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[personal profile] cryptogirl
So. That book, eh? I might have gone quiet in blogland, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been busting my ass getting it in shape for the Grimly Long Publisher Hunt. Yeah, I can juggle a freelance career, being a tortured writer *and* the demands of brazen housewifery- I’m that awesome.

I need some input though, from you LOVELY POTENTIAL PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BUY MY BOOK.

The 'easy' stuff’s been done. I’ve stopped tweaking the actual content; the manuscript has been formatted according to what seems like a convention (Times New Roman 12 pt, double-spaced)*; the synopsis is *mostly* written. The things I’m dithering over are tiny, but annoying: footnotes, and genre angst.

Footnotes. As I said a while back, it’s hard not to need references when you’re dealing with mythical creatures, the history of a faraway country and two bilingual characters. Now, some of these things can be amalgamated into the main text; actually, all of them could, in theory. And I suppose footnotes pull the reader out if they have to look at the bottom of the page or back of the book. Maybe some things don’t need explained, or readers will be curious enough to hit up Wikipedia?

With footnotes for other languages, I’ve now read two of Anthony Horowitz’s Power of Five series; he deals with a non-English speaker by either having someone nearby who can conveniently translate, or just by shoving the translation next to it, thusly:

Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas,’ said Pedro. My hovercraft is full of eels.

I don’t know if this looks clunky or not. Does it?

The other bugbear is classifying the thing. Now, it falls squarely into that trendy catch-all of urban fantasy, but my angst is whether it’s that other dreaded trendy catch-all, Young Adult. Thanks to a friend, I’m lucky enough to be sitting with a direct email address of an editor at an independent publishers who deal in Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy. Their definition of YA is:

- Protagonist isn’t an adult
- No adult themes, situations or language

Wikipedia’s definition is a bit woollier, quite apart from whether the bits about the age bracket being 16-25 and the percentage of actual adult readers are right:

- Nearly always has a child or adolescent as a protagonist
- Often deals with a wide array of themes adolescents can identify with (identity, sexuality, depression, suicide, familial struggles, bullying etc)
- Contains words and stuff

Yeah OK, I’m simplifying a bit, but really the gist seems to be ‘it features a young adult and has young adulty problems in it’. That would be two ticks for my novel, then. Without spoilering, mine has:

- A teenage protagonist
- Young Adult Issuestm like mental health, familial d00m, kicking the shit out of people, trying to figure out the opposite sex, identity &c &c
- Words and stuff.

So, given that and also that the editor’s site says she only deals with agents and I have none, do I send a polite enquiry explaining I know her friend and is this suitable on the off-chance?


This would be where I rail against the parents that get YA books banned from curricula or if you’re slapping warnings on YA books you want to have a fucking long hard look at yourself, you utter dipshit.*** But another time, maybe.

* Although every publisher I look at is pedantic about different things. No em-dashes! No indentation, not even for speech! Must be at least 100,000 words! Must be printed, sacrificing forests, and posted in the actual mail!

** Yes, it’s officially a Book 2. It’s sitting at 33,820 words at the moment. I’m clearly mental.

*** Have I mentioned there’s 145 swear words in mine? Not counting ‘mild others’ because REALLY WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

Date: 2014-05-25 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swaldman
A view on footnotes from somebody with absolutely no qualification to comment except for a familiarity with Terry Pratchett's writing (which on occasional pages has more footnote than text):

* If something is an aside that is unnecessary to the flow, too long for brackets, and worth reading for all, a footnote might work (though I don't know how much publishers like them). e.g. My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels, or Pratchett using them to describe aspects of the Discworld that readers won't be familiar with.

* If it's a reference to real-world mythology, explaining something for readers who don't know it - but which they could equally look up in Wikipedia - then I'd suggest putting it in a glossery of some sort, or perhaps even a preface if it wouldn't be spoilery. That way people who already know what (e.g.) a selkie is won't feel patronised by having it explained.

