World News, Quite A Happy Birthday!

I’ve been, maybe, the worst blogger in the history of the world.  I apologize (it feel’s like I’m always saying “sorry” here … sorry for that!) …

I just returned from a trip out west, the place where it all started for me.  365 days I stood on Rialto Beach and said “it’s time to figure my life out and live it authentically.”  I knew what that meant, where I needed to go and what I needed to do … now, I’m published.  It was a crazy year, but the accumulation of it couldn’t have been more justified … I needed to stand there again and feel the completion, the accomplishment.

Today, I turn 29.  The first year of writing has come and gone so quickly, I don’t really know whether to celebrate or cry because it was an amazing year, and I know I’ll never go back.  I’ll be that innocent again, or at things so simply.  It feels like I grew into this so quickly.

But here’s what’s crazy.

The day I turned 28, I decided to write a novel … the day I turn 29, I have an article about that novel feeding out of World News.  I don’t know if it gets better than that … it was a fluke of timing or the natural unfolding of things.  But either way, it’s amazing.

World News Article About The Milestone Tapes

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting

 No … silly writers … this isn’t a pregnancy post!  This is a business post.  I want to discuss what you should expect when you’re expecting something book related … anything book related.

As a writer, an independent writer, you’re not just writing books for the sport of it … you’re running a business.  You’re producing a product in your bed or office or at the kitchen table.  It’s a product that will be bought and sold for years to come and it should, in a perfect world, rise up to meet your expectations of it.  And, chances are, you’ll end up outsourcing some of the tasks involved in the production of that product.  It’s the loss of control that’s extremely hard …

For me, this was equal parts of exhausting and rewarding. When you hand over your vision as well as your money, you are taking a chance — no one knows that better than a virgin-writer with no real connections and zero experience. There are no lily-pads in your pond to hop from. As I prepare to get the second book really moving, and align myself for the best success possible in terms of time management and output, I think taking a hard look at what to expect when you’re expecting is a pretty important thing.

I’m pretty much a pacifist.  I’m easy going, I try my hardest to be nice to everyone I meet and I’m fairly level headed in terms of my expectations.  I might go so far as to say I have a perfectionist streak in my ideals … but I’m not impossible please.  Many, many of my business dealings were amazing, having the resources at my finger tips to ask the important questions and establish a bell-curve of expectations was priceless … but it wasn’t flawless.  I was new, green and fumbling as I like to say, and I had to learn a lot of things … hard things … but with any education, there is growth and … believe it or not … I’m actually sort of thankful for the moments that had me pulling my hair out, because they taught me more for the next endeavor.

1. The people you hire actually do work for you!

I can remember one instance where I was working with someone … going back and forth, “yesing” and “noing” a certain thing over and over and over again … it started to feel like a tennis match of sorts, with this certain thing bouncing between us with no points being scored.  The fun of it was lost in the inability to match up our minds and communicate effectively.  In the end, the person I was working with just e-mailed a few options and pretty much threw her hands up in the air.  That was discouraging.

When you’re paying someone to do a job, what you get in return for your money should be what you were expecting and nothing less than that.  If you’re sensing a mental break-down, either from you or your contractor, take a break.  Shoot off an e-mail and be nice about it, explain that you’re going to take 12 or 24 or 48 hours to think it over.  In the grand scheme of things, the cooling off period won’t make a difference in the timeline … but it may make all the difference in the end result.

Don’t be afraid to say “that’s not quite right” … it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  When you’re working over e-mail, things can get lost in the communication process, and that’s not really anyones fault.  If you can disguise a criticism as a kudos … even better.  Pick one thing you love and start with that.  Remember to say thank you … that’s important!

Let your contractor know, upfront, what your expectations are.   Don’t roll in during the 11th hour with X,Y&Z … be concise upfront and hopefully, in return, you’ll get the same.

2. Be kind … but firm …

This is sort of piggybacking off of point number one.  But remember, the people you’re working with have lives too.  Be aware that people get sick … that accidents and emergencies arise.  If something like this happens, because it does happen, be nice about it … but let them know that you’re still expecting the work done by such-and-such a date.

3. Work out a contract … and don’t be afraid to ask for a signature!

As a writer, you’ll be asked to sign contracts all the time.  Have one to offer back in return.  It’s an extra step, I know, but when you’re working online with someone you don’t know and you’re sending them your money and freely discussing a novel that isn’t copyrighted, it’s smart to safe guard yourself.  There are tons of online resources that will help you flesh one out … but use it, and keep them filed away by book (if you have more than one).

