Publishing Credits – Flipping the coin

Do publishing credits actual help or do they hurt you?  I had the opportunity to talk with an agent at a small conference recently. She didn’t represent what I wrote, but I was able to ask some great basic questions on the industry.coin  Some days I say, flip a coin to decide what to do next.

Do you want an agent someday?  If you answered yes, read on.  If you answered no, good luck on your mission.

From the agent’s mouth:

The agent I had the opportunity to “chat up” was very polite.  She asked me questions about my writing, to be nice I assume.  In the end she told me that if I want to be agented someday, and I do more then short stories at a small publisher, the number of books sold will be scrutinized.  They will want to know how big the publisher is.  They will want to know the avenues of sale used.  Although agents will understand that most small publishers will not be at physical stores, your sales better be good online.

All that being said, she still seemed to be interested to know that I was trying.  That I had found someone who appreciates my work.  She liked the idea that I was learning the business and building a platform.  Did any of those facts change her statement that she would require any sale info on books that I write independently?  No.  But she had nothing negative to say about getting my feet wet.

That’s from the agents mouth.

From the writers mouth though, I say that going with a small publisher has been nothing short of awesome!  I have changed the way I write.  I have fewer “issues”.  Am I perfect?  No.  Never will be.  The lessons learned though, have been invaluable! I would tell anyone to start small.  A few other authors I know have and are now agented or still independent, but doing well.

Long story short.  Do you love to write?  Then don’t give up and always attempt a few avenues.  Just be aware of the risks that come along with each choice. I’ll post on that later.

 

Here it goes – flipping a coin on what to write next!

 

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The Marketing Craze

statsIt’s been awhile since I wrote about what I’ve learned along the way to publication.  I thought it was time to start again.

If you are reading this, you are already a step ahead of a lot of authors or writers. There are those that think that they are too good to market themselves.  There are the crazy ideas that everyone gets large amounts of marketing from publishers. Well, reality? There is more money out there from the big 6 for marketing, but not all authors are treated equal. And even so, the odds of getting picked up at a big house are small, at least right away.  I know a lot of talented authors that have started as small press and moved to a big house after a few years.  so you might be at a small press for sometime. Or maybe you aren’t anywhere yet, but you want an agent.

Before you hit it big, or even before you get published, it’s great to start creating a platform. Agents love to see a presence established.  Publishers love to see books sell.  Sometimes your first book is too late to start finding social networks to market.

Start to follow authors or writers you like. Start to comment on their blogs.  Become a respectful cyber stalker.  Yes, this is one of those times when stalking is encouraged.  Don’t go too crazy though.

Maybe start your own blog. Maybe start with something you know.  I started my blog about two years before I actually got published, and I started by writing about the mistakes I was making. I met some amazing authors thorough blogging. I actually found my first pub contract through another author’s recommendations.

The moral is, it’s never too early to start getting your name out there.  even if you don’t think you have a lot to offer there are others put there willing to help. So start small and grow from there.

Are there tricks to getting lots of followers and likes? I suppose so, but I don’t know in the end how many payoff. Perhaps some experienced bloggers put there have some advice?

Fun Fact Friday – Is It Really Stalking?

Santa Wears Leathers

Authors like to be stalked!  Well maybe not stalked by its definition, but we love exposure!  So when you see an author you like or even love, follow, follow, follow.  Then pass their name along.


Unfortunately most authors aren’t a household name.  It’s a goal though.

Today though, my own cyber stalking paid off.  I hosted and author who was doing a blog tour.  On one of her stops she had a drawing.  It was for a copy of her newest release.  Guess who won… this girl!  It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

So here’s to a happy Friday and winning contests. I can’t wait to read Santa Wore Leathers!

Follow These Authors or leave a comment about yourself or someone you suggest following!

Suspense

History

Humor

Thriller

YA

YA

and

Many more

It’s Been Done Before

For the writers out there, something to think about. A published work that has gone out of print, or the rights have gone back to the author does not make it a new story.

Close your mouth. I know that has us all in shock. Or maybe not. It is good information for those contemplating independent publishing, small publishers, magazines, news articles, and even large publishers (although you probably have an agent there).

Before you hit that button that seals the deal on your story, make sure that you are 100% okay with it where it is. If you ever think you might want to change where it is published you need to think about this. Some publishers will reprint or republish a previously published work, but not all, or most actually.

Things that go against the grain are books with massive sales previously or news articles. There are always exceptions to rules. But with all the means of publishing these days and the reality that digital doesn’t always go away, it is a very real concern to worry about where you want your baby to go.

The Ultimate Revamp

 So you have a story.  So you have a story someone wants to buy.  So you had a story someone wanted to buy. 

 What happens when acquisitions occur or small publishers break down?  Rights are returned and stories begin to collect dust.  That seems logical. edits

 The thing is. There are a lot of authors who actually didn’t sit long at all.  They had marketable stories and were determined to find a new home.  Several of my stories were written for specific themes and therefore needed to be changed a little.  I am finally getting back on the wagon and doing just this.  I know too many authors that have had amazing success to give up now, and yes, they were where I was.

 What is my point?  If you have a story don’t give up.  Revamp things if you need to.  If you know someone valued it, the odds are someone else will do the same.  All things that are worth doing usually take a lot of work for the payoff.   Perk up and keep on trucking!

 Related Links:

Jennifer M Eaton

Vonnie Davis

Linda Carroll-Bradd

Thoughful Tuesday – Advice or Opinion?

