Nothing is Normal (in the Publishing Industry)

Photo credit: - luz - on Flickr
I’ve often heard people say that anyone who talks about writing or the publishing industry in absolutes is most likely wrong. I think, beyond some obvious exceptions (i.e.: yes, you really do have to read, or, yes, you really do have to revise), this is usually true. Because the publishing industry? It’s weird, you guys.

Some writers publish traditionally. Some self-publish. Some do both.

Some writers won’t get an agent until they’ve written nine ten eleven fifteen books. Some writers get an agent with their first second third book.

Some writers go on sub and have an offer the next freaking morning (I know, contain your jealousy), others go on sub and have nothing but silence and rejections for over a year, then sell to a major publisher.

Some writers get a really small or nonexistent advance, other writers get multi-book deals with six plus figures.

Some writers publish a book a year (or less). Other writers publish six seven eight nine books in the span of twelve months.

Some writers self-publish and sell a few dozen or hundred copies. Other writers self-publish and become massive bestsellers and have traditional publishers approaching them to print their mega-successful book.

Some writers hit it big with their debut novel and end up a #1 NYT bestseller the same week their book debuts. Other writers mid-list with their debut and slowly build up their careers, one book at a time.

When it comes to the publishing industry, there isn’t a “usual.” This is a notoriously unpredictable career choice with a ridiculous range in possibilities.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is if you don’t get an agent with your fifth six seventh book, if you don’t get an immediate response when on submission, if you don’t get a huge advance or publish eight books a year, if you don’t sell as many copies of your book as you hoped, if you don’t hit it big with your debut, it’s okay. It really, truly, honestly is okay, and I promise there are a hundred writers out there in your shoes, or who had really similar experiences. You are okay, and you will be okay.

Sure, it can be a little disappointing when reality doesn’t match up with your wildest dreams. But know that just because things aren’t lining up the way you’d hoped right now doesn’t mean they never will. Know that you’re not alone, and things will work out, but right now you just have to (yes, here it comes) be patient and let things play out how they will.

This is a tough industry to be in, but there are many out there who are right alongside you. Just keep your eyes on your own paper and do what you do best: write.

Twitter-sized bites:
Writer @Ava_Jae says when it comes to the publishing industry, there isn't a "normal." What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
"This is a notoriously unpredictable career choice w/ a ridiculous range in possibilities." —@Ava_Jae on publishing. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Do You Need a Degree to Get Published?

Today I answer a question I know a lot of young writers in particular struggle with: do you need a degree to get published? The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. 


What do you think? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Do you need a degree to get published? Writer @Ava_Jae vlogs her thoughts. (Click to tweet)  
.@Ava_Jae says you don't need a degree to get published, but you might decide to get one anyway. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Giveaway Winner #8

Photo credit: Chuckumentary on Flickr
Quick super rare double post to announce the winner of the eighth fixing the first page feature giveaway! Are you ready?

The winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Linda!

Thank you to all you lovely entrants! There will be another next month, so keep an eye out! :)

Book Review: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

Photo credit: Goodreads
As you probably know by now, I like to start these review things with the Goodreads summary, so here we go: 
“Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways…until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.”
Right, so, I don’t usually do this, but I’m also going to share with you my Goodreads updates from when I was reading, because they basically sum up my experience pretty nicely:

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I knew the basics: dual POV, everyone seems to love it, LGBTQIA+ themes, and then it went ahead and won the Printz a few days after I started reading, so I knew chances that I was going to like it were high.

But wow, you guys. I really really loved this one.

I'm not an externally emotional reader. I mean, I obviously have feels like everyone else, but I’ve yet to read a book that made me cry, as I’ve confessed here before, and I’m usually pretty good about keeping a stoic exterior while reading. But I’ll Give You the Sun put me on the brink of tears several times, which is ridiculously rare for me, and I just loved Noah and Jude so much, and the writing!

The writing. I think Nelson’s prose is one of those love/hate varieties, but I definitely fell on the love side. Both Noah and Jude’s voices were a little out there with some of the imagery and analogies, but I felt like I really got it, and it totally made sense to me with their very artsy personalities, and it just felt so fresh, and wonderful, and fit the tone of the book beautifully.

