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Archive for May, 2010

I mentioned in my post last Monday that I happened to go to an Agent/Editor Day ten days ago, held by the local chapter of SCBWI.

I already shared with you my impressions from the topic discussed by Rachel Orr, the agent from Prospect Agency.

Now I present my impressions of what Margaret Miller, the other speaker for the day, had to share with all the writers gathered to hear her talk.

Margaret Miller is an editor for Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA, having moved there from Harper Collins Children’s Books in summer 2008. Authors she has worked with include Dan Gutman, Daniel Pinkwater, Philemon Sturges, Ann Rinaldi, and Kathy Lasky. At Bloomsbury, she will focus on middle grade and Young Adult fiction, with a few select picture books.

Margaret’s topic for the day was:

Working with an Editor: Your Bill of Rights – What to expect when you’re working with an editor when you, the writer, decides to submit your work directly to an editor at a publishing house without the aid of a literary agent.

Margaret basically explained the nuts and bolts of the relationship between an editor and an author at various stages of the book’s life:

  • Before a writer submits his/her manuscript to an editor.
  • When a writer gets an offer from an editor.
  • During the editing process.
  • After the editing process is finished.

She had this to say about what an editor means to an author:

  • an advisor
  • a champion
  • a therapist
  • a cheer leader
  • the one person who will read your manuscript with the utmost attention

She encouraged writers to:

  • keep their relationship with their editor professional (it means do not call her every single day, please!)
  • choose an editor who will help them to fulfill their vision for their book and
  • choose a literary agent to represent them, if possible.

One point that Margaret made in the course of her talk heartened me, because it is one aspect of the publishing industry today that keeps me awake at nights: book promotion by the author.

Let me explain.

Looks like in this technology-crazy world (sorry, I know that’s a strong statement, but isn’t it true though?), everybody’s attention is being pulled in several directions every second. So, most everyone is, whether willingly or unwillingly, trying to promote themselves and/or their products.

Authors and their books are no exception. Even if each publishing house has its own publicity and sales force, authors are expected to work hard at self-promotion and also at publicizing their books.

This includes school visits, making use of internet as a tool, book signing tours etc.

I hear everywhere these days how important it is to brand yourself, as an author, in order to promote your work. This means hosting your own web site in addition to blogging, face-booking, tweeting, and networking in all sorts of ways that you can think of.

That is all well and good, but the amount of time that an author has to put into publicizing his/her one book is time that the author spends on:

  • not working at her craft
  • not putting time into his next project
  • not working at improving her style and content
  • not networking with a very important group of people: his core critique group
  • not taking some time to relax and rejuvenate herself, before she can tackle all those ideas hammering at her brain

Yes, these all worry me.

That’s why I loved what Margaret had to say before she went on to answer questions:

It is good to network, but not networking won’t necessarily make or break your book.

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Here’s part 1 of the same post: Feminism: What Is It? – Part 1

This post may not be the best one for your little tykes at home to mull over. However, if you wish to use it as a conduit to discuss the world at large with them, then I’m glad to be of assistance!

Here are my responses to questions 4 and 5 posed at us, the five participants. Please remember that the whole debate/conversation had its basis in the article written by Charlotte Raven.

In my opinion, it is a personal choice how anyone wants to conduct oneself, but once someone gets into the public eye (as a celebrity), they become role models whether they want to or not.

They may deserve to act as they wish as individuals, but they also have a moral responsibility and accountability, at that point, that come with fame.

  • Cuban: It looks like womanhood – whatever that means, and please, contribute your own thoughts to the definition of that word – and feminism are mutual friends and foes, depending on the context and the individual. What’s your take on it?

Hema: What is womanhood? There is no one universal definition for it, because it means different things to different women. In fact, I would take it a step further and say that the word means different things to the same woman in different contexts.

Womanhood (free of all cultural connotations attached to it), for me, is basically defined by the sum of all the principles a woman holds dear.

I do not agree that depending upon the woman in question and the context in which she finds herself, feminism and womanhood are rivals.

If a woman’s view of feminism (because even this word has many layers to it) is in-line with the principles she upholds, then she could be a feminist and still be true to her definition of womanhood.

We hear every day about women (in their own confessions) who are forced to compromise their integrity, among other things, to achieve success. It is my belief that in cases such as this (where the woman has the luxury of thinking about success as opposed to survival), there has been a deviation between the woman’s ideals and her definition of success, or there wouldn’t even be a question of a compromise.

And her choice that led to the compromise is a personal one, and cannot be blamed on feminism.

  • Cuban: In the same way that market forces created the metrosexual man at the end of the 90s and beginning of the 2000s (clean-shaved chins, a more effeminate look and Brazilian waxes, although I would definitely stop at the latter), the same consumerist, publicity machine gave birth to pole-dancing, guilt-free promiscuity and alcohol-fuelled hen nights. Female liberation or misogynous Neo-colonisation?

Hema: Can we blame this new phenomenon entirely on consumerism?

This is definitely not female liberation. If it is, then it is implied that all those (majority, I would like to point out) women who refuse to embrace this so-called trend are: subjugated, down-trodden, and uncouth.

Also, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it colonization, because that would imply that the larger chunk of today’s women think that way, which is untrue. If anything, this tendency is as much a personal choice, on a case by case basis, as anything else.

And why should it be called misogynous, when women are the ones facilitating this shift, to the most extent, by choosing such a lifestyle? I blame it on a combination of: excess of love for themselves, a skewed definition of success, and the fashionable “I’m worth it” attitude going overboard.

I realize a little explanation is in order here:

My response above has been a general one about the trends in existence now (with respect to the role models that abound around us and their influence on the choices that the young make), rather than a commentary on pole-dancing for pleasure or any of the other lifestyle choices listed in the question above.

I am not well enough acquainted with these and so would not profess to have any informed opinions about them, except that they are not for me.

To view how the other four participants responded to these two questions, tune in to Cuban’s blog!

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