Candlekeep Forum
Candlekeep Forum
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Active Polls | Members | Private Messages | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 Realmslore
 Chamber of Sages
 Questions for Richard Lee Byers
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 67

Alaundo
Head Moderator
Admin

United Kingdom
5581 Posts

Posted - 12 Feb 2004 :  19:08:51  Show Profile  Visit Alaundo's Homepage  Click to see Alaundo's MSN Messenger address Send Alaundo a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Well met

This being a collective scroll of any questions the Scribes and visitors of Candlekeep wish to put to a renowned author of the Realms, namely - Richard Lee Byers, whos works include: Dissolution, The Shattered Mask, The Black Bouquet and the upcoming Year of Rogue Dragons Trilogy.

Present your questions herein and check back to see what news may also come forth from the quill of this author.

Edited by - Alaundo on 12 Feb 2004 19:12:50

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 15 Feb 2004 :  02:12:02  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thank you, Alaundo, for establishing this topic.
Now, if only someone would ask me something. State capitals. SAT analogies. Deep philosophical questions. I'm game.
Go to Top of Page

Kameron M. Franklin
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
228 Posts

Posted - 15 Feb 2004 :  02:48:02  Show Profile  Visit Kameron M. Franklin's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here's a question that I've recently wanted to ask of my fellow authors (that feels a bit weird saying): do you write your books linearly, chapter by chapter, from start to finish, or do you find yourself jumping around, say, when hit by writer's block?

"You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." --Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 15 Feb 2004 :  04:50:42  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Start to finish, always. That's the way that feels natural to me. I'm not going to have any confidence that I know how Chapter Five should go if Chapters One through Four aren't done yet.
Maybe this way of writing works for me because writer's block has never been a problem once I'm actually embarked on a project (knock on wood.) The only time I've ever felt anything remotely like blocked has been between projects, when I've felt like I ought to get going on something new, but just couldn't get my head together to do it.
Although usually, once per novel, I have to take a day or so off from actually slapping words up on the screen and just ponder, when I don't know exactly what should happen next. But I don't consider that being blocked. I think that's just solving a writing problem.
Of course, I know that every writer is different, and other people work in other ways. I've heard that Micky Spillane always did (or does; is he still publishing?) the last chapter first. Apparently he found it useful to know exactly what was the big finish he was building toward.
Go to Top of Page

Adrian Moonbow
Seeker

Denmark
64 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  09:03:19  Show Profile  Visit Adrian Moonbow's Homepage Send Adrian Moonbow a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Are you often surprised by the actions the characters take? Or have you made a complete 'walk-through' of what should happen in a novel?

"I would have wanted not to die.
I would have wanted never to grow up!"
-Quidam
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 17 Feb 2004 :  16:59:04  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I used to be surprised sometimes, Adrian, but not too much anymore.
That's a consequence of the way I have to work now. I actually like to write a book with a fairly sketchy notion of what's going to happen, and just see how the story unfolds. That's how you get surprised. But now my book editors typically ask me to generate an outline before I write the novel. It's an inescapable part of getting the assignment. So I have to plot the book in advance, and once I do, well, there it is. I know what's going to happen and what the central characters are going to do. Not every little bit of it, but the major stuff.
In this system, there's probably more leeway for minor characters to surprise you, since their doings often aren't as crucial to the plot you've outlined. They may not even be mentioned in the outline.
And, whatever outline you turned in, you'll deviate from it if you get a better idea as you write. But for some reason, this doesn't happen to me very often. My finished books stick to the outlines pretty closely.
Go to Top of Page

Painwraith
Acolyte

3 Posts

Posted - 18 Feb 2004 :  13:45:01  Show Profile  Visit Painwraith's Homepage Send Painwraith a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Richard

First of all I must say I was impressed with your Dissolution piece for The War of the Spider Queen Trilogy, its the first book of yours that I have read and I must say that it is a fantastic read and very well written and put together.

Now for my questions(heheheh new that was coming), ill list them (there are a few I am afraid:

How did you first get into writing?

How long have you been writing?

How long did it take to get that elusive first publish?

I personally would love to write professionally however I still have a long way to go before getting anywhere near your level, any tips?

