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  1. Hi Nicole. I remember meeting you at APL. We all need reminding that for our writing to take off we have to make it a priority. Thanks for the message of support,and good luck with your personal writing,

  2. I loved reading this article Nicole!! Thank you for that reminder that our lifts and movements take time patience and lots of trials and errors just like writing the perfect article.

  3. Good article. I lift too, bodybuilding is my training of choice and I write as well. Your article is spot on!

  4. Hello, I would love to be part of the writers community!!! Please contact me. I could use the support of the like hearted group for writing my novel on the story of my life! In return I can volunteer my time, energy, and support for growing your community.

  5. Hi Lori,
    That’s wonderful! Could you please get in touch with contact information (perhaps just use the “contact us” form on the website) so that I have a way to get in touch with you. Thanks,

    • Hi Tony,
      We’ll be sure to connect after the workshop ๐Ÿ™‚ Part of my freelance services focus around this but I won’t be touching on that during the workshop. I want to keep the focus on what you, the author, can do on your own depending on your comfort level ๐Ÿ™‚
      See you soon!

  6. Hi there, I’m not sure what’s expected in this message.
    Thank you for organizing this workshop ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Hi, I could not select number of participants-it would not let me. I still would like to register for 2 people – non-member.

  8. Hello Kim,
    Last year I won a “Free Meeting Coupon” and would like to use it for the synopsis workshop. How do I register without paying?
    Franca Pelaccia

  9. To the best of my knowledge, the publishing industry (traditional or indie) does not use the term “query editing”. The standard types are developmental, substantive, structural, line, fact-checking, copy-editing, etc. There are query letters, but professional-level editing is quite a different endeavor. It would be helpful – especially to newer writers – for them to learn the appropriate terminology.

    • Agreed. “Query-Editing” is a term I have developed based on my observations of the system over the years. The list of editing terms you’ve provided is excellent and well-rounded. My point in this article is the way a freelance editor handles your manuscript will be different than how a traditional publishing editor does … because the publisher will want to place their own “spin” on your book (a topic for another day). Ultimately, the kinds of editing done to ready a book for the “querying stage” of the process looks and feels different (even though each type of editing option remains the same) than the suggestions authors will receive from an editor with a publishing house who is helping prepare your manuscript to their vision of what will sell.

      • With respect, a professional editor uses consistent industry-standard principles and terminology for preparing a manuscript for publication. I understand your point about the differences re: traditional publishers. The polishing/editing process – whether for querying an agent or publisher or for readying a book for self publishing – has the same steps and the same goals, i.e., finishing with a polished product that is ‘ready to go’ ( Anything less is disrespecting the writer and potential readers and not fulfilling the mandate of professional editing.

        When I pay a freelance editor $30/hr for basic editing or $50 an hour for substantive editing (see here for sample rates –, they’d better not be free-wheeling or approaching it using “observations of the system over the years” but working in accordance with accepted publishing standards.

        Perhaps to help writers, inserting personal views without links to industry terminology could be confusing or misleading unless they are presented as opinion or infomercial and not delivered as expert advice.

        • Ah, yes, it can be confusing to new writers if they are not already aware of the standard editing options. And again, I totally agree with you regarding the professionalism of freelance editors vs. publishing house editors. With a word count limit (that I exceeded between the two posts as it is), my goal with this particular post was not to rehash information that can be found on a myriad of other professional sites. It was my goal (and supported wholeheartedly by the WCYR Blog Editing Staff I might add) to provide a glimpse “behind the scenes” and reveal the little-known nuances that tend to catch new writers by surprise. As an editor, I give professional industry standard edits following the Chicago Manual of Style and best-writing practices. However, some of my clients who have gone on to working with small publishers, literary agents, and traditional publishing houses have wondered why additional edits of the same nature (for which they paid for previously) were being requested of them. Without fail, the discrepancy lies not in my or another freelance editor’s professionalism, but in the specific desires of that house/agent. If you feel that there is still a grievous misrepresentation of facts happening within these posts, I invite you to please send a direct email to the President of the WCYR, and we will make every effort to see that your concerns are addressed.

