How to Protect your Pooper

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I feel like I might be late to the show by rebroadcasting some great, recent advice on the business side of the writing world. Stumbling onto this article was my first introduction to Chuck Wendig… and I’m now a huge fan.  He offers some great advice in his blog post: A Hot Steaming Sack Of Business Advice For Writers. (He writes an awful lot like me—or maybe just how I aspire to be—and I thoroughly enjoyed his uncouth cuppa advice). I guess the blog title has little to do with my notes today, but it’s a pretty great line from Wendig’s post.

I’d recommend you go to his site and read it for yourself (budget a little time—it’s a long article), but wanted to highlight a couple key points, which really parrot what I’ve been saying for a long while. Perhaps his best advice (at least IMO) was his thoughts on marketing:

You Are Not A Marketing Plan
Some publishers want you to be. Or they claim you should be. But you’re not. What I mean is this: I think when social media became such a big damn deal that some people inside publishing were quietly cheering — first, because it genuinely provides a new axis of access for book discovery, but second because the writer can shoulder the burden…
A publisher who pretends you’re their only marketing plan is a publisher who isn’t spending money on your book, and your book will succeed more by happenstance and luck than by any engineered effort on their part. (Also, if they’re acting like you’re their marketing plan, might I suggest billing them for marketing hours, because that’s very seriously supposed to be their job, part and parcel of the relationship you enter by signing with a publisher… It’s best to demand that they actually have some plan in place, and ask to see that plan. You can even ask before you sign the contract. And you should.
if you’re the only one drumming up those opportunities and the publisher is simply cheering you on: they’re not doing their job, because you’re doing it.

Don’t work for free. Rarely worth it. Exposure is something hikers die from, and authors can die from it, too. If you do work for free, know the concrete benefits, and be sure to control the work — as I am wont to say, if you’re going to be exposed, then goddamnit, expose yourself. Not like that. Put your pants back on.

“What you do has value, so claim value for what you do.”

 

I work pretty dang hard doing the things that a publisher ought to do at times… which was my expectation as an Indie author. I’m recognizing that a publisher will want to see a strong platform and so I am pursuing that—but the trick is not to devalue yourself in the process. Remember, as an Indie author you invested in this story you wrote—it’s a piece of your heart. Don’t give it away  like it has no meaning or value (not saying never give your story away… I’m saying you are valuable and don’t forget your worth, however you decide to market yourself.)

State of Writing

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So I got my chapter done for the week (pretty busy with work latley, finally picking up a lot of the things that I’ve been letting slide while kids are in during the school year, paperwork, grant requests, etc) but I’d hoped for two. I’d like to write four over the next week (maybe the holiday weekend will help with that?) I’ll be satisfied with two, though. I srealized that my outline for the final battle wasn’t as clear as I needed it to be–and it was pretty pivotal to go back and reketch the final moments. It’s not just a “seat of the pants” straight-laced battle that I can easily power my way through: there aremany different sides playing different angles, working alliances, and playing off their spies’ intel. lots of little threads that need resolving and attention during the final showdown–waaaay more than the first book… so I spent some time fleshing that out so I could get writing again.

I also did a book signing at a Barnes & Nobles. It was maybe my worst book event in the last couple years… I learned a few things about being specific with expectations. I’m prety sure the store wasn’t happy with my sales numbers, either (pretty low attendence what with the upcoming holiday and all–but more on that in a future blog). I was actually behind the door… like off to the side and in an alcove, so customers entering couldn’t see me unless they turned around in the middle of the store and looked back at the entrance (and by that time they’d already zeroed in on what they were looking for,) or until they had checked out and were leaving. Lesson learned… ask for a spot facing the door to engage customers when they arrive rather than thank them as they depart.

Filmed a television interview for PBS and BBQed almost 150lbs of meat, too. All in all, ready to complete WotT2 over the next couple weeks and begin edits on TKR3! Also excited for some of the new Cons to hit my calendar through the rest of the year!

How High is Your Rejection Pile?

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I got the idea for this blog from a fellow author Hannah Ross who wrote on the topic recently (check it out here)

While I mused on the idea of the topic of rejection, one thought popped into my mind. “Hold onto your butts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.” Sharing yourself—whether it’s your stories as an author, your graphics or music as an artist, or yourself as a human seeking relationships will all incur rejection of some sort or another. Not everyone will like you or your products. Truth be told—those things are probably not ready when you think they are… think about it in the dating context: were you a good fit to marry when you first began dating? Probably not.

