fish
[5:00 PM]
T-2 hours until go time! Get excited, OWFI!! Please do note the etiquette post pinned above! (edited)

Vivian Zabel
[5:03 PM]
I hope I can manage the whole meeting since I am having problems. I will do my best.

Sabrina Fish
[5:07 PM]
If you have to bow out early, no one will hold it against you, Vivian! I hope you get to feeling better!

Pepper Hume
[5:07 PM]
Lurk, :sunglasses:lurk, lurk!

[5:08]
Good news! It's raining in Bartlesville!

Vivian Zabel
[5:31 PM]
Thanks, @owfipresident .

Adrean 👻 Messmer 💀
[5:32 PM]
We're still allowed to chat in the other channels during this, right?

Sabrina Fish
[5:33 PM]
Sure. So long as it doesn't interrupt this or disrupt anyone here.

Megan Fuller
[6:20 PM]
joined vw_besscozby

Sabrina Fish
[6:51 PM]
We're about 15 minutes from the time to start, folks. I want to take a moment to ask everyone to please scroll up to the pinned post above and familiarize yourselves with the etiquette we'll be adhering to for this Virtual Workshop!

Pepper Hume
[6:54 PM]
DonDone.

Sabrina Fish
[6:56 PM]
Welcome everyone! We're going to start at 5 minutes after the hour to give everyone a chance to "arrive"!

Kristl Franklin
[7:01 PM]
what do i do

Sabrina Fish
[7:02 PM]
I'll introduce our speaker in about 4 minutes, then you'll enjoy her presentation and ask questions when she indicates she's ready for them.

Julia Mozingo
[7:03 PM]
Will there be a transcript afterward?  In case we have to leave early.

Kristl Franklin
[7:03 PM]
so it will come "on" here?

Staci Mauney
[7:03 PM]
@allbrainwriter Yes, the workshop will take place here.

[7:04]
@julia.moz Yes, we will.

Julia Mozingo
[7:04 PM]
TY

Sabrina Fish
[7:04 PM]
Welcome, everybody, to the OWFI August Virtual Workshop. I'm so glad you've joined us. I'll introduce our speaker, then she will present her material. When she indicates she's ready for questions, type ?? and I then wait until I, as your moderator, acknowledge you to ask your questions.

Kristl Franklin
[7:06 PM]
will we hear her or is it written

Staci Mauney
[7:06 PM]
@allbrainwriter It's a live chat, so you'll have to read the information.

Sabrina Fish
[7:07 PM]
Our speaker is TOR Editor, Bess Cozby. Bess Cozby is an Editor at Tor/Forge books, where she is actively building her list with a focus on historical fiction for adult, young adult and middle grade audiences. On the adult side, Bess is also seeking suspense and women’s fiction with a literary feel. For YA and MG, she also would love to find fun, fast, or nail-biting thrillers and contemporary novels with a high-concept hook. A few things she is particularly interested in: fame and its effects on people, sibling dynamics, American history, and philosophy. An element of romance is always a plus. The intersection of commercial, heart-warming, and surprising is where she is building her list. Bess had planned to attend this past OWFI conference as a speaker, but had to change her plans last second. She generously agreed to present at this workshop instead. We are so happy to have you Bess.

Bess Cozby
[7:07 PM]
Hi! Thanks, Sabrina, and I'm glad to be able to present to y'all tonight.

[7:08]
I’ve never done a live chat in this format, so please bear with me if I get the tech for this wrong! I’m going to be posting text in little blocks – will answer questions after. Also (if this is okay with Sabrina!) we can chat beyond the topic itself in the Q&A. I’m happy to answer any questions y’all might have for an editor as best I can. Also, please let me know if I’m posting too fast or slow. Slack is new to me!

Sabrina Fish
[7:08 PM]
That sounds fabulous!