  10. I have been looking for writing classes in the newmarket area for sometime, glad I found this website. I would like to attend on Sunday Sept. 10 to get more information and sign up for classes if they are available.

  11. Informative and helpful article! Question re: Stacey’s comment.

    Stacey: “those who represent or acquire your project may have more familiarity with the genre or marketplace and see areas that they know are not going to work well or need further development.”

    Doesn’t that leave the author’s genre selection at risk? Are publishers only looking for ‘genre perfect’ material? That is, if a specific genre requires, for example, 10 criteria and the author has 4 of that criteria, are they obligated by the editor to change the book to fit the publisher’s requirements of genre? Do publishers have a ‘checklist’ of genre-specific requirements their authors require?

    Another perspective on my question – the onus is on the author to look for the right publisher and be willing to work with that publisher to meet their requirements. That is a given and any author should appreciate and respect that. Do certain publishing houses ‘revise’ authors books to fit a certain genre?

    • Hi Janice,
      I’m not sure if Stacey will be able to stop by and respond to your question personally. However, I would like to attempt to address it based on my interview with her.
      Publishers are not looking for “genre perfect” material, but each publisher does have their own version of what a good “genre” novel should have. They won’t accept your manuscript if you don’t hit certain “checklist” items: is the writing good? is the plot/story solid and engaging? will my market of readers enjoy this book? And many more, I’m sure. I believe, the point that Stacey is trying to make, is that some writers who are new to the publishing side of things might still be learning their craft. And, while they have a great writing style and a story that promises to engage their audience, there might be a few genre-specific tropes that haven’t been utilized to their optimum potential, etc. If an author is interested in signing a contract with this publisher, the author needs to be aware that this kind of editing could be taking place. The idea is, the publishing house knows its market, knows the genre, and knows how it can best sell your book. If this level of story-help is off-putting, then perhaps a traditional publisher isn’t the best fit for you.
      I hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. That is a reasonable response, and definitely clarifies certain points. e.g. you don’t want a chick lit book to have a male protaganist.

    Having said that, some writer’s work have become ‘boilerplated’ and although they sell well, they are so genre specific they are predictable. Let’s say that a certain bestselling author publishes book 30 of a ‘series’. A good reader could determine the plot and outcome after the first chapter, it’s the ‘same old, same old’ plot structure, which ‘fits’ that genre. It is boilerplated.

    Absolutely yes, there is no point submitting to a publisher if the work is not remotely edited (creative and copy). I am looking forward to Part 2 of your article. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Best article on pros and cons and advice I have come across in a long time. Thank you for such concise and helpful information.

    • Glad to be of help! It’s a “grey” area that I’ve tried to write about before but I was asked for more industry support regarding my ideas, so I did just that ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. From my experience as a publisher, most authors are usually aware of where their novel fits, regarding genres. If they are unsure, then publishers work with authors to figure this out. At Imajin Books, we don’t box our authors into one genre and only one. Most novels are crossovers of multiple genres, and as long as they work well together, great.

    An experienced writer will usually know where their book fits, even if it crosses genres. Inexperienced writers may find this more challenging. It can help if writers read more works in their genre(s) and study the bookstore/library shelves for ideas on genres and cross-genres.

    I hope this helps.

  15. Hi there, I was a member a few years ago and live in Toronto, but in Sutton most of the summer. I am interested in re-connecting as my book: Awesomeness Now, Leader-teacher Blueprint is just out on Amazon. It is about raising the degree of (positive) influence and engagement we need in our world as people who are awake and aware. Written for self development , teams and entrepreneurial leaders. #leaderteacher
    thanks for providing this page! (I also try and use Scrivener)…

  16. I just signed up for PayPal for the first time and paid $60.00 to Writer’s Community of York Region for 3 people to see Kelly Armstrong in Newmarket on April 15, 2018.

    I have a receipt showing payment from PayPal but have not received a registration receipt for the actual event.