The primary thing to remember on this front is that until you have some safe guard, you’re wide open.  If you don’t mind that, don’t worry.  For me, however, I worry and so I mind.  I didn’t have contracts on the first go around, I signed some, but never had one in return.  I’ll be a better business woman the next time around.

Key components to remember if you’re going to draw up a contract are:

1. All business dealings should be kept quiet.  The world is a small place.  One disgruntled contractor could sour your good name.  People do this all the time in the name of privacy … you should too.

2. What does the purchasing said work entitle you too?  For a cover … that’s easy.  You want access to use the cover for any and all book related events and swag.  Don’t be blindsided by limitations.

3. Speaking of covers … companies like Createspace has minimum DPI’s you need have for printing … the magic number is 300.  Make sure your artist is aware of that can can create a cover using that as a launch pad.

4. Confirm the price up front.  Whatever the service, make sure that you have a base line fee that won’t be changed last minute … those sort of surprises are awful, even when it’s not that much money.

5. Have an opt out!  This is an uncomfortable thing to approach … but the truth is, people do misrepresent themselves.  If you have the feeling you’re getting run-around or the excuses are piling on, have a built-in escape hatch.  Spell that out.  A settlement fee a portion of the cost is fair … but don’t feel trapped by someone else … ever!

6. Anything else that creates worry or stress for you.

4. Establish a timeline 

My first time looked a lot like a hot mess.  I was a mess.  No directionality at all.  This time around, my timeline tentatively looks like the below:

-Write (MS finished and self-editted by April)

-In Appointment with Editor NOW — as in January.

-Converse With My Cover Artist Mid-Feb for image for cover

-Book Goes To Editor In April

-Book Returns In May/Make Corrections

-Apply For Copyright

-Book Goes To Formatter In June/Cover Artist Does Spine and Back

-Book Is Published in July

Will those dates change?  OF COURSE THEY WILL.  But, it holds me accountable to a time table.  I obviously don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck for my next book … and to keep it sort of organized, I set the goals and reward myself if I finish on time or better yet, ahead of time.  Expect set backs but learn to be your own boss, hold yourself accountable.

5. Be calm in the face of crisis

When I was writing THE MILESTONE TAPES I realized that I had totally and completely plagiarized an entire chunk of the book.   Sucks to be me.  That was what I consider a crisis.  But, I did the old … keep calm and carry on … thing.  It worked out fine … but just know, shit will happen … be okay with that, be prepared for that.

So … writers … be excited when you’re expecting … but be smart about expecting as well!

P.S: Don’t forget to enter THE MILESTONE TAPES GIVEAWAY!!

 

 

 

 

 

In With 2012

2011 was an amazing year.  I feel really lucky to have had such a wonderful stretch of time, 365 really good days … thankful for all the really interesting and wonderful things that came into my life and blessed to able to have had such an adventure … yeah, 2011 was a wild ride.  It’s a little bit astounding to look back, solidly into 2012 for the sum of 48 minutes (and counting!), and know that this new year could possibly be even better.  That … right now … in one year from this moment my whole life could be just a little different.  Days and hours and weeks … sometimes even months … get lost as we live our lives … but somehow, we always remember how we felt and where we were when the year at large ended.

The new year has always made me just a little sad.  I think of myself as a really lucky person.  I have my health, my husband, my family, my friends … I’m surrounded by good things and I have the freedom to chase dreams.  I am always left wondering … how could it be better than this?  This is so good.  But, I have faith … faith that the good can be better, and the better be best.  So it’s with optimism that I look forward to the new adventure of the new year.

I want to wish you all a very happy New Year.  To thank you all for visiting my blog for the past few months … your words and support mean so much to me.  I received an e-mail from WordPress just a few hours ago tallying up my mark on this blogosphere for 2011 … I’ve had visitors from India, the UK, Canada, and even South America, Africa … actually, I don’t think there is a continent or country I didn’t reach.  That, to me, is amazing.  They told me how many San Fransico trollies it would take to transport you all.  The number, though I knew them, still surprised me.  My little blog that could … and did … do pretty awesome things.  And that, my joy, belongs to you … it’s because of you.

