Friday, November 17, 2017

Why Changing Genres Is Tough

A lot of authors try it. Far too many fail at the attempt.

What I am talking about here are authors who have been writing in one genre, or have a talent for one genre, and then, for some reason, they feel it is time to "make a shift" and try something new. For some authors, they make the shift at the suggestion of a critique partner. For others, they simply see a new line and think it would be a great career move. Unfortunately, talking about the move is one thing. Executing the move is something else.

So, why is it so difficult.

This is something I have written about here on the blog in the past, and it all stems from the concept of "write what you know." Each of us has one genre we can connect with better than others. It might be because this is what we read. It might simply be the style of the structure connects with certain neurons in the brain. Regardless of the reason, that connection gives you an inherent insight to that style of writing that just flows naturally.

I often talk about these connection when I talk about the specific nuances of a writing style. For example, writing historical novels set in Regency England is more than simply a lot of dancing, house parties and characters saying "La." The same for Scottish Historicals. These are not about a bunch of hunky guys in kilts saying "Doona." If you read a story from someone new to this genre, you will fully understand what I am talking about. The language is stilted and forced. Things don't flow. Sure, the components are there, but the execution is not.

This also goes to another level, especially for those of you who are published. While you might be able to "write on proposal" with your current editor of your current genre, that shift to a new line will require you to write a full manuscript. You might have the sales numbers in your current genre, and that proposal might sound great, but again, it comes down to a full execution of the story.

I do recommend for any author, before you make that shift, THINK!!!! Consider what you know, what you will need to know, and if that execution is really going to be there. It might not be worth the effort, unless you have the time and the patience. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why 100% Digital Does Not Work

I started thinking about this yesterday after my wife came home from work. Let me give you the background here.

She is a department chair for her college and she was in doing an observation for one of her instructors. This guy was using a gaming app called Kahoot for a review activity. This is a great app but here is where the problem lies. If people don't have the technology, they are now locked out of the activity.

Here is another example. I fully understand the music industry is advancing quickly in terms of their technology. We have really come a long way from those 8-Track tapes! But when we have gone 100% digital, if people do not have the technology to listen to the music, (or to watch the shows such as Hulu, Netflix and the like), you have cut off part of the population that may have contributed to your income.

But how does this relate to publishing? The answer is simple. When you limit your readership to only those with the digital capabilities, you have lost a huge section of your population. Not everyone has the technology to read your books digitally. Not everyone has a large tablet, Kindle or something to read your books. Not everyone enjoys reading books on technology. There are still a lot of people out there who love the smell and feel of a book.

The large publishers did figure this out quickly when the digital book movement began. When they released books, they did so both in print and in e-book format. This is actually one of the big reasons why we saw such a spike in e-books at the beginning. It was not that authors who were going 100% digital were out-pacing the print sales. It was that the print people were doing BOTH and that contributed to the sales.

For you new authors out there, I fully understand the allure of grabbing those self-publishing opportunities that are primarily digital. You are now published! But remember there are a lot of people out there who might really enjoy your writing but will never see it if they are not using the digital outlets.

I am not someone who is going to say digital is bad, but I have to remind a lot of people, that, although the technology may be out there, not everyone has access to it, or enjoys using it. If you want to increase your sales, you have to create those multiple platforms for your readers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Pantster's Struggle

Yes, this is an ongoing debate in the writing community. This is that universal argument about whether or not it is good to be a plotter or a pantster. Again, I am going to be the advocate for the best method, and that would be plotting.

Before I go any further,  want to return all of you back to your junior high and high school days. Remember in writing classes your teachers talked about a concept known as the writing process? Let me give you that quick review.

Essentially, there are three areas: PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING and PUBLISHING. You may have seen these with different terms, but these are the main areas.

In the first phase, the pre-writing, this is where you do most of your planning. As the prefix PRE means, it is BEFORE you start writing. During this phase, you brainstorm, you free write, you outline, you research. Essentially, you get all of your thoughts figured out first before you even waste your time doing any writing. If you spend the time here, you won't end up writing a story that is pointless or goes no where. You figure out the mistakes BEFORE you get started.

In the second phase, this where you draft and get feedback. During this phase you are constantly getting feedback and revisions as you go. This phase is not about writing the entire story AND THEN getting feedback. Get those comments as you go so your revisions are not painful.

In the publishing phase, this is where you do your picky editing. This is where you wordsmith and get it ready BEFORE sending it out to publishers and agents.

Now, where the pantsters of the world screw up is that they take the FREEWRITING step in the Pre-Writing phase and count that as real writing. They assume that the work they do there is going to be the story. While you might find some nuggets of content here, this is not going to be your best work. The reason is simple. You have no idea where your work is going to.

As a quick side note, this is also the reason why so many people who are now in the middle of the NANOWRIMO are going to struggle. This month is going to be a lot of brainstorming and free-writing which means the editing is going to be a nightmare.

Now, let me get back to the other issue of why it is crucial you plot those stories out.

If you are like pretty much everyone else out there, you do not have unlimited time. If you have two hours of writing, you have to make sure that time is used wisely. You cannot lose that time just trying to figure things out. But there is a bigger issue. For so many of you pantsters, you just start writing and then end up ramming into a brick wall as your characters of the plot went one way, and you needed to go somewhere else. Not fun.

I know that many of you believe "plotting hampers your creativity." Bull! Plotting is just deciding where you want to head in each chapter or section of your book. You don't need to plot every element of dialogue or storyboard the entire book. But you do need to have a vision of where you need to be at the end of each chapter or section.

Just something to think about on a Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sorry Male Authors - Male Privledge Does Not Let You Ignore The Guidelines

This weekend, I found myself rejecting a ton of authors who simply didn't seem to know how to follow the rules and guidelines. Let me explain the situation.

As you know, the Greyhaus Literary Agency ONLY represents romance and women's fiction. It has been that way since I opened the agency in 2003. And yet, time after time, I find myself rejecting authors who seem to think the guidelines on the website are not really what they seem to say. In other words, despite the fact that we go through hours of setting up clear guidelines, these are not really what we want. Now, here is the thing I notice. Over and over again, these submissions are coming from male authors.

I will just say, I don't get it.

These authors will submit from my website, quote things from my website and blogs, and then submit projects that are, in no way, romance or women's fiction.

Maybe this is a gender communication thing. Maybe these authors are simply looking at the
submission guidelines as Capt. Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean states, these are not actual rules.

Ahhh, but these are rules.

We establish the guideline because these are the stories that we represent and we are looking for. It is as simple as that.

Come on guys. Quit thinking that there are loopholes to everything and really this is a free-for-all when it comes to the publishing world.

Follow the rules and you might find more success!