One of my biggest issues is that I feel sometimes that I cannot quite capture the story I am telling onto the paper, do you ever feel like that or is it just me?

I work during the day in a 9/5 5 days a week job and have very little time to write, are you a full time writer or do you have to fit it in around work, this is one of my biggest issues (A bit rude I know but I have been told that full time writers are quite rare). How do you or did you manage if you ever have been a part time writer?

I have read on writing by Stephen King who although I feel is not as good a writer as some others but did a fantastic knowledge transfer of what its like to start out and what to expect. What would you say to people wanting to be successful published writers?

Thank you for your time and thank you for Dissolution!

Regards

Painwraith
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 18 Feb 2004 :  16:50:31  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the compliment, Painwraith. I appreciate it.
Now, to answer your questions,

How did I first get into writing? Well, it was something that always interested me ever since I was a kid, and finally I just got my act together to take a crack at it. I did all the things that they tell you to do in every how-to-be-a-professional-writer book, and it turns out that advice works if you're persistent enough. My first sales were in the horror field, and I still do the occasional horror piece, but here lately, most of my stuff is fantasy.

I've been writing since '86.

I made my first sale to the small press in '86. I made my first fully professional sale in '88.

It's easier to answer specific questions about aspects of fiction writing than a general request for tips, but here goes: Write on a regular schedule. Finish the stories you start. Submit them relentlessly to appropriate markets until some editor buys them, or you run out of appropriate markets. When you finish a story and send it out, don't waste weeks or months sitting around idly while you wait to learn its fate. Start a new story without delay. When a story is rejected, tried not to dwell on it, and get the piece in the mail again within twenty-four hours.
There. If I didn't touch on something you wanted me to discuss, then please, ask about that in a more specific way, and I'll do my best.

It isn't just you. Sometimes I feel that the words I set down don't adequately convey the idea in my head. I suppose that if you're trying to convey something subtle and nuanced, you're particularly likely to feel this dissatisfaction, and I'd bet that the majority of writers have felt it at one time or another.
The bottom line, I guess, is that you take your best shot and get as close as you can, deriving comfort from the fact that since the reader didn't know about the evanescent shade of whatever that you tried and failed to evoke, he may not miss it.

I am a fulltime writer, but it's only in recent years that I've actually made a living wage at it. I was lucky enough to have some money from another source, enough to support me if I was willing to live in a relatively humble fashion.
Scheduling time to write is a problem for many writers. The best advice I can give is to come up with some sort of schedule you really can keep, even if it's just a couple hours one day a week, and then stick to it religiously.
Also, the tactic that a great many writers use is either to get up earlier or stay up later, and work then.

What would I say to people who want to be pro writers? Turn back while you can! It's too late for me, but you can still escape!
But seriously, folks...
What you need to succeed is persistence and intelligence. The meaning of persistence in this context, I think, is obvious. Intelligence comes into play when you avail yourself of the resources that will help you learn to write. How-to books and stuff like that. It comes in when you take the trouble to study the genre you want to write in (if a genre's your bag) and to learn about the markets. It comes in when you read other people's fiction analytically, to learn their techniques, and when you present yourself in a courteous, professional manner when interacting with editors, publishers, etc.
Go to Top of Page

MuadDib
Senior Scribe

South Africa
442 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  06:42:35  Show Profile  Visit MuadDib's Homepage  Click to see MuadDib's MSN Messenger address Send MuadDib a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good day Mr Byers

I have avoided posting in these author threads, much to my own pain as I must confess to not having read many books. I would dearly love to, but with embargos and a tonn of nonsense I wont bore you with, its very difficult.

Let me apologise upfront for not asking any 'realms' or 'canon' related questions, but something you said in your reply struck me, and I need to ask, as its something I've been dwelling on for some time (notwithstanding my other questions which you already mroe than adequetely answered - thanks).

quote:
It comes in when you take the trouble to study the genre you want to write in (if a genre's your bag) and to learn about the markets.


Would it then be adivasable to study what one could term the 'popular' markets and produce work in those genres, or would you suggest a more purist holy-grail approach of writing what you personally prefer come hell or high water and stickign with it to the end?