I hope you stay tuned in the new year … because bigger and better things are just around the corner.

Cheers!!

 

 

 

 

Your Reputation Is Everything

This afternoon I read about a very interesting story about a small publisher who purchases work from Independents for a journal she puts out — basically, a collection of stories. She pays for the work from authors and then publishes it.  She asks for (and pays for) a perpetual license because eBooks, unlike print, have no run-life … they can simply go on forever.  She ran into a snag with one of her previously published authors who wanted to move on to other ventures and needed the publisher to pull not only her story, but the entire journal.

That story is not what this post is about … but in some ways it is.

When the publisher told her “I’m sorry but I simply can’t do that” … the author decided to start spewing vitriol.  The publisher, at the end of her rope, posted a thread about this exchange.  And, much to my surprise, people actually said “out the author!” … they wanted, and even encouraged, the publisher to publicly shame this person.  The publisher demurred, for which I was thankful.  But still …

Ouch, right?

That, of course, started me thinking about public persona.  Who we are in real life versus what we say behind the comfort of our computer screens.

Right now, we’re living in a very interesting time.  The internet, social media, forums … they have made reclusive actors, authors, musicians part of our circle.  You can “friend” just about anyone as opposed to join a fan club … you can “tweet” your favorite actress in mere minutes rather than writing the age old letter.  And … if you’re lucky … that person will friend you back or even RT (re-tweet) you.

Authors are … more or less … considered famous.

Think about that girl … maybe she’d 14 and lives in Podunk, Somewhereville USA … maybe she’s read your YA book and is madly in love with your leading man.  To her … you’re a celebrity.  She doesn’t care if you’re traditionally published or not.  She just knows you’re an author and authors are famous people.  That’s just one example … but truthfully … there are a million more.  For me — I was recently involved in a twitter convo with Jennifer Wiener.  The Jennifer Wiener.  She and I essentially do the same thing … we both write books, I know it’s not glam work, I know it’s a job and it’s hard and it’s stressful … but still, I was gobsmacked by her giving my tweet a moment’s time.

Sitting behind your computer screen, worrying things like punctuation and format, you may not realize such important things … but, you’re about to become a name.  Maybe not a household name … but to someone, somewhere … you’re going to be the person who wrote their favorite book … you best not disappoint.

I used to frequent online forums.  I loved the release the internet gave me to be really honest about how I felt.  Sometimes it’s easier to say what you’re really thinking when no one is staring back at you — and I never knew there would be a day when I would be mortified by the things that came out of my mouth — or off my finger tips.  I was always truthful with my thoughts and feelings and particular take on hot topics … but, I was not always kind.  And now, as I get ready to become a “public figure” … I’m starting to realize, the internet has a long, long memory.

Your reputation is everything.  Things you say and do from the comfort of your home and the privacy of your IP number … those little slips can come back to hurt you.

I have backed off a lot of social posting, my name is now tied to this blog and my website and my book.  If I offend someone now, it means something different.  It means I’m not a screen name … I’m a person.

I’m going to quote my mother … and probably everyone else’s mother as well … “if you can’t say something nice … don’t say anything at all.”

Now I’m off to close some accounts and scrub some forums clean of my footprint.  ::sigh::

 

 

Blog Party for Donna Brown

Donna Brown, admin of one of the most successful indie websites around, joins us today from the UK to discuss her NaNoWriMo 2011 adventure!

Name: Donna Brown

 

Blog/Website Address: http://bookbagsandcatnaps.com / http://adoptanindie.bookbagsandcatnaps.com

 

Tell us about you: I’m self-employed and live in Yorkshire, UK with my husband and our six cats.

 

NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what inspired you to join the writeathon?:  I’ve had an idea in mind for a long time and I knew if I didn’t do something like NaNoWriMo, I’d never get it down on paper.

 

Do you have a plot idea, how about character description? My character is a man called Harry Schmidt.  A couple of years ago I wrote a short story about Harry that began when he inadvertently killed his mother with a shoe.  I liked the story but always felt I’d sold Harry a little short so I wanted to write a novel about him.

 

If so, how much pre-writeathon work have you done?:  I’m not going to use any of my previous writing but I have gone through it and my notes to keep the ideas fresh in my mind.  Other than that, not much!