Bess Cozby
[7:09 PM]
But the topic for tonight is revision. I’ll go ahead and let you know a little about my background on this subject. I've been an Editor at Tor/Forge books for five years. In this time, I’ve worked with multiple authors for all four of our imprints, and now acquire for Forge and Tor Teen. Most of my books are historical fiction, thrillers or contemporaries. I consider myself a very hands-on editor, and typically do between 2-4 rounds of revision—though this is by no means a hard and fast rule.

[7:10]
I’m also a YA fantasy writer, and Web Editor for the creative writing website, DIYMFA.com. Because of that, I’m very well acquainted with the process of revising a book long before it crosses an editor’s desk.

[7:12]
And that's what I'm going to be discussing tonight -- how to get your book in the shape it needs to be in so you can find the perfect agent, editor and publishing house for you. In this talk, I’ll be breaking down the process of taking a book from a first draft all the way through a final one. We’ll be going over:
1) Eight Tactics for analyzing your first draft
2) A basic breakdown of story structure
3) How to make a Revision Plan
4) How to find critique partners
5) How to make the most of a critique

[7:13]
BUT FIRST – The First Draft
There are many different schools of thought about what works best for writing a first draft. The way I see it is simple: what works best is what works for you. There are people who like to plan every scene, chapter and character arc beforehand. And there are people who start with an image and just run with it. C.S. Lewis, apparently, only ever wrote first drafts. By contrast, J.R.R. Tolkien painstakingly wrote and re-wrote his books multiple times. I’m sure he was somewhat resentful of Lewis. I certainly would have been!

[7:14]
Most writers will fall somewhere in the middle—leaning more toward plotting or “pantsing” (for anyone unfamiliar with that term – it means writing “by the seat of your pants,” so . . . with very little plan).

[7:16]
But we’re not talking about writing first drafts – we’re talking about revision, which is what you embark on after you have a full first draft. Unless you’re an exceptionally talented first drafter, you’re probably going to need to do a round (or in my case seven or eight rounds) of revision to get your manuscript where it needs to be.

[7:17]
Pro-tip: You want to get as much as possible out of each time that a person reads a manuscript. Whether it’s your mom or a critique partner, or an editor or agent, it’s beneficial to already have your manuscript in the best possible shape you can get it into before enlisting the help of others. That way, each step is a process of refinement, taking something that’s already good and shaping it into something better. You only get a first read on something once—so make it count!

[7:18]
Okay? Let’s dive in!

[7:19]
Step One: Analyzing Your First Draft
Once you have a first draft, how do you go about revising? It can seem really daunting—and you’re really close to the manuscript and the characters. The first step is to make a plan, but how do you do that? I've got a list of eight tactics that I think can help you analyze your first draft and figure out your revision direction. Keep in mind that you can keep using these tactics over and over again as you continue to refine your manuscript through different rounds of revision.

[7:20]
Tactic #1: Take time away from the manuscript.
I’d give yourself at least a week completely away from it, so you have time to look at it objectively. If you can take longer, do it. The more time you have away, the more clearly and dispassionately you’ll be able to look at your own work.

[7:21]
Tactic #2) Accept that everything in your manuscript is expendable.
Seriously. Go into your revision with an understanding that any character, scene or plot could be cut to serve the story. Of course this is a bit extreme, but having that attitude going in will help you to look at your manuscript in a more critical way. Don’t ask, “How could my story survive without X?” Ask, instead, “How is X serving my story?” Make the pieces prove themselves, rather than the other way around.

[7:22]
Tactic #3) Read the entire thing
I’d suggest printing it out, or putting it on an e-reader to give yourself even more distance and fresher eyes. If you print it, you can also make notes along the way. But try to avoid getting into the nitty-gritty stuff at this stage. Instead, make notes about big picture issues—do you think the pacing is lagging, or that a chapter feels a bit rushed? Did a subplot accidentally get dropped? Is a particular character falling flat? What parts are boring? Confusing? Didn't quite make sense?