I currently find that what I'm writing now (for my job, not my interest mind you) is all stuff that others want to hear and not what I want to write. Since it keeps well fed I don't complain, but I feel for personal writing, it would be easier for me to learn and grow writing a genre I love, even if it makes the work more unpopular by princople.

Have you any suggestions?

P.S.

Thanks for answering the questions above, that's some really great advice; advice I will be readily taking

MuadDib - Candlekeep Inn Barhand
Go to Top of Page

Shadowlord
Master of Realmslore

USA
1298 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  07:00:20  Show Profile  Visit Shadowlord's Homepage  Send Shadowlord an AOL message Send Shadowlord a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmm, I have a question. Do you simply come up with great characters, such as Pharaun Mizzrym and Aeron sar Randal on the spot, or are you one such person who takes hours to intricately plot each and every detail about your characters. Just wondering.

Best Wishes,
Shadowlord

The Chosen of Vhaeraun
"Nature is governed by certain immutable rules. By virtue of claw and fang, the lion will always triumph over the goat.Given time, the pounding of the sea will wear away the stone. And when dark elves mingle with the lighter races, the offspring invariably take after the dark parent. It is all much the same. That which is greater shall prevail. Our numbers increase steadily, both through birth and conquest. The dark elves are the dominant race, so ordained by the gods." Ka'Narlist of the Ilythiiri.
Go to Top of Page

Painwraith
Acolyte

3 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  12:54:11  Show Profile  Visit Painwraith's Homepage Send Painwraith a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Richard you are a star!

You have outlined some good points there, its a fantastic opportunity to be able to speak to a writer of your calibre. Its not often you get to plug published writers for information on the market.

I myself am attempting both horror and fantasy. I am even considering some Science Fiction at the moment.

When I get the chance to write I usually find that I am better in the mornings, I am more alert and can reach 'the zone' easier. I can reach a state (the zone)where I will write and write and the ideas will flow like a river. the problem I have is that when I stop and call it a day I lose that thread. I can remember what I was doing and the ideas, I just find it really difficult to catch that thread again. I have many half finished bits of litrature dotted around, hehe.

What process do you usually follow to write?

Do you sit down and know what your going to write or do you go for a long walk or spend a day or two in the quite, go to the park, go down the pub,<insert idea creation activity here>?

Does the ideas run you over like a train, come slowly or do they come from a guideline that you have written or been given?

Once you are finished with the first Manuscript do you store it to cool for a bit before going back and refilling the gramatical errors and cutting out the bits that dont work, filling in the holes, etc?

How many rewrites do you do?

which stage do you get someone to proof read it and who is it?

How long per manuscript do you allow?

ohh whos yer favorite writer?

And my final question (its a nasty one):

Have you ever and if so how many times written something looked at it and thought 'What the bloody hell was I on when writing that rubbish?'.

I find myself coming up with ideas out of the blue. ill be walking along on the London underground then suddenly BAM an idea will hit me in the face and not get out of my head till I write it down, after that it'll stay there at the back of my head for a bit then go away. once that happens ive lost it. My friends say I am good and to finish it and send it off but I never quite manage it. its a block that I have to get over.. dman that evil block of doom... need a chisel and mallet.....

Luckily I work at a job that I get lots of free time (makes me look busy when I write! shhh dont tell the boss).

Thank you again Richard and all the best.. ill be buying your books from now on..

So get writing and stop chatting on the net!
*cracks whip*

Painwraith

Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  18:31:41  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
MuadDib: In my opinion, there's no real answer to your question other than your own personal goals and inclinations. If you really want to sell your stuff, see your book in the store, and make some bucks, and your instincts tell you the best way for you to do that is to strive mightily to turn out work targeted straight at a particular genre or market, then go for it. But only if you'll still be having fun. If going that route turns the writing process into something that's obnoxious for you, then don't bother. You can probably make more money doing something else.
If what you really want to do is turn out highly personal, idiosyncratic, non-categorizable work, then do that. It may sell and turn out to be a glorious popular success despite (or because of) its quirkiness. But if editors decline to buy it because they feel it's not commercial, or it doesn't attract a readership, no fair whining. You knew you were writing it for yourself first and foremost when you started.
I do think that writing is communication, and that whether you're abiding by all the conventions of a particular genre or doing your own strange, unique thing, there are certain principles of craft that faciliate communication, and it behooves any writer to master them. A story targeted right at a particular audience or market will still fail to please if it reads like a chimp wrote it in the dirt with a stick. Conversely, the quirkiest, most eccentric and highly personal story may please a great many readers, if told with competence and style.

