Routine is important. I've learned that if you tell yourself you'll write later, you probably won't. It's very easy to let a manuscript slide, especially if you're reached a point where you'd rather stop than finish.
Since my children have gotten older and require more attention, I usually accomplish word counts with them screaming in my ear. It's a constant battle, struggling to return to a scene after I've been pulled away once, twice, or a dozen times. I'm always afraid a reader will pick up on my mood, terrified they'll know when I'm at the end of my rope. Between creating new stories, editing old ones and working on everything in between, publishing isn't easy.
That's why I always try to take advantage of the rare quiet time I have.
I'm not sure about other authors (who obviously have their own distractions), but I like to have a routine. If I work in the evening, I'll take a hot shower and change into my pajamas. Once I'm relaxed, I'll sort through and pick out music, light one of my favorite candles and get to work. On the other hand, when school is in session things are drastically different. After the children are safely on the bus, I'll get my coffee, take a seat at the PC and write until lunch (my youngest is still home, so this changes depending on her needs).
Over the last year, I've found having a strategy really helps. Without it, I'm lost.
When the summer arrived, I was in hell. Nothing seemed to work and I couldn't write for squat. It took over a month to create a balance, and I discovered during that time I hadn't accomplished much of anything. I had a release I didn't think I had time to promote, a book I had to write, and I felt like I was struggling to breathe. Once I forced myself to take charge, I planned a schedule and stuck to it.
Now I have a word count for the day and I start after my husband leaves for work. If I hit it by lunch, my worries are over. Instead I can focus on promotion, revisions or spending time with my family. It's like a reward to myself: A + B = Big Fat C. Even on the occasion when I don't meet my goals, I feel I've accomplished something. A thousand words is a shit-ton compared to none.
So how about you? Do you have a routine? Do you find it helps?
I hope you are enjoying the summer! If you can, stay outta the heat!
Last week the summer officially started. The kids got out of school, the house was in chaos, and getting things "done" became a lot harder. Understandably, my daily word count took a dive and other obligations started to slip. When you're rotating between kids and life in general, sitting at the PC to hammer out a manuscript comes in second place. But despite the limitations, my goal is to write at least 1k words per day. Why? Think about it. If you write 1k words per day -- even if you take weekends off -- that's 20k words per month.
Not bad when you need to finish a story.
Goals are extremely important. So is a routine. There are a lot of days when I don't want to write, edit, or revise but I make myself. I know from experience that if I give myself slack I'll become lazy. So the 1k per day word count is a way to make sure I don't fall too far from the tree. It's important to meet deadlines and to keep your tools sharp. It's also important if you're working on a finished manuscript to have a number of pages you try to edit/revise each day. I've found it's gotten me out of several tight spots.
With that, I'm out. I apologize for the short blog. I'll be back in a couple of weeks with (I hope) a better one!
I know I'm late in posting! Forgive me. This week has been a nightmare. Between doctor's appointments, the kids being home for Spring Break, writing deadlines, edits, and all those things...well, there aren't enough hours in the day.
Which brings me to the subject of my entry.
I'm not sure how it works for New York authors, but small press ones are an army of one. That's not to say we don't have help (or friends and other authors don't pimp us) but when it comes to things like promotion, giving out advanced reading copies, etc we are the ones who are responsible for making sure things get done. Normally this isn't a huge issue. Most people (especially those who converse with small pubbed authors) know that we're responsible for everything, so we might send an email twice, or forget to respond to something when we get busy or have to be nudged to send in interview questions. They also understand when we make mistakes.
At least, that used to be my experience in such things.
What I'm trying to say is sometimes (yes, this is dubious, but I'd rather not go there if you know what I mean) we all fuck up. Even if we have good intentions. Authors have to look out for themselves but in doing so may offend someone. Does that mean it's okay to go around pissing off the reading public? Absolutely not. It's just to say we're human. Sometimes we do things and realize in retrospect we should have approached situations differently. It's the way life works. You live and you learn. Sadly, in many ways, authors are held up to an impossible standard. We're not supposed to say anything when someone lashes out at us, we're not supposed to engage crazed readers who are angry at us for the things we write (or don't), and we're not supposed to show emotion.
