Why first drafts suck, Part One

Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. I have been thinking about doing this for a while and since I am on vacation from my current job, I felt like now is the time for me to take advantage of this opportunity to get some posts done. One of the posts I am doing today comes in two parts because part of my manuscript for my thesis class one was broken up into ten thousand word increments for the first course. The second class I am taking now is the same way and we have to have a total of 50,000 to 80,000 words written before I get to the third part of the class, which involves rewriting the book.

So, I decided to do a post on the notes my professor gave me when it came to writing the 10,000 word requirement on the first draft of my fourth book, A Phiman’s Betrayal. Here is what she said about the story in the first round:

Hi Dominique~

I really like the concept of your world. I love that there are rules to magic and shape-changing. I also love that there’s magic in addition to the shape-changing. It’s clear that you have a very good sense of your world and how it works. 

I did have some difficulties, however. The first is that I didn’t get much sense of the world. I think part of the issue is that you’re so familiar with it that you think you’ve conveyed more than you have. I needed more worldbuilding, more sensory detail. I didn’t get a sense of what anything looked like, the smells, the textures, and so on. I needed to be more anchored and you’ve got a really unique world that you need to showcase a bit more. 

I really had a hard time with how dramatic the relationships were. That’s partly because they focused on surface things and not the deeper emotions. E. finds J cheating on her. He’s her fiance. All she seems to focus on is that he cheated with a man. There’s no real sense of the deep betrayal by someone she loved. The questioning of her own judgement. The sense of loss, which, because it coincides with her non-biological mother’s death, means that the sense of loss is going to be HUGE. But she’s only reacting on the surface. And her feelings for Liam seem completely wrong in the context. 

Then when Liam kisses her, right after she’s found her fiance has betrayed her, she doesn’t really acknowledge that she’s doing to Wen what Shawn did to her. That she’s as bad or worse than J because she’s doing the same thing. Likewise, Liam dismisses how he acts, though he condemn’s J for the same behavior. I find all of this difficult to buy. 

Because of the lack of reactions, the emotions and actions they do demonstrate seem shallow and even juvenile. I mean juvenile in the teenage sense of things. Super dramatic and yet over relatively unimportant things. They are missing the important issues

You do a lot of telling rather than showing. I especially noticed it when it came to talking about feelings and relationships. Because these feelings are told and don’t seem to match in terms of actions, they don’t ring true. Then J is upset because Shawn has Wen in the house and immediately jumps to a cheating conclusion. I don’t understand why.  Again, feels more teenagery than not. And because of all the concentration on the potential cheating with everyone, you lose the tension from the threat of attackers and the danger they are in. The death of the mother and the attack on E seem almost like an afterthought. That needs to be more central. 

I really don’t buy the way Liam is with E. It’s fast and given that E has just come out of a relationship, he’d want to comfort her, not move in on her. At least not yet. And he’d have to know that betraying Wen would definitely not go over well. And when he grabs her phone and kisses her, it feels like it’s abusive than not. Controlling. It makes him unlikeable. So does his demands that he be the one to protect her and no one else can help. That’s incredibly selfish and controlling, not to mention arrogant. 

Wen turns on E and L and becomes bloodthirsty really fast. I have a hard time buying it. Again, it’s the shallowness of the reaction. They cheated on me, so I’m going to kill them. It’s way over the top. 

I think you need better motivations for characters and more realistic reactions. 

Some more minor things: You have them use each other’s names a lot. That’s not something people tend to do. I’d reduce that. You also have quite a few random verb tense shifts, spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues. You want to clean those up

You should also have a look at dialog formatting. Only the speaker’s actions and thoughts can be in the paragraph containing the speaker’s speech. When another person speaks or acts or thinks, they need a new paragraph. You’ve got some mashing up and that makes things a bit confusing. 

I know that all these comments may seem daunting, and probably are, but you have a lot of great stuff going on here and you just need to sharpen and bring things out a bit more. Basically it’s drafty, just as it should be.

After you get a chance to assimilate this information, I’d love to have a conference with you via Zoom or phone. Let me know if that’s something you’re interested in and we can set it up.

