Friday, September 13, 2019

It's All About You: You Are In The Driver's Seat

Every now and then, I like to take the time to remind people that you are in control of your own destiny when it comes to your writing and publishing. While it is really easy to blame other people about things not working out the way you want, in the end, it all comes back to you.

I often bring this up when we talk about contracts. I lot of time I hear authors complain that the publisher did things they did not like. Take a look at the contract YOU signed. Was it in there? Most likely yes. More importantly, whose signature is on that contract. It was you.

Writers do not have to sign that contract. You decide who you want to send your project to and who you want to work with. You are not being forced.

But I want to take this to those of you who might not have a contract yet.

  • YOU decide who you want to send your story to for consideration.
  • YOU decide if you want to act upon the recommendations given to you in those rejection letters.
  • YOU decide if you want to target your submissions or just send it to anyone with an email.
  • YOU decide if you want to work with a critique group.
  • YOU decide if you need to learn things about your craft and your writing.
  • YOU decide if you want to research your genre before you start submitting.
  • YOU decide if you want to make time in your schedule to write.
  • YOU decide to make the changes
In other words, if you don't like where things are going, what are YOU going to do about it? Just sitting around on social media, complaining about the industry, editors, agent, the process and so forth does nothing to advance your career.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Time Management and Writing

I fully get that all of us live busy lives. This is one of the reasons why a key to success in publishing is time management!

I know we would all love to have the life of those authors we see on television and in the movies. They get up when they want. The wander into the kitchen, get a cup of coffee, work on motivation and then write when they want to. Ahh, what a life.

But we know that does not happen. We have other jobs, kids, a house, bills, and... well life.

The odds are you are not going to have a full day available to write, so the key is to eek out what time you have. This means maximizing that time!

One of the best tools is to be prepared to write. This does mean plotting and planning. Know exactly where you want to go the moment you can sit down at that computer and write. You may get 30 minutes somewhere in the day. Having a plan means that once the computer is up and running your fingers can go to work.

Another technique is to keep a pad of paper with you and jot down notes as you go.

One of my authors told me recently that she pretty much spent one day handwriting much of the chapter she was working on simply because she never had a lot of time to really work at the computer. What she had on that pad of paper was just notes, but it was a start.

So, how do you maximize your time? Let me know.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Over-Working Your Stories

This is a cautionary tale.

We all want to make sure our story is great when it is sent out to those editors and agents. We want to make sure that story is right on the money for our readers. But sometimes, over-working it only ruins it.

This is a problem a lot of authors have around the world so if you feel you are in this group, don't panic! You aren't alone. Still, this is an issue that has to be fixed!

I started thinking about this when I was talking about his creative writing class in college. His professor is one of those authors who fine tunes everything. She will spend hours working on a single passage, massaging it, changing single words over and over again to conjure just the "right image." In the last 8 years, she has written three novels (I should note, the size of a Harlequin Historical).

So, was it worth it? Probably not. I read a couple of excerpts and while it is clear that the writing has been worked really hard, the writing itself becomes difficult to read and distracts from getting the plot across to the reader. In a lot of ways, the writing starts sounding like something I describe as NPR Literary Fiction. If you have ever heard authors such as this on NPR talking about their books, they discuss the writing as so elevated above the common man. They talk about the imagery of a blue door to their house as if it is symbolic of the deep philosophy of ancient warlords in a long forgotten civilization.

Will your readers get this? NO!

I am not saying to not use metaphors and symbolism. I am not saying to not work and edit your stories. I am saying, that much fine tuning becomes over-kill

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Perception of Self-Pub Authors = Question from a Writer

How do agents and main stream publishers feel if you are self pub? Also, self pub doing well but looking for that boost into main stream? I heard publishers steer clear of self pub authors. Thanks for any insight!

This is a great question, and I really wish there was an easy answer for this one, but, like everything else out there, it is all subjective.I do want to look at this from a couple of different angles.

I remember talking to a fellow agent a couple of years ago and we both came to the same conclusion about self-publishing. It was not an issue of not liking this approach, but a frustration. We each had authors who had worked with us, taken our advice, used our insights, gotten contacts for editors, and then ditched the agency approach and went out on their own. Sure, they would be successful, but, financially, the work we put in on that author and those manuscripts was just not there. Both of us did feel that authors were not doing this intentionally, but it was frustrating. Remember, as an agent, we are putting in the work BEFORE the book sells and we only get paid when that book sells.

Now, let's look at it from the perspective of a writer coming to us for the first time. Again, remember that this is entirely subjective. 

If an author has been highly successful, this is always a plus! These people are already coming in with a following so establishing that name recognition is one hurdle we don't have to worry about. The key is "highly successful"!!!! Is that self-published author selling as much as he or she would in the traditional setting? We aren't looking for success in terms of review or ranking on Amazon. We want to see $$$ statistics and units sold. 

If an author has taken the self-pub route and the story is not selling, but they want us to sell it, this is where it gets difficult. We have to examine if the lack of sales stems from poor marketing or poor writing. Personally, I have only seen the fact that the writing has been the reason for the poor sales. Many of these authors tried the traditional approach, were rejected, went out on their own, and were then slapped in the face with the reality of poor sales. 

I will also add, and again, this is a personal opinion, author egos often get in the way. Too often, when someone comes to me as a self-published author, they proclaim themselves to be the next "Great American Author." Confidence is one thing, but....

I have also found that too often, self-published authors are harder to teach and work with. They have, for so long, done it their way, that seeing a new approach is really difficult. This is understandable. It happens to all of us when we know one approach.

I guess it comes down to this. There is not dislike, but we often have a lot of potential "red-flags" were are looking at. We aren't holding authors who took this approach to a different standard. We are just cautious.