Category Archives: writing

Sisters in Crime Blog Hop

September 29th 2014

Stop, hop and blog. I was tagged by suspense writer and superb gardener, Elizabeth Buhmann, to participate in the Sisters in Crime (of which I am a member) blog hop. I love Sisters in Crime. I am a YA mystery writer and I get a lot of advice from SinC members. It’s a great organization.

Here we go…I’m going to answer this one question: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

First, I have not been in the business long enough to mentor anyone. I’m barely giving myself good advice. My debut novel has been out for 4 months and its sales are diminishing. I’ve gotten great reviews, but few requests from bloggers. I’ve exhausted my friends and family for sales, and now I’m hoping strangers will somehow discover the book via my Goodreads page or giveaways or word-of-mouth or my book signing or blatant pleading. Some days, I spend more time online networking than I do with my children. Selling a book is tough. Incredibly tough. And yet, I’m on working on another project. Cuz I love to create. Next to motherhood, writing is the only job I’m not be paid to do that I love. It’s the only career I want.

Writers are an amazing breed of people. We will spend years working on a novel. We’ll sacrifice family time and fun in order to finish a project. We’ll send it out to agents and/or small presses in hopes of it finding a home. If it does get to an agent, we hope it sells to a publishing house with an advance. Of course, that might not happen. We write another book and start the process all over again. If it gets to a publishing house, we’re still not done. Because after edits and cover reveals and release, we need to sell that book to readers. Hustle that book like our life depends on it. Work. Work. Work. Then write, write, write.

What would I tell a new writer? I’d tell her to write and learn about craft. I’d tell her to research the business. I’d tell her to write that YA dystopic vampire novel, even though the market is flooded, because it’s what she loves. I’d also tell her to be realistic in her expectations — to know that publishers acquire what they believe the market demands. I’d tell her that she may not sell her first novel or her second or her third. I’d tell a new writer not to give up and to forge the path best suited for her needs. I’d also tell her that no one owes her anything. She might write the best novel of her career, but no one has to read it. Publishing isn’t easy. Writers write because they need to and they hang on to a slim hope that others will read their work and connect. And that’s all we can do. Publishing is not a business for the unmotivated and cocky. Lastly, I’d tell her to be gracious to those who help her.

If you’re an author, what advice would you give a new writer starting out?

Tagging my dear friend, Kate Moretti, for the next hop. She’s the NYT Bestselling author of Thought I Knew You and Binds That Tie and she is my mentor.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 11.24.06 AMThought I Knew You

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Going indie — is it for me?

September 27th 2014

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my writing career. A lot. And where I see myself in a few years. It was always my intention to submit another book or two to Red Adept Publishing (with whom I have had an awesome experience) and I do still plan on doing that, but then I had wanted to shop my YA historical mystery (which has not been written) to agents in hopes of getting a Big 5 contract. That was my plan. But recently I’ve been reading up on self-publishing and that route is looking more and more attractive to me for several reasons. Of course, like anything (and I’m a realist) there are pros and cons to self-publishing.

Pros:

1. I write what I want and I publish it. Many of my outlined projects are historical mysteries. Unfortunately, it’s also not the most popular genres for the big publishers to acquire, or so I’ve heard. I can’t imagine writing a book that might not see the light of print, not because it’s bad, but because a publisher doesn’t think anyone will buy it. I have three young children. If I’m sacrificing family time to write, then it better be worth it.

2. I am in control over my writing projects, my cover, and pricing. I’ll pay for good cover art and editing, but if I want to run a sale, I run a sale. If I want to price my book at $2.99, I can. If I want to release two books at once, I can. I am my own boss.

3. My earning potential might be greater than a traditional publishing contract. Emphasis on might. Some indie authors make good money (check out this article by Hugh Howey) and I’m not just talking about the big names in indie, but authors who would’ve been called “midlisters.” Some of these midlisters are earning $1000 or more a month. Some authors are earning more from their self-published titles than they ever did at traditional publishing houses. These authors bust their butt and hustle. They are prolific, but they make money. By going indie, I also wouldn’t have to worry about not earning out an advance and not being offered another contract. I’ve heard quite a few horror stories about authors not earning out their advances and subsequently not selling another book. That sounds demoralizing.

Cons:

1. Visibility is tough. Very tough. I’m having a tough time getting visibility on my traditionally, small press novel. It’s not easy to separate yourself from the pack; to get bloggers to notice you. I’ve come across many blogs that do not accept indie books for review. Some bloggers won’t take books that aren’t Big 5 pub’d. It’s a tough business to get noticed.

2. There’s an investment. Self-publishing requires a sizable monetary investment. Cover art. Editing. Formatting. ISBN numbers. I estimate the cost to be between $1500 and $2000. My husband just about balked at that number. For good reason, there is no guarantee I will recoup that money in sales. And if you’re not getting sales and making money, your author career has just become an expensive hobby.

3. Writers who make money, write a lot. I’m a slow writer. Outlining alone can take me a month, not to mention drafting, and constant editing. It took me years to write GG&G. If I’m going to go indie, I’ll need to increase my input to at least two books per year to stay viable.

4. Indie authors are not always perceived as ‘real’ writers. Do some self-published writers put out crap? Yes. For every Hugh Howey, Colleen Hoover and J.A. Konrath, there are other writers who don’t put out a professional product. Readers depend on the NY publishers for quality control. I understand that. Indie authors need reviews to show that their books are worthy reads and those reviews are hard to get.