    I am assuming since I have paid for the tickets, that the Writer’s Community of York Region, will provide me with the registration receipt so that when we get there, we are able to get in?

    Can someone either e-mail me or call me at 289-213-6998 to confirm that I am actually registered for the event. Thanks.

    Linda Lemaire

    • You’re most welcome, Gabriela!
      It was a wonderful day and I’m glad the IWA was able to spend it with us. Your group is very photogenic ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope to see you next year!

  17. This was my first year participating in Bookshelf as an author, reader and vendor. A great learning experience! Thanks for all your diligent work organizing, coordinating, introducing and coaching. Looking forward to help make this a marquis event in York Region.

  18. Halfway through the first paragraph I was in. I recognized the book immediately but I also recall the first time I read it and the sensation of just wanting to sink down into the pleasure of reading such fine writing.

    Many times while reading The Goldfinch I returned to the first page and reread it.

    I like this game!

  19. I loved this honest review of The Goldfinch, Val.

    I read the book for the same reasons you mention (great reviews from friends I trust and authors I like), and had the same reaction to the first page (blah, blah, blah). And I also had the same experience three-quarters of the way through when I found myself skimming through the boring bits. There were a lot of boring bits. Like you, I asked myself if my attention span was to blame, if I was too used to instant gratification, or if the books I had otherwise been reading were too “easy.”

    But I kept going back to Elmore Leonard’s famous writing advice (“try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip”). So I cut myself some slack, skimmed to the end, and promptly forgot about The Goldfinch. Pulitzer be damned!

    Thanks for this great post!

    • Lynne, I couldn’t remember who said “try to leave out the part readers tend to skip,” but it crossed my mind as well. I struggled to read this book even as I wanted to find out what happened. Skimming resolved the issue. Funny how what some people find tedious others find captivating.

    • You should have heard me whining about it while I was reading it. I had more than one person ask me why in the world I continued to read it. Having said that, the story gripped me, and I wanted to find out what happened. I just wish it wouldn’t have been so unwieldy. Over seven hundred pages.

  20. No. Found the first line a put off:

    “While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.”

    It told me nothing, and there is no real setup. The first person aspect would need work to me, for using “I” twice in the opening sentence tells me there’s going to be a lot of repetition. Would not have gotten my vote.

    When I hit the second sentence (59 word run on) there is again repetition – my – and nothing to pull me into it. Yes, a little angst comes out, but nothing really to grab me beyond a desire to move to the next book.

  21. Dear Writers

    I would love to join your group if I may. I’m a newbie for sure but I have ambitions and lots of time to spend (and also a publisher!!) I’ve been having some trouble in joining a writer’s group as they seem to sometimes be hard to join.

    Thank you, Karen

  22. okay maybe I’m slow but I’m confused…am I responding to the excerpt at the beginning of this page, about a man in Amsterdam or to the Goldfinch which I’ve heard about and have not read? I enjoyed Val Tobin’s description of making herself read it and how she believed it might have been shaved down. So many books like this!
    But I don’t understand…sorry if my usual dyslexia around directions (NSEW) of any kind is at work here but I need help.

    • The poll within the post addresses the excerpt from The Goldfinch, asking if you’d turn the page and keep reading based on what you read. Otherwise, you may comment on anything at all about the post itself.

  23. I wanted to read more but I really didn’t like the word probity as I don’t know want that means. Protestant probity. Does everybody else know what this is? It made me feel stupid. But I remembered being in Amsterdam myself years ago and that settled me into the story immediately. And of course you do visit the galleries there and stay in hotels so I felt an instant connection.

    • I didn’t know what it meant either. It didn’t make me feel stupid, it can make me lose interest in continuing to read. I read for entertainment. Simpler or clearer always trump. If the author makes too many (and sometimes 1 is too many) “complex” word choices when a simpler word could have been used, I bail. That being said, I assumed Protestant probity was a reference to some type of church or religious belief. It by itself didn’t throw me out of the narrative.

      • She could have used “morality” instead, but perhaps she thought probity was more specific. Oxford’s definition of probity: NOUN; formal; the quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.

