Monday, April 16, 2012

Erase Mistakes Before You Make Them with Guest Blogger: Ashley Mackler-Paternostro

Welcome author Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
to the Book Boost!

She's here to discuss the mistakes she's made along the way and how to avoid them and here's what she had to say...

As a first time author naturally I made a lot of mistakes. I was stumbling into a profession I knew absolutely nothing about ... and although I had my story, I was silly enough to believe that was enough. The truth is the biggest mistake I made as a writer was one I didn’t know I was making until it was way to late. And worse yet, it was one I didn’t have to make ... one I could have avoided -- agh, 20/20 vision. There is always a learning curve in anything you do and in writing it just so happens to be steep.

Querying is a very intimidating process by the nature of it. The writer strips down and says “this is what I have, this is who am I, am I and is this worth believing in?” ... more often than not the answer is “no.” The reason for the “no” can be cloaked in riddles or can be simply cut and dry and boiled down to particular taste. But, it’s the nature of the beast. Agents, love em’ or hate em’, are respected with their rules of conduct and expectations and their nickname “the gate keepers” -- that’s not for nothing. They really are the first ones you want on your team if your dream is the be legacy published -- as in, the Big Six. And if that is inline with your dream than you’re probably going to find yourself in the process of querying ... it’s natural to query, it’s just part of what writers do ... and ironically enough, books are actually written on the subject.

I started querying in the late summer of 2011. I read all the books about how to query effectively, what a stand-out query looked like, and I tried ... I mean, at least I can say that much. I drafted my query fifteen times before I finally amassed the courage to actually send it. I researched which agents were best in my particular genre and I addressed each query to them exclusively as if they were really the only one in the world that mattered. I complimented their biographies and stroked some egos by admiring their quotes on how they viewed the business. I explained, in depth, who I am, what I wrote and why. Check, check, check ... it was all very “by the book.” I summarized my book in a single paragraph highlighting the heart of a novel. I hypothesized who would buy it and why they would. Then, I attached the required snippet and off it went ... into inboxes around the world. After about 50 hours of work I had e-mailed 50 agents.

But, even with everything I did right I made a mistake ... a tragic mistake. My novel, as it was, was unedited.

Here is the thing no one tells you ...


In all of those books no one mentioned that. Maybe it was an assumption, a no brainer, the sort of common sense thing that goes without saying. But someone should have said something because you know what they say about assuming anything.

In my mind, I thought it went like this -- get an agent, get a publisher, get an editor. Uh, no ... that’s not how it happens, that’s the stuff of Hollywood.

Agents work for or with you without the promise of ever making a red cent. They take the risk on a book because they believe in it, and it’s easier to believe in something when it appears that the author has invested everything into it. No agent has the luxury of devoting months of time into a new author with no background in the publishing field to clean up a manuscript that may sit stagnate on their desk top.

Here is what I learned the hard way:

You get one chance to make a first impression ... putting your best foot forward in an industry that is full of supremely written novels is just plain smart. If your manuscript is sloppy then you come off as sloppy and you look like ... well ... a fool. Turning in something that isn’t your best, best work is like handing them a free pass to say “thanks but no thanks!”

Don’t make my mistakes, learn from them. If you’re thinking of starting the querying process, find a freelance editor first ... understand that further edits may come later ... but do what you can do today.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for joining us today, Ashley, and for sharing your experience with us. I would have love to have heard more about what eventually happened with all those queries you sent out! Please tell us more about your book.


Jenna Chamberland never wanted anything more than to be a wife and mother. That is, until she realized that her life was ending after a three-year battle against breast cancer. Now, all she really wants is more time.

With 4,320 hours left to live, Jenna worries for her loved ones and what she knows awaits them on the other side: Gabe will have to make the slip from husband to widower, left alone to raise their seven-year-old daughter; Mia will be forced to cope with life without her mother by her side. In a moment of reflection, Jenna decides to record a set of audiocassettes — The Milestone Tapes – leaving her voice behind as a legacy for her daughter.

Nine years later, Mia is a precocious sixteen-year-old and her life is changing all around, all she wants is her mother. Through the tapes, Jenna’s voice returns to teach Mia the magic of life, her words showing her daughter how to spread her wings and embrace the coming challenges with humor, grace and hope.

The Milestone Tapes the journey of love between a parent and child, and of the bonds that holds them when life no longer can.

Want More Ashley?

Ashley Mackler-Paternostro was born in Naperville, Illinois, where she still lives with her husband Mark and their three dogs. A hairstylist by trade, Ashley will often say that some of the best stories she has ever heard were told to her while working behind the chair. A life long reader with an insatiable appetite for good books, she decided to merge her love of great stories — both told and written — into her own brand of story telling.

When she’s not being held captive in her home office by words, Ashley fancies herself a flea market hunter with a weakness for Japanese glass floats and repurposing vintage goods.

Visit her on the web here:

Pick up a copy of her book today! Click here.

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