Friday, December 14, 2018

Don't Be A Lazy Writer

While there are certainly a lot of benefits of living in a digital age, we are unfortunately, becoming extremely lazy. More and more, I am finding authors who are looking for every shortcut possible to get their books to editors and agents. One, in particular, is the use of these "clearinghouse" websites that proclaim to have made your search for editors and agents easier with one stop shopping.

You have all seen these sites. The publishers claim they have consolidated all  of the key information about these editors and agents. Just click on their emails they have embedded in the information and you are off and running.This is lazy, and frankly, just plain stupid. If you are doing something like this, you are not doing your research, and the odds are, you are receiving a lot of rejection letters.

I don't know how many submissions I receive on a weekly basis from authors who clearly had not done their research. They claim they are very excited to present their latest story to me that is exactly what I am looking for. They talk about all of their knowledge of my expertise in their field. Time and time again, the story is in a genre I do not represent, or worse yet, (which is what is happening now), are submitting projects when I am closed to submissions. 

Let me now say, at some level, there is nothing wrong with these sites AS A STARTING POINT! Once you have a name, then it is up to you to do your work. Go and visit the site.

This is where you can find out all about the editors, the agents, their submission guidelines, and their approaches to the business. Make sure that your story really is a good fit. Make sure this is a company you really want to work with on your writing career.

You might be shocked that your career might take off if you start doing things the right way!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It's About Time Management

On of my authors posted a while ago on social media wondering how and when other authors got their writing in daily. This was a great chance to see different approaches, but the one thing that stood out to me was a common response from many authors. Writing always took second fiddle to other things in their life.

Writing is one of those unique activities where people can get paid to do a hobby. For many authors, their careers started out as being simply a hobby writer. They would journal. They would take continuing education classes to fill their days. They might even join a writing circle. In all of the cases, however, this activity was simply a hobby, so it made a lot of sense that writing was never a priority in their lives.

But things change when a writer moves to the professional side of things.

I always tell authors that when they become professionals, they are now taking on a JOB! This IS a career. And, because it is a career, it needs to be treated like any other job you would have.

Think about this. If you are working in the corporate world, do you just work when you want to? No! You have a schedule. You have deadlines. You have to be at work at a certain time and you leave at a certain time. Writing needs to be treated just the same way.

Now, I fully understand that for the majority of writers, they already have a full time career. Guess what? You now have TWO and that means that you have to treat the second job, being a writer, with the same respect as that first one.

Successful writing means that you set a schedule and you work with that. No more excuses. If, for example, you know that with your regular schedule and kids activities, Monday, Wednesday and Friday are great times to write since they are at soccer practice for 2 hours on those days, then that is your writing time. No house cleaning. Now grocery shopping. You use those 2 hours.

This also requires talking to the other people in your life. They need to know that your writing is not a hobby, but a job, and you need their support. This might mean that on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, those are the days that your significant other cooks the dinner.

I will have to say, as long as you treat your writing as just something you do when you have time, you will not make it in this business.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Why Fan Fiction Is Ruining Literacy

So, we were sitting around the dinner table last night and somehow, the Arthurian legends came up. Not really sure how, but it really does not matter. One of my daughters proceeded to talk about what she believed to be the true Arthurian legend. It was far from accurate. The story was based on what she had seen on our wonderful television media of ONCE UPON A TIME and the series MERLIN. When we tried to discuss with her the versions from the original Arthurian legends, T.H White's ONCE AND FUTURE KING, or even Tennyson's IDYLLS OF THE KING, her only comment was, those stories are boring.

Let me just say, I am a Literature Major. I believe in reading. I believe in reading the humanities to understand the world and our history. However, this world we are living in has truly become lazy and are slowly moving us toward a second Dark Age with nothing but an illiterate population.

K-12 education has eliminated reading novels, claiming arguments of public funding to "these are not skills found on standardized tests." AP and IB programs don't even read full novels any more but just give the "highlights" to get the students through the tests.

I was talking to a mother who she, and her son rides at the stable my daughter rides at. She was venting about how kids don't even have to write significant papers showing any analysis about what they have read. Her son has had to do a diorama, a Powerpoint presentation and a movie trailer, but in all cases, had to be limited. Translation... no thinking.

Parents are not even supporting literacy. Take a look the next time you got to the mall. How many times will you find a parent shoving a cell phone into a kid's hand to "give them something to do" while the parents shop endlessly for garbage or buy their Grande Skinny Peppermint Mocha.

While this might seem like a general cultural thing, the publishing world, is following in these same footsteps. Stories that have no plot are the stories the publishers are acquiring. In the romance industry, the trend is heading toward stories with sexy guys, no depth, low level vocabulary and certainly no significant plot.

The days of thinking are going away fast. If SIRI cannot answer the question, or SPARKS NOTES does not have the answer, it is apparently not significant.

The reality of the situation is that we need to remedy this fast. Parents can promote reading. Turn off the stupid TV and social media and read. And yes, parents, this mean you too need to read. Schools need to promote reading again. Not short cuts.

But this even means the industry needs to get off their butts and do something. Publish stories with depth. Quit going for the "easy" sale. Quit going for the fast money. Look for quality. Let me just say this is part of the reason Greyhaus Literary Agency has not signed an author in a long time. I want quality and not just the quick sale.

I challenge those of you who read this blog to promote this.