Fixing the First Page Giveaway Winner #11!

Photo credit: litratcher on Flickr
Quick off-schedule post today to announce the winner of the eleventh fixing the first page feature giveaway! Are you ready?

The winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Heather! Expect an e-mail from me very soon.

Thank you to all you lovely entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there will be another fixing the first page giveaway next month, so keep an eye out! :)

4th Blogoversary Giveaway Winners!

Photo credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr
Wow! So thank you all so much for entering—the response was pretty amazing and your excitement made me pretty darn excited. :) I'll have to do something like this again in the future.

There are a lot of winners, so here we go!

  • Query critique from Michelle Hoen: Kelly DeVos
  • Query critique from Megan Easley-Walsh (five winners!): Elizabeth Flynn, Patricia Moussatche, Sussu Leclerc, Roxanne Lambie & Amelinda Berube
  • Partial submission package critique (query, synopsis & first three chapters) from Cait Spivey: Don King
  • Partial submission package critique (query, synopsis & first three chapters) from Phil Stamper: Sydney Paige Richardson
  • First twenty pages critique from Liz Furl: Bridgette Johnson
  • Query plus first twenty-five pages critique from K.T. Hanna: Dea Poirer
  • Query plus first twenty-five pages critique from me: Samantha Harris
  • First fifty pages critique from Nicole Tone: Chelly Pike
  • First fifty pages critique from Jackson Eflin: Laurel Decher
  • Query plus first fifty pages critique from Anya Kagan: Saratu Buhari
  • Full MS critique from Jami Nord: Jodi Vorwald
  • Full MS critique from Kisa Whipkey: AurorA Dimitre
  • Proposal plus full MS critique from Nicole Frail: Mary Liles Eicher

That’s it! Thanks again to all who entered—and to those who see their names here, you should be receiving an e-mail very shortly (if it’s not already in your inboxes!). Keep an eye out today. :)

Finally, if you don't see your name here, don't despair! You can still win a first 250 critique to be featured on the blog (giveaway closes today!) and a Trish Doller book package that includes Something Like Normal, Where the Stars Still Shine and an ARC of The Devil You Know, (which also closes today)!

Thanks to all who entered, and good luck!

UPDATE: The super generous Megan Easley-Walsh has offered a 10% discount code for any Writability readers that booked any service from by June 1st. (Discount code: EIE2015FE) Yay! 

“But The Book Gets Better!”

Photo credit: whisperwolf on Flickr
Occasionally I’ll get questions from writers who are worried about their WIP because they’re aware of an issue in the beginning of their novel—whether it’s slow pacing, a ton of exposition, a protagonist who isn’t initially compelling, etc. Oftentimes, when I get questions like these the concern is that their book gets better, but readers might not stick around to see it improve. 

The truth is they should be worried. 

In terms of publishing, there are tons of manuscripts that are submitted to agents and editors every day. Way too many to even think about one person reading the entire submission every time—way too many to read more than a brief sample until one decides whether or not they’re interested. There's literally not enough time to read everything being submitted from cover to cover. 

In terms of self-publishing (or books that do get published), there are tons of books being published every day. Way too many to even think about one person reading (let alone buying) every book published even in a single day—way too many to read more than the back cover copy and maybe a quick sample until one decides whether or not they’re interested. There's literally not enough time to read everything being published from cover to cover. 

This is why first pages are so darn important. This is way getting your opening right and not wasting a single sentence is crucial. This is why compelling for one reason or another, is not optional. 

It’s also why “the book gets better” is never going to cut it. 

As of this moment, I have 362 books on my Goodreads TBR shelf. I add more constantly. And I’ll probably start removing books I added years ago that I’m no longer dying to read. Because the truth is, I literally don’t have the time to read them all—and that’s without adding to the list like I frequently do. 

If I start sampling a book on my list and the opening doesn’t grab me, it’s getting removed from the list. Period. There are too many books out there that I would really enjoy for me to waste time on a book that I don’t find interesting. And if I’m being entirely honest, and I hear from readers that the book gets better…well, to be honest, it’s too bad. Why should I slog through an opening I’m not enjoying if I could read (and spend money on) something I’d love from page one? The truth is, unless there’s an external reason for me to read the book (i.e.: assigned for class, book research, etc.) I won’t. 

This doesn’t change for submissions. When my boss sends me something to look at, I’m honest with him if the opening doesn’t grab me. On the other side of the desk, the publishing industry is not a place for sugar-coating—we have to be honest with ourselves as editors and assistants and interns and readers about whether or not we really think a submission could be successful. And if the answer is “maybe,” well, maybe usually isn’t good enough. Maybe might get you an R&R but it’s not going to get you a “yes.” 