  24. Hello,
    My name is Rose. Iโ€™m interested in connecting with other writers in this area. Please call me at 647-707-6817.

  25. Overall, I liked the excerpt. I too, appreciated the mystery behind being in a jail cell and having an old door as a desk — those elements spoke to me and peeked my interest. We all know that even “bestsellers” aren’t the “best edited” because of the notoriety of the author (just look at the size of JK Rowling’s books after the first 3!) — still… the story is captivating enough to get me to turn the page ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. I guess it’s all about genres for me. I’m not a fan of police procedurals. I’m probably the only person in the world who’s never seen CSI. This opening made the think of that style, so I wouldn’t continue. But I’d probably pass it onto my hubby!

  27. I was curious enough to want to continue, but also confused. My first thought was Bosch was a prisoner in Cell 3. I immediately wondered why he would have a phone to receive texts.

  28. No, I wouldn’t turn the page. I found there was a lot of minute, descriptive detail that didn’t move the narrative forward.

  29. I’m also not a fan of police procedurals either, so I wouldn’t have even picked up the book! (Sorry.) Though I like the move of hiding the phone that’s recording the interview, so I might turn the page to find out what happens.

  30. I’ve read the series about three times in different stages of my life. Though the first few paragraphs at the start of the work may lose some, the story is set up well with the book “The Hobbit”, which should be read first (it actually is the first book of the series). You could then argue that The Silmarillion is the first book with the introduction of Smegal.

    They are true classics of Fantasy literature and spawned multiple movies (though the last for Lord of the Rings is the best) and other well thought out offshoots (D&D comes to mind starting with the first set back in the 70’s). A truly wonderful set of books outlining the trials of choice and finding one’s self.

  31. I read this first page (and more) to my young son once, on his insistence. But I’m turned off by the fantastical quality. I think my son’s father finished reading him the book. They used to watch the movies over and over. I have zero interest in Lords and Rings and people with weird names.

    • I memorized that poem as well and also the one about Strider (All that is gold does not glitter …) and the one Boromir recited (Seek for the sword that was broken …)

  32. I absolutely love this series. I can say I have lost count of the number of times I have read the series, as well as all the other books around this series. I am a complete addict. I love the whole Tolkien universe. This series is the epitome of the Fantasy genre.

  33. Yes, I would turn the page. I love the voice and enough plot questions have been raised to keep me reading, even though I’ve never read in this genre. I also like the “simple” word choice, which has the effect of increasing the pace.

  34. I must say, I really enjoyed The Hobbit when I read it in grade 8 for a class novel study. I immediately ran to get The Lord of the Rings trilogy and my hopes were dashed. The prologue bored me. The first time I got to page 78 and put the book down. The second time I made it to page 123 and put the book down. As much as I can now admire the language (and I do love the movies), as a teen and early 20-something I just found the amount of details overwhelming and kept wondering when the story would start.

    With the first page here, the rhyme appealed me but the strange information about an old character sharing his birthday with a young cousin did nothing for me.

    • Sadly, I’m the opposite. In fact, I’m so into it (addicted?) that I’m known by my “Hobbit name” to this day. As soon as people call me with it, I respond!

  35. Very interesting! I think small publishers are wonderful.

    At the age of 56, I went Indie after attending a small publisher’s workshop, rewriting my manuscript based on what I’d learned, submitting exactly as prescribed, waiting 11 months to hear, and receiving a form rejection by email no less (the submission had to be paper) with no explanation of why my manuscript didn’t fit.

    I’ve been a slush pile reader for Harlequin, I know there are a variety of possible rejection slips. I didn’t appreciate getting a blanket rejection that taught me nothing.

    At my age, I felt I had no time to waste so I self-published for the second time. It’s been 11 months. I’ve spent every spare minute listening to podcasts and reading, learning how to promote myself. I’ve sold at least 1,000 copies in my first year. The only down side to indie publishing that I see is that my book is not eligible for most contests. I hope my finished product out there in the world acts as my submission to some agent. I don’t know if I’d go with a publisher at this point, I’d have to see what they had to offer.