 

If not, why not?: Two reasons. 1) It’s my first NaNoWriMo so I’m not sure how to prepare in a way that works for me – I guess I’ll know next year!  2) I’m working on  ‘Adopt an Indie’ month, which is also happening in November and trying to bring bloggers, readers and indie authors together.

 

What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo? (examples: time, other obligations, consistency of participation, writers block…):  Definitely time and discipline.  There are about 140 authors taking part in ‘Adopt an Indie’ and then there are around 50 book bloggers and readers galore.  I like to make sure I stay in touch and support people.  I’m going to have to be really disciplined about NaNoWriMo time!

 

What sort of experience are you bringing to the table? (examples: already an author): Not a lot.  I mostly write short stories but my husband, David, he’s the author of the house.  That’s one of the reasons I’m doing it: I don’t know how I’ll ever commit to a novel otherwise.  I’m too flighty with my ideas!

 

If you’re already a writer, what your the “normal novel” pace?  Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?

 

Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?: Definitely.  Even if I don’t do anything with it other than finish it, edit it, edit it some more, read it and keep it in a cupboard, I think I’ll regret it if I don’t tell Harry’s story.

It’s Just A Little Crush…

Author Katherine Hawkings is featuring me on her blog today for my unrequited love of Stephenie Meyer as part of her “Girl Crush Mondays” guest blogger series.

Such an honor!  I’d like to thank Katherine for the platform and encourage you all to visit her site.  It’s a little rehashing, a little unashamed glowing and hopefully–it’s all relatable.

Blog Party For Sean Van Damme

And the blog party rages on!

Sean Van Damme- television video editor, writer and soon-to-be husband joins the blog to share his NaNoWriMo experiences.

-Name:

Sean Van Damme

-Blog/Website Address:

Seanswritingadventure.blogspot.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sean-Van-Damme/199605780094806 (fanpage)

-Tell us about you:

I am a video editor for TV news by trade, and a writer by passion, hopefully in the next few years I can drop the by trade part. I’m in my mid 20’s live in a nice little house with my fiancé our little Dachshund named Gaius Baltar – yes the Battlestar Galactica Character, we are nerds—and our cat Gracie. I work at night so unlike most people who write after work I do so before work. I grew up in a military family moving all around the country spending time in Mississippi, Southern California and Japan, before finally coming to Virginia. Interests outside of writing are video games, TV Movies and annoying people by wanting to watch the local news for strange places I might travel. Most of those strange places are because until just recently my fiancé and our dog competed in Agility which meant a lot of traveling in the VA, NC, and MD areas. For a while I wanted to be a director and after failing to get into film school because my drawing ability tops out at stick figures, I went into video Journalism because they will give anybody a camera. It is only in the last two years that I returned to novels which I was obsessed with back in middle and the early part of high school.

-If you’re a writer–professionally speaking–what is your “normal novel” pace?  Given no restrictions on time, how long would you say it takes you to write 50,000 words?:

At present it is a side profession, but when I am writing and not trying to decipher my horrific spelling, I generally can knock out about 2,000 words a day before work so between about 10am-2pm. On the weekend I shot for and normally hit about 3,500 words. Given no restrictions I suspect that I could write 50,000 words in probably three weeks.

-This isn’t your first NaNoWriMo…tell us about your first time?:

My first NaNoWriMo was last year. I had meant to do it in 2009 and completely forgot, and was busy playing Dragon Age (I didn’t yet have the best work ethic at that point). On Nov 1 I sat down with a story that had been kicking around in my head for well over a year. All I had were the first few scenes for a Noir story and a Macguffin that I didn’t know the true value of. The first few days were really easy, aside from the working so fast that I switched from first person to third without even realizing for about seven chapters. I slowed down, as the plot started to get more confusing, but thanks to the wonderful woman that I live with I managed to push through finishing with a few days to spare. The major problem and one I don’t plan on making again was that I almost ran out of plot, which can really kill your flow, and desire to keep working.

-Since there is an end goal–which makes you a “winner”–did you win and reach 50k in your past NaNoWriMo’s?  How many words total did you write (more or less or dead even)?:

I did manage to win and wrote just over 50k, around 50,200.