Noah and Jude aren’t perfect. They both make hurtful, cringe-worthy mistakes with big consequences. They’re emotional, and young, and full of dreams, and highs, and lows, and I became so very emotionally entangled with their stories.

I often tell people that the best books make you feel something. I’ll Give You the Sun didn’t make me feel something—it made me feel everything. I loved every page, and Nelson’s got herself a new fan for sure.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 5/5 stars to I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by @jandynelson. Have you read this beautiful YA Contemporary? (Click to tweet)  
Looking for an emotional & diverse YA read? Check out I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. (Click to tweet)

How to Import Word Comments into Scrivener

Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito (´・ω・) on Flickr
Up until basically last week, I was under the impression that it was impossible to auto-import CP comments from Word into Scrivener. And so, I would sit for hours, importing CP comments by hand—that is, retyping them into Scrivener.

When I received my CP comments for the latest WIP, however, I knew there was no way I’d be able to do that this time. Because there were over 1,300 of them. (Yeah.)

So I had a choice: either edit entirely in Word (which, I mean, was an option, but not my favorite one), or spend a ridiculous amount of time importing by hand, which I’d pretty much already decided wouldn’t be worth it.

Or was there another choice?

After doing some internet scouring, I came across this post on importing documents from Word into Scrivener. I’d seen the post before, and already knew the process described in the post didn’t import comments, but this time my Google search directed me into the comments on the post…where I found my answer: RTF files.

After some playing around, I managed to figure it out with a little help from the post. And so here's the process I used:

  1. Open all documents containing CP notes in Microsoft Word. For me, that was three documents this time. The reason you need to open everything in Word first, is before you import to Scrivener, you need to merge all of your documents with CP notes into one Word doc. Which is a thing! A very useful thing. Anyway...

  2. Go to Tools > Track Changes > Compare Documents.

  3. Choose two of your documents. You will now see this menu:

    If you want to attempt to preserve the tracked changes your CPs suggested, then choose the document with the most tracked changes as “Original document.” I will say, however, this attempt to preserve tracked changes is somewhat futile as it gets messed up when you import to Scrivener anyway. So up to you. 

  4. Click “OK” and save your new document. Word creates a completely new document now with the comments from both of the documents you just “compared.” Save this document, then repeat this process as many times as you need (using your new merged document with the next one you want to merge with). 

  5. Save your final document as an RTF. Once you have your brand new, shiny document with all of your CP comments in one place, save your file as an RTF. This is what you’ll be importing into Scrivener.

  6. Open your project in Scrivener. Self-explanatory. 

  7. Go to File > Import > Files…

    And choose your new RTF file. This will bring in your newly merged document into Scrivener, with all comments intact. YAY! 

Some caveats:

  • You will have to redistribute your chapters or scenes into separate Scrivener scenes again. When you initially import, it’ll all be in one ginormous Scrivener scene, so you’ll have to reorganize however you had it before you compiled it into a Word document. This is a little annoying, but relatively easy and totally worth it, IMO. 

  • Tracked changes will be a mess. So this is a more significant downside—you’re going to lose a lot of the tracked changes your CPs suggested, both because they get messed up in the Word merge, and because Scrivener doesn’t recognize tracked changes. Instead, Scrivener will automatically try to implement the tracked changes that remained intact in the merged document, which is a bit of a headache because it doesn’t implement it correctly and it’s not marked, so you kind of just have to catch them.

    I didn’t know that when I imported, so I suspect I’ll be catching them for a while. I think, however, if you go through your Word document and fix all the tracked changes there before you import into Scrivener (and, even better—before you merge the documents in Word), this shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll be doing that in the future. 

  • All of your comments will be imported as if they came from the same person. As in, they’ll all be the same color. Which isn’t a big deal to me. I plan to color code mine differently once I’ve brought my comment count down to a manageable number. 

  • If two (or more) CPs comment on the same line their comments will be merged. You’ll be able to tell, because there won’t be a space between the end of CP 1’s comment and the beginning of CP 2’s comment. I actually don’t mind this—it lets me see multiple opinions in one CP box, and it’s I found it pretty fun when all three of my CPs commented on the same thing. 