    It sounds like you work for a solid company, MJ. Good on you.

  36. Thanks for the feedback, Sandy ๐Ÿ™‚
    It sounds like self-publishing was the right path for you, I’m glad. It isn’t always and it’s often difficult to find traditional representation. Have you tried “Brag Medallion” by chance? It’s not a contest but an Independently run evaluation board (based out of BC) who celebrate well-written and produced indie-books. I used to read for them and book 1 in my SFF series was awarded a medallion. Readers Choice is also another respected resources for indie-publishers. They will review your book (1st one free) and they have contests.
    Sounds like you’re well on your way ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I researched some indie prizes but I was confused as to what was a scam, some had very steep entry fees. I will check these ones out. Thank you!

      • Hi Sandy, regarding contests, if you’re being asked to pay more than $80-ish then you really need to question “why”? Consider looking into ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) — they are a fantastic resource to have in your back pocket.

    • You’re welcome, Deb!
      Glad the article spoke to you ๐Ÿ™‚
      I think a lot of what we do “traditionally” speaking is revising and rewriting — even our query letters! But the biggest thing to remember is that if the big 5 publishers are no longer a viable option for you, take a moment to research what the “little guy” can do for you before deciding to go Indie. Being an Indie author is amazing and has a ton of advantages… but you need the right kind of mindset to be able to pull it off.
      Good luck!

  37. Great article! I have always been a stickler for following publisher guidelines. But sometimes I feel like it’s hard to be heard in all that din. Nice to know someone is listening!

    • Thanks, Kim!
      This is one of the reasons I’m proud to work for my small publisher — the attention to detail both during the querying process and the publication process. As Sandy mentioned, not all small presses are equal and it’s important to do your research before signing on with one. The last thing anyone wants is to get stuck with someone only in it for the money.

  38. Great article MJ. It’s hard to image these days how many people feel the “rules/guidelines” don’t apply to them.

    • Thanks, Nanci!
      I know, right? I had no idea this kind of lack of research still happened — and to this extent. I totally understand now why agents and other publishing houses “don’t even look at” a query letter with errors in them. If you mean business, as a writer, you better be prepared to show you can write ๐Ÿ˜‰

  39. Hi Sandy, great stuff. I like that you work with dogs to stay close to them. My daughter and I do that too.

    I hope you’ll submit a workshop for the Members-only workshop series next year (submissions will open in January). I know I’d love to hear about your experience with Amazon ads and I’m sure others in the group would too.
    Kim McDougall

  40. I could tell by the style and subject matter that it was Dan Brown. But I was not hooked in the least. I’d need a few more pages and if I knew it was him I might persevere. But… Yawn

  41. I stopped after the first paragraph. The writing is not very catching and the first sentence could have been a lot better. I didn’t feel hooked or compelled to move forward in the work at all.

  42. I would borrow this book and read it. Dan Brown is not my favourite author in terms of style; however, I’m usually curious to see what he does with characters and materials. I find his books a good “beach” or “airport” or “snowy Sunday on the couch” read.

  43. The first two paragraphs were slow, but the end of the first page caught my interest, so I would continue reading, at least for a short while.

  44. I suspected it was Dan Brown but put that aside to read with an open mind. The first 1/3 caught my attention but most things to do with religion, and the notion of dispelling someone’s religion, don’t sit well with me so for that reason alone I wouldn’t willingly turn the page. I, too, have read Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code and really liked them. This felt different.

  45. Yes. I liked the protagonist and the tone right off. I also like books set in realistic places and times. The dropping of information wasn’t so blatant that it seemed heavy-handed so I appreciated that too.

    I’ve never read anything by Stephanie Meyers so now I’m intrigued.

  46. Nope. The author’s voice in this first couple of pages droned on too much. It would be better with a more active voice, and the “had” statements at the start of the first two paragraphs killed it for me.

  47. I really wanted to like this one, but from what the first page has the work needs a content edit. The use of WAS in the first page threw me once again, not that the word is bad, just most writers use it as a crutch. And for a novel it needs to grab you more at the start.

