It’s that special time of year when summertime beachgoers who love the water may be more apt to stay ashore with a good book rather than head into the surf. Why? (Cue Jaws theme song!)
It’s Shark Week!
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Discovery Channel is hosting seven days and seven nights of programming focusing solely on one of the world’s most fascinating and deadliest predators. In the spirit of Shark Week—and because the publishing world can sometimes feel like a shark tank, with so many depths, discoveries, and dangers just like in the real ocean—I’ve compiled a short list of helpful author resources and paired it with some of the most interesting facts about sharks.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Fact #1: Sharks communicate through body language. A few common communications include zigzag swimming, head shaking, hunched backs, and head butts.
Unless it’s an in-person pitch, authors often rely on silent communication, too, when they want to inform agents and publishers about the awesomeness of their manuscripts. Unlike sharks, though, head butting an agent or editor is obviously not the best approach; hence, the query letter.
In a previous post, “6 Dos and Don’ts of Querying Literary Agents,” I outlined general guidelines to put your best pitch forward. In addition, there is another great resource with specific examples of how to effectively craft a query letter: Query Shark. This aptly named blog allows you to review real examples and even submit your own draft.
Experienced agents and editors have a sharp, shark-like sense for sifting out what they want—which means they’d rather not have to read in frenzied zigzags to find the story “hook,” only to finish the pitch shaking their heads in disappointment. With constructive revisions and suggestions to strengthen your pitch, Query Shark will help you hone your query letter before sending it out into choppy waters.
Fact #2: Great white sharks eat an average of 11 tons of food a year and can go as long as three months without eating.
Like the great white shark, most writers have a voracious appetite and really don’t like going months without satisfying it—I’m talking about books, of course, not fish. In between working on your latest literary project, it’s healthy for you to take a break and read books you enjoy by your favorite authors. You might even gain some inspiration or reach a new level of creativity.
Perusing the local bookstore or visiting the nearest library will undoubtedly quench your literary appetite. Also, you may wish to subscribe to various e-book deal sites such as BookBub, eReaderIQ, or even Goodreads to receive a steady stream of daily discounted e-book offers in your preferred genres.
Fact #3: Sharks have few natural predators. Sometimes killer whales, seals, crocodiles, and larger sharks will eat sharks. Humans are the biggest threat to sharks.
There are countless publishing companies and professionals—both traditional and non-traditional—eager to help writers’ dreams to become a published author a reality, myself included. There are also, unfortunately, human beings out there who behave more like predators and seek to exploit those dreams (e.g., outrageous fees, overpriced and unrefined editing/marketing services, and unfair infringement of authors' intellectual property rights)—especially with trusting, first-time authors.
To avoid these publishing predators, check out the Writer Beware blog. It regularly posts warnings of different scams and schemes perpetrated by unethical companies or individuals lurking in the murky depths of the industry.
Fact #4: Most sharks never sleep. They have to constantly pump water through their mouth and over their gills to breathe or they will die.
Similar to sharks, writers are known for experiencing a lack of sleep. It can be difficult to establish a routine or find time to research their craft in an already busy schedule. Authors who make use of well-established resources will conserve valuable time. For quick tips about grammar, productivity, writing as a craft, and the publishing industry, check out these sites: Daily Writing Tips, 10 Minute Novelists, and Write It Sideways.
Now that you have some new “bait” to sink your teeth into, you should be able to navigate the publishing shark tank more swimmingly.
Shark facts source: https://bit.ly/2sseY75
Additional resources: http://bit.ly/MPEresources