Not happening. We are human, after all.
With that, I'm off to break up a fight between my kiddos. You know you're getting old when Spring Break goes from being something you look forward to, to something you dread.
Last week I had a very interesting conversation about misconceptions when it comes to writing and publishing; namely the fact that some people think that writing is easy, takes little time, and that it’s not necessary to improve the craft.
So, so untrue.
Contrary to what some might think, publishing doesn’t mean a person can stay at home with their family and write when they want. That would be a dream job. With deadlines, edits and future projects, I’m always working. As soon as one thing is wrapped up, something else comes along. I spend anywhere from eight to ten (oftentimes more) hours per day working. If my youngest child is in a giving mood, I’ll start in the morning and work through the night. If she demands more of my attention, I make up lost time by locking myself in my office after dinner is served and my husband gets home. And guess what?
Once you're published, all sorts of wonderful things happen. You start getting reviews, you start hearing good things about your work, and you start gaining fans. There is nothing better than that first fan mail. Knowing you've impacted someone or connected with them through your characters. I always look forward to emails like those. However, there is a flip side to the coin, one that most authors aren't aware of or prepared for.
I'm talking about hate mail.
I started getting these shortly after one of my books with a cliffhanger was published. You'd have thought I killed a kitten. People swore they'd never buy another book of mine. That I was trying to manipulate readers. That I was this evil author who tried to trick them.
None of this is true, but it doesn't mean someone out there won't feel entitled to tell you what they think.
At first I used to respond with a cordial, "I'm sorry my book didn't work for you, thank you for giving it a chance. All My Best," or something like that. Unfortunately the hate mail has gotten worse in recent months, to the point that I've decided it's best not to respond.
In a new digital world where authors rub elbows with those who read their work there is a fine line that can easily be crossed. I think this is only going to become worse as time goes on. Once readers had to visit signings to meet or chat with an author. Now they can do so on social networks or by sending an anonymous email. It's a slippery slope. An author doesn't want people to think they can't take criticism, but at the same time what do you say when someone bashes you on a personal level?
Recently I've read blog posts regarding this issue, and it's baffling. One author even shared that someone threatened her physically over the death of a character in a book. Not good, folks. Not good. With this kind of thing going on, it's only a matter of time before authors take refuge in the only way they can -- by staying off social networks and going into hiding. I hope for both readers and authors this doesn't happen. However, when threats start rolling in, a person has to defend themselves. Even if that means legitimate fans who enjoy talking with their favorite authors on a daily basis suffer as a consequence.
Sometimes I detest social networks, if only for this reason. There is so much animosity floating around right now, and I don't understand it. Authors and readers should have a strong connection, not a fear of each other. Hopefully we'll all find a way to create a balance. After all, without authors, there would be no readers. And without readers, authors wouldn't have anyone to entertain.
That's all for today's blog. I'll see you in a couple of weeks! Happy 2012!
**Happy Holidays, everyone! Due to the madness in my home I'm late (I'm sorry) but I come with a recycled blog. I'll be back in a couple of weeks with a brand spanking new one, promise. :)**
From time to time I get asked, "What advice would you offer a new author?" This is a question that is posed to every writer at some point or another, and most of the answers involve never giving up (excellent advice), to keep on writing (yep, yep), and to remember writing is subjective and that every rejection isn't necessarily because of you or the work (ain't that the truth).
There is, however, one thing I haven't heard anyone say and I've decided to say it because I'm rather annoyed by those who want to be a published author but continue to look at a fantastic venue like it's the icky toilet paper that stuck to their shoe after they took a trip to the throne.
Listen, folks. Agents are great. So are New York Publishers. I do not demean their importance, nor would I. Landing either of those things is a HUGE accomplishment (and goal) for many aspiring authors. There is a reason they call it a dream, as there are thousands upon thousands of talented writers on the scene who want to see their book gracing the book store shelves. With that said, the aforementioned is the very reason it's so difficult to get your foot in the door or gain the interest of an agent. There is so much material saturating the market, in varying genres, from various would-be best sellers.