So that’s it! I hope this saves you some time in getting Word comments into Scrivener. I know I, for one, will never be manually importing comments again.

Twitter-sized bites: 
Ever wonder how to get Word comments into Scrivener? Writer @Ava_Jae share the process she uses to do just that. (Click to tweet)  
Did you know you can import Word comments into Scrivener? Writer @Ava_Jae explains one method of doing so. (Click to tweet

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #8

Photo credit: mbshane on Flickr
Hey everyone, it's that time again! I'm posting this on a usually non-post day because I maybe forgot February has less days than the rest of the months and I'm determined to squeeze in a first page critique this month. So yay spontaneous post! Anyway.

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 eighth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Sunday, February 22 at 11:59 EST to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Use Comments in Scrivener

Photo credit: kukkurovaca on Flickr
Once upon a time, I used to think Scrivener didn't have much of a commenting system, and then I discovered the truth and it basically changed how I approach revisions forever. Because it turns out Scrivener's commenting system is pretty fabulous.

As it's not one of Scrivener's frequently spoken about features, I'm thinking I'm not the only writer who didn't know much about it, and so I thought I'd share exactly where to find them, and how to use them.

Here we go:

By default, Scrivener’s right-hand sidebar is set to Project notes, where you can leaves notes for referencing while you work on your book. There are, however, other greatly underutilized sections in that sidebar, and comments are one of them.

  1. Click the comments icon (a speech bubble with an “n” and an asterisk). It looks like this:

    Congratulations! You have now opened the Comments & Footnotes sidebar. It’s pretty magical, let me tell you. 

  2. Highlight whatever text you want to leave a comment on. This part is just like Word—the first step to commenting is highlighting whatever line or word you’re going to comment on. Easy! 

  3. Click the add comment button. It’s the one that looks like a yellow speech bubble. See below:
Voila! You can now leave yourself comments. But there’s more!

  • You can change the colors of the comments. This is probably my second favorite part. I like to color code by CP (although, when I have a crazy high number of comments, that doesn’t always happen). This time I’m thinking about possibly organizing types of comments by color because colors are fun. Anyway.

    The steps for changing colors are pretty easy. You right click whatever comment you want to switch the color of and then choose from the following menu.

    You can even set a custom color, if you want! It’s pretty schnazzy. 

  • When you click on a comment in the sidebar, it jumps to the spot in the manuscript. I said colors were my second favorite part, because this right here is what makes Scrivener comments better than Word comments, in my opinion. If you have your whole manuscript selected, you can view all the comments in your manuscript in the sidebar and when you click one, it’ll jump to that spot. Or if you have just one chapter open, it’ll show you all that comments in that one chapter. Or whatever other selection you make.

    This makes organization really easy, and also allows you to jump around and make changes however your heart desires, as well as giving you a general overview of the comments in your manuscript. 

Now, there are two pretty big downsides of Scrivener comments. Or one a half.

Firstly, as far as CP purposes go, track changes in Word is way superior. In Scrivener, there is a sort of track changes thing, but it basically just changes the colors of changes you make (which I like! But isn’t all that useful for seeing what changes your critique partners recommend). Also, as far as I can tell, you can’t import tracked changes, so you’ll have to make the changes manually anyway.

Second, up until yesterday I thought it was impossible to import comments from Word into Scrivener. But! I have figured out a way and I will share that with you guys on Friday (UPDATE: the post is live). This is still a half downside though, because the process is far from perfect and has some caveats. Still.

All of that said, I still love using the comments feature in Scrivener, and so the caveats are worth it to me. You may agree, or you may not, but I think it’s worth experimenting with. :)

Do you use Scrivener comments? Do you have any tips?

Twitter-sized bites: 
Did you know Scrivener has a commenting system? Writer @Ava_Jae breaks down where to find it & how to use it. (Click to tweet)  
Love Scrivener? Writer @Ava_Jae discusses why she prefers Scrivener comments over MS Word & how to use them. (Click to tweet)
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