5. I would be in charge of everything. I will pay for editing, covers and formatting. But I’m also in charge of ISBNs, uploading my book, dealing with Amazon’s constant fluctuating programs, and marketing (which I do now anyway). From cover to cover, that book depends on me. And that sounds overwhelming. Not to mention, I’ve never been a detail-oriented person.

6. I won’t be in libraries. I’m a librarian and as of now, indie books, and many small press books, do not get on library shelves. Why? Because libraries base their collection development on professional reviews (Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist). Right now, GG&G is in five libraries and that’s because I have library connections. And in one case, my brother donated his copy to his local library (thanks, Justin!) And that’s the only reason. It would mean the world to be on a library shelf — way more than a bookstore. I love libraries — that’s how I discover new authors. So this con is quite crushing.

Am I definitely going to indie publish? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I’m leaning in that direction. Like any smart person, I’ll do my research thoroughly and weigh my options. In the meantime, I will get back to writing, because none of this will matter if I don’t have a book done.

I’m a strong writer and I’ve always been a strong writer. I know that if I do choose to publish independently, I will put out quality, professional, good books. Because I don’t even let my critique partners read my work until it’s polished.

Are you self-published? Traditionally published? Hybrid? What are you thoughts on the road you’ve taken? Would you do anything differently? Sound off in the comments.

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The internet is a time suck

September 10th 2014

Lately, social networking and all things internet have been destroying my productivity. Let me rephrase — I am letting social networking and all things internet destroy my productivity. Ever since I had my baby in May, I have been constantly scrolling through Facebook reading news. And seeing what’s trending on Twitter. And checking my author email a thousands times a day hoping for blogger review requests to come through. What I haven’t been doing is writing much. I’ve made a bad habit of not writing. During the day when I can’t focus, I think, I’ll write tonight. But then 8pm rolls around and I’m tired as all hell. My brain feels like one of my boys stuck his hand inside and smooshed it between his fingers.

Having young kids has been my excuse for not writing consistently for the last five years. I managed to write one book but it took a long time to do so. I’m halfway through drafting another and I don’t want it to take another bazillion years to finish. There are a ton of author moms who write, work full time and raise their kids. I can do it too.

So, if this isn’t irony, I’ve been searching writing forums on clever ways for distraction-free writing and I think I’m going to bid on an AlphaSmart Neo on ebay. It’s a friggin word processor with no internet connection. I just write and that’s it. It turns on with a button and I just write. And it’s portable. I can take it to the park. Theoretically.

Anyone have one of these things? The kids at NaNoWriMo swear by them.

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Wattpad

August 31st 2014

Last night I signed up for Wattpad, a large social network for writers to share their work and read. At first, I was hesitant. Did I really want to sign up for another social networking site? I have 3 kids that I feel like I ignore regularly in favor of Facebook and Twitter. (I jest…kinda) But a friend suggested I sign up in order to network directly with teen readers. I could upload an excerpt of GG&G and I could share a short story I wrote years ago that has yet to find a home. Better on Wattpad to be read than sitting on my computer languishing. So far, I’m like Wattpad…a lot. In addition to the prologue to GG&G and my YA short, I uploaded two pieces of flash fiction that I loved but had no place, other than here, to share.

So I now have a Wattpad account. Please follow me so I’m not all by my lonesome.

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Writing a book is a big freakin deal

July 15th 2014

Since Grunge Gods‘ June release I have been overwhelmed with compliments. Family and friends of family have come up to me or left me a message on Facebook to tell me they bought and read my book. That they loved my book. That they can’t believe I found the time to write a book with three kids. But because I know so many writers who have also done the same, I have a tendency to shrug it off like it ain’t no thing. “Aw, it’s nothing,” I say.

But last night I got to thinking about writers and writing to publish. And you know what? It’s not just writing that’s hard to do in general, and I’m not just saying that because I have three kids (Danielle Steel had eight), but because writers who write novels do so without knowing if it will ever pay off. Think about it. A writer spends a year or more sacrificing time with family or even just time doing fun stuff like shopping or playing Candy Crush. They might spend their lunch hours (because they have to have a day job) working on their manuscript or they might lose sleep staying up late to work when their kids are in bed (a la Danielle Steel). After they’re done pulling their hair out in frustration over plot holes and runaway characters, they’ll send their manuscript to critique partners for feedback and then use those criticisms for revision. It might take them another year to revise. At some point, they will start researching the publishing industry (if they haven’t already) and prepare a query letter and synopsis which, all writers know, takes foooorrrreeevvvver to do and we freakin hate it. At which point they will send their novel to agents hoping someone will love it enough to want to pitch it to publishers. That could take awhile. These agents may not be able to sell a novel, so that one gets trunked while these authors then writer another novel. (breath) But we’re not done. Let’s say the author gets a book deal — hooray! They may get an advance, which the author may or may not earn out. It takes a year or two to publish. Finally, the book is released into the wild. And now the author’s greatest dreams have come true. But…that author then has to sell that book. To everyone. Everyone needs to read the book. Writers need to eat so they’re working a day job, but if they want to publish again, their book has to have a modicum of success. So now, they’re hustling at book signings and library talks and social networking has become their second life and they’re begging, begging bloggers to review their book — all these things just to get people to read this damn book that took them years to get published. All because, they, we, I wrote a story I loved so much that I was willing to do all this shit to get it out there into the world. And you know what? …

Yeah, I wrote a friggin book. And I plan on doing it again and again.

Thank you to everyone for their praise and compliments. Thank you for buying Grunge Gods because you have your choice of thousands of books, but you chose mine. It’s a big deal. Next to those three kids, it’s the biggest thing I’ve done.

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