Episode 76

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

Today we're talking about what happens after you've signed a contract with a publishing house. I'm also asking if you're a plotter or a pantser.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Anything for the Blues" by Humans Win

"You and Me in Paradise" by Humans Win

"Late Summer Night Blues" by The Turquoise Moon

"Night Crawler (Tenor Sax)" by zoze

"Summer Hop" by zoze

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

I did not think I would have a lot to say today, but as I gathered the plethora of Post-It notes on my desk to head into the recording booth, I realized just how wrong I was.

The bookstore we are visiting today has a cafe serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, so let’s head there first.

Bookstore of the Year at the:

The bookstore is expansive yet cozy thanks to thoughtful architectural and interior design. In addition to books, they sell stationery, toys, games, music, and movies. There’s even a stage for book readings. Best of all, the customer service here is top notch.

Check the show notes for a full minute of slow motion b-roll of this exquisite store.

We will return to Estonia during the holiday season to visit the Christmas market in Old Town. Maybe I’ll order something warm then. Today, however, I’ll be ordering a glass of wine to go along with the news.

We’ve got a few bidders seeking to buy Simon & Schuster. Among them are HarperCollins, a private equity firm called KKR, and a sovereign wealth fund tied to Abu Dhabi.

In an attempt to beat back the onslaught of fake online reviews, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed a new rule that would ban paying for reviews, suppressing honest reviews, selling fake social media engagement, and other deceptive internet practices. If the proposed rule is approved, violators could face substantial penalties.

The Federal Trade Commissions already considers fake reviews and other deceptive actions to be unlawful, but the new bans might allow for civil penalties, secure financial compensation to victims, and “increase deterrence against these practices."

We’re not just talking about book reviews here. The proposed rule would apply to all businesses that sell or offer products or services online, including retailers, travel companies, and restaurants. However, the rule would not apply to reviews that are clearly labeled as being paid for or sponsored.

An estimated 4% to 30% of online reviews are thought to be fake.

Last December, I told you that the longtime editor of USA Today’s bestseller list was laid off and that the list was on hiatus until this year, although the rumor was that the list was not coming back.

Well, it’s back, and it’s quite different. You’re gonna like it. The list is now compiled in a more automated manner than before, and it invites independent bookstores to report sales. One goal in doing so is to raise the visibility of independent bookstores (hey, that’s one of my goals too). Another goal is to make the list more valuable to the publishing industry, especially for independent authors. Hooray!

USA Today’s bestseller list is the only such list to combine sales of all formats into a single list. It is also longer than other lists, giving more authors a chance to achieve bestseller status.

ne for digital audio. In June:

Remember how I told you last week to seek out new literary agents with publishing experience? Well, Emma Dries, who previously worked in editorial at Knopf and Doubleday, is Triangle House’s newest literary agent. She is seeking literary and upmarket fiction, narrative nonfiction, climate writing, and academic crossover works.

There’s also a newly formed agency called Looking Glass Literary & Media Management. While the agency is new, it is staffed by experienced literary agents whose priority is “championing authors and books that reflect the diverse world around us.”

Check the show notes for links to those agencies and to all of these news stories.

Now, let’s use a window bench as today’s overthinking couch so that we can people-watch while we overthink.

Wattpad now has a scheduling tool that allows authors to schedule when new chapters go live on the platform. So, what I’m overthinking about is, Why did it take so long to get this feature? Did the authors logging in to publish serve to boost the traffic and engagement data on the platform? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s about damn time.

Last week I ranted about a book set in London using Americanisms rather than Britishisms. A listener and experienced ghostwriter reached out to me to assure me that this happens in nonfiction, depending on the target audience, and I realized that I understated the fact that the part of the book I was ranting about was the dialogue given to British characters. Yes, narration often caters to the ideal reader, but a British character should still sound British.

Primarily, I over-thought about how much I enjoy having these kinds of conversations with you. I love knowing who is listening and what kind of work they’re doing in publishing. It makes it all worthwhile for me.

So, here’s something I want you to tell me about this week. Are you a plotter or a pantser, and why? That is, do you plot out your entire story before you start writing, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

Richard Osman, the author of the Thursday Murder Club series, said that he is a pantser because he thinks he would get bored of the story if he had it all plotted out and knew how it was going to end. This is an author who writes murder mysteries that are so popular, his series is being made into a movie. And he doesn’t plot the murders out beforehand. That is amazing to me. I can’t so much as get out of bed in the morning without mentally plotting my day.

So, are you a plotter or a pantser, and, most importantly, why? Send me an email to podcast@writingbreak.com or DM me on Instagram at writingbreakpodcast.

Now, it’s time to take a leisurely stroll around this large bookstore and check out an independent author.

in a detective series set in:

This book has all the elements of a classic crime thriller: a network of illegal activities, political intrigue, a bloody shoot-out, and, of course, a race against time.

It is available in paperback and ebook formats, and it’s free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

Where should we sit for today’s writing tip? On a couple of arm chairs? At the bar? Maybe at a wooden table? You decide today.

This season we’re talking about the road to publishing, after you’ve finished writing a book. We spent some time on literary agents, which is of concern only to those who are seeking traditional publishing. In the time it takes authors to land a literary agent, self-published authors have published and partied and are on to the next title.

But, ok, you’ve landed the agent, and the agent has landed you a publishing contract. Yes! Now what? Well, two things begin happening simultaneously: promotion and production.

We’ve already talked about marketing your book, neither of us likes to talk about it, and we’re far from done talking about it. Turning your book from a work of art into a cash-generating product is like leaving the colorful Land of Oz to dwell forever with your gray family members.

As you already know by now, you should start promoting your book the same day you decide to start writing it. It’s every talented author’s least favorite thing. I know, but the marketing campaign put in place by your publishing house will work off of what you started. If you didn’t get the snowball rolling down the mountain back during the first draft, should you really expect an avalanche of sales on release day? Oh, gosh, I’m feeling metaphorical today. Heaven help us.

While the marketing machine is whirring along, the production team is producing. As the author, you’ll have to review copy edits and galley proofs. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a say on the book cover. Ideally, you should get a lot of hand-holding during this process, which is one reason many authors prefer traditional publishing.

The satirical book Yellowface by R. F. Kuang offers a good insight into modern-day publishing. I’m not recommending the book based on plot. The plot was . . . fine. I am strongly recommending it to anyone who wants to imagine what their life would be like if they were to become a bestselling author tomorrow. Please remember that it is a satire. I mean, it’s no Candide, but keep in mind that it is meant to be satirical. Mostly, things are exaggerated in this one. Still, you will get a good look into the back and forth that happens between authors, literary agents, and editors during publication.

So, that’s it. Once you’ve landed an agent and your agent has landed you a book deal, you should be well on your way to seeing your book in print. For the rest of this season, we’re going to focus on getting independent authors published.

Thank you so much for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.