    The first paragraph stood out well, but then the writer falls into the abyss.

    Sorry, maybe the next one will be better.

  48. I would turn the page because I like to give a book more than the first page to hook me. While the first few paragraphs were engaging enough and the writing, particularly in the first paragraph was lovely, I thought it could use some additional editing to tighten it up (I too believe overuse of ‘was’ can drag a story down).

    I love stories set in Maine, so I connected with that aspect of the page. Perhaps too formal of an introduction to the character for my taste. I prefer a slower reveal. This one reads to me as, “Here’s my character, here’s what she does, here’s her angst.”

    That said, having now seen the book cover, I think I may have walked right by it in the store. Moreover, I am not typically a reader of Nora Roberts, so I can’t say I would have picked this up.

    An interesting exercise though… like an episode of “The Voice” without the music.

  49. The name Nora Roberts, has sufficient weight by itself so of course I would turn the page.
    However, looking only at the writing sample, I would probably close the book. Ideally I like to meet the main character first, have some feel for her and find out all else later in small dribbles, not so front loaded.

  50. This one is a little different and the descriptions used a little more vivid than all the other books. I felt a little more drawn into it, and thus would probably turn the page. Not saying I would read more of it, but at least there is something there that pulls me a little further into the story than all the others.

  51. Ugh, no. The first sentence turned me off with the “was” statement, thinking it could have been more active. Then the next sentence started with “I” just like the first one and I knew the repetition would continue through the work like that. So the answer is a big resounding “No”.

  52. Nice article, but there is something to understand about item 3 – returns. If an author opts into return with Ingram Spark it could cost them a lot of money. Ingram will charge non-US returns a fee of $20/book returned by bookstores. There are two options to avoid this, one it to put “destroy” and the other is to not accept returns. With destroy, the bookstore that ordered copies will indicate they “destroyed” the unsold books after three months of no sales. But unfortunately, destroyed books find their way into clear out sales bins due to unscrupulous bookstore owners. The non-return means you are on the same level as sellers using secondary companies to list your work, that is not accept returns.

    • Good tips, Doug! Most bookstores do require that you allow them to return the books, and then you have to make a choice of destroying or returning them. However, with Print on Demand, the number of books being returned should be minimal.

  53. Probably not. Not unless I’d heard from someone that the book is really good. The talk of magic is too mundane and not mysterious or weird enough to grab my interest. It only signals that this is a genre I don’t like.

  54. Now, knowing what the book is and who the author is, I would persevere a chapter or two. I did like the main character’s name, and the hint of a strained relationship with her mother.

    • Your reaction demonstrates how critical it is for authors to get a large, dedicated fan base. When readers fall in love with a certain author, they’re more likely to give that writer’s new story a chance even if the story doesn’t at first glance appeal to them.

  55. It started to interest me, even with the modifications of present tense words to past tense, but it dragged in the second paragraph. I like something that grabs me and says, “You must keep reading!” And this did not do it.

  56. I find nothing in the page to interest me enough to turn the page…

    James Scott Bell in How to Write Short Stories talks about a shattering moment as the force behind the short story.

    I think a letter qualifies as a short story.

    It lacks the shattering moment.

  57. For some reason I found the letter interesting enough to finish the whole excerpt. Could be because it is well written and I would like to know more. The fact someone is explaining something well and it is not full of modified verbs or run on sentences does it for me. The book may not be something I would buy if it was all like that, but I would give it a little go to see how it went.

  58. OMG I read that book and loved it. That was many years ago. Obviously, I went beyond the first page then and I read to the end of the excerpt now. It is well written, just didn’t grab my attention today. Ah, we change…

  59. I am pretty sure I read this book a few years ago but I didn’t love it. I would definitely keep reading a page or two more to see if anything hooked me.

    I tried to watch the movie on Netflix and couldn’t finish it.

    I think I’m getting pickier in my old age.

