2014 Crowd-Favourite Bullshit from this Blog

Hey, 2014 was a year that happened. For me it was a pretty grand year, which involved all sorts of nicenesses, but also there was some bad, it’s almost like a year is an arbitrary hunk of experiences sliced from the formless chaos that is existence by the math boffins who secretly run the world! Almost like. Anyway, I wrote some stuff on this blog and I’m going to look at the stats and see which ones people liked the most/ clicked on!

1. Valentimes Day Cards for non-suckers

GODDAMNIT, MOVE MOGGY. PAPA NEEDS A NEW BLENDER.

GODDAMNIT, MOVE MOGGY. PAPA NEEDS A NEW BLENDER.

You guys. Love is a funny thing, and Valentimes day is a stupid thing. If anybody ACTUALLY gave their significant other one of these cards, I will send them a hamper.

2. Urgh, Writing

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So this year I wrote A Man Made Entirely of Bats and started submitting it to places and then was lucky enough to have it picked up by Spineless Wonders. I’ve been blogging about the process of writing and publishing a book – and will continue to do so – and have put it all under the series name ‘Urgh, Writing’. I do some things like explain what an editor is.

3. WRITERS I REAL LIKE

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This is one of my favourite things I’ve started doing on da blogue this year. Writers I Real Like is a little series I’ve been doing where I wax rhapsodically about some writers I goddamn like. It’s a real treat to potentially introduce people I like to other people! So far I’ve had this host of legends: Kat Muscat, Michelle Law, Scott McClanahan and Jack Vening.

4. Curriculum Worstae

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A ten part series of micro-fictions about some of the worst jobs I’ve ever done! It’s like an anti-resume!

5. 10 Potential Spinoff Shows from Game of Thrones

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 1. How I met your Mother of Dragons

Fun and sassy sitcom about Daenerys Stormborn, living in New York and falling in and out of love. Jorah Mormont played by Neil Patrick Harris.

 2. Jon Snow’s Feelings for Snow

Jon Snow solves murders in the cold wastes beyond The Wall.

3. Melisandre’s Puppy Rescue

Because the night is dark and full of terriers.

Read more.

 

A Man Made Entirely of Bats: LOOK AT THE COVER

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Jesus, Mary and Tim – I’m so frickin’ excited to reveal the cover of my collection A Man Made Entirely of Bats. Oh my goodness. Without further ado, here it is:

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I just love how in many ways it’s saying ‘I’m a decapitated head. I may not be able to form words through my severed vocal cords, but I still have something to say’. I love how there is a ‘man made entirely of bats’ in the background. The bat ground. I love how it says my name, like I’m a real person, and not a robot.

This is the work of the ultra-talented Daniel Lethlean Higson. Bronwyn, my publisher showed me his work right at the beginning of this process – ‘I’ve seen this guy and I think he’d be perfect for your writing’. And it is totally true – I absolutely adore this cover. He’s also done amazing interior illustrations in the book. Daniel’s work is colourful and weird and endlessly fascinating. You can check out more of his art at mountforeverest.tumblr.com

A Man Made Entirely of Bats is coming out on March 1st 2015, but we’re doing a super cool preorder drive at the moment, which means you’ll get it much earlier than everyone else. Also, you get it for the cheap-as-free price of $17.99 instead of $22.99, and it will include a personalised message/story/litany of insults from me, and a free 6 month’s subscription to the Spineless Wonders Bookclub – that’s a download every fortnight for 10 weeks starting in Feb 2015,  valued at $15.

It would be really, really great if you considered getting in on this pre-release offer, perhaps as some kind of Christmas present – what do you get the person who has everything? A really weird book. What do you get your weird nephew? A really weird book. What do you get your enemy? A really weird book, which will dismay and disorient them!

But what is it even about, you ask? Well, why don’t you listen to one of these handsome experts who wrote nice things, which is just such a lovely fucking thing to do.

‘Despite – or, perhaps, because of – a recurring preoccupation with the television show Friends, A Man Made Entirely of Bats is a consistent laugh-riot.’

