Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Words of Wisdom to Would-be Writers

Okay, recently, people have been sending me their Oz stories to be evaluated. I'm always glad to hear of new Oz books, but I can't help everyone.

Of course, I have my own life to live. Believe it or not, I do spend time off of my computer, doing things that don't have to do with Oz. I work a job, meet friends, go shopping, all that good stuff. That's not to say I wouldn't take time out to read a good Oz story, though...

Another matter is that if I tried to help everyone with their tales, even if I tried not to, traces of one might end up in another by some suggestions I make.

Yet another matter is that I am currently working on several Oz projects, including a book project that I have some input for, so I kind of have my hands full. I like to help people, but there's only so much I can do, and I'm not the only Oz fan out there who can help. (And probably, not even the best.)

And now the most important matter: the big problem is that these writers send me their stories unsolicited. When you send someone a story, be it a friend, stranger, publisher, etc., it is well-advised you ask them before sending one single word of your work. If it's a friend, no matter how good of a friend they are, they might not be interested at that point of time. If it's someone who you're not very familiar with, you could be asking for trouble. They could steal your story and use the plot or characters or other content. Most publishers and other such businesses will either discard or return unsolicited material without looking at it. If they come out with something that is in any way similar to what you came up with, they know you could sue. Even though they probably have the better/trickier lawyers, they really don't want to deal with it.

Now, if you want to send me or anyone else your story, here's what you should do:

1. Write the intended recipient first and ask if they would be interested in reading or helping you with your story.
2. If they say they will, send them the story.
3. Don't include notes about your story. It should be able to stand on it's own without prior or additional knowledge. If your story needs to have attached notes to explain certain items, then you kind of failed in your storytelling. It might be a good idea to rewrite before sending it. (A lot of good Oz stories, for example, briefly mention the origins of characters and other elements in just enough detail so as not to lose the reader. This practice was started by Baum himself.)
4. Don't be pushy and expect an immediate response. Give the person their time to read and/or evaluate your work.
5. If they give you negative criticism, don't take it personally. Nobody produces Grade A material all the time, and you are no exception. Rather, be receptive to their criticism and try to learn from it.
6. Don't publicly lose your cool. You'll come off as immature and ignorant and stories about you can spread until you're practically blacklisted.

So, anyways, there you go. Like I said, I am always interested in new Oz stories. I might be busy, though...

EDIT: Eric Gjovaag of the Wonderful Website of Oz (and his own blog), suggests you check out section 8 of his online FAQ. If you're trying to get your story published, this contains some very useful information.


Eric said...

So you get 'em too, huh? I adopted many of your policies years ago, and it's fallen off big time ever since I put a section of advice for would-be Oz writers in my FAQ. Go ahead, send them to section 8 of my FAQ for some more advice, from another perspective (and I've already had one book published).

Jared said...

And a good book it is, too...

I read through your section 8 again, and some parts sound like I quoted them... I didn't intentionally copy from the FAQ, but I wouldn't be surprised if, after having read it so many times, I remembered some parts.