That's my 2p, but as I noted, I am utterly unqualified to comment on the matter :-)

Date: 2014-05-23 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Footnotes are better than a glossary at the back in my opinion as I tend to find out about the glossary too late... Pratchett uses notes a lot and I have never had an issue with them.
Re: Clunkyness of translated text I think that it reads fine like that. Convenient translation also works.
Young adult seems to sell well - both to young adults and adult adults, I will certainly pick up young adult book without any shame. Send it to the young adult people, then send it to the adult people, then send it to me.
Edited Date: 2014-05-23 09:01 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-26 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm, yes. Glossaries can be inconvenient, though I'm pondering [ profile] swaldman's suggestion elsewhere to have a glossary for mythical creatures, which makes some kind of sense, and that would probably halve the number of footnotes.

Convenient translation would work but can't in mine for reasons I'll shove in another comment! Will probably go with the Horowitz Method.

Yeah, YA is flavour of the month at the moment it seems; I'm working my way through Craigmillar Library's supply at the moment for 'research' ;)

Date: 2014-05-25 10:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
‘Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas,’ said Pedro. My hovercraft is full of eels.

Well indeed :)

Hm, I'm not sure about the foregn language issue. I think I would prefer footnotes, but then I'm unusual :) I would like it even more if there was an appendix at the back with the translations so that you had to look them up. But yeah, unusual. So actually I reckon the Horowitz Method is a good way forward...

I guess you have to decide who the foreign language text is for. If you wrote -- "My hovercraft is full of eels," he said in Spanish -- then would the reader lose anything by not having the Spanish supplied? A sense of mystique maybe? (NB not an argument for losing the language bits, just I guess working out why they're there and who they're for might help you decide how and whether to translate them!).
Edited Date: 2014-05-25 10:15 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-26 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love that Omniglot literally has a page just for 'my hovercraft is full of eels' in every language :D

Heh, there's been a bit of a split in opinion on footnotes vs appendix. Several people have pointed out Pratchett uses them all the time (and it's been AGES since I read any Discworld, should fix that), but his are quite frivolous and jokey. Clearly, I'm being too academic for my own good here ;) I think I'm leaning towards glossary for creatures, Horowitz Method* for translations and footnotes for things which are not these things.

Well, the best non-spoilerrific way to explain is something like this. The brothers normally speak English around the other characters and to each other. The only time they switch to Spanish is when they don't want anyone around them to know what they're saying- if they're in danger, for instance. A quick look through the MS tells me there's also a couple of prayers in Spanish, because eh, childhood Catholic tradition, go figure. I think in most instances these can be Horowitzed, but there are sadly no convenient translators standing nearby, because in many scenes that would be Silly.**

I'd better get on and fix the MS up. Bank holiday? What bank holiday? :P

*That sounds like some kind of painful medical practice or something. 'Ooh, the doctor just did the Horowitz Method on me and I hurt all over!'

**And Horowitz has a very silly woman doing the translation. Not only does his description push my sexist buttons, she's all jolly hockey sticks and 'WHAT WHAT ISN'T THIS FOREIGN COUNTRY RATHER MARVELLOUS APART FROM THE POLICE BRUTALITY SHALL I MAKE TEA'. Er, yeah.

Date: 2014-05-26 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahhh, OK, so having a convenient translator nearby is definitely not the way forward! :)

I guess the Horowitz Method (you're right, sounds very painful :P ) would be nicely unobtrusive for scenes where they are speaking to each other and deliberately excluding others. Translation in italics maybe?

I do not know this thing you call a 'bank holiday'... :P

Date: 2014-05-26 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup; have gone with translation in italics next to the speech. Although I've made exceptions for the two-line Biblical quotes where I've decided the footnotes can stay, and the one bit where there's a single Spanish word in an English sentence. Gah. Still, have halved the number of footnotes now I've done that and added a glossary.

I follow a really funny lady on Twitter who posts bad casting calls ( and she often refers to bank holidays as freelance invoicing days, and says things like 'happy Saturday! Or in the freelance world, Tuesday.' :P

Date: 2014-05-26 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I didn't think it was a bank holiday in Scotland?

Date: 2014-05-26 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The spring one is UK-wide; it's other bank holidays ( where the dates vary...

Date: 2014-05-26 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I stand corrected! Orkney pays no attention to most of them anyway ;-) It was a normal work day at my campus.
Edited Date: 2014-05-26 04:39 pm (UTC)


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