SIAN CAMPBELL, Scum Mag

‘Featuring a colourful assortment of superheroes, mutants, zombies, bank robbers and boy bands – these stories are wonderfully bizarre, original and hilarious. A new and original voice, Patrick Lenton’s short stories bring qualities rare in Australian fiction; inventiveness, humour, and a fine sense of the absurd.’
RYAN O’NEILL, The Weight of a Human Heart

To order, you just need to go to the Spineless Wonders website: here. You’re so great.

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Urgh, Writing: The misunderstood task of describing your book, or how to pitch

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There are a billion trillion articles about ways to pitch your book. There are books on how to pitch your book (did someone have to pitch their book on how to pitch books?). There are people in bars who like to recount the story they heard of a person stuck in an elevator with a commissioning publisher from some kind of unnamed publishing house, who managed to speak so goodly about their book in the horrifying metal room that they immediately became a bestseller!

So, wisdom and laziness is telling me that I don’t need to add to the ocean of knowledge that lies on the other end of a quick Google – but experience working in publishing has shown me that PEOPLE STILL DON’T KNOW HOW TO PITCH AT ALL, OH MY GOD THEY ARE JUST SO BAD. I’m not going to go into details, because that would be unprofessional, but take my goddamn word for it. Luckily I work in digital publishing now, so at least I’m spared the envelopes full of glitter or (heard this one the other day from a romance imprint) rose petals. And attaching gifs to your submission email just isn’t as eye-catching. Or eye-cutting. Glitter will cut your eye up a treat. Not that I even take submissions. I’m marketing. Whatever.

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PUBLISH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

I think the pitch is universal, but I suppose my experience as a writer is with small press and lit stuff. Author Steve P. Vincent wrote a great article about pitching his political thriller here, which you should read.

Let’s go into some quick basics:

What is a pitch –

The process of summarising the totality of your book, generally to a few sentences of text, sometimes even a single sentence. What it is not – recounting the story, talking about a thousand ‘themes’ or listing the characters.

For my book, A Man Made Entirely of Bats, I pitched it as a collection of short and micro-fictions which was ‘A  comedic, absurdist and entertaining literary interaction with the concept of super heroes and the super strange in our world.’ Short story collections are a difficult breed to pitch, in comparison to something more straightforward like a novel. If I was going to pitch my perennial hypothetical example of the typical Australian lit.novel that I’m never going to write, which I’ve named ‘ Dry Rural Secret Town’ I would say something like ‘In the tradition of Winton and Carey, a man returns to his hometown to discover the reasons why he left in the first place.’

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So bleak. So mysterious. So award winning.

That was a wee bit sarcastic, but you’ll see that there’s a hook there. I am only implying murder, but I think if there was a murder, I would say murder. The ‘name drop’ of Winton does so much – it established a genre for one – if we took that away, we might be looking at crime or even horror. But it also announces intention of marketplace. Winton is a literary writer, but he is also a bestselling literary writer. A publisher might definitely be looking to fill a gap in their selection that a new Winton might fill. They might need another book for November, they might be interested because that kind of book is definitely Aus award bait.

In my one line pitch, I include the words: ‘homage to Kurt Vonnegut, Etgar Keret and Tom Cho.’

Vonnegut, because it uses genre in the pursuit of the literary, Etgar Keret because of its absurdist message and Tom Cho due to its playful interaction with popular culture. All this seems WILDLY embarrassing to write outside of a pitch, btw. What I am really saying with those names is ‘yes, these are literary short stories, but they are accessible and fun and silly and other writers do something like this, and they are doing OK, I’m not a madman.’ I am a madman, but I learnt to stop saying that in resumes and the like a long time ago.

Why is a pitch important –

A pitch is more than just the cover letter to your manuscript. An author needs to be able to understand their book as more than the weird story that lived in their head until they let it out. They have to understand it as a transferrable concept, not just through the medium of human speech, but also as the idea of something a reader wants to read. A pitch is so, so, so important for that crucial first step – getting the book published. It’s the magic sentence that you’re using to communicate with a publisher, or an agent, or whatever. The romance writing community, which as as per usual, is several steps beyond any other writing community, have regular pitch sessions at their conferences and conventions. Publishers come to these and grab pitches their, because the system of communicating books (a pitch) is established and works. And romance writers involved in these communities generally have some education on HOW to do this. Sometimes they even turn their pitch sessions into insane gameshow like events, like deathmatch and survival modes. It sounds intense and horrifying.

