Monday, April 25, 2011

Why We Write....

I would just like to say, that this is by no means a comprehensive explanation for every writer out there as we are all unique and creative individuals, but why we write tends to be a common theme among many of the writers I know... and for those of you who have a picture of a tortured artist numbing themselves to the world with copious amounts of narcotics, kick that out right here. I only knew one "tortured artist" and he wasn't really that good! (Probably why he was so tortured.)  No, most of us who write are not tortured souls. We don't even feel more than others, despite that common misconception. No, I think most of us simply are able to express our feelings with words more easily than others.
    I think that is why we write, as a means for expression. We who write love the words and the ability to shape feelings and thoughts in such a manner that others can relate. If we felt more than other people felt, then they could not relate to our writing. But our ability to express those feelings that others feel, but are not able to express themselves is what makes us unique and is what makes people read what we write. Even though they might not express themselves the way we do, they can relate to our expression and that is what makes it real for them.
   Another reason we write is to share. Most writers don't write because they desire fame, fortune and notoriety (although few of us would snub our nose at it!) Most of us write to share. We want to enrich the world with new ideas and concepts. We feel a passion for our stories or perspectives and we want to show others that, much in the way that new parents show off their kids. We create through a labor of love for the material and the characters and we want the world to meet our characters and feel the same way we do. I think this is why many writers have a hard time with negative reviews. I mean, how would you feel if someone called your kid ugly? And our books are our children. We spend so much time and energy making them, expecting little monetary reward in the end. (Sounds like parenting to me!!) And it is just as fulfilling as parenting too as any writer who is a parent can attest.
   I can honestly say, and most writers would agree, that even if I knew my writing would never be published and I would never get paid, I could never stop writing. Sure, it is nice to receive some modest compensation for what I have done, but it is so much more rewarding to see someone smile, or tell me that they love my character, or that they were not expecting that wild twist. I don't write for the paycheck, I write to relate to others. Although I will (probably) never have a lot of money, I will be far richer for the difference I have made in others lives.
That is why we write.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Waiting...

  The publishing industry is a surprisingly SLOW industry, even in this modern day and age. For those of you wanting to "break in" here are some things to keep in mind: First, you have to write something that can and will sell. Most good authors take (literally) years to write their books. The books often go through three to four re-writes before the author is confident enough to submit it to agents.
Then you have to write the perfect sales pitch to get an agent to look at your book. Finding an agent can take months, and even years, as well. (Especially if the work you have written isn't "Main Stream" at the time of your submission.) During that time you are sending out your book to agents, you are also getting rejection after rejection. Although they are all as nice as possible about it, sometimes it s hard to take rejection. (Especially after your 100th rejection letter.) But if you believe enough in your book, you keep going. If the book is anything worth anything, you will eventually find an agent. After that the agent and his/her team review the book and make editing adjustments and put together a sales package to submit to publishers. This can take a few months, because you are not the only one they are doing this for.
Once the agent is ready, they begin submitting to publishers. In the world of publishing there are only a select number of publishers that have been around long enough and are worth their salt to be "top tier" publishers. This means that EVERYONE submits to this group first. Which means that these guys get A LOT of submissions. After the publisher gets your book, you are looking at another three to four months for them to let you know if they want to read the whole book, or if they are rejecting representation. If they take it, you are looking at another six to eight weeks before they offer a deal or reject.
  If they reject you at any point the process starts all over again!
Then once you get a publisher to sign, there is no telling how long it will take to actually publish the book. Most publishers only accept three or four new authors a year and as a new author you are on the bottom of the "importance" list. (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, if you are good, you will keep working and move your way up the list, as is only right. Nonetheless, this is where you are starting out until you prove your mettle.)
Eventually, if you are lucky, your book will be published.
Now for those of you keeping track, this is a minimum four year commitment. And the average starting commission for a first book deal is anywhere from $500 (No joke, saw where a children's book writer was offered this amount!) to $30,000. This varies from publisher to publisher and is based on how well they think your book will sell within the first one to two years.
After the advnace is recovered, the publisher will pay royalty rights (an average of 15% to 18%) quarterly on any additional income derived from the book. Don't forget that you have to pay your agent out of that.
Then you get to start the whole process all over again. (Although they say it takes less time the more you are published.)
So why do we do it? Well, that is the topic for next week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Baaack

Sorry for the absence my dear friends, but I suffered an injury to my right forearm doing manual labor and it took some time to heal!! This week I want to talk about the importance of networking and how you can go about beginning your network. There is an old saying "It's not about who you know, it's about who knows you." It is very true, especially in the writing world. There are literally thousands of unknown authors out there trying to get published every day and some of them are really good, but then we see drivel and garbage getting published and it can be very disheartening for those of us out there trying to break in. It is important to network and get to know people in any way you can. Join forums and group discussions, join a local writer's group, start a blog, start a website, join social networking sites such as facebook and Linked-in.
These are very time-consuming efforts and may take away some time from your writing (Believe me, I know) but no matter how good your work is or how much you write, if you don't have a way to get your foot in the door your work may never get published. Networking takes time, but the payoff will be worth it in the end. You never know who in your writing group might make it, but if you worked with them and they know the quality of your work they might be willing to introduce you to their agent. Agents run discussion boards and participate (often under different names) so when they see your name come across their desk (figuratively speaking) and they have seen how professionally you handle yourself, then they are more likely to give you a chance.
Now a word of caution: As you navigate these circles, keep in mind that you are promoting yourself. Be as professional and courteous as you would in "real" life. Recently a friend linked me to an author's melt-down after she didn't care for a review and the woman pretty much killed her career because of her little scene. The internet is a big, scary place and EVERYONE can know anything within seconds! The Hollywood adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity is NOT TRUE!!! No one wants to work with a diva, especially an author diva!
Although the effort is time-consuming and may take a long time, eventually the effort will pay off. For example, I recently made a great contact with an author named Dawn Tevy who also hosts a blog-talk radio channel and has some really great contacts out west. I am now on with her Thursday nights doing a review of To Believe or Not to Believe by Rahasya Poe with the possibility of doing more book reviews with her in the future! She has put me in touch with a great web designer and I got a free year for my website which will be starting soon! All this happened just days after another author friend of mine urged me to join Goodreads.
So get out there and network!!!

(For those of you interested in checking out the radio interviews, you can access them on Dawn's websites

Hope you enjoy!)