[7:24]
Tactic #4) Make an outline
Whether it’s a chapter by chapter breakdown, a scene breakdown, or even scene cards, give yourself a tool to look at the manuscript in a more objective and big picture way. I personally like to use scene cards, because the exercise of making them forces me to examine each scene in depth, with a more objective, bird's eye view of the manuscript. It can feel clinical, but it's really effective.

[7:25]
Here’s how I structure my scene cards --
Summary of scene:
Beginning: Character's state/goal
Beats:
1)
2)
3)
End: Character's state/goal
Subplots/worldbuilding/backstory:
Does it begin with a goal and end with tension?

[7:27]
So take, for example, the reaping scene in The Hunger Games. Here’s how you might write a scene card:
Summary: Katniss, Prim and Gale attend the reaping. Prim’s name is called.
Beginning: Katniss is nervous about her or Gale’s name getting called.
Beats:
1) Katniss listens to the presentation—Effie, Haymitch and backstory of world introduced
2) Effie gets ready to pull the female tribute’s name
3) Prim’s name is called
End: Katniss’s name isn’t called, but her little sister’s is. Her fear hasn’t come true—a worse one has.
Character Change: Katniss goes from fear for herself to fear for her sister.
Subplots/worldbuilding/backstory: Haymitch’s alcoholism, story of the war/creation of the districts and the Hunger Games, introduction of President Snow, Gale/Katniss friendship/romance, Katniss’s dad’s death, Mentor system
Does it begin with a goal and end with tension? Yes

[7:29]
Tactic #5) Address your world-building and backstory
In addition to keeping track of the story and characters, pay attention to the reader’s experience as well. This is especially important in speculative fiction, where world-building is just as much a part of the fabric of the story. Keep in mind what a reader knows when, and look for places to improve upon this. Are you dumping backstory in chapter one? Does the reader need to understand a certain part of the backstory for a certain scene to make sense? A good rule of thumb to follow is that information about a world should be given on a need-to-know basis. If you have the entire history of a battle tower written out in your head, but it’s not relevant to the plot, cut it back to as little detail as possible

[7:29]
Choose the right details, rather than the MOST detials

[7:31]
Tactic #6) Map out character arcs
Like an outline, writing out your character’s arcs will force you to examine whether or not the manuscript is accurately reflecting them. Remember—every major character ought to have an arc, even if it’s a small one. Think of Pumbaa in The Lion King. He starts out the movie ashamed of being called a pig, and in the end, owns his identity by growling, “They call me Mr. Pig,” as he runs out to the defense of his friends. It’s a small change (and also used for comedic effect), but it’s shown how even this minor character has grown and changed as a result of the events of the story. At the beginning, he's bowling for buzzards. At the end, he's doing the same action to save his friends, and owning his own identity in the process. In a movie where the main theme is “Remember who you are” that’s a powerful image.

[7:33]
Tactic #7) Write a query letter
This is another tool that can help you to see your story more clearly, and determine if what you’ve written accurately reflects the story you want to tell. Write out a query letter or short pitch. These are generally about 250 words, and introduce the main character, the main conflict, and the stakes. Think of it like copy on the back of a book, or a movie trailer. Having to pare your story down to these bare plot details can help you understand if perhaps there is too much going on, or if the conflict isn’t clear and simple enough, or a character’s arc could be stronger, or the main action needs to start sooner.

[7:34]
Tactic #8) Study story structure
There are a few different schools of thought about universal story structure—some postulate each story has twelve, fifteen or even thirty beats. One book postulates that there are seven basic plots. However, while there are disparate schools of thought, most agree that a story breaks down into three acts, each book-ended by a choice the protagonist makes. Having a working knowledge of story structure can help writers to look at their own manuscripts and decide if they need some plot-revision. In a nutshell a story goes like this:

[7:36]
The First Act:
This is roughly the first 25% of your manuscript. In this act, a story should introduce a main character, a world and a conflict. So, for example, in The Lion King, we see the "circle of life" working as it should, and the Pridelands flourishing when there is a king in charge. We are introduced to Simba, who will be the next king. But we also are introduced to Scar, and understand that he wants the throne for himself. We see a world, a protagonist, and looming conflict. A snake in the grass, if you will.