Most of us begin querying agents and publishers long before we are ready. Sometimes we query a market that has been exhausted with similar stories or a story is simply not interesting to the buying market at that time. (I’m going to just leave this comment here and then assume this is not you… most people who experience a small amount of rejection and then go to self-publish do so because their writing wasn’t refined enough yet. They didn’t hire editors, pour blood and sweat into multiple drafts and so the end result wasn’t up to snuff—when they sought out feedback or asked readers “what did you think?” it was clear that the only answer they wanted was “I loved it—don’t change a thing—you’re a literary genius. I’m sure that’s not you; those people aren’t real authors, they are attention seekers who want a badge with the title “author” without the real effort that it requires. Again—I’m sure it’s not you, but it’s worth the gut check because taking your ideas out into the literary world is not for the faint of heart.) MAKE SURE THAT YOUR STORY IS READY BEFORE YOU PITCH IT! And, especially if you’re a nonfiction writer, make sure there is an audience for it!

I wrote a lot and I’m not even started yet. So, here goes: I’ve been with my current nonprofit employer for 5+ years; for several months prior to that I used my sales experience to take a pretty tough sales job—this company specialized in pitch work and had extremely high demands and quotas (I’ve heard they are toughest company to get hired on at as far as their field sales reps go) and I got it. I really hated travel and time away, and so I got out six months later. However, their intense sales training (which included some great psychological studies on salesmanship) was beneficial. One of the things they drilled into their teams were that rejection happens all the time. Reset immediately. Forget about it. You could’ve been on the verge of a sale and gotten emotionally invested in a customer when they pull the pin or bail on a promise they made to you. There’s another customer around the bend. Forget it and immediately get out there again—the product is great, everyone needs one, and you do them a disservice if you don’t try to make them buy it. Shake it off. Most of their sales force worked in high-stress, loud environments busy with people who weren’t there to see you. The trick to selling, besides having a good product and the ability to physically perform, is the grit to take rejection over and over and over. Literally, hundreds of rejections per day—thousands over the course of each pitch tour. If your sense of self-worth is tied up in someone else embracing you and your product (your book in this case) then you’re going to have a tough time.

My rejection pile is at least as big as Hannah Ross’s. I’ve had identical experiences with both form rejections and excited agents who just aren’t quite ready to sign me. She is right about compartmentalizing. Understand that this is a business and you make a product—make your query process mechanical to a degree where you do it because it’s on a weekly agenda. Do it even when your heart’s not in it (but write the query when it was).

Don’t stop there. Take a class on it and even pay for professional feedback and guidance. I paid a fee to have Chuck Sambuchino (of Writer’s Digest books) give me feedback on my current SF (it also pays to be selective and research who you send it to.)

Grow thick skin. You have preferences. So do agents and publishers. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who are your cheerleaders… but if all of your beta readers think something needs work (or if you haven’t told them to switch lasers from stun to kill) then you should still be at the drawing board, not dropping manuscripts at the post office.

You got this. Keep writing. Keep editing. Keep querying.

State of Writing

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Last week was the final week of school for my area (and the last week of programs I run for kids until we switch models for the summer.) Amid the normal chaos I found some time to focus and write and pushed out four chapters last week! Even at a slower rate I would hope to be done with WotT2 in two weeks (three at most). I also brought a group of teens to a comiccon in St. Paul which was lots of fun (and I was a guest on a podcast they recorded from the floor,) and I networked with a bunch of others.

Hoping for two more chapters this week!

Second Television Interview

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My followup television appearance is now live on YouTube! Both appearances will be aired across nearly a dozen communities.

We talked mostly form and process for writing, some of the pitfalls and minutia of being an indie author… when the studio guy waved from the soundbooth that we were almost out of time I was surprised we had to wrap it up–I was just getting started. We could’ve easily shot five more of these.

Check out the video here!

New Art up for my Comicbook

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Some new, amazing character art is up on my kickstarter page!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2070483758/wolves-of-the-tesseract-taking-of-the-prime-fantas
Every Monday and Friday I add updates (character profiles on Mon and completed comic pages on Fri). Would you please visit the page and support childhood literacy by becoming a backer & then share/ask your friends to do the same?