-NaNoWriMo is a lot of work, so we all want to know, what initially inspired you to join the writeathon movement and then, what has kept you coming back for more?:

For a while I had trouble finishing any project that I started; only finishing my first novel because I set an arbitrary be finished by date. I saw NaNoWriMo as another mandated finish date that would help me plug through and polish those writing habits. I keep coming back for more because I love the work, and the feeling that you get when you finish that first draft is one of the best feelings I have ever felt. It is like a drug and you just need another hit, which means writing another book.

 -What were some of the things you taken away from past NaNo’s?  Any lessons you’d pass on to a newcomer and things you’d personally do different this year?:

Outlining. I wish I had done more of that beforehand so that I would have seen the running out of plot coming, and maybe could have compensated for it early in the month instead of scrambling in the last few days. Aim to write 2000 words every day that will leave you with 6 extra days incase life happens, which it always does. That super productive 3k day can help offset that day where you have to go grocery shopping or work overtime.

-What happened to your story–did you publish it?  Junk it?  Still working on it?  (this is the place where it is A-O.K to mention a published book, if that book came from NaNoWriMo’s of the past):

My story is with an editor right now after sitting fallow for about six months because I wasn’t happy with it come December 1. So hopefully it will come out in early November or late October, we’ll see.

-What do you think your biggest personal challenge will be when it comes to NaNoWriMo this year? (examples: time, other obligations, consistency of participation, writers block)

I suspect time will be my biggest challenge this year, since I can see wanting to work on the two manuscripts that I have still in the edit phase and not want to add a third. Thankfully I think I have the work ethic down this year thanks to last year. That first year is always the hardest.

 -Since you’re obviously back for more–tell us–what prep work have you done for 2011 NaNo?  Do you have a strong plot mapped out?  Character development?  What are you current plans?:

I am outlining a sequel to last year’s book. Though if that outline isn’t up to snuff by the first I have a sci-fi novel that I have been starting and stopping for the last year. I see NaNoWriMo as a great way to push it forward as there is a good 80 or 90k words left to add to the already written 40k.

-Do you plan to keep working on this book/novella/script post-NaNo?

Yup, NaNo is a great way to push out a manuscript and having a bunch of people doing the same thing fuels you and helps push a writer though those times when they lose faith in the story and themselves. I see no reason not to finish a winning book.

Today Changes Everything or Nothing At All

I am hesitant to project this outwardly on you all…deeply nervous…but excited; so excited I could scream and dance and cry.

I received my first request, from an agent, for a full MS read.  It took the agent an entire 5 minutes to e-mail me back.  5 minutes and a full…pick me up off the floor, please.

But, this post isn’t about that pre say, because–I as I titled this–it could change nothing at all and I don’t want to get ahead of myself with ambition.  But the emotions…whoa…they deserve a post all of their own.

The first time an agent told me “thanks, but no thanks” that was hard–not bone crushing–but hard.  Hard to read, hard to understand, hard to figure out what I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do wrong–I’d obviously done something, but what?  And instead of wallowing in the despair of rejection, I learned from it.  I tightened up my query–did my homework, read blog postings and articles and practiced, practiced, practiced.  So, to read now that I’ve somehow managed to be enough for a full MS read…it’s hopeful, and surprisingly, just has a hard.

When I queried, I sent out a lot.  I felt like the door to door sales woman peddling my wears to busy housewives–some ignored me, some slammed the door, others were kind enough to say “thank you, but I’ll pass”.  I was never discouraging.  I’d simply highlight their name of my ever-growing list and move forward.  Now…now I’ve been invited inside.  I have the chance, a real honest-to-God chance, to sell this book.  And there is so much fear and doubt and anxiety that hangs on this small, significant chance.

If this agent says no– she very well may say just that–it’s only about my book.  It won’t be about my lack luster sum-it-up skills.  It won’t be because I didn’t query the right agent.  All of those excuses will be dashed, tired and worn thing–the only thing that remains hinged together and halting the flow will be…my book.

Scary right?  Damn, scary.

Want to know what I did?  I sent out the full MS.  I did so with shaky fingers and so much doubt.  I let go and let God–cliché right?  But what choice did I have?  None.  She wanted it and this is what I do…I write, and I battle self uncertainty–one keystroke at a time.  But really…it was really, really hard.  As I turned the book into a Word.doc, I wished I’d done a hundred things differently.  Wished I’d had an earlier date with an editor.  Wished I had the time go over the book one last time.  Wish, wish, wish, send….

