Looking Sharp

Hey Bloggos,

Maybe it’s premature. Maybe I’m counting chickens before they’re hatched, or whatever other idiom you’d like to apply to this situation. But today I took professional Author Headshots. 

My thinking was this: I am a writer seeking professional publication. I’ve worked on my craft for almost ten years, and I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last five years in particular. I ought to have photographs on my site and my social media that reflect who I am now, not who I was almost a decade ago. Plus, let’s be real. Writing isn’t just the art side of sitting down and birthing words into stories. It’s also a business, and this is one aspect of it that I was hesitant to do.

I’m not a fan of having my picture taken. I don’t photograph particularly well, and I’m really good at nitpicking my appearance in pictures. But, this was something I felt needed to be done. I wanted to have professional photographs on hand for when I might need them.

So, I contacted a friend who had recently launched her own photography business. I’ve followed her progress online, had seen her work and been wildly impressed by the skill she’d shown so early in her career.

And today we spent about an hour traipsing around downtown Salem, visiting my favorite businesses and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee. We caught up on life, talked about tattoos, my writing, her photography, and our mutual experiences working for Starbucks.

It was fun, casual, and totally worth it. But I’ll let you decide that for yourselves.

Photo credit to M.L. Photography

There are more photos, but these three are my favorite. They make me feel very pretty, and incredibly author-like. So, I’m gonna bask in this self-love for the rest of the day, and let it help me get past the fact that I’ve barely written this week.

I’ll see you all tomorrow to talk about this week, as usual.

Until then Blogland,



Week 10 Summary, Pt. 1


I am feeling so much better today! There were parts of last night where I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it. When the milk man showed up almost an hour early, for instance. Having to run back and forth, lugging up to four gallons of milk at a time was physically exhausting.

But, thankfully, my head isn’t nearly as heavy, and I no longer feel the ebbing chills of fever running along my skin. Today I feel good, just a little bit of a stuffy nose. And I am so grateful!

So, in honor of all this feeling better business, let’s talk about Write About Dragons! It’s been a long time coming, and I’m sorry for putting it off so long.

This lecture was a doozy, in true Sanderson fashion. But, he talks about a lot of important things having to do with the business end of the writing business.

So we kick off the lecture by talking briefly about the Elements of Fight Scenes. Since this is largely unrelated to the rest of the lecture, and only takes one page of notes, I’m going to be brief here.

1. Fight scenes are hard. But, there are benefits to writing them, versus fight scenes in a movie.

  • You’re able to get in the character’s head—> Thoughts & Emotions
  • Can pause—-> Far better pacing control
  • Can utilize other senses
  • And, descriptive power—> use your words!

2. Blocking needs attention. This is a screenwriting term, meaning where people are in relation to one another.

  • This is important, but don’t do it too much. AKA, don’t go into a Blow-By-Blow. You can use Blow-By-Blows, but do it sparingly. It’s not as effective as in film.
  • Be active, AKA in the moment, but be brief. And be very clear!

3. Characters Making Connections.

  • Emotion—> Use fight scenes to to characterize or world build. A fight scene can even be a mini try/fail cycle
  • The fight scene should build toward something. Think Rising Action. Don’t let your fight scene stagnate.
  • And don’t get bogged down!

And a little food for thought: what does winning cost?

Now back to the good part!

The Role of Agents & Entertainment Lawyers

In books, agents tend to have a better reputation than film and music.

What they do:

  • Publishing Partner
  • Contract Expert
  • Publishing House Expert
  • Genre Expert
  • Reputation/Gatekeeper
  • Hold Book Auctions
  • Good Editorially
  • Someone in Your Corner—–> Someone to play Bad Cop
  • Translation Rights/Foreign Rights
  • Take 15%

Brandon runs through a basic Agent Contract at this point. The contract should include details about the following:

  • Representation of Work
  • 15% of Deal Negotiated—> not of everything!
  • Termination terms—> how many days notice, etc.
  • How long can the Agent sit on the money

That last one’s interesting. See, the publisher usually sends all the money earned by your book to the Agent, then the Agent divvies it up, taking his 15%. You need to set terms for how long it can take the Agent to get your money to you. Also, this isn’t set in stone. If you really wanted to, you could have the publisher remove the 15% and send you your cut, and the Agent his. All things to consider.

Entertainment Lawyers:
You’ll most likely go the Entertainment Lawyer route if you’re Self-Publishing. I know that right now it’s all the rage, especially among the Blog Writing Community. Hopefully the following helps.

What They Do:

  • Can do many of the same things as an Agent
  • Paid Hourly
  • They are NOT going to sell your book for you
  • Contract Expert—-> Good at Bad Cop
  • Will NOT edit manuscripts

And the final option:

You can always do it yourself. Here are some things to think about if you’re considering this method.

  • It is extremely HARD to do
  • Better if you have a background in Law
  • Even better if you’re good at contracts

So, let’s take a moment to talk about keeping yourself safe.

Writer Beware: Agent Scams

You need to know that there is no License needed to be an Agent. There is no regulation. Anyone can print a business card that reads, ‘Literary Agent’. Know that. Understand that.

You also need to know that there are A LOT of Agent Scams out there. If an ‘Agent’ charges a reading fee, leave. Turn around and run. Never pay anyone to read your work.

Also keep in mind that, not all scams are intentioned that way. There are of course your legitimate thieves. The people looking to make a quick buck and rake you over the proverbial coals. But, there are also well-intentioned people who want to get into the Agent business, who love writing and reading, and writers. But, they ultimately have no idea what they’re doing.

Another thing to be aware of is the Book Mills/Editorial Mills. This is basically where you send to an Agent, and they suggest you send it to Editor X, for a small fee. Then they keep recommending edits. Until you’re lining their wallets with their ‘small fees’.

And then there is the ‘Do Nothing Agent’. Pretty much, they accept your work, and then do nothing with it. Brandon adds here that, if the Agent doesn’t live in New York, or isn’t visiting New York on a weekly basis, be leery…

A good way to protect yourself from all of the above is to go find their books. Ask them for a client list, then go to Barnes and Noble and see if those authors are on the shelves. If you can’t find the books, move on.

Also, look for an agent that represents clients in your genre.

This is a really long set of notes and I don’t want to start skimping on the details, because this is important stuff, that I think a lot of new writer’s have zero access to. So, I’m going to end here, and start a part two.