Nov 302012
 
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It’s a huge no-duh that we live in an Information Age: from high speed Internet to 4G cell networks, we can get whatever we want wherever we want it – data-wise – at practically at the speed of light.

But sometimes I miss the old days. No, they weren’t – ever – the Good Old Days (I still remember liquid paper, SASEs, and letter-sized manila envelopes … shudder), but back then a writer had a damned long time to hear about anything to do with the biz.

If you were lucky you got a monthly mimeographed newsletter but otherwise you spent weeks, even months, before hearing about markets or trends … and if you actually wanted contact with another writer you either had to pick up the phone, sit down and have coffee, or (gasp) write a letter.

No, I’m far from being a Luddite. To borrow a bit from the great (and late) George Carlin: “I’ve been uplinked and downloaded. I’ve been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing; I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal mutlitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.”

I love living in The World Of Tomorrow. Sure, we may not have food pills or jetpacks but with the push of a … well, the click of a mouse I can see just about every movie or show I want, read any book ever written, play incredibly realistic games, or learn anything I want to know.

Here it comes, what you’ve been waiting for … but … well, as I’ve said many times before, writing can be an emotionally difficult, if not actually scarring endeavor. We forget, far too often, to care for ourselves in the manic pursuit of our writing ‘careers.’ We hover over Facebook, Twitter and blog-after-blog: our creative hopes of success – and fears of failure – rising and falling with every teeny-tiny bit of information that comes our way.

I miss … time. I miss weeks, months of not knowing what the newest trend was, who won what award, who sold what story to what magazine, who did or did not write their disciplined number of pages that day. Back then, I just sat down and wrote my stories and, when they were done, I’d send them off – and immediately begin another story so when the inevitable rejection letter came I could, at least, look at what I’d sent and say to myself Feh, I’ve done better since.

I’m not the only one. Just this week I had to talk three friends off rooftops because they looked at their sales figures, read that another writer had just sold a story when they’d just been rejected, heard that the genre they love to work in is in a downward spiral, that they’d been passed over (again) for an award, or that someone else had written ten pages that day … and all they’d managed to do was the laundry and maybe answer a few emails.

It took me quite a while but I’ve finally begun to find a balance in my life: a way to still happily be – and now we’re bowing to the really-dead Timothy Leary – turned on, tuned in … by dropping out.

Far too many writers out there say that being plugged in 24/7 to immediately what other writers are doing and saying, what their sales are like moment-by-moment, or the tiniest blips in genres, is the way to go. While I agree what we all have to keep at least one eye on what’s happening in the world of writing we also have to pay a lot more attention to how this flow of information is making us feel – and, especially, how it affects our work.

By dropping out, I mean looking at what comes across our desk and being open, honest, and – most of all – caring about how it makes us feel. You do not have to follow every Tweet, Facebook update, blog post, or whatever to be able to write and sell your work. You do not have to believe the lies writers love to tell about themselves. You do not have to subscribe to every group, forum, or site. You do not have to hover over your sales.

I’ll tell you what I tell myself – as well as my friends who are in the horrible mire of professional depression: drop out … turn it off. If the daily updates you get from some writer’s forum make you feel like crap then unsubscribe. If you don’t like the way another writer makes you feel about you and your work then stop following them. If the self-aggrandizing or cliquish behavior of a writer depresses you then stop reading their Tweets, blog posts or whatever.

You do not have to be a conduit for every hiccup and blip of information that comes your way. You Are A Writer … and, just like with flesh-and-blood people, if something diminishes you in any way, punches you in the emotional solar plexus, or keeps you from actually writing, then Turn It Off.

This is me, not you, but I don’t follow very many writing sites. WriteSex, here, is wonderful, of course … but beyond the true, real professional necessities, I only follow or read things that are fun, educational, entertaining, uplifting, and – best of all – make me feel not just good about myself and my writing, but want to make me sit down at my state-of-the-art machine and write stories.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about … and everything else either comes a distant second or doesn’t matter at all.

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Nov 152012
 
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A FemDomme Erotic Romance

A friend of mine is struggling to find the motivation to write her next novel, amidst the trials of being in her early 20s.  We’ve been discussing writing careers and the fact that I’ve known she had been in this industry a good five years and it made me think back on what if I had to do it all over again.

What if at 21 (legally) I had to start my writing career all over again, in the changing face of publishing, what would I do?

With the fake promise of success in self publishing, I’d avoid that route altogether.  Starting out, I know nothing of the business and trying to reinvent the wheel to cheat people out of what seems like it should be my cut sounds ridiculous.

Obviously, I’d write.  Richard Castle’s screensaver is NOT off the mark as it taunts him (and me) to write.

I’d continue to read, first and foremost.  More e-books, more print books, not so much to see trends but to gain a sense of style that sells.  Hopefully i have at 21 years of age enough brains to realize this is a business and printing artsy shit writing won’t make me money though it might help the struggling (read, dying) artist in me.  I would read a wider spectrum of romance and erotica than I currently do now so I had a huge pool of words to draw from, phrases that catch my eye, words that whisper temptation and guarantee marketing potential.  Hell, I’d probably read outside my genre even.