So what do you do when you receive yet another rejection on your masterpiece? For some, the answer is simple -- write another story. Not everyone will like what you produce, so try something else. While this approach is the right one to make, my question becomes: How many stories will you write and submit to agents/publishers before you finally stop being a snob and take a look at the phenomenon that is currently sweeping the e-reader/kindle nation?
I'm talking about e-presses.
Each time I see someone who is new to the scene, vowing to get in with an agent or nothing else, a part of me thinks "why" while a nastier part shrugs and says, "good luck." If you've exhausted all your venues and you have a story you think the world will enjoy, why not submit it a notable e-publisher for consideration? Several NY published authors do both and have very successful careers (Deidre Knight, Joey W. Hill, Maya Banks, and Shiloh Walker are just a few). It makes sound, financial sense. As an author, you want to get paid. What better way than broaden your horizons and create an audience?
E-presses ARE the future. That isn't to say that agents don't have their place or that the New York houses are not more powerful or prestigious as they should be. There is a damned good reason they have the success they do and they deserve it. However, if you want to make it in this industry, sometimes that means working your way up the ladder. Sure, it's great to start at the top and work your way down (and anyone who hasn't started that way is probably going about it wrong -- I started by agent searching in the beginning), but if things don't go according to plan, it's always a good idea to have a sound back-up plan.
Perhaps it's wrong of me to say this, but I can't help but vent my frustrations when I get the random idiot who believes that e-presses are these lazy places where authors write half-assed stories, editors have no idea what they're doing, and the owners simply slop together any kind of junk to make a buck. Yes, those places exist, but there are others (Samhain, Ellora's Cave, Loose Id, Mundania Press, The Wild Rose Press, etc) that take pride in their work and their product. Trust me, there is a reason they are so reputable and beloved among authors (you'll always spot them, as even when an author lands an agent they continue working with said e-press).
In my own experience, I can tell you I have a couple of editors I adore and I'll return to work with them as often as they'll allow it. There is a trust established that can't be compared, which goes a long way in ensuring you'll want to make a home in certain places, even "if" you land an agent and make the dream a reality.
Now that I've said my piece, I'll put away the soap box. I'm not one to lecture as my intent is to inform. The publishing industry is rapidly changing. Either you adapt or you die. That's just the way it goes.
The other day I had a nice young lady ask a simple question:
Would you read my book?
She was considering a career as an author and wanted to know what it takes to make it in the industry. I politely responded and told her that no, I would not read her book, but I did provide her with a resource where she might locate a critique partner.
I’d like to say this is the first time someone has asked me to read their work, but it isn’t. I’ve found that I get asked this question more often with each book I publish. I’m not certain why. Perhaps it’s simply because I’m an author. Or maybe (despite my eviltry) I am nice to people on social networks and they feel it’s okay to approach me about their work. Regardless of the reason, I will not read books (that I don't purchase, of course) aside from those penned by my crit partners.
Just to clarify: I will NOT read books from strangers, virtual friends, people who offer me candy, folks I meet at the pool hall, or poor souls who have the misfortune of bumping into me at The Death Star.
There are several reasons for my stance; first and foremost being a lack of time. I have books of my own to write and edit, which means spare hours are usually reserved for the people I owe a critique or beta. With my children going nuts, it’s rare that I have any quiet time, so when I do I use it wisely. Another reason -- one that is of extreme concern -- is that I’ll be slapped with a lawsuit claiming I’ve stolen an idea. This happens more often than you might think. Imagine if I read something that belonged to someone else and then, years down the line, I landed an agent and published a book. There are a lot of people who assume authors roll in the dough when they sign a book deal, and it’s not difficult for anyone to say, “Hey, that was my idea,” and inform the world that six years before you read their book -- a book that they claim has remarkable similarities to what you’ve published--and demand a piece of your financial pie.