You, the author, will not be there to tell that agent, or editor, or reader your book gets better. And even if other readers are there to say it, quite frankly, it’s not going to be good enough for every reader. Some might stick it out, maybe, if they hear really raving reviews from friends. But many won’t. Many just don’t have the time. 

I’ve heard people say online that some agents and editors look at submissions looking for a reason to say no. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I can say this: do you want to give anyone a reason to put your book down, even temporarily? 

I know I don’t. And I suspect you don’t either. 

What do you think? Would you stick it out for a book that “gets better”? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
"You, the author, will not be there to tell that agent, or editor, or reader your book gets better." (Click to tweet)  
Writer @Ava_Jae says "the book gets better" isn't enough. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

Vlog: One Year of Vlogging!

A year ago I posted my very first vlog! So thank you to all of you who have continued watching and commenting and all around being awesome. Let me know what your favorite vlogs are/what you'd like to see more of/if you have any book or writing related questions for me! :)


What would you like to see more of with the vlogs? Any questions or topics you'd like to see addressed? Let me know! 

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #11

Photo credit: insEyedout on Flickr
Can you believe we're nearing the end of May? Which means even though there are two giveaways still running today (with one closing today!) it's time for ANOTHER giveaway! Yay! 

I hope you guys love getting free critiques because they're raining from Writability. 

For those who’ve missed it in the past, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a PUBLIC (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the tenth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below.  Since the end of April kind of snuck up on me, the entry window is short this time around—you have until Friday, May 22 at 11:59 EST to enter!

Also, in case you missed it, there's still another giveaway running on Writability right now in which you can win a pack of Trish Doller books! It's closing soon and the odds are pretty good and also I really want that ARC. (But alas, I can't enter. But you can!) 

Happy entering! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On Writer Insecurities

Photo credit: pabak sarkar on Flickr
So the book that I’m currently revising, which I’ve started calling #NerdyWIP on Twitter, has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. One day I love it—the characters, the message, the voice, and humor, and fandom references, and the next day I’m pretty sure it’s secretly terrible. It’s been like this since I started first drafting, and even after I’ve gotten really awesome feedback from CPs, and betas, and my amazing agent, it’s still been a very up and down experience.

Of course, I know I’m definitely not alone with these feelings.

Writing is a really personal experience. Even when you’re not intentionally making it personal or making parallels to your own life, it’s impossible to write without putting parts of yourself into the work, even subconsciously.

Every stage of the writing process has its own moments of terror: whether it’s the brainstorming panic of how will I ever write this book I’ve built up in my head? or the mid-draft my writing sucks block, or the finished draft what the hell did I just write? Then of course there are revisions which come with their own set of anxieties and insecurities that often run along the lines of how am I supposed to fix all of this?

To be honest, I don’t really have a solution or way to avoid this. It’s part of the process, and it’s scary when it happens. But the best remedies I’ve found are to keep going and/or talk to your critique partners (or agent, if that’s something you and your agent do).

But I think the important thing to remember is it does pass. And when you hit this point, know that it’s okay. It’s normal. It’s largely unavoidable and just about every writer goes through it repeatedly.

Experience it. Acknowledge it. Then move on. Just don’t let it paralyze you.

Have you experienced some writer insecurities? How do you get past it?

Twitter-sized bites:
Writer @Ava_Jae says, "it's impossible to write without putting parts of yourself into the work." What do you think? (Click to tweet
How do you get past writerly insecurities? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: When Do You Pre-Order?

Photo credit: guzzphoto on Flickr
So I received a very nice B&N gift card for Christmas, which meant I basically went on a pre-ordering spree. In the last couple months, I’ve pre-ordered:

Which is to say I’ve done a lot of pre-ordering. At least for me.

I’ve found that there are two main scenarios that lead me to pre-order:

  1. I absolutely love the author and/or the prequel and must have the next book. (This was the case for Trust the Focus, Focus on Me, Half Wild and Made You Up. This was also the case for just about every Harry Potter book after Azkaban and all of the Grisha books after Shadow and Bone.)

  2. The book is getting a lot of buzz from people I trust and just sounds friggin’ amazing. (i.e.: Made You Up, Simon vs. and More Happy Than Not). 

I’m curious, however, about what gets other people to pre-order. Is that reserved only for your favorite authors? Are exceptions made for debuts that sound amazing? Something else? What gets you to pre-order? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
When do you pre-order books? Do you pre-order often? Rarely? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)
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