When is it advice based on fact vs. an opinion from your own little mind?  There are a zillion books on writing, editing, and selling. Don’t stop there. Look at all the parenting books and books on finding your soul mate.  So out of all these books which ones are really helpful and which are simply a string of opinions that worked for one person. We are not cookie cutter. Just because Author A got published without editing a single word doesn’t mean Author B can do the same. Just because your child responds to time outs doesn’t mean that another child will. Now the book/movie, He’s Just Not that into You, might actually have some legs to stand on.

He's Just notWhat self-help or instructional books do you rely on? Writing, parenting, dating or otherwise. I personally like Dr. Sears books for child rearing and my own personal gut of course. I have yet to find a query letter book that is perfect, but The Guide to Query Letter’s isn’t bad. The Element of Style for basic grammar isn’t all that bad either – are there better?  I guess it depends on who you ask.

Pitch vs Query

Do you know the difference?  Everyone has their own opinion and approach it seems.  I know when I attended my first conference, where I was fortunate enough to get an agent pitch, I pitchpanicked.  I know, I know.  I seem like a very level-headed person… well or not.  Either way I still panicked.  Why?  Because everyone seems to like to make the query and pitch seem like it is mysterious.  It isn’t.  Writing them well might be, but the objects themselves are not.

After years of stressing out here are the basics:

The Query – Think of this as the resume to your book.  The formal letter that should be professional and concise. This should be 1 page max and will contain an intro paragraph, a pitch paragraph, and an author bio.  I suppose I should mention the header and closing too. That’s all folks.

A Pitch – The verbal delivery of the pitch paragraph from your query.  You might even have to shorten your delivery up a little, which then might lead you to realize your pitch paragraph is not doing the right job.  The pitch needs to be quick and to the point.  You may have heard of the elevator pitch which is slightly different.  That’s a one to two sentence pitch of your book – short enough to be delivered on an elevator.  These are two different things.

Related article:

PubRants

So how about you?  Have you struggled with the correct approach to the pitch or the query?

If you toil over the query your pitch should be smooth sailing – or so they say.

Premature Excitement

UntitledHas anything good every happened to you? I really hope you said yes to that. Well when something really good happens to me I sometimes can’t quite believe it. I feel like if I share my excitement it just might stop being true. So instead of sharing my excitement I hold it in.  Well I think today I need to change that a little.  Becuase shareing a success is as sweet as a Christmas Sugar Cookie.

I think it is safe to say that I had a short story of mine accepted for publication. There is nothing like being able to say ‘see someone else appreciates my writing too.’ Now that I have said that I should get back to writing another short that was almost done and I decided it needed a re-write.

The Waiting BurnOut

PatienceIf you follow aspiring authors and even published authors, a common theme on a lot of posts is that the road to publication is brutal, tiring, tedious, and a mystery.  Not knowing if your hard work will ever pay off can be the most strenuous of all the challenges.

After looking around on different blogs and author web sites, the common theme is patience.  Most people didn’t get published overnight.  Yes there are those few that somehow broke the mold (Stephanie Meyer), and we can secretly hate them.  But for most success took 5-10 years.  Those aren’t numbers you want to hear, but why do you think it took that long?

One reason is to learn their own craft.  Note, I did not say to learn THE craft.  I truly think that each person has their own style and that’s what makes your stories marketable.  It’s nice to be similar to someone for readers, but you don’t want to BE someone else.  Do I believe in formulaic writing? Well, yes and no.  You do need to have the standard elements in your story to make it work.  Can you not mix things up a bit here and there though?  Well I say sure, why not.  But in order to break any of the rules you have to be aware of them in the first place.  That takes time.  If you are an avid reader you might be able to shave some time off of your learning curve, although you probably still have to prefect your own voice.

Another reason for taking so long to find that magical agent or publisher?  Learning how to query.  This is your résumé.  It needs to be professional and concise and I believe they should follow a standard format.  VERY few query letters get through to the agents if the query breaks the rules.  A query can have some quirk, but it needs to be professional.

A third reason is that the market just wasn’t ready for their story.  It’s awful to say this, but sometimes you have to wait for the market to break into a need for a specific genre.  Most agents will not wait for a hot market to accept a story, but they have to see a demand for a genre or the potential for one. You would want to sell snow in the middle of winter, but then again what if that winter is having a drought?

There are a million reasons why.  You could spend all day finding them.  The summary of everything though is patience and learn from others mistakes as well as your own.  If you truly feel in your heart that you are meant to write it will happen…or so they say.  Fingers crossed we are all moving in the forward direction.

Fun Fact Friday – Kristin Nelson and What She Wants to See …Maybe

The Nelson Literary Agency is probably one of the most informative agencies I have found.  Yes there are others, and feel free to enlighten me on them in comments too.

Kristin Nelson, the founder of Nelson Literary and an agent, can’t quite sum up what she wants in submissions.  The good news is, she can’t because she feels like genre categories are limiting. What that means for writers?  Well it means that not all agents feel like you are limited to exactly the definition of a category.  Do you write romance with a hint of horror?  She isn’t going to list horror on her web site, but she’d probably love to see it.  The key take away is that if your book can fit into one of the major categories an agent wants to see, try submitting.  I have no idea how she would market a cross genre book but that’s for her to know and you to find out.

Always follow submission guidelines and obviously play up the parts of your book that fit an agents request, but don’t be afraid to send something with a bit of a genre twist.

Do you know of other agents who blog helpful information?  Share their links here for other writers.  If the agent is geared towards one genre more then another list that.  Happy Friday.