Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writing Advice by Cherry Adair

New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair was invited for a chat with our RWA chapter last November. She is a fantastic mentor, generous with her time and advice and genuinely cares for the careers of junior and newbie writers.

–Own server on
–Change password periodically to avoid hijacking of site
–Have copies of all your files
–Hire a graphics person
–Draw up template pages to make deployment easy

Career Plan
–Plan a career before launching a career
–Goals & strategies
–Number of pages per day & number of books per year
–Write 44 weeks/year at five days/week implies how many pages/week
–By Sunday night, you have to have your pages completed. If Cherry is done Friday night, then she has the weekend free. Write today's pages and then only does she tweak yesterday's work
–For category, send out a proposal (5-pg synopsis + 3 chapters) every three months
–Five-year plan: get an agent, dollar amount of money to make, number of pages to write every year

Take the first best agent who loves you and loves your book. For Cherry it was Nancy Yost. Don't hold out for the ideal agent. Try to look for the junior-most agent at the firm. She will be hungry and will try hard to sell. Even for category, try to have an agent. Cherry cultivates junior agents for new Seattle writers. Cultivate Cherry. :) Cherry advises the Jane Rosterosen agency highly. Scrutinize every new publishing contract carefully to be sure that it serves both your career and your publisher well in the long term. Your agent is not your friend. It's a business relationship, so be professional with each other.

Category Plan
–Send out a proposal (5-pg synopsis + 3 chapters) every three months
–Month One
– –A -> write proposal (synopsis + 3 chapters)
–Month Two
– –B -> write proposal
– –A -> send proposal
–Month Three
– –C -> write proposal
– –B -> send proposal
– –A -> write book

Your Pen Name
Last name should start with first six letters of the alphabet so your books are at eye-level at a bookstore. Your first and last names should be small so the font can be bigger on the book cover.

– Two-three weeks for plotting
– Synopsis from plot in two hours
– Character sketches
– Aim all dialogue towards establishing POV, what they're wearing, what the point is, scene setting
– Master template
– Research includes: paint chips and fabric swatches
– Pick one genre and one story and write the damn book first. Get it in your brain. Give yourself a year
– When you read a book, read first as a reader, then read as a writer. Copy-type stuff from a favorite author's favorite writing to understand the rhythm

"Children's cries are marriage music," according to B.E.'s New Dictionary of the Terms of the Canting Crew (1699).


Evangeline said...

You know...I've begun to take this sort of advice with a grain of salt--esp with the rwachange debate. You never can tell who will break out, whether they first published in 1989 or 2009, but the market has changed so drastically that I always wonder how feasible career advice from long-time veteran authors is for those of us who are going to be published from 2009 & beyond. But I do appreciate a piece of the strategy Adair uses to remain focused, on schedule and clear-sighted towards a goal.

Keira Soleore said...

Cherry's advice works for print categories, though I hear she's going to be applying aggressiveness this year and next to single-titles for three different print publishers.

The entire agent advice can be skipped for now, since eBook contracts are usually negotiated between pub and author. However, the agents will catch up as eBook business grows, and then the advice will be relevant again.