That’s it for Part One of why first drafts suck. Check back in soon for part two.

Dominique Gibson

Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/ for more information.

Helpful Tips for Authors: Ways on getting an Agent

Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. I recently was scanning through some bloggers website through WordPress and I found an article that I think self-published authors need to be aware of when it comes to grabbing the attention of a literary agent. There are ways in order to do this and I found this article to be extremely helpful for self-published authors who still dream of landing a literary agent. You can check out the link down below.

How to land a Literary Agent for a self-published book

Hope you have a great day!

Dominique Gibson

The Latest Episode of The Bunmens: A Truson S.E.T. Story

Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. So, I usually have a single episode out every Monday when it comes to posting them on Kindle Vella. Unfortunately, I was not able to post this week’s episode for Monday, August 22nd, 2021 because I wasn’t able to click on the date on the for the schedule release date for this week. It would only allow me to post it for this Thursday, August 26th, 2021. The conclusion? I had no other choice but to post this week’s episode to be released on Thursday.

Bummer.

Anyways, if you are still interested in reading the previous episodes until then, click on the link below for more information on Kindle Vella. Episode Eight will be released this Thursday.

Have a great day.

The Bunmens: Kindle Vella

The Bunmens: A Truson S.E.T. Story

Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/ for more information.

Talking about the Six-Figure Advance (Part Two)

Hi! Dominique Gibson is back with another post. So I just recently did a post about the six-figure and even seven-figure advance for a debut author who has no social media presence, no following, nothing but who ends up scoring a “major deal” in the publishing world with a big five publisher. My professor decided to add some more additional information about how the publishing industry really works and if it’s something an author want to consider in the future. Did you miss out on part one of this post? Click down on the link below for more information about what I discussed in part one of the six-figure advance:

Talking about the Six-Figure Advance (Part One)

Here is my professor’s response to the discussion about the six-figure advance:

  • 1. Whenever a publisher buys the rights to a book (they don’t buy the book itself), they do a Profit and Loss statement. This allows them to figure out what they think they will make and offer an advance to the author. If they think it will be a “big” book, they’ll plan to throw promotional and marketing money at it to help it go big. That will also impact how much they offer. 
  • 2. Advances are not paid out in a lump sum. They are paid out in three and sometimes more payments. The first is usually on signing the contract. The second is usually when you’ve turned in the revised draft (so after you’ve gone through the editorial process and the editor has accepted it as ready to move on in the publication process). The third is upon publication. Given that it can take more than a year from signing to publication, that advance is looking smaller and smaller in terms of keeping body and soul together and roof overhead. 
  • 3. Publishers offer an advance based on what they think they will sell in the first six months to a year. Obviously you will sell long after that, but they focus on that first year. Be aware that even if you don’t earn out your advance, they will still have made money. 
  • 4. If your contract is for more than one book and they’ve managed to slip through “basket accounting” on you, then that means that you will not see any royalties until after all the books have been released and you’ve earned out. That can be years. Separate accounting is when a book earns out and you start earning royalties on it, even if the next books don’t earn out. That way you will have a revenue stream. 
  • 5. Publishing is evolving, but it used to be that some publishers would start new authors in hardback and then cancel the contract or not buy any more books if those hardbacks didn’t sell enough, or if the subsequent mass market paperback didn’t sell. Putting new authors in hardback means that people have to spend a lot of money on the risk that they won’t like the book. Some genres have readers who will do that. Other genres (like romance, and urban fantasy, cozy mysteries, and so on), have readers who will not spend that much on a book. 
  • 6. If the publisher hypes you and gets your name out there, or if you have a following from a social media platform or from short story writing or some other work, you will already have fans, even if you’ve not published a novel. But that’s not really what Dominique is talking about. 
  • Now my questions are: what are you thoughts on the process? What would you like to have happen as you set out publishing your first novels? (some of you have publications already, but I think you can still answer the question, since you may not have a large following yet.)
  • Remember that typically you earn 10% of cover price on hardbacks, and 8% of cover price on paperbacks. Electronic versions vary hugely and you can earn anywhere from 15% of cover price, all the way up to 50%, depending on your publisher and your contract. Remember you have to pay out 15-20% of your earnings to your agent, if you have one. Another point to make is that you get paid approximately six months after the royalty period ends.