[7:37]
The Inciting Incident:
This occurs within the first act, usually about halfway through. The main character is invited on a journey through a circumstance outside his or her control. He is then faced with a choice. In the case of our Lion King example, Simba’s father is killed. He can either stay in the Pridelands and face both the grief at his father’s death and what he sees as his own complicity, or he can run away. One direction is toward what he knows, and the other toward an unknown adventure.

[7:38]
The Debate:
There generally follows a short period where the character weighs the pros and cons of this decision. In the case of The Lion King, this is quite a short section. In other books, it's much longer. In The Fellowship of the Ring, for example, Frodo takes a whole chapter to decide to go on the journey, and then stays in the Shire more than half a year before actually leaving.

[7:38]
The Break into Act II/Point of No Return
This is the point where the character makes the decision that launches him into the adventure. Simba flees the Pridelands. Katniss volunteers for her sister at the reaping. Luke leaves his home planet.

[7:38]
Pro-tip—Look at your own Act I. Does it encompass approximately 25% of your wordcount? Does it set up the world, introduce a character and a conflict? Is your character called to adventure? Does the reader understand what the stakes are?

[7:39]
Also—keep in mind—the stakes don’t have to be end-of-the-world high. They just have to feel that way to your character. A romance is going to have a very different call to adventure than a fantasy or a thriller. A mystery’s inciting incident will generally be a murder or finding a body, but not always. What’s important is that your reader clearly understands what your character stands to lose as a consequence of his or her decisions. We need to feel the weight of them, whether what this character might lose is her life or just her reputation in her high school. So long as they feel real to the character, that will draw the reader in.

[7:39]
Act II:
This is the bulk of the story, and should make up about the next 50% of your manuscript. In this section, the main character goes on a journey—whether external or internal—and encounters obstacles along the way. In this section, the b-story may also be introduced. This is a secondary plot, often the love story.

[7:40]
(I'm going faster because i still have a lot to get through, and want to leave time for questions, but someone holler if i'm going too fast!)

[7:40]
The Mid-point:
This is halfway through the story. At this point, something should happen, whether it’s a reversal of fortune, or what looks like a victory. Halfway through The Lion King, Nala finds Simba. At first, this seems like a good thing. But it turns out that she is bringing terrible news and confronting Simba’s decision to run away. For the first time since, Simba is forced to confront everything he left behind—and his grief.

[7:41]
The Dark Night of the Soul:
This event happens toward the end of Act II. We’re past the midpoint and the character is either doing very well or very poorly. But at this point, the worst thing possible happens. In a romance, this is the point where the two characters seem sure to have encountered a conflict they can’t overcome. A terrible secret is revealed. A favorite character dies. Oftentimes, this character could be a mentor, or a guide.
For example, in The Lord of the Rings, this is the point where Gandalf dies. In The Hunger Games, this is the point when Rue dies. The worst has finally happened. Katniss’s greatest fears about the games—that she’ll have to kill and also suffer the deaths of friends—happens in one second. This is the point where whatever your character was striving for completely falls apart, and it looks like he won’t be able to go on.

[7:41]
The Break Into Act III:
After suffering the dark night of the soul, the character makes a decision to keep going, to fight back, or to turn in a new direction, launching the story into the final confrontation.
Does your story have a moment like this? In The Lion King, it occurs when Simba meets his father’s spirit, and is finally forced to confront his grief, his anger, and his own guilt, and to acknowledge that all these things have led him to forget who he is and his responsibilities. That’s his dark night of the soul. But he leaves it deciding that he’s going to go home—even though he knows he’ll not only have to face Scar, but the truth of what he believes he’s done.