I’d watch more movies.  I’d watch a TON of movies to stuff my mind full of imagery and realize that a book, like a movie only shows the good, important parts if it’s done well.  I’d watch a LOT more adult films too, to jog the erotic writer’s imagination.

I’d write more.

The jury is still out for me, on whether I’d join an organization like RWA or not but having taught to numerous chapters I’d have to say I’d lean towards finding the money to join the national chapter AND a local club because the support there would be great but the education they give to writers is unparallelled.

I’d continue to educate myself on topics of interest.  BDSM was a fix for my personal issues, who knew it would turn out to be a hot selling genre.

Whenever I got the chance, I’d submit something.  I’d wait impatiently for feedback and hope and pray, but I’d write the next big thing in my mind while I’m waiting (I do this now thankfully) because what sells books is still the first well written story, followed by another one. Oh and the caveat to that is I’d LISTEN to the feedback and not treat my manuscript like a baby, but like a product.

I’d make a LOT of friends in the publishing industry and make DAMN SURE I made a good impression on them.  I’d control my self destructive urges (if I had them) and come off as someone who is dedicated to the passion of writing, but I wouldn’t appear too eager.  I lost a job once that way, I wouldn’t want to lose an opportunity with an agent or publisher the same way.

I’d write more and submit more.  I’d set up a flexible schedule that allowed for me to stop and eat, do daily chores and have a life.  As of now, I tend to not have much of a life and if I didn’t smoke cigars I’d never leave the house.  Yup, it’s ALL because of the publishing business.

I’d probably date a little but remain single.  This is important for some of us because the stress of being a writer means there are probably not a lot of dollars coming in at first, and that stress on a long term relationship can take a toll.  I was lucky.  Really, really lucky.

While I’m writing more, I’d start developing an audience for my voice.  With my determination I’d have the drive to write, but just because you write a great erotic masterpiece doesn’t mean it will sell if no one is aware of it.  I’d also develop the audience for me.

I’d definitely help those I can but I’d focus mostly on my career at such an early stage in the game, because that commitment and dedication are paramount to a successful career when you’re older and have been in publishing long enough to actually know who the first e-publishers were.

We’re near the end of this so I’ll break it into two parts, the other part appearing on Authors Promoting Authors, then back here when it’s my turn.

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Nov 082012
 
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Promotion is the activity around which you sell your book.

There are literally hundreds of book promotion opportunities on the internet and all around you in the real world.  Some cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, some are free. Here’s the problem … BOOK PROMOTIONS lump many authors together in one place (creating a competitive environment) or they try to create urgency sales by giving away free, 99 cent books or discounted books within a limited time period. Many of these are silly games or puzzles which in and of themselves aren’t bad ideas, except for the fact that so many authors are doing the same thing at the same time, and almost none of these promotional ideas focus on the elements that make your book special. Being herded into a tight environment with other authors is less successful than you think. Now keep in mind, I’m not telling you NOT to do any of these things … I’m simply explaining that using such promotions alone will not gain you the book sales above and beyond other authors. You have got to go further and move into areas other authors haven’t approached with your promotions.

Yay, it’s finally time to promote that book you’ve been writing, talking, blogging, Facebooking and Twittering about. Time to promote the book to all those prospective readers you’ve been reaching out to. Remember all those goals listed under Tool #1? Now you can make them happen.

The question is, how to promote? Again, it’s all inside your manuscript. Create promotions and events that are so tightly related to your story and characters you can hear it squeak. If the murder in your mystery takes place in a museum, hold your book launch events and speaking engagements in museums or museum gift stores. Find the hook and twist it tightly to make it your promotional key.  Is your main character a coffee expert, (cognac lover, cigar connoisseur)? Have your events in a coffee shop (liquor store or cigar shop), use the store’s discount coupons as bookmarks, campaign to have a coffee drink at the coffee shop named after your book. Does you story involve a corrupt lawyer poaching wild animals in Africa? Hold your events at the zoo and have tee shirts that say “So Zoo Me!”

Promotion is about making a splash but you can’t make a splash without any water, a whole sea of unique hooks you’ve already written into your book. The water’s there, all that marketing and publicity is just waiting for your activity.

E-published? Again, there are perfect venues for your promotions. The Zoo has a website. So does the museum and the coffee shop. They might be thrilled to let you show your book on that website, perhaps sell your book with a link on that website, especially if you’re donating a portion of your profits to support the zoo or museum or a charity near and dear to the coffee shop’s heart.

Get creative. Seek every opportunity and promote! And by the way, don’t forget the simplest and most effective way to promote. JUST TELL PEOPLE! Tell all those friends on Facebook and Twitter that your book is now available and where they can buy it. Let all your associates in those “hook” interest online and live groups that the book is out, and remember to get the news out to your email groups too.

Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #9, Resources Required.

Feel free to contact me at writerchef@sbcglobal.net with any questions or to share your success stories! If you’d like to know more, let me know and I’ll put you on the mailing list for online workshops and information about my book, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Hidden Power within you Manuscript, “Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony

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