  60. Yes but…
    Is it a kids’ book? I’m impatient but I would give it another page or two before deciding.

    We’re always told to have a fantastic opening line. Maurice Sendak’s line is fantastic, Neil Gaiman’s, not so much.

  61. It certainly piqued my curiosity. Would I run out and buy it? Not at the moment but at some point yes.

  62. I didn’t like the “Once upon a time” opening, but I would turn the page. Not sure how much farther I would have gone, but I would read more.

  63. I felt swamped with generations of people immediately, most of whom have thankfully disappeared – this sort of read is not for me

  64. The tone and action intertwined beautifully. I found it exciting and the right place to start the story. I’d turn the page for sure.

  65. I liked the humour and pace right off. “Over forty copies” I found sympathetic as a beginning writer and found myself relating in a hopeful way! I will look for it on Netflix and the library. One day, I too hope to sell over forty copies.

  66. I instantly loved the idea of the graveyard – and then suddenly, this idea is dashed to pieces by saying it doesn’t exist. Yikes!! I don’t like having things snatched away like that. Then my hopes were slightly raised again but my faith was gone.

  67. I loved it!! How much more interesting can a person get in a few sentences? Also, it reminded me of myself as a child in a few different places. The things that kids do that adults won’t. A very talented writer, who I assumed was female. thanks Val.

  68. Good tips, Kim!

    Just curious about item # 2. Bowker expects its publishers to be Americanm and lists American states and zip numbers as required entries on the registration form. Do you know of a workaround for Canadians without American addresses?


    • Hi Brian,

      I got in contact with Bowker for this problem after I moved back to Canada from the US. Here is the reply I received:

      No worries, you can still use your MyIdentifiers account to register your titles, even if they are Canadian ISBNโ€™s.

      All you need to do, is send an email to our PAD Department – along with proof of ownership of your Canadian prefix, and PAD will add the prefix to your company record. Once added, the ISBNโ€™s will show up in your MYID log book and you can register them. Just attach the email(s) from Archives Canada, showing you as owner and PAD will take care of it.



      If you have an issue creating an account because of the addressing issue, I suggest contacting them through that email,

      I hope that helps!

      Kim McDougall

    • Popular writers get away with a lot because they sell a lot of books.

      When I was studying editing way back in the dark ages in college, we were given a passage to read and review. The entire long paragraph was one sentence parsed with commas. I wanted to mark it all up. Then, after we all told the instructor what was wrong with it and why it had to change, he revealed the author was Margaret Atwood, and the passage was from one of her novels. He then asked us if that changed our minds about what we’d said and if we were editors, would we tell Margaret Atwood how to fix her award-winning prose.

      I was only twenty-one and more OCD at the time, so yeah, I’d have called her on it. It’s a delicate position for an editor to be in though. Do you mess with commercial success for the sake of technical accuracy? I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to that. I wish I could remember the passage and what book it came from. I’d love to reread it and see if I still feel the same way.

  69. I don’t mind a bit of backstory. The “sick thrill of life on the edge” is what I want to read and I would keep going with this one. Thanks

  70. There’s nothing in the first paragraph that grabs me. The whole passage, as Kim says, is an info dump. It’s a prologue, I get it, but most prologues are not the main character, but a sub to do just that, introduce us to something outside the main characters view point. It should prime us with action to pull us in. In my case, this is a swing and miss to get me as a new reader.

  71. Prologue – really? Prologues are usually a blast from the past. Something that happened years, or decades ago that tie to the story. Occasionally they’re the ending and the story backtracks at chapter 1 with the book circling around to the prologue (not my fav.). This sounds more like an info dump. Give us that info as the story unwinds. Haven’t read Sue Grafton and probably never will.

    Big name writers get away with a lot simply because they’ve sold lots of books. They shouldn’t be exempt from from writing dribble.

  72. At that time, Sue Grafton was not a well known novelist, the first book in the series ‘A is for Alibi’ sold all of 6000 copies.

    She was a fan of the hardboiled Detective genre, and many of those books started with this sort of prolog.