#comic #comicbook #kickstarter

Blog With Purpose

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I almost titled this the Purpose Driven Blog, but I hear Rick Warren’s lawyers are really good. I pulled some good advice from an interesting blog post titled Using a Blog to Reach Your Readers: http://cayceberryman.com/using-a-blog-to-reach-your-readers/

I was intrigued by the author’s comparison of a blog to a restaurant. “Let the sign guide them” is a good idea. Someone who’s in the mood for a cheeseburger doesn’t usually walk into a sushi joint—if they do, you can believe they’ll leave if they don’t have something to hook them immediately.

She talks about incentive and notes how bloggers don’t want to write stuff that nobody is ever going to see, hence the need to provide something that meets a need or interest of the reader:

If your book has vampires, I bet you can snag a list of 10 must-see vampire movies before you read my book. I bet, if you write about zombies, you can create a zombie-hunting toolkit (with a list, not physical stuff). If your fantasy world is new and complex, you can create a guide to navigating a world with rogue spirits or even something very narrow like 20 secrets a telepath won’t tell you.

These things are customizable, of course, but anyone interested in your story genre/theme will also be interested in the incentive. I’d click on the last one for sure. I don’t need it, but if you’re writing fantasy, there are few things you can offer a reader that they need. Give them something fun. Something they want. But don’t give them something like 10 ways to die in a bathtub if your story is about a man who falls off a plane and into another dimension or something.

You can research incentives for your particular niche and see what others offer. Make sure you customize any idea to fit your needs, though. You can always offer an incentive. But after you do that, make sure you already have posts for them to go to.

It’s a well-rounded post about blogging and I’d recommend people give it a read and find something (as I did) to take away. Honestly, I need to get better at the above but always felt like give-aways and the like were hokey gimmicks. Maybe they are, sometimes… or maybe I just haven’t seen things that really get me excited enough to sign up or follow a blog (at least by way of a tangible incentive outside of the blog content… but those two or three times that I HAVE done that resonated with me: usually a free ebook about writing tips or marketing strategies. Maybe I’ll have to put together something like that based on my advice and experience column. I’m compiling it all anyway as I prepare to speak at some author panels.)

State of Writing

 

What a week. I barely got my chapter done in the eleventh hour (and then started the next… just started foreshadowing the denouement and onto the climax! It should come easier now.) I’m only a few chapters from the conclusion of Wolves of the Tesseract: Through the Darque Gates of Koth… I’m also in the midst of a kickstarter campaign to help offset the costs of the prequel comic book coming out this summer and have been featured on a bunch of things like podcasts/tv, etc. for it. Here is a link to the newest podcast/interview which focuses more on the comic book campaign…

Nadeau Media Interview

Here is a link to that Kickstarter. Check it out and please support it with a few bucks! It updates twice a week and is only active for another month. If I don’t raise my minimum goal I don’t receive anything!

Check it out here

Review: My Golden Bridge Adventure

51VrFvbTdQL._SY346_So the noir cover with red lettering made me think of the MCU’s Black Widow right away (who is something of a sexualized character) and the third word of the official description is “school girl”… I expressed concerns to the UK author Maisie Brown that My Golden Bridge Adventure’s title uses a slur for a three person sex act and I wondered what kind of book I was being asked to review. She assured me it wasn’t like that and explained a little more about the golden bridge which isn’t nearly as nefarious a thing as some crude American comedies have made it out to be.

The book is written in a kind of “steam of consciousness” approach, which means first person POV. If you follow my reviews, you know it’s not my favorite, but the voicing is done with such candor and wit that it stays enjoyable and there are many amusing little things. (In this parallel dimension setup teenagers still read Seventeen and had Myspace). There is the occasional passive narration as the inner voice monologues. A part of the book I enjoyed was the language which might’ve only been possible in the author’s particular POV—some of the word selections were simply perfect and articulate but without danger of being written in the purple-prose that too many authors think impresses others while getting in the way of the actual story (I had to quit reading one recently because of just that—this story was succinct and colorful—here’s a great example, “I grabbed Russell Crowe and all I could breathe was a fusty body odour.” The language can be as intricate as it is enjoyable.)

Over all it had a kind of YA feel and continually reminded me of one of my favorite Dr. Who episodes (for a variety of reasons including the setting, language, time-travel, monsters, and plot [see the Father’s Day episode]) from the first season of the new Whoverse. This story has the same sort of character-driven introspection as that episode—if that’s the sort of story you are into (a potpourri mix of adventure, action, and sci-fi) then I highly recommend it.

The author gave me a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. You can check it out here.