[7:42]
Act III:
This is the last twenty five percent of your manuscript, and should include your protagonist—having changed and grown through the adventure—to confront his or her antagonist and do one of four things:
1) Get what he wants and still want it (ie, a happy ending like the Lion King)
2) Gets what he wants, but no longer wants it (ie, an ironic ending – Hunger Games could almost be in this category. Katniss gets what she wants—to win—but at a cost that’s almost too high)
3) Doesn’t get what he wants, but no longer wants it (ie, a character-has-changed ending)
4) Doesn’t get what he wants, and still wants it (ie, a tragic ending. Hey Shakespeare!)

[7:43]
So, how does your manuscript lie against this basic story structure? Does your character want something at the beginning? Does he or she get it? Is there a clear inciting incident and a clear dark night of the soul? Do the acts roughly break down around 25, 50, and 25% percent? It’s worth asking these questions before diving back in. If this isn’t true, is there perhaps something you’re leaving out?

[7:43]
Now, not all of these tactics are going to work for everyone. I’ve given a big list so you have a lot of options to work with, fitting them to your own process. For me, the exercise of creating scene cards forces me to answer a lot of these questions. Then, it’s time to make a plan.

[7:44]
Step Two: Making a Revision Plan
Taking what you’ve learned about what your story needs, make up a plan for addressing the issues. You can just dive back in, but I suggest making a plan that incorporates the entire story. Take each scene and label it one of three things.
1)    Needs to be revised – and how
2)    Needs to be cut – and what you’ll be replacing it with (if it needs replacing)
3)    Needs to be tweaked

[7:44]
Then you’ll have a realistic picture of how much work still needs doing, and can make a timeline for achieving it. I’m a big fan of setting deadlines for myself—it keeps me on my toes and ensures that each day, when I sit down to my desk, I know what I’m going to be working on. I advise setting ambitious, but realistic goals, and creating smaller ones along the way.

[7:44]
Another great trick is to give yourself a reward system. Even something small like, “I’m going to get a manicure when I finish Act One,” or “If I reach my revision deadline for this week, I’ll buy myself a Mocha on Friday,” can go a long way toward motivating you to achieve the smaller revision goals that lead to larger ones. Pavlov was onto something

[7:45]
A few options for this – adding dates and goals to your scene cards, creating a revision calendar, or just a simple list with dates. Another great tactic is to share with a writer friend what your goals are, so you can keep each other accountable. And don’t worry too much if you hit a snag or fall a bit behind—life happens while we’re writing. Instead of beating yourself up, just take a moment (or a day, or however long you need) to refocus, re-adjust your goals and deadlines, and get back to work!

[7:45]
Step Three: Finding Critique Partners
So, you’ve now polished your manuscript, and gotten it into the best shape you can possibly get it into on your own. Now it’s time to have some fresh eyes on it! The best way to do this is to find critique partners. Perhaps you already have them. If so – great! If not, here are a few places you can find them.

[7:46]
Conferences and writer events: this can be a great place to find like-minded writers who are working on books similar to yours. Writing historical fiction? Consider going to the Historical Novel Society conference. Children’s books? SCWBI might be the perfect place. There are also lots of local chapters where you can meet writers as well. And of course you guys have a great system set up with OWFI.

[7:46]
Social Media: Sometimes writers host critique partner meetups on Twitter or Facebook. These can be a great place to quickly search and find people who write in your genre or category. Another excellent place is the NaNoWriMo website – they host a National Novel Writing month in November, and have message boards where you can find other writers that are working on similar projects to your own. They also host online writing events throughout the year

[7:46]
Pro-tip: it can be very helpful to find critique partners that write in the same genre or category as you do, but that’s not imperative. It is imperative that they understand the conventions of your manuscript’s genre or category. For example, YA pacing is a bit different than adult—it’s faster, the chapters are shorter, and usually the plot begins more quickly than in adult books. Someone doesn’t need to write YA to know this, but they do need to understand that your potential readers will expect a book that is in line with these conventions. The same is true of romance, mystery, thrillers and every other genre and category.

