Monday, February 9, 2009

You Asked, I Answer

Every so often I get emails from aspiring writers, friends, family and perfect strangers asking questions about writing, the publishing world, agents and how Mr. Baz is doing (okay that last one is a stretch, but he's doing very well, thank you very much). I'm always surprised that someone thinks that I'm an expert on anything to do with writing. Most of the time I have no clue how anything works. Really. I'm no expert. Sure, I have an agent, and a publisher and an editor and a publicist, but mostly they all take care of everything and I just sit in confusion at how it all works.

But I'm always excited when someone says they have a book idea and wants advice, and I try to answer them the best I can. So then I thought, why not give the answers here? So from time to time, I'll post questions and my responses here.

Question: I have a book idea. Can I sell the idea or do I have to write the entire book?

Good question! In my dream world, I could send my agent a quick one-line email telling her about my book idea, and she would immediately write back and tell me Fabulous idea! I'll sell it! Then, she'd email her favourite editor and tell her the idea and that editor would email back: Love it! We'll take it!

And then I'd buy myself a pretty new dress and sit down to write.

Sadly, it doesn't really work that way. When I wanted to write Stuck in Downward Dog, I had to write the entire novel. Then, I sent it out to several agents and then sat on the couch with my toes crossed eating jujubes hoping an agent would call and want to represent me. And then, one did. Hurrah! Then, I had to revise and revise and then eventually my agent sent it out to publishers and then eventually one bought it. And then I had to revise some more.

While writing my second novel, Love Struck, I was luckier. I came up with the idea and wrote a synopsis. My agent showed it to my editor. She loved it and I wrote a chapter outline and a couple of chapters and we gave it back to my editor. She and my publisher loved it and made me an offer, which was one of the best days ever. Then I bought myself a cute dress...

... hung it in the closet, put on my sweatpants and wrote the rest of my novel in a couple of weeks. This was ideal, though you do actually have to write the book, since once they've bought it, they'd ideally like for the book to come out in the next century.

For non-fiction, it's different. You really can write a proposal and not the book. Usually it's several pages long (up to 40) and includes a synopsis, table of contents, chapter outline, source list, and a bit about you as the author and why you're the best person to write the book (for example, you want to write a book about video games, and you had to write this proposal when you were supposed to be sleeping because you spend all your waking hours playing video games). Then, you submit all of the above to an agent or publisher and then hopefully get an offer, then buy yourself whatever makes you happy (such as a new video game or a pretty dress!) to celebrate and then write the book.

Have a question? Email me or leave it in the comments and I'll answer!

1 comment:

Kimberly @ the Terrier Lover Blog said...

LOL...Too funny Chantel! Great advice too!

It's Kim...

You've always been able to inject humor into your writing! I love it!

I just dropped by, then got caught in your post, to let you know I awarded you as one of my top 10 blogs!

Be sure to go to and pick up your award! I've chosen you as one of my top 10 favorite blogs!

It would be great if you post that you won this award by placing it on your site or in a post!

Kimberly :)

P.S. I need to get a copy of your newest novel!!! I'm behind the times with your writing!