Write It Sideways

Q&A with Tracy Marchini on Her Book, ‘Pub Speak’

Please welcome freelance writer and editorial consultant Tracy Marchini, who is here to chat with us about her new book, Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms, available in paperback at Amazon and as an ebook at SmashwordsBarnes and NobleAmazonAmazon UK and Amazon DE.

Thanks for joining us Tracy! This looks like a great resource.

1. What can writers hope to gain from buying a copy of “Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms”?

Thank you! I hope readers (or users, I suppose, for a reference book) get a sense of the sort of rights and opportunities available to authors and publishers.

Certainly, if you’re an author with a contract in hand, the book would be extremely helpful as you read through your contract. Whether you have an agent or not, it’s important to have an understanding of what you’re signing.

But it’s also a great resource for beginners, covering the difference between the novel, novella and novelette, or a picture book versus an early chapter book.

2. Can you tell us a bit about your background working in the writing and publishing industry?

I worked for Curtis Brown, Ltd. for four years before I left to start working as an editorial consultant.  While I was with the agency, I had the pleasure of handling the audio rights and providing author care for authors such as Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Katherine Paterson and Wendy Corsi Staub (just to name a few.) I was lucky to be at the agency when the discussion about electronic rights had just become front and center, and the industry was just starting to talk about the right price for ebooks. I’m also very excited about The Creative Company’s LINE-UP FOR YESTERDAY by Ogden Nash, which I concepted and sold while I was there.

Now I’m working more closely with authors who are preparing their works for submission, and it’s great fun to see my client’s work improve with each revision!

I’ve also worked as a newspaper correspondent and a children’s book reviewer, as a freelance copywriter and non-fiction book proposal writer. As a writer, I’ve been awarded multiple grants for my children’s fiction and have been accepted for publication by Highlights and in Adams Media’s upcoming BAD AUSTEN anthology.  (I am a bit of a Janeite, so I’m excited to have even my ‘bad austen’ published!)

3. In your experience, what are some of the greatest misconceptions aspiring authors have about the publishing industry?

I think it depends on the author. Some authors feel like once they sell their first book, the rest is a piece of cake (it’s not.) Some feel that agents and editors take great pleasure in rejecting their work (they don’t.)  Others might feel like selling a book is an instant get-rich-quick idea (it’s definitely not.) Some feel like all that editors and agents do in a day is read queries, and so it’s ridiculous that the wait time is so long. (Reading is usually done on personal time – like their weekends.)

I think that the above misconceptions are usually eliminated by researching online, and most aspiring authors that I’ve come across have really done their homework, which is great!

4. What are the most common problems you find in the query letters and manuscripts you critique?

In query letters, the most common problem I find is that the plot summary is written in a way that would raise a red flag to the agent or editor, or hints at a potential problem with the manuscript.

In manuscripts, I think that chapter arcs are one of the most difficult things for writers to fully understand, and sometimes one of the hardest things to teach someone. The second most common issues are logic problems – for example, times where a character does something that doesn’t make sense to the reader, or a world building contradiction.

5. You write picture books, early chapter books, MG and YA fiction. Have you tried your hand at adult fiction, too?

I have written for adults, but I love writing for children. I love the fun, whimsical possibilities in picture books, and that period in adolescence where you suddenly start to see your parents as flawed people instead of demi-gods.

I also love that kids and teens can be so brutally honest, but in different ways. Kids say something honest with innocence, not knowing that it might be rude or funny in some way. Whereas teens don’t suffer fools lightly, which it great and terrifying as a YA writer.

6. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn either about writing or publishing?

The hardest lesson that I’ve learned is that once you’ve reached one point, you immediately are looking towards the next. There’s no rest for the weary – you’re constantly thinking about your next book, next revision, next sale, next client. But with that is the concept of “publishing time” which moves at a slower pace.  It’s a strange contradiction, and I suppose there’s no easy way to learn or avoid it.  You just keep going!

Learn more about Tracy at her blog, and purchase a copy of Pub Speak: A Writer’s Dictionary of Publishing Terms as a paperback at Amazon and as an ebook at SmashwordsBarnes and NobleAmazonAmazon UK and Amazon DE.