…Then…

I turned my mind off.  Totally and completely.  I grabbed my little white Chihuahua, turned on a rerun of Ghost Whisperer and took a nap.  A short nap, but it was luxury.  I rested and tuned out my inner monologue for a solid hour.

I don’t know if anything will come from this–maybe everything changes, or maybe nothing at all (I kept convincing myself of the latter, so if or when it comes to that I won’t be ruined for days).  Either way, it’s another place this journey was meant to go, and that…is definitely worth celebrating.

What We’re Up Against

Lately I’ve been reading about these amazing flukes of luck in Indie Author Land–multi-book deals, movie options, agents querying the author.  It’s all very motivational and it feels so hopeful.  These stories are a portal to the realization that, without doing anything other than being the best author you can be, beautiful things can happen to you all the time, at any given moment.

But there is a darker side to being an Indie Author.  Some may call them haters…others may associate the hate speech with the guillotine that hangs above every Indie Published book and the reputation that proceeds each new title…I would say it’s a pinch of both…but still…it’s darn good to know what we’re up against so we can arm ourselves accordingly

Amazon offers “Kindle Forums”…where real Kindle readers cluster to discuss.  I don’t frequent it often, but in passing I noticed a thread entitled—How To Avoid Indie Authors (ouch, that hurts!).  Yet, I decided not just run from the topic–but to consider their “take” as a master class on the isolated opinions that would polarize me from my dream.  Frankly, I’m always eager to learn from the ignorance or experience of others…to design what I do to prove them wrong–so wrong it hurts.

Here are a few sample quotes…

When Amazon opened up self-publishing for the kindle, everyone and their dog has suddenly become an “author,” and every rejected manuscript resurrected as a kindle “book.” I have no problem with amateurs posting their stuff to share online in a writer’s forum, but must their writings be intermingled with real books in the kindle store? Is there some way to hide them or weed them out when browsing and searching. It’s annoying to have to wade through all that garbage which has multiplied like a rat infestation in the Kindle store. courtesy of : Greg

Dear Greg,

I wrote a “book”.  It’s 100k words, and I wrote it in 4 months.  It was long process and it required every inch of self-control, dedication and deep love that a traditionally published book requires.  It’s real, and despite what you may believe to be a universal truth–it is, very much, a book, no quotations required.  You are under no obligation to purchase it–and I’d probably prefer if you didn’t.  No sense in subjecting you to my literary “garbage”.  I believe my feelings are probably shared by the others you harbor so much contempt for as well.

Greg, we do what we love.  We share what we love.  We pour over the words and characters and world we create with enthusiasm and joy–sometimes with heartbreak and frustration.  We intend the book to be enjoyed…so if you can’t or won’t simply because we’re not “traditional”…then it’s genuinely your loss–and for that, you have my sincere condolences.

Kindle and Nook ought to flag books that are self-published. At least then we think to check the book out a bit more closely. For me its the copy editing that makes me gnash my teeth and use words my mother would not approve of! courtesy of : KesterGayle

Dear KesterGayle,

It’s good to always check a book out–you might find something you’d enjoy.

I agree that the covers are a major clue. Indie book artwork and graphics are usually abysmal. But an even better clue is the absence of professional reviews. If all you see is a product description and/or quotes from anonymous sources you know it’s an indie. courtesy of : Danica

Dear Danica,

Since artwork and graphics tend to be one in the same…can you really take issue with both?  Or, did you mean font but simply fell victim to your own bad, confusing writing?  Maybe? If so, welcome to the party–writing what you mean to say can be a tricky skill to master. But, all of that aside, yes, I’ll agree with your point, covers are important.  Did you realize most covers–Indie or Traditional–are purchased from similar places?

I suggest we petition the federal government of the United States to create an Independent Author Advisory Board to decide for us what books can be published. This will weed out all the “undesirable” content from being sold. We need to censor all this garbage. Think of it like exterminators for infestation of freedom of press. courtesy of : New Girl!!

Dear New Girl!!

Your ideals fascinate me for the simple ignorance of them.  Amazon is an American owned and operated company…and in America, dear New Girl, we have this wonderful thing called Freedom Of Press–which, thankyouverymuch, doesn’t practice extermination.  Obviously you’re new…but look it up, girlfriend 🙂

Even calling them ‘authors’ is pushing it. Yes, wipe them out. 🙂 courtesy of : Greg (again)

Oh Greg,

It saddens me to see that–despite how simple it seems–you’re unfamiliar with the definition of an author…here, let me help you Greg.  An Author is defined by someone who has written a book, article or report.  Indie is simply a catch term given and used…but, it’s all the same…an author is an author is an author.  Cheers to all the wordsmiths out there!

