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QUESTION: Hi there. My friends and I are highschool students. We have something we call the RPG binder and it is a binder that we write stories around the central plot. Several people, and teachers, have read the unfinished binder and have said that they would like to read it when it is done. The binder has five people's stories and they each are like the different point of views of each character, each chapter changing with the different characters (though it is still written in third person). Basically what I want to know is how would we get it published or on the road to being published?

ANSWER: Hi, Kathryn!

Well, I guess I'm a little confused on what you've produced there. Do you mean that you have five stand-alone, independent stories around a central theme, or more along the lines of five chapters of a book, with the central theme essentially being the "plot?"  If they're stories, you've got what's known as an anthology. Anthologies generally include stories by different authors with a theme. One recent paranormal anthology is "My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon." The publisher selected a group of writers to create stories around the theme of a "supernatural honeymoon." They could create what they wanted--often using the characters from existing series but creating new plots that weren't tied to their own books. It's *possible* to interest a publisher in an anthology, but more difficult with all of you being debut (unknown) authors. It would have to be incredibly unique and amazing to get it picked up. Still, it could certainly be submitted to an agent and perhaps they could interest someone in it if the central theme is similar to a publisher's main line.

On the other hand, if you have a novel that's being written by five authors, that's a trickier scenario. Readers of novels expect the story to flow smoothly without any major changes in voice or tone. For five people to pull that off would be an accomplishment indeed! It's tricky even when TWO authors write together.

Give me a little more details about what you're planning and I'll try to see if I can give you any suggestions of how to proceed. :)


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for a quick answer Cathy! We have the second scenerio going for us, the novel written by five authors. It has about so far...if I can remember correctly (I don't have it with me, my friend does), about 40's been going on since my freshman year (I'm a junior now).

The way it goes is I write my chapter, hand it off to my friends who writes the next chapter, using either my characters and hers/his characters. The chapters flow almost like a Brian Jacques Redwall series novel, if that gives you any ideas of how the chapters flow (He's the only author I've read that does this).

Okay, so the problem is going to come up during the submission process of WHO the agent or editor is going to deal with. Let's say that a publisher is interested enough in the idea to give this a chance. Well, if there are changes to chapters 1, 5, 7, and 14, who makes the edits? What if chapter 5 doesn't work and the editor wants to eliminate it (hence removing one entire author from the story?) How would you handle it?

Also keep in mind that the editor isn't going to be willing to take edits from five different people. They're going to want to smooth out the voice and make it flow---without the choppiness that can happen with multiple writers. So, they'll want to work with ONE of you, even if there are four others in the background contributing to the effort.

You guys need to sit down and really THINK about the process and who you trust to be the "point (wo)man" of the project. I can assure you that even with two authors, the process bogs down and can get frustrating. We selected ONE person to handle different aspects of the process, and I'd recommend you do the same. Then, get it in writing! I'd be happy to send you a PDF of a book collaboration agreement that my co-author and I wrote up to handle the issues that come up in publishing. They're things that it's going to be hard to wrap your heads around at this stage in your life, but you have to if you want to make a go of this. Publishing is a *business* and the publishers take it seriously. So you have to be serious about it in return.

If you're interested, write a private follow-up back with your email addy and I'll ship it along. Don't worry, you won't get any spam or anything. I'll delete it after I send the doc.

Hope that helps, and good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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