[7:47]
I’d recommend trying to find between three and five critique partners for a first-round edit, and then maybe a few less going forward. You don’t want to have too many people looking at once, because it might be confusing to have too many opinions. At the same time, it’s good to have at least a few different voices so you can see where they all agree, and what opinions might be singular. Also keep in mind that you can ask some critique partners to read your first draft and others a later one.

[7:47]
Once you’ve decided on who you want to send your manuscript to, do it! Be sure to let them know if there are any specific areas you’re especially looking for help with. Are you worried your characters are falling flat? Is there a section you’re just not sure how to fix? Giving even a little guidance about what you want from your critique partners can help them to give you the most useful critique they can.  Also, don’t be afraid to set a deadline. Of course we’re all busy, and it’s probably not realistic to ask for someone to read a manuscript in a week, but a month or six weeks is totally do-able. Just be sure you’re willing to return the favor!

[7:48]
Step Four: Making the Most Out of a Critique
Critiques from people you trust—and critiques from people with fresh eyes, who haven’t read your book before—are invaluable. So when you have them, you definitely want to make the most of them!

[7:48]
Here are five tips to help with that (and then we'll wrap up)

[7:49]
1) Resist the temptation to re-read or edit
It wastes people’s time when a writer rewrites a manuscript they’re currently reading; and it can end up being confusing. You may think you’ve addressed an issue they point out, but it’s hard to say, because they haven’t read the new version. I’d suggest not looking at your manuscript at all while people are reading it. Give yourself a break—work on a new project, or do writing exercises, or just take a few days off. Your subconscious will be percolating and making connections while you are letting the story rest. When you come back to the manuscript, it will be with fresh eyes.

[7:49]
2) Look for points of agreement
When you’re reviewing the responses from your critique partners, look for places where all of them agree. Did three out of five people not relate to one of your characters? That’s definitely worth evaluating. Was there a plot point that confused four people? That’s something you need to address.

[7:50]
3) Question (but don't discount) points of contention
Did one of your critique partners point out an issue no one else saw? It’s worth exploring more. They are not necessarily wrong just because they’re the lone dissenting voice. If you can, talk it out with them, and try to get at the root of the problem and find a way to address it. While you of course don’t have to agree with every edit, if one person thought it, the likelihood is that other readers will.

[7:50]
Often the solution can be a simple fix. I’ve had people make assumptions about my characters based on one line of text on the first page. It painted a different picture than I had intended, and colored the way the reader saw the character for the rest of the book. It was only one person, so I could have ignored it. But it also was a relatively simple change—I erred on the side of caution and fixed that sentence on the first page.

[7:51]
4) Take your time
Of course, not all fixes are as easy as changing one sentence. Some are huge, and involve pulling out whole subplots or chapters. Perhaps readers really dislike a character you love. Changing your prose, or cutting whole scenes can be difficult, time-consuming and painful. So take the time to really think it through. After you’ve read through all your critiques, take a few days or even a week to simply let them percolate. You may start seeing solutions that excite you. When you’re ready, make a new plan, and get back to work!

[7:51]
5) Lather, rinse, repeat
Continue to hone your manuscript until it’s as good as it can possibly be. This may take only one round, or it may take several. I have authors that I did two or three rounds of revision with . . . after they had already done seven or eight on their own. I’ve had others that turned in a first draft that needed only one round of edits from me. All of them were happy they took the time they needed to get their particular book right. Writing is a solitary endeavor and, at the end of the day, the only person you’re really competing with is yourself. Love your manuscript enough to give it the time, effort and work it deserves, so that when you’re finished with it, it’s the best possible version of the story it can be!

[7:52]
Okay that’s it for the “presentation” part of my live chat. I’m now opening up the floor to questions. Sabrina?

