Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Asked for Apples, Don't Offer Oranges

This morning I read a post from literary agent Rachelle Gardner called, "Give Them What They Want". In it, she shares some feedback from a recent call for guest bloggers on her site. There were many pitches made that simply did not meet her guidelines. I can relate. In the last six months, I have received pitches from writers who clearly had not read my submission page. And why would someone offer to write a guest post about plastic surgery, childcare, or dating on a blog about writing? 

Offering budding authors a place to showcase their talents and build their online platforms is a great opportunity that isn't widely available. So it should not it be taken lightly. Therefore, when you find bloggers who are willing to share their space with you, it is important that your pitch is a good fit for their blog and your platform. Also, follow the guidelines for submission down to the word count and font. You may miss out on a chance to expand your audience because you failed to give them what they want.

Here is an excerpt from Ms. Gardner's post. Enjoy and take heed.

"Give Them What They Want" by Rachelle Gardner

Back when I was in school, I embraced an important truth: If I wanted to succeed according to someone else’s standards, then I needed to give them what they wanted. It started with my teachers. To get a good grade, I needed to understand exactly what they wanted and give it to them. Using my own creativity and trying to give them something I thought was better wouldn’t always work. If I wanted to be brilliant and creative, fine, but I might sacrifice a good grade. If I wanted the “A” then I needed to give the instructor exactly what was expected.

This lesson served me well as I spent a couple of decades in various roles in the corporate and business world. To be considered a good employee and get promotions and raises, I needed to understand exactly what was expected… and do it. If creativity and innovation and big ideas were valued in that company, then that’s what I focused on. If simply doing your job was valued, then that’s what I did. As long as I was in an environment where someone else’s standards determined MY success, I always focused on what those standards were.

Success often depends on giving your boss what they want; giving your clients what they want; giving your professors what they want, giving your readers what they want.
You’re always free to write what you want, how you want. You’re free to approach the process of publication however you like. But when your success depends on other people, it’s smart to ask yourself: Are you giving them what they want? This applies whether you’re querying agents, pitching publishers, or thinking about your end reader. What do they want? Are you giving it to them?

Read the entire post.


Keep your pen to the paper! Remember, inspiration is everywhere...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Raychelle Reviews: A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terry McMillan

Admittedly, I am late to the party. I recently finished Terry McMillan's A Day Late and a Dollar Short (Penguin, 2002) and enjoyed it from cover to cover. There is no question that Ms. McMillan is a gifted storyteller and this work certainly does not disappoint. I am partial to stories which examine family dynamics, confront their inherent dysfunction, and lead the characters along the road to redemption. A Day Late more than delivered on my expectations.

Each chapter is narrated by one of the main characters. Readers will learn something about each family member's self-concept as well as their perceptions regarding the rest of the clan. Viola and Cecil Price, married for 38 years, are parents to their very adult (and very flawed) children: Paris, Lewis, Charlotte, and Janelle. I fell in love with Viola whose life served as a call to action for her family. A self-proclaimed "know-it-all", who believed that it was her duty to meddle in everyone else's business, Viola told the truth--whether anybody wanted to hear it or not. When she came to terms with her own personal missteps, Viola grabbed life by the horns and started anew. She also insisted that her family follow her lead. Trying really hard not to give anything away, just know that the effect that Viola's advice has on everyone else is a game-changer.

The lesson that I learned from A Day Late is to live every single day to the fullest. The next 5 minutes aren't promised, so when you decide to finally "get it together", time may not be on your side. Define who you are as a person. Follow your passions. Never stop learning. Challenge yourself beyond your limits. And if you are not sure of how to get started, pick up a copy of A Day Late and a Dollar Short. When you finish reading it, you will know exactly what you need to do.

Well done, Ms. McMillan. Very well done.