Shadowlord: It's somewhere in the middle. I give some thought to who the characters are before I start. They don't just leap at me out of nowhere as I type. But I'm not one of those writers who routinely work up the character's genealogy ten generations back and his life history in exhaustive detail before I slap any words on the screen. That approach obviously works great for some, but it doesn't appeal to me.

Painwraith: I work Monday through Friday. I get up in the morning, review and polish my output from the day before (this helps you pick up the thread of the story again and warms up your writing muscles) and then turn out my quota of new pages. Then I go through them and give them a first polish. That's my wriitng day (except when it isn't over yet; see below.)

Mostly, once I'm going on a story, I know the gist of what I'm going to write that day when I sit down to work. Between stories, of course, I have to come up with an idea for the next one. And sometimes I get stuck in the middle, and need a day or two to figure out what happens next. I find that driving, walking, and working out at the gym are all conducive to getting my imagination into gear.

My ideas evolve slowly. I get the germ of one, then mull it over, gradually adding in all the elements it needs to make it a viable story concept.
With shared-world writing (like FR stories), you're often assigned a topic (like dragons, or a story that ties into The Return of the Archwizards trilogy some way, somehow), but beyond that, you usually have to come up with your own plot.

Sometimes I put a manuscript away for a while before giving it a final going-over, but often I just work till I'm done and that's that.

I revise as I go, a piece at a time, putting each chapter into what I hope is final form as I finish it. Usually I revise and polish it six to eight times.

I don't have anybody else proofread my stuff. I just hope that, with the aid of Spellcheck, I catch most of the errors myself.

I write a set number of pages per day. Currently, seven is a comfortable number for me (it's around 1750 words.) You do the math extrapolating from that, and you know how long a particular story is likely to take.
So I have that estimate in the back of my mind, but I don't usually think in terms of allowing a certain amount of time per story. Although often I know that I need to make a deadline my editor has given me.

There are many writers I admire. It's very hard to pick just one as my absolute favorite, but perhaps it would be Fritz Leiber.

Finally, sure, sometimes everybody writes some crap. That's just part of the process.
Go to Top of Page

Lord Nasher Alagondar
Seeker

USA
27 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  18:40:14  Show Profile  Visit Lord Nasher Alagondar's Homepage Send Lord Nasher Alagondar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One Small Question: Did you come up with the characters for WotSQ: Dissolution yourself, or were they *dictated* to you by Wizards of the (Sword) Coast? If not, does that mean that you initially "set down" the characters for the other authors to use?

"Very well, I am admittedly not as traditional in my methodology as you are. So what? The end result is all the same: target ceases to exist. If I happen to use a bit more flair, and a little less stealth to go about it, so be it. If drow were truly meant to skulk within the shadows, we'd not have stark white hair, now would we? Long gone are my days of creeping in the shadows and hiding in wait. Those means are for beings of a cowardly bent. We Bladesingers are risen above such dribble. So saying, it is boldly into the fray I shall go; if I should come to meet my maker, I will at least have done so with a sense of pride and dignity that your ilk will never truly understand. Now go back to hiding in your dark recesses, pathetic mewling...."~Vesz'aun Auvryath
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  22:15:42  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
At the big meeting where several of us created the overall outline for the six-book sequence, we decided that among the central characters established in Dissolution would be a Master of Sorcere, a Master of Melee-Magthere, an envoy type from Ched Nassad, and a guide type from the Menzoberranzan mercenary outfit (which I don't remember how to spell and am feeling too lazy to look up.) But we said very little about what sorts of people they would be. It was left to me to concoct actual characters with actual life histories and personalities to fill the roles, so it's probably fair to say I created Pharaun, Ryld, Faeryl, and Valas (although I didn't have room to develop Valas all that much; the writers who came after me made him more three-dimensional that I could.)
Gromph, Quenthel, and Triel were preexisting characters. Pharaun's mom was mentioned in the Menzoberranzan boxed-set gaming reference, but, I believe, had never been presented as an actual fictional character before. Ditto for the characters Quenthel confers with in the Spelltower.
I think that most everybody else in the book, I made up completely. If I'm mistaken about that, I apologize for not giving credit where it's due. Unfortunately, my memory isn't always great, and I've written six novels since Dissolution.
Go to Top of Page

Cherrn
Learned Scribe

Denmark
323 Posts

Posted - 19 Feb 2004 :  22:43:02  Show Profile Send Cherrn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Deep philosophical questions. I'm game.