Pepper Hume
[7:52 PM]
??

Sabrina Fish
[7:52 PM]
Pepper

Pepper Hume
[7:53 PM]
My book is a novel-in-stories. Each chapter/story is more or less a stand aloner. How can I "end with tension if it actually ends a story?

Sabrina Fish
[7:55 PM]
If you have a questions folks. Type ??, then ask your questions once I "call" your name.

Jennifer Sneed
[7:56 PM]
??

Kristl Franklin
[7:56 PM]
??

Bess Cozby [7:56 PM]
That's a great question -- tension can mean more than just overt conflict. In the case of a traditional novel, something ought to be left unresolved or on an un-sure note in most chapters. But not necessarily all. Scene cards are a guide post, but you might have one chapter that ends in a triumph, so you'd be ending that chapter on a note of little tension. But I'd suggest spreading those out and not having too many of them throughout a manuscript.

Sabrina Fish
[7:56 PM]
Jennifer

Bess Cozby
[7:57 PM]
In the case of a novel-instories, I think you'd want to have some kind of through-thread, and perhaps leave it unresolved to some degree throughout the chapters, otherwise it seems more like an anthology of short stories than a novel.

Jennifer Sneed
[7:59 PM]
Thank you Bess. I have a comment instead of a question. I appreciated that you included 'write a query letter' in your list of ways to analyze your first draft. I wish I'd known this earlier because it really does help you analyze your story. This year I'm ready to pitch at WDC (which I saw you're attending).

Sabrina Fish
[7:59 PM]
Kristl

Kristl Franklin
[7:59 PM]
Thank you so much for all your wonderful information and taking the time to chat with us. For those of us who had a pitch session planned with you at the conference is there a way to get our pitch to you now or should we follow the website guidelines of mailing in our material?

Pepper Hume
[7:59 PM]
I see! I can see how to do that with the overall story arc of the main character!

Bess Cozby
[8:00 PM]
Oh that's fantastic, Jennifer! I hope you'll come say hi! I actually pitched there a few years ago and found it a great exercise for figuring out what my story needed to be. Ie, I figured out my pitch and, uh, ended up rewriting the whole thing :slightly_smiling_face: It was hard, but definitely worth it.

[8:01]
That sounds about right, Pepper! Good luck!

[8:01]
Hi Kristl, For anyone wanting to pitch me, please send you first ten pages along with a query letter to bess.cozby@tor.com

Cassandra Gibson-Jones
[8:02 PM]
??

Sabrina Fish
[8:02 PM]
Cassandra

Kristl Franklin
[8:02 PM]
Thank you, Bess.  Will do.  Kristl

Jennifer Sneed
[8:02 PM]
??

Bess Cozby
[8:03 PM]
Sure thing! Oh, and please mention OWFI in the subject line.

Cassandra Gibson-Jones
[8:03 PM]
Bess, I write historical fiction and I have completed manuscripts. I don’t have an agent yet. Can I query you with unagented work?

Sabrina Fish
[8:03 PM]
Jennifer

[8:04]
We have Bess for another 11 minutes, folks!

Bess Cozby
[8:05 PM]
Hi Cassandra, Yep -- I only accept unsolicited manuscripts through conferences like this one, so yes you can send me the first 10 pages and a query letter. In general, if I discover a writer at a conference and would want to pursue a publication deal, I'd then advise them to get an agent and offer recommendations.

Cassandra Gibson-Jones
[8:06 PM]
Thank you.

Jennifer Sneed
[8:06 PM]
Cassandra took my question :slightly_smiling_face:. Being new to the game, I assumed most people needed agents, but do many editors take work directly. Also, on the subject of critique partners - I've taken a novel writing class at Gotham Writers specifically to get readers. It's a little like buying friends, but I've continued some of those critique relationships so it seems like a win.