Psst: You may want to buff up on the proper use of quotations–you use them in all the wrong places.

**names removed for privacy of the innocent** … Stop the self promotion please. That is the problem with indie . They just cannot help but promote their more often than not unreadable/boring work. Either use their friends or gang up together to self-promote covertly passing as unbiased readers. courtesy of : athenadsb

Dearest athenadsb,

Per chance you don’t understand that promotion–in many forms–is part of the job?  Even traditionally published authors promote their work, day in and out.  Your favorite author?  I’m sure has trudged the path of self promotion.  And, on a side note, I didn’t realize our friends weren’t allowed to enjoy our books?  News to me…but I’ll make sure to promote that in the future.

Indie writers: stop being so pathetic, even that Norwegian neo-Nazi killer had the decency of not publishing his 1500 + mein-kampf-ish jibber jabber to Amazon Kindle, learn to be as decent as him, that’s not too much to ask, or you’re just tooo needy and want to poison us with your venom. courtesy of : Brandenberg

Dearest Brandenberg,

Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (the title should be capitalized, by the way) in 1925 with a second edition published in 1926.  Amazon.com was founded in 1994 and went live in 1995.  Obviously, as you can see, there was no cross over.  However–I believe had Hitler been given the chance…he’d pushed that hate speech out at every turn–he was nothing if not self indulgent.

And…since I can’t let this slide without saying something…

To liken an Indie Author to Hilter is disgusting, it’s wrong, it’s vile and you should be embarrassed.  Nothing you say; before, during or after, will ever be relevant again–it was a nonsensical baseless comparison.  What Hilter did was exactly the opposite of what we, as authors, do.  We sell stories–not hate.  We believe in freedom to say what you want and be who you are–clearly a different agenda then the above mentioned.

I’ll be waiting for that apology, Bradenberg.

***

I think we’ll close the quote portion of this entry with Brandenberg ranking us below Hilter on the decency scale–seems like a good place to me…you?

What I walk away with (after seventeen plus pages of that full on bashing) is that in every dismal compliant there is a spark of truth (save for Bradenberg–but he’s his own man).  And that spark of truth is how we crawl from under the stigma of “just Indie” to be taken seriously as contenders, as good writers and good people.  It’s what we learn from the bad comments that earn us the good comments–the one’s the are listed below the title of our books.  People don’t hand out gold stars and stickers on effort when you’re a grown up doing grown up things–you have to work for it, and if you put in the energy and the money and the balls-to-walls effort…then–and only then– do the accolades come in droves.

Let’s put their objections to good use…they are just readers after all…

-Book covers.  Apparently they matter–a lot.  The age-old saying of “don’t judge” needs to be trashed.  Our covers are judged, probably to higher standard.  Effort needs to be outgoing and the product needs to be outstanding.

-Editing.  Just do it.  Hire an editor, find a beta-buddy…pause yourself, cool your heels…take the time to make it right from jump street.  If you publish a error-ridden work, it’s just that–error ridden.  Stop expecting anyone to read through your clumsy phrasing, and mistakes…they won’t and you lose.  It’s of paramount importance.  Raise the bar–and then rise up to meet it.

-Promotion.  Do it where it should be done.  Put your energies towards the places where you’ll be rewarded.  Every author promotes–interviews, press releases…but bite your tongue at the times where you’d appear to be selling snake oil.  The best promotion is the one that allows your reap the benefits of it…everything else is just clutter.

-Quotes.  If you’re going use them, let them stand for something.  Find reviewers and capture the best phrase of praise and use it!  Be proud of what’s being said–give credit where credit is due.

It can all be done.  Like I said before–prove them wrong.

I’m going to hand off the blog clincher  to Doobie Doobie who will say it better than I ever could….

All of the following were self-published…recognize any of the names?