But, even beyond that first step, but also linked with it, is communicating who will be reading this book, who your audience are, what the genre is, what the style. How you are going to reach those readers. I am very, very, carefully stepping around using words like ‘product’ or ‘sales’, because I know that idea is abhorrent to a lot of holier-than-thou writers. But the goal is to have people read your work, and because of commerce, that means buying them. Understanding your book as something you will be working hard with to reach readers is crucial, and something that is increasingly more important to communicate during your pitch. For me, I talked about some markets, in Australia and abroad, and I submitted a marketing plan with my manuscript of ways I plan to reach them. Keep in mind that this is a collection of comedy short stories – the only thing that I can think of that is more unpalatable to sell would be poetry. Or a collection of short plays maybe. Or a 200,000 word description of poo.

I sent my manuscript to five publishers, and received an answer from four, and three decided on the strength of my pitch that they wanted to read my manuscript, and Spineless Wonders bit fairly early, and I decided I liked their style a lot. But my publisher at Spineless said that the marketing report was the reason she actually decided to read the manuscript, because she wasn’t currently looking for more books. So, I feel like my first experience pitching my own book was fairly positive.

Anyway, there’s a lot more ‘specific’ articles I mentioned, which will tell you what to include in your actual pitch, but I think I’m done here. I am happy to answer questions. There’s a good chance that publishers, who actually RECEIVE pitches might think my whole stance is missing several important things. I’m ok with that. This is mostly about my experience, and that’s all we can ever really be sure of, you know? Deep. That’s probably the tagline of ‘Dry Rural Secret Town’.

 

 

Urgh, Writing: A BOOK OF MINE IS GOING TO BE A REAL THING!!!!!

I’ve known about this for a few weeks now, but I haven’t felt like I can make it ‘blog post official’ yet. I’ve felt like maybe at some point someone will be like ‘no, we made a mistake, your short stories are godawful, we thought you had a cookbook?’ But I’ve spent the day working on the first round of edits on my manuscript, so I suppose it is now time for me to be Officially Excited.

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I am very excited to announce that next year, a collection of my short stories called ‘A Man Made Entirely of Bats’ will be published by Spineless Wonders. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

A Man Made Entirely of Bats is a collection of short and micro fictions that humorously swarm around the idea of superheroes in popular culture. It has stories in it called things like ‘Radioactive Jerk’ and ‘Guerilla Mum’ and ‘Infertility Man’. It also has some previously published stories in it, like ‘Mooncat’ and ‘Believe’ in it.

We don’t have a lot of small press in Australia, and we don’t have a lot of publishers who are actually devoted to short stories as a form, which is why I’m so excited to be accepted by Spineless Wonders. I’m inspired by Angela Meyer’s ‘Captives’ and I’m inspired by Tom Cho’s ‘Look Who’s Morphing’. Also, the entire concept for this book came from the Flaming Lips album ‘Soft Bulletin’. I’m inspired by like a thousand alt-lit people who are writing and publishing stuff which traditional publishers aren’t doing and stuff which is fun and awesome and experimental.

I just feel this whole collection is so dumb, so weird and like, devoted to being silly before ‘meaning’ anything, so I’m really excited that it is going to exist. I am excited to be able to hold it in my hands and i’m also excited that it is going to be available as an ebook for people who don’t want to have another physical book. Every day when I think about it, I’m like ‘yay, this is great’ but also ‘what, what are we thinking, this is such a dumb idea’.

I’m also going to be pretty transparent about the process, because obvs I’ve never had a book published before, so I’m pretty interested in the process. Sometime this week I’ll write a post about pitching? People interested in that? I dunno. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I also work in publishing, so you can just ask me stuff. I dunno.

When I found out that my pitch had been accepted, I got expansively drunk a the Pan Macmillan sales conference and kept yelling at people ‘I’m celebrating’ in between shots or dancing on my own to ‘Suffragette City’. “I’M CELEBRATING”

I’M SO EXCITED!