Bess Cozby
[8:06 PM]
Also for anyone looking to query agents -- I'd definitely suggest checking out "Manuscript Wish List" It's a fantastic resource

[8:06]
Hi Jennifer -- that's generally true, and I think it is in a writer's interest to have an agent, which is why, as an editor, I'd rec one before signing an author.

[8:07]
Think about it this way -- an editor is committing to your book, but an agent is committing to YOU.

Sabrina Fish
[8:08 PM]
We have Bess for about 7 more minutes. Any other questions?

Bess Cozby [8:08 PM]
And it's in your interest to have someone like that in your corner, especially if you end up wanting to change genres. For example, I don't edit fantasy. So, as much as I love my historical fiction writers, if they wanted to write fantasy, they'd have to find another editor for that project.

[8:09]
But their agent would oversee all of their books.

[8:09]
And I've made great writing friends at conferences and classes I paid for! It is a little weird at first, but if you can put yourself in a place to make those kind of connections, they can be so invaluabl!

Christine Jarmola
[8:10 PM]
??

Jennifer Sneed
[8:10 PM]
Thank you, Bess. I appreciate your time and information.

Sabrina Fish
[8:10 PM]
Christine

Bess Cozby
[8:10 PM]
Of course!

Christine Jarmola
[8:11 PM]
I'm running late tonight.  Sorry. So glad to be a part of the chat. Just wondering if the publishing industry is looking up?

Bess Cozby
[8:11 PM]
Oh goodness that is broad question! In what way?

Pepper Hume
[8:12 PM]
??

Christine Jarmola
[8:12 PM]
Are print books coming back in demand? Are publishers taking on as many authors as in the past?

Sabrina Fish
[8:12 PM]
Pepper

Pepper Hume
[8:13 PM]
Super presentation! Lots of good sensible advice well presented. I'm sure a whole bunch of folks are going to put it to good use in quick time! Thank you, Bess !!!

Sabrina Fish
[8:13 PM]
Thank you so much for spending an hour of your evening with us, Bess. We've really enjoyed your time and gained some great information. I, for one, will definitely be printing on the transcript and highlighting my favorite parts.

Kristl Franklin
[8:13 PM]
Thank you for chatting with us!

Bess Cozby
[8:13 PM]
Yes. The ebook market has stayed pretty steady at about 25%, so people definitely still want hardcovers. And another encouraging thing -- YA and Middle grade books in particular sell about 90% in print. Kids want to read physical books. Indie bookstores are doing very well because they've gotten innovative and creative with their local markets.

Jennifer McMurrain
[8:13 PM]
Thank you Bess, enjoyed it

Cassandra Gibson-Jones
[8:14 PM]
Thank you Bess and Sabrina for organizing this chat!!

Kristl Franklin
[8:14 PM]
Thank you too Sabrina!

Adrean 👻 Messmer 💀
[8:14 PM]
This was awesome. Thanks!

Bess Cozby
[8:14 PM]
Ican't say for sure if publishers are taking on more authors, but I will say there are still a lot of editors and agents that are eager to find their next favorite writer. And when we do -- we scream and cry and stress and celebrate just as much as you do.

Sandra Lawson
[8:14 PM]
Thank you!

Sabrina Fish
[8:14 PM]
Thanks to all our attendees this evening! We'll get the transcript posted on the website just as soon as possible.

Bess Cozby
[8:14 PM]
You're so welcome! And thanks to Sabrina for organizing!

Megan Fuller
[8:15 PM]
Thank you!

Margaret Hrencher
[8:16 PM]
Excellent!

Pepper Hume
[8:16 PM]
Thank you, Sabrina!! I wasn't sure this format would work, but sitting here with a large long-haired cat wrapped around my neck (in August!!) it was darn-well worth it!!!

Kim Rogers
[8:16 PM]
Thanks so much!!!

Bess Cozby
[8:17 PM]
Thank y'all! And happy revising! :slightly_smiling_face: