Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Latinidad - 7/09-8/09: Packagers

Expand Messages
  • Marcela Landres
    Latinidad – 07/09-08/09: Packagers Contents: 1. Saludos 2. Q&A: Belinda Acosta 3. Upcoming Workshops: Before You Send It Out 4. Resources: Kweli Seeks
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5 9:53 AM
      Latinidad – 07/09-08/09: Packagers

      1. Saludos
      2. Q&A: Belinda Acosta
      3. Upcoming Workshops: Before You Send It Out
      4. Resources: Kweli Seeks Writers of Color
      "Getting well-published today is challenging enough for a new author,
      but having a sex offender label can add its own set of obstacles. Not
      only did Marcela approach me and my project enthusiastically and
      without personal judgment from the start, she never once allowed my
      stigma to compromise her steadfast mission: making my book
      proposal and my platform the best it could possibly be. Every
      recommendation Marcela made was right on target, undeniably
      valuable, and I have no doubt the compliments she gave me and my
      writing were truly sincere. Thank you Marcela, you inspired me all
      over again!"
      —Erik Mart, author of MonsterMart: How I Joined America's Most
      Unwanted, http://www.monstermartorg.blogspot.com/

      Ready to work with a professional editor? Visit
      1. Saludos
      What do Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Goosebumps, and the For
      Dummies series have in common? They were created by packagers,
      which are essentially production companies for books. A packager hires
      the team of people—writers, editors, illustrators, production managers,
      etc.—to make a book or series of books. The packager sells the concept
      to a publishing company and depending on the deal delivers a finished
      manuscript, or camera-ready proofs, or even bound books. For writers
      who can meet deadlines and are team players, working with a packager
      can be a great way to get published. Read this month's Q&A with Belinda
      Acosta, author of the packaged novel Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz, to
      learn more.

      Helping Latinos get published,
      Marcela Landres

      2. Q&A
      Belinda Acosta works as a journalist in Austin, Texas, writing reviews and
      features on books, film, and the arts, in addition to a weekly column on
      television (TV Eye) for the Austin Chronicle. Her work has appeared in Poets
      & Writers, Latino USA, Latino Magazine, AlterNet and other publications. She
      was a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin where she
      received her MFA in Writing in 1997. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz (Grand
      Central Publishing, August 2009) is her first novel. For more info, visit:

      Q: Who is the packager behind Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz and how did
      you connect with them?
      A: That would be Ellen Jacob of Jacob Packaged Goods in New York. I
      responded to an e-mail Ellen sent out a couple of years ago, looking for
      writers for a vaguely described project. My curiosity was piqued and I
      responded. We corresponded off and on over a period of three months or
      so before the project was officially launched.

      Q: Would you describe the process of writing a novel for a packager?
      A: Ellen had provided a constellation of characters to work with and the
      backdrop (the quinceañera). Originally, it was to be a young adult novel set
      in Los Angeles. It was eventually changed to an adult novel, directed to
      women and mothers. The final logline, to use a filmmaking term became:
      a mother-daughter story centered around a quinceañera.

      Since I had little knowledge of LA Latino culture, I said I would be more
      comfortable setting it in San Antonio, since I had spent some time there.
      It's ninety minutes from Austin, where I've lived for the last twenty years.
      Once the final logline was settled, I was left alone to make up the entire
      story, using some of the original character names Ellen suggested. They—
      meaning Ellen and Selina McLemore, the editor at Grand Central Publishing—
      approved the outline of the book, but ultimately I had a lot of freedom in
      developing the story, which was great. I'm sure I would have bucked against
      any more direct involvement. I don't write in a team nor have I ever wanted
      to work with a writing partner.

      Q: What are the advantages of writing for a packager?
      A: As a working journalist, I knew what it was like to write on deadline. It's
      how I've worked for the last 10 years. And since my own novel was stuck, I
      thought this would give me a break from my own work, would be a great
      way to work on another project that was challenging, see it to completion,
      and learn something in the process. And I did learn a lot. I have an MFA from
      the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, so I have a huge
      appreciation for the art and craft of writing, but I'm not sure I was as strong
      in the mechanics of assembling a novel-length work. The mechanics I
      learned from being a working journalist, but the journalism pieces I've written
      are usually no more than 10,000 words. So, taking on a project that required
      80,000 to 90,000 words was a huge leap. I felt sure I could deliver and I
      didn't think it would be easy, but actually doing it, in a compressed time
      period, was the hardest thing I've ever done. Harder than writing my
      Master's Thesis.

      Q: What are the disadvantages of writing for a packager?
      A: I don't know if my experience is typical, but what I hated was the
      extremely short turn around time. It was something like four or five months
      to turn around the first draft. Some extra time was tagged on when I had a
      family emergency, but only about two additional months, I think. Again, my
      journalism background makes me uniquely qualified to work under a hard
      deadline. What was new to me was learning what a deeply intimate process
      writing a novel really is, especially when you're writing it on a short deadline.
      It is in your head all the time. You sleep with it; it infiltrates your waking life
      and lurks around all your personal relationships. It's like having a perpetually
      nursing child with you at all times. Ideally, I would have taken a leave from
      my day job. I write a weekly column for the Austin Chronicle (TV Eye), the alt
      weekly in town, but that was not an option.

      I've often joked that writing a novel is like being pregnant. You can't be
      pregnant then take a couple of days off because you want to slip into that
      smart cocktail dress for a day. The same is true of writing a novel,
      particularly when you're careening toward a deadline. While I had no choice
      but to juggle my day job and the novel, it was schizophrenic. Just when I got
      in a groove with the book, I had to stop and return to the column (or another
      feature—I also write reviews and features for the books, arts, and screens
      sections of the Austin Chronicle). Once I finished the column, I had to re-orient
      myself to the novel. It's not impossible, but my God, it was psychically difficult.
      Not impossible, but it was a difficult.

      In many ways, I felt like a surrogate mother. Over time, since I was given so
      much freedom, and because writing a novel is such an intimate process, I
      eventually drew very close to the project. I created it from a basic idea: the
      words, the story, the characters, all of it. I would have never written a book
      centered around a quinceañera on my own, not because I have anything
      against them, but because it would have never occurred to me. That was all
      Ellen's idea. I got hired to deliver it. So, while she holds the copyright, I have
      my name on the cover and will share in the proceeds. So, if you're one of
      those people dying to get your name on a book cover but dread pitching to
      publishers, working for a packager may have strong appeal. Personally, my
      goal is to write a novel that stands the test of time. Will DAMAS do that? I have
      no idea but I think it's a fun read full of characters that I enjoyed discovering
      and playing with. In the end, I have a huge sense of accomplishment and I
      thank Ellen for the opportunity to bring her idea to life.

      Q: What advice could you offer to writers who are considering working with
      a packager?
      A: Know yourself and know your packager. Be sure the packager understands
      how writers work—or at least how you work. Get your own agent to represent
      you. Do not sign anything until you understand what is expected of you, how
      deeply (or distantly the packager wants to work with you in creating the work,
      and if that works for you. As I said, I don't want a writing partner, but if you
      need one, and the packager wants to play that role, that might be a viable
      working relationship for you. Ask questions, if you have them, and make sure
      you understand the response. Remember that your time is valuable. Time spent
      on a packager's project is time not spent on your own. I think there's something
      to be said for stepping away from your work and letting it proof. If you think
      you can stand a break from your work, then take it. I would encourage someone
      in a similar position that I was in to have a clear idea of what you want to learn
      from this project—not just what you want (most writers want to be published)—
      but what do you need to learn to become a better writer? How can taking on the
      packager's project add to your personal writing arsenal? If there is nothing to
      learn from the venture, personally, I would avoid it.

      3. Upcoming Workshops
      WHAT: Before You Send It Out Workshop

      Agents and editors don't have time to read entire manuscripts. So how do they
      choose which writers they want to work with? Proposals. Regardless of whether
      you have a book for adults or children, in fiction or nonfiction, you need a
      strong proposal. But while many writers invest a significant amount of time,
      energy and money in crafting their manuscripts, few know how to compose a
      proper proposal. In this class, you will learn:
      1. • Why 90% of submissions are rejected based on the cover letter alone
      2. • The single most reliable—and free!—resource for finding a good agent
      3. • Three common, yet easily avoidable, mistakes writers make
      4. • A proposal's true purpose (hint: it's not to demonstrate talent)
      Note: The first 20 writers to register and send a manuscript will each receive
      a 20-minute private consultation with Editorial Consultant Marcela Landres,
      who will offer professional suggestions and advice for each writer.

      WHEN: Saturday, July 25; workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, private appointments
      from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

      WHERE: Gemini Ink, 513 S. Presa, San Antonio, TX 78205

      TESTIMONIAL: "Let me just say again how beneficial I found your presentation.
      As I mentioned before, I have been writing for most of my life but until
      relatively recently have not looked into publication. I have attended many
      workshops and presentations on breaking into the market in the last few years,
      and yours tops the list. You definitely have a gift. You give very specific advice
      (which so many seem to avoid) and are very encouraging. Please let me know if
      you are ever in the area again."
      --Alicia Clay-ONeill

      REGISTER: Visit http://geminiink.gdcblogs.com/ then click on Classes and
      download the PDF of their Summer 2009 catalogue

      QUESTIONS?: E-mail info@... or call 877.734.WORD

      List of upcoming workshops:

      4. Resources
      "I read How Editors Think in one sitting and was engaged from beginning to
      end. It is well written, highly informative, and humorous—I found myself
      laughing out-loud in a few spots! Thanks for sharing the secrets of the trade."
      —Mayra Lazara Dole, author of Down to the Bone

      Inspired by my experience as a former Simon & Schuster editor, How Editors
      Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You reveals what it really takes to get
      published. For more information, visit:
      Deadline: August 10
      Kweli Journal is a new online literary journal established to identify, promote,
      and nurture emerging writers of color. They are currently seeking short
      stories, novel excerpts if they are self-contained, and poetry. For more
      information, visit http://www.kwelijournal.com/
      Deadline: August 1
      A prize of $2500 and publication in Esquire will be given for a short story
      with the title "Twenty-Ten," "An Insurrection," or "Never, Ever Bring This Up
      Again." For more information, visit
      Deadline: August 15
      First prize is $500 and publication in Memoir (and) for a memoir in the
      form of a poem, a short story, or an essay. For more information, visit
      Deadline: August 31
      The winner receives $1000 and book publication by Black Lawrence Press
      for either a collection of poems or short stories. For more information, visit
      Dates: September 4-7
      Goddard College is hosting the Power of Words Conference, which offers
      readings and workshops in poetry and fiction. Scholarships are available
      for people of color. For more information, visit
      Deadline: September 7
      A prize of $3000 and publication in Real Simple magazine will be given
      for an essay on the theme: "When did you realize that you had become a
      grown-up?" For more information, visit
      Deadline: September 30
      Louis Reyes Rivera and Bruce George, co-editors of the critically acclaimed
      The Bandana Republic, are now accepting submissions for Street Smarts:
      An Anthology of Urban Survival Strategies. They are seeking your story of
      survival via rent parties, urban food recipes, the urban banking system,
      home remedies, prison survival etc. For more information, visit
      Deadline: November 15
      Sowing the Seeds, a collective of women writers based in Tucson, Arizona,
      is seeking poetry, personal essay, and memoir to be published in their
      anthology "Our Spirit, Our Reality." For more information, visit
      Berkley is looking for an editor to make fiction acquisitions for its Prime
      Crime mystery sub-imprint and in the women's fiction area for trade and
      mass market. Editor may also maintain the westerns list by acquiring as
      needed. Must have at least 3 years of related experience in commercial
      trade book publishing. To apply, please send your resume, cover letter
      with salary requirements, an agent contact list, and a list of books edited to
      jobs@.... Please indicate position title in the subject line.
      Please join Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez in celebrating the release of her sixth
      novel, The Husband Habit. Attend an Online Book Party, or join Alisa in
      person on her New Mexico Homegrown Flavor Tour. For more information,
      visit http://sites.google.com/site/thehusbandhabit/
      If you like my web site, please nominate it for next year's Writer's Digest
      Magazine's "The 101 Best Web Sites for Writers" list. Send nominations to
      writersdig@... with "101 Best Web Sites" as the subject line and a
      brief note explaining how http://www.marcelalandres.com/ has helped you.
      Thank you in advance for your support!
      Want to see your announcement in an upcoming issue of Latinidad? Just
      e-mail me at marcelalandres@...
      You are welcome to reprint portions of Latinidad®; please credit
      Latinidad® and include a link to http://www.marcelalandres.com/
      To subscribe, read past issues, update your e-mail address, or unsubscribe,
      visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marcelalandres/
      "A writer cannot choose his audience; he can only be himself and let
      his audience choose him."
      --Sloan Wilson

      Latinidad® © 2003 by Marcela Landres

      Marcela Landres
      Editorial Consultant
      E-zine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marcelalandres/
      Facebook: http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=567699306&ref=profile
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.