Would the Christian god Jahve be able to create a rock so heavy that he himself would be unable to lift it ? If so, then how come he can't ? He is omnipotent after all.

How's that for a philosophical question Mr Byers ?

A wise man from Calimport once told me: "If a merchant puts sand in the flask of oil he's trying to sell you, then he isn't trying to sell you sand..."
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  02:05:45  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Actually, Chern, that's a theological question, but I'll tackle it.
The answer is plainly yes and no simultaneously. Otherwise God isn't omnipotent, as we know He is, by definition. And if you claim that it's logical nonsense for the answer to be yes and no simultaneously, tough. If God's truly omnipotent, then that quality transcends logic as it does all other limitations.
Maybe, instead of deep philosphical questions, I should have said, advice to the lovelorn.
Anyway, I'm feeling good. I just completed the second book of The Year of Rogue Dragons. You can bet I'm slackin' off tomorrow.
Go to Top of Page

Lord Nasher Alagondar
Seeker

USA
27 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  02:17:04  Show Profile  Visit Lord Nasher Alagondar's Homepage Send Lord Nasher Alagondar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

At the big meeting where several of us created the overall outline for the six-book sequence, we decided that among the central characters established in Dissolution would be a Master of Sorcere, a Master of Melee-Magthere, an envoy type from Ched Nassad, and a guide type from the Menzoberranzan mercenary outfit (which I don't remember how to spell and am feeling too lazy to look up.) But we said very little about what sorts of people they would be. It was left to me to concoct actual characters with actual life histories and personalities to fill the roles, so it's probably fair to say I created Pharaun, Ryld, Faeryl, and Valas (although I didn't have room to develop Valas all that much; the writers who came after me made him more three-dimensional that I could.)
Gromph, Quenthel, and Triel were preexisting characters. Pharaun's mom was mentioned in the Menzoberranzan boxed-set gaming reference, but, I believe, had never been presented as an actual fictional character before. Ditto for the characters Quenthel confers with in the Spelltower.
I think that most everybody else in the book, I made up completely. If I'm mistaken about that, I apologize for not giving credit where it's due. Unfortunately, my memory isn't always great, and I've written six novels since Dissolution.


Actually, one of the characters from Spelltower Xorlarrin is Zeerith Q'Xorlarrin, and she is not new. The mercenary outfit is Bregan D'aerthe. But I forgive you.......

"Very well, I am admittedly not as traditional in my methodology as you are. So what? The end result is all the same: target ceases to exist. If I happen to use a bit more flair, and a little less stealth to go about it, so be it. If drow were truly meant to skulk within the shadows, we'd not have stark white hair, now would we? Long gone are my days of creeping in the shadows and hiding in wait. Those means are for beings of a cowardly bent. We Bladesingers are risen above such dribble. So saying, it is boldly into the fray I shall go; if I should come to meet my maker, I will at least have done so with a sense of pride and dignity that your ilk will never truly understand. Now go back to hiding in your dark recesses, pathetic mewling...."~Vesz'aun Auvryath
Go to Top of Page

SiriusBlack
Great Reader

USA
5517 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  05:39:59  Show Profile  Visit SiriusBlack's Homepage Send SiriusBlack a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

so it's probably fair to say I created Pharaun, Ryld, Faeryl, and Valas (although I didn't have room to develop Valas all that much; the writers who came after me made him more three-dimensional that I could.)


Thank you especially for Pharaun, the fashion conscious dark elven male who has been a joy to read from your book onwards.