I’d rather not go there, thank you very much.
Authors have to make sure they protect themselves. That’s why we know better than to engage in arguments with reviewers. It’s also why, no matter how shitty we are treated, we smile and say thank you. In order to keep our career afloat we have to be responsible for each and every decision we make. This includes the help we provide to others. It is sad that I’m not in a position to help out, but when I think about it no one was there to help me when I started. I gained my critique partners years after my first contract. So it’s not necessary to have a crit partner to get your work published. Besides, just because an author likes your work it doesn’t mean an editor, agent, or publishing house will feel the same way.
It’s all subjective.
For aspiring authors out there, be sure to do your research. There are multiple places you can visit to find a critique partner who shares your interests. Asking an author to read your book “might” work but chances are it won’t. As for authors, think long and hard before you agree to read anything by anyone you don’t trust. If you wouldn’t allow them to be responsible to make medical decisions for you, I wouldn’t suggest putting your career in their hands.
With that said, I’m going to sit back and watch the Christmas lights! I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. I’ll be back with another blog in a couple of weeks.
I was standing in the produce department, staring at the broccoli, when the inspiration for this blog surfaced. I’d contemplated writing about edits, or exploring promotion and how important it is for sales. However, as I glanced around and studied the displays with turkeys, cranberry dressing and crowded dinner tables I decided to blog about something I’m thankful for as it pertains to my writing.
Most of the authors at ELEW have written about the road to publishing. They’ll tell you it’s not easy and if you’re in it to make a quick buck, you’ve chosen the wrong job. Writing is only part of the process. The real work starts after you finish a manuscript, submit, and sell that puppy. That’s when you get to the nitty gritty.
I’m talking about editing.
Editing is a necessary evil. If you want your work to be taken seriously, you have to bust your ass to make the manuscript shine. That’s where your editor comes in. He or she will make your writing tighter, ensure your story is stronger, and help you be the best you can be. Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Editors have a job to do, and it’s not stroking your ego. They see mistakes, they call you on them, and then it’s up to you to learn. Authors have unique voices, strengths, and weaknesses. A great editor can take your book from decent to awesome. Trust me when I say readers spot the difference.
Despite the obvious advice about the big “E” (such as making sure you read through your work two or three times prior to submission to make sure that A. You get a contract and B. You won’t have as many edits to tackle when they arrive), I wanted to share a few things that might make things easier.
1. When the big email arrives from your editor, skim over the edited document to see what’s in store. If you find that you’re annoyed or agitated, finish up, close the file and walk away for a day or two. It’s natural to be defensive of your work, which is why a level perspective is important. You have to remember your editor isn’t your enemy and is only trying to make your book as polished as it can be.
2. When it comes to substantial revisions, allow yourself a couple of days to think things over. If a revision calls for a big change in your book and you’re adverse to the idea, you might not feel the same way in forty-eight hours. I’ve heard it said in the past that the angrier an author is about a change the more likely it is that the editor is in the right. With that said, the manuscript is still “your” manuscript. If you’ve given a thought time and you still have a gut feeling the editor is wrong, stick to your guns and ask if you can brainstorm or work around the issue. Nine times out of ten there is always a resolution that will make the author, the editor, and the publisher happy.
3. Keep in mind that the publishing industry is small, and your editor probably knows another editor who knows another editor. And they talk. Just like authors talk. Just like publishers talk. This is a business. Never, ever forget that. No matter how horrible an edit is (and I’m not saying there aren’t bad editors -- that's a topic for another day) always be professional. In the end, you can only dictate how good you look.
To wrap things up:
Write the best book you can.
Let your editor take your work to the next level.
Rinse and repeat.
Gotta love publishing, right? *smile* I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!
This topic isn't about writing, although it is publishing related. I don't like to go into piracy very often. For one, most people will disregard the topic. Also, some readers shrug it off while others don't care about the issue or tend to ignore it. Unfortunately, I'm an author who can bite her tongue only for so long.Read more