    Being a fan of the genre, I would, and did, turn the page because I know the story begins on the next page.

  73. This is the first ‘Page Turner’ I’ve read. Why did I wait so long to check out this feature?! Such a great learning opportunity. Can’t wait for the next one, Val.

  74. The intro of the main character didn’t grab me. Could be just the way the words were picked, which is important, or the lack of setting. I always try to build the scene in my mind right away.

  75. Had it mentioned the exotic location, I might have been drawn in. I have read many, many books over six decades of life, so this story is not unique enough for me, not as presented in the opening. My interest in reading is mostly based on my own desire for publication, but sometimes I come across a thrilling book I can’t put down; i.e. recently, The Goldfinch (read it 3X), and Last of the Breed; two very different books in style and content and length. What makes a bestseller? Maybe it is the market of the moment and the reading demographic. I would be interested in knowing what drew so many onward?
    Thanks for an interesting blog.

  76. I really liked the opening line, and the tension that the first page built up. If I picked it up, I would definitely keep reading. That being said, I also don’t tend to read books about domestic abuse. As you said, Literary Fiction isn’t know for its happily ever afters. I imagine, based on that first page, it would be an engrossing read.

  77. Thanks, Val. I would keep reading because of the writing style and probably the promise of the story on the back cover. I enjoyed her “crook of God’s finger” and other phrases so I will look forward to finding this book and reading it later.
    I get what you’re saying about prologues, though. Good information, thanks.

    • Apologies for the technical difficulty. We’ve replaced the poll widget with a new one. Please try again if you get the chance. Thank you for participating.

  78. I had already signed up for this seminar, but assumed it would be cancelled because of the virus. I’m thrilled you’re going to set it up virtually.
    Yes, please send me the link via email once this is arranged.
    Looking forward to it!
    Kris Cudlip

  79. I would not turn the page if all I had was the excerpt above. However this was a “close call” as I did enjoy these lines:

    The voice, with its softly intimidating suggestion of Irish burr, came to him strong and confident, as if Doyleโ€™s great bulk loomed over the bed.

    โ€œDoc Kerrison?โ€ The interrogation was surely unnecessary. Who else in this half-empty, echoing house would be answering at six-twelve in the morning?

  80. Thanks for organizing the workshops! I would like to register for May 21st workshop with Maaja Wentz. The “Get Tickets” button does not work; hope you get this message.
    Kathy Jia-Jones, a member

  81. That’s great Val. I am going to find out what happened, I am intrigued. I also like the idea of a dysfunctional cop (train wreck of a personal life).
    As to butter tarts, have you tried Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory in Baysville, Muskoka? So good!

    • Thanks for commenting, Paul. I’m glad you’re intrigued.

      I haven’t tried Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory, but I’ll make a point of doing so if we’re ever in the area. My go-to places for butter tarts are either the Maid’s Cottage in Newmarket or The Swiss Bear in Apsley.

  82. Thank you I would like to attend Gail Mercer-Mackayโ€™s zoom session. I am a member of WCDR.

  83. Iโ€™d also like a ticket. It seems that the โ€œGet Ticketsโ€link isnโ€™t functioning.

  84. Thanks for this post, it helps clear things up. Would love your opinion here, or anyone else’s with an idea:

    My book is 1-2 months away from being published. I need 300 author copies (AC) for the launch reading. I want those copies 3-4 weeks before the launch and before I publish and publicize the book. But as I understand, you canโ€™t order AC on Amazon until you publish. I want to make sure I rank as high as I can during the launch and new-release month. I donโ€™t want to publish, order 300, then no purchases/reviews for 3 weeks while I wait for the official launch. I could order those 300 from Ingram or a local printer, then have my concentrated Amazon sales start at the launch day.

    Am I costing myself Amazon ranking ordering them elsewhere?

    Does it make the most sense to order those copies from Ingram?

    Is it strange that I only see a price calculation in USD even if Ingram prints AC from Canada?

    Thereโ€™s actually a few options and I want to get it rightโ€ฆ. Also, I live in Canada.

    Any thoughts?