<Sigh> And a plea to the gods of writing that he doesn't perish when this series concludes.
Go to Top of Page

Adrian Moonbow
Seeker

Denmark
64 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  06:44:47  Show Profile  Visit Adrian Moonbow's Homepage Send Adrian Moonbow a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Actually, Chern, that's a theological question, but I'll tackle it.
The answer is plainly yes and no simultaneously. Otherwise God isn't omnipotent, as we know He is, by definition. And if you claim that it's logical nonsense for the answer to be yes and no simultaneously, tough. If God's truly omnipotent, then that quality transcends logic as it does all other limitations.
Maybe, instead of deep philosphical questions, I should have said, advice to the lovelorn.
Anyway, I'm feeling good. I just completed the second book of The Year of Rogue Dragons. You can bet I'm slackin' off tomorrow.



What!?! That means you're not done with that trilogy yet? Get back to writing the last installment, you author you.

I like your 'theo-logical' answer, though.

"I would have wanted not to die.
I would have wanted never to grow up!"
-Quidam
Go to Top of Page

Painwraith
Acolyte

3 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  09:09:12  Show Profile  Visit Painwraith's Homepage Send Painwraith a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Excellent. cheers mate for your positive feedback.

One Final question I promise!

Editors and publishers, do you just send in your full manuscript or just a few chapters? How can you tell a good editor/publisher? and most of all what should you be careful of trying to find one?

I must say I was beginning to think possibly I should leave my writing, Now you have made me think again. Thanks muchly.

Maybe youll see my books on the shelves of the bookstore one day. If I get published that is.

if you do buy one for me

Edited by - Painwraith on 20 Feb 2004 09:10:02
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 20 Feb 2004 :  16:08:38  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
It varies, Painwraith, depending on the publisher, the project, and how far along you are in the submission process.
If you're trying to sell a short story to a magazine or anthology, generally, you send the editor the whole thing (although sometimes, if it's a theme anthology, the edtior may ask you to run your idea by him for approval before you write the story. This keeps two writers from working with very similar ideas, which could conceivably happen if the anthology itself is based a one particular concept that serves as everyone's starting point.)
If you're trying to sell a novel, sometimes book editors ask to see the whole thing, sometimes, initially, an outline and sample chapters. You'll give the guy whatever he asks for. Before sending either one, though, I recommend sending the editor a query letter, then laying your actual submission on him after he writes back indicating his willingness to look at it. I say this because the turn-around time on novel submissions can be, in my experience, very, very, very long, and you want to try to beat this tendency by getting your manuscript straight to the book editor's desk instead of into what's called the slush pile (unsolicited material that nobody asked to see and nobody cares about.) You do this by eliciting a positive response to your query letter. Now, your stuff is no longer unsolicited. You suckered the editor in asking you to send it to him. You may still have a long wait before you hear back, but if you're lucky, not a very, very, very long one.
It's hard to identify a good publisher, because there's so much chaos and randomness in the system. The publisher who does right by you may turn around and treat me shabbily, or at least do things that make it seem that way from my self-interested perspective.
Obviously, the publisher who pays you a lot is better than the one who pays you a little. The publisher who promotes your stuff is better than the one who doesn't. The publisher who offers you a decent contract is better than the one who tries to screw you on subsidiary rights, option clauses, and the like. The publisher who has faith in your ability to sell a lot of books over the long haul and is willing to stick with you is better than the one who'll drop you if your first novel tanks.
But you know, so what, because it's almost impossible for a beginner to assess this stuff going in, and you probably won't be in a position to pick and choose anyway. As a practical matter, unless you're a big-shot writer and every publisher in the world is drooling at the prospect of signing you, a good publisher is often defined as one that actually, finally wants to buy your stuff, in contrast to the others who've already turned you down.
Starting out, you don't need to be wary of going with any major publisher, although there may be problematic clauses in their standard boilerplate contract you'll want to try and negotiate away.
If you're trying to sell to a small press, things become a bit more problematic. Although there are many fine and honorable small presses, there are also a few who would benefit by introducing a little more professionalism into their operations. Try to find out how often the publisher actually succeeds in producing a book, and what outlets he has for marketing it when he does (unlike TOR or Knopf, some small presses have trouble getting bookstores to carry their product.)
Even when signing with a small press, it's nice to get some advance money, although they don't all pay it, and depending on your situation, you may be willing to pass it up. But never sign a contract that lets them have the copyright (unless you're working in a shared world that's rightfully their intellectual property), never sign a contract that lets them hold the rights to the property forevermore, never pay them a fee to consider your work for publication, and never sign a contract that requires you to give advance money back to them if your novel performs poorly.
Honestly, I would say, never give a publisher money for any reason, but I know some people will disagree with me on this, and some folks have self-published books and made them successful. But if you're adventurous enough to go this route, understand what's really happening. Often, you're simply paying to have your book printed and bound. The guy who did the job takes no responsibility and has no interest in its fate thereafter. YOU are your publisher, and if anything is going to be done to market the book, you will have to do every bit of it yourself. And it's not necessarily going to be easy to get the big chains like Barnes & Noble and Waldenbooks to carry your book (which is what you desperately want.) They turn self-published material all the time. Also, be aware that self-publishing won't make the world of professional writing regard you as a pro yourself. Not until after you make your self-published project a big success, and maybe not even then.
So, my advice (and again, others will disagree) is, don't self-publish. Strive mightily to find somebody else to publish your stuff, and if you can't, write a new project and look for somebody else to publish that.
Go to Top of Page