So, out of all of the responses I’ve read from my peers in this class, the majority of them is not just thinking about doing traditional publishing alone. The majority of them stated that they either: 1. Skip past the traditional publishing route altogether and self-publish their work or 2. Go the hybrid route by self-publishing some books and have other stories sent through a traditional publisher so that they will be able to have the best of both worlds.

What do you think?

Dominique Gibson

Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/ for more information.

Talking about the Six-Figure Advance (Part One):

Hi! I’m so glad to be back posting on my website! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks considering I have been desperately trying to finish A Phiman’s Betrayal for my thesis class in my MFA program. On top of that, I have been writing and posting an episode of The Bunmens: A Truson S.E.T. Story every Monday on Kindle Vella. If you are interested in checking it out, you can click on the link down below for more information about the story. The first three episodes are FREE there so make sure you head on over to check it out!

Now, onto the reason for this post. For the longest time, I have warned debut authors about the six and seven figure advances in the publishing industry for a while. My argument stems from the fact that having a six or even seven figure advance from a major publisher without having some sort of following to back it up (social media, short stories, etc.) can end up being a potential disaster in the long run. To gain a better perspective on what I am talking about, I have included my long response of what I thought of this situation down below. Since the purpose of my second thesis class was to bring up a topic to discuss with my peers online, I decided to bring up this topic and added what I thought about it.

Hi! So, this is one subject I have been dying to talk about since I found out about the six-figure advance in the publishing industry. I wanted to know what your thoughts are when it comes to a debut author winning a seven-figure advance for their first book without any sort of following whatsoever (No social media, no big event for book signings, etc.). Frankly, I think it’s a big mistake for publishers to give a debut author a high advance without having the author have a huge following behind them. This includes the six-figure and seven-figure deals you normally see in the publishing magazines such as Publisher’s Weekly. Although it could sometimes look as if it’s a dream come true when it comes to this situation, I can’t help but to think it’s a total nightmare for a debut author without a backlist catalog. Why? Because nothing in the publishing world is guaranteed. No matter how much the publishing house may back you when it comes to this deal, the final result is left up to the readers. If the readers don’t like the book or if the book doesn’t generate enough interest for the reader to buy the book, then the chances for that author to make the return on that book is impossible. To make matters worse, that publisher just ruined the author’s chances of getting another book deal in the publishing world since the author didn’t make back the advance that the publisher gave them. In my opinion, that just sucks. As an author, I would want to have a career out of writing my books, not have it based on a ‘one hit wonder’ by a big five publishing house that doesn’t guarantee me any sales as a debut author with a seven-figure deal. If I was an author who had a huge backlist and devoted fans who I know would be reading all of my work (RaeAnne Thayne, Gena Shaowalter, Debbie Macomber, etc.) then having a seven-figure deal wouldn’t be so far fetched because I would have a huge following to back it up. I also think that publishers would be willing to take a chance on an author who has self-published their work and has decided that they want to try to be a hybrid author by sending the publisher a brand new project suited for traditional publishing. Considering what kind of backlist you have, there is a huge possibility that you might receive a bigger advance based on the sales of your self-published work in addition to sales, mailing list, social media presence, etc. but you never know. Would love for people to have thoughts when it comes to this topic.

Dominique

That’s it for this post. I will come out with part two very soon. Stay tuned.

The Bunmens: A Truson S.E.T. Story

Dominique Gibson

Dominique Gibson knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she sat down at her plastic table and wrote her first book out of sheer boredom at eight years old. Years later, she decided to go get her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College Chicago. She is obtaining her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. When not writing, she is busy teaching two year olds at a daycare center in Skokie, IL. For more information, check out her website at https://dominiquegibsonauthor.com/2018/06/23/the-journey-begins/ for more information.

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