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
John Grisham, A Time to Kill
L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics
Irma Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen,Chicken Soup for the Soul
James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit Classic Series

Also, here are some more self-published authors:
Thomas Paine – Edgar Allan Poe – T.S. Elliot – Carl Sandberg – Gertrude Stein – Deepak Chopra – Upton Sinclair – D.H. Lawrence – George Bernard Shaw – e.e. cummings – Henry David Thoreau – Virginia Woolf – Margaret Atwood – Tom Clancy – Stephen Crane

The Query Worry

Who knew writing would be the easy part.   Not me!

Finding an agent…is not…easy.  You’d think: they could make money, I could make money–we should all be so happy…but that’s my greenness poking out.

Agents want something.  Something you have to consolidate down into a paragraph.   Something that says “represent me, I’m the next big deal.”  In.  A.  Paragraph.   Holy sh!t is that not easy!

Okay, I am so not dogging agents.  Not at all.  I want one.  I’ll do whatever they say, send whatever they request and try my best.  I’m dogging me and my nature.  I’m wordy.  I like to explain things.  I want to write books–not memos.  It’s really, really hard…

So…here it is…thus far.

I started querying at 9 am on Thursday, August 25th 2011.  I joined a site (for anyone interested: http://www.1000literaryagents.com ) which boasts, as promised, 1000 agents at your finger tips. The process is very simple, you register (it’s free!) and suddenly you’ve unlocked all sorts websites and e-mail addresses.  Pretty amazing, no?

((Side bar: How did anything ever get accomplished before the internet? As hard as it is now, and it is hard, it must still be a thousand times easier…right?))

So, I plotted my course, page by page, researching the agents accepting queries from first time authors in Women’s Fiction or Chick Lit.  I opted to go to e-mail route, and set my sights of those willing to go electronic along with me.

I did my best to find the agent at each agency that I felt would, either through history or personal statement, get what I was trying to do.

The first query I sent out made me sick to my stomach.  Not what I was expecting, but okay…lets go with it.  I realized, the moment I clicked “send”, that I had unleashed my private art to the world.  It was my moment to scream “judge me!  Am I worthy?”…and it scared the you-know-what out of me.  Talk about a flash flood of doubt.  Suddenly, this project I believed in so hard was up on the chopping block.

But, I kept on, because that’s what we do–we swallow the fear and hesitation down, and keep going forward.

At the close of the day, and I’m talking like 15 hours of “Dear So & So,”…I’d queried 18 agents, had officially I hit my mental wall and called it a night.

…This is where it get’s discouraging…

I picked up where I left off the night before.  Bright eyed and bushy tailed, I logged onto 1000 Lit Agents and got back to work.  I sent out two queries first thing—and within 10 minutes got the dreaded “Not for me.  Thanks” from one that I’d literally just e-mailed not even 10 minutes before.  Talk about frustrating…it takes me longer than 10 minutes to decide what I want for dinner, forget about holding someones future in my hands…

%&(#%*# = me.

Just as I’m recovering, giving myself the pep talk “this happens, it’s okay, you still have a bagillion more out there”…in rolls another.

&^&%%^#*(*%*(# = me, again.

Here’s what I’ve learned in…oh…the last 24 hours.

E-mail queries, while amazingly fast and smart and savvy, are a curse.  That goes double for anyone with a smart phone and triple for anyone whose e-mail puts the message under the senders name.  You hear the little chirp and you immediately check–there is no sensor, no “maybe this is a bad time”…you just check your e-mail, same old, same old.  And the rejection doesn’t care.  It doesn’t wait until you’re ready for it.  No.  It just jumps out and smacks you in the face, POW!  You’re not accepted.

Putting yourself out there, be it in a relationship or when you’re looking for an agent, is scary.  Scary because there is a good chance you’re going to be rejected, and when you click “send”, you’re opening yourself up for that.  People will say “it’s all part of the game”…and while they’re right, it doesn’t make the sting go away any faster.

There is no saying that an agent, any agent, will ever see potential in my story and pick me up as a client.  That’s what I’ve realized.  But that doesn’t mean “don’t try anyway”…I’ll keep sending my queries, and pounding the pavement (and by pavement, I mean keys on my Mac) and hope that somewhere in the slushpile, someday, I get lucky enough (blessed enough) to hear “It is for me…thank you.”

P.S: I wanted to add that to the agents who shut me down–I appreciate that you both reached out to tell me that directly.  I understand that the demands on your time are deep and wide, so that you’d give me even a second glance, matters.  It may not have been the answer I was hoping for, obviously, but still…knowing is better than not knowing…so, thanks!