Cherrn
Learned Scribe

Denmark
323 Posts

Posted - 21 Feb 2004 :  23:59:03  Show Profile Send Cherrn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Lee Byers

Actually, Chern, that's a theological question, but I'll tackle it.
The answer is plainly yes and no simultaneously. Otherwise God isn't omnipotent, as we know He is, by definition. And if you claim that it's logical nonsense for the answer to be yes and no simultaneously, tough. If God's truly omnipotent, then that quality transcends logic as it does all other limitations.
Maybe, instead of deep philosphical questions, I should have said, advice to the lovelorn.
Anyway, I'm feeling good. I just completed the second book of The Year of Rogue Dragons. You can bet I'm slackin' off tomorrow.



*note to self, don't ask Mr Byers a question like that again*

A wise man from Calimport once told me: "If a merchant puts sand in the flask of oil he's trying to sell you, then he isn't trying to sell you sand..."
Go to Top of Page

MuadDib
Senior Scribe

South Africa
442 Posts

Posted - 22 Feb 2004 :  09:51:56  Show Profile  Visit MuadDib's Homepage  Click to see MuadDib's MSN Messenger address Send MuadDib a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you so much for your replies!

Man that's some good stuff. Even got a free lesson in theology to go with it. Awesome

MuadDib - Candlekeep Inn Barhand
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 09 Mar 2004 :  17:43:25  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I received my author copies of The Rage (The Year of Rogue Dragons, Book One) today. So I would imagine that those of you who are interested (please, PLEASE, be interested) will be able to find it in a bookstore pretty soon.
This is the first time that I've seen Matt Stawicki's cover painting full size (well, paperback size, anyway.) It's very, very nice, and captures the spirit of the trilogy perfectly. Hope the original's on exhibit in the GenCon art show this year.
From glancing inside the book, I see that the Realms of the Dragons anthology is scheduled for December, 2004. I thought it was due out before the end of the year, but I wasn't actually sure.
And that's my bit of news.
Go to Top of Page

CurseLord
Seeker

35 Posts

Posted - 09 Mar 2004 :  23:05:09  Show Profile  Visit CurseLord's Homepage Send CurseLord a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Don't worry, I am very much looking foward to The Rage. The small little preview at the end of The Black Bouquet(which you did an excellent job with, I really enjoyed that novel) really piqued my intrest for it. I do hope my bookstore has it when it comes out, because I am still waiting for Venom's Taste.

Also, just out of curiousity(because I am a psych major in college), I was wondering if your MA in Psychology influences your writting in any way.

Edited by - CurseLord on 09 Mar 2004 23:07:49
Go to Top of Page

Richard Lee Byers
Forgotten Realms Author

USA
1768 Posts

Posted - 10 Mar 2004 :  01:44:00  Show Profile  Visit Richard Lee Byers's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Honestly, Curselord, I don't think it does. It seems like it ought to, but in practice, I've found that there's not much overlap between the empathic way a fiction writer needs to understand a character and the analytic way a psychologist looks at behavior.
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 67 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Candlekeep Forum © 1999-2017 Candlekeep.com Go To Top Of Page
Snitz Forums 2000