Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting published in this economic climate

Is now the time for a new author to hope for publication? Good question right? It's one that I grapple with every day. How could my timing be any worse? Well, there is hope. It's just like trying to find a job in this time of high unemployment. Well let me tell you a story about that. (Did you get the Forest Gump inspiration there?) I have a friend who was unemployed for about 9 months. And then, can you believe, she was offered one job - took it. Then offered another job - left the first job and took the 2nd. And now has been offered a third job. All in a span of a few weeks. And everyone says there's no work out there.

So, I think it's the same with publishing. Authors are still signing contracts. The bookstore are still showcasing new books every week. So there's still opportunities. Maybe it just means that we need to be hungrier, maybe our books need to be a bit more polished, and maybe, just maybe with a sprinkle of lucky dust, a new author can still get signed in this chaotic economy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Writing Inspiration

I've heard different philosophies when it comes to writing inspiration. Some writers write only when they are "inspired". Others find it more productive to write & write & write until inspiration hits. I've tried both.

For me, I find that I need to do something every day-even if I don't feel like it. Otherwise days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and before you know it I haven't written in such a long time that I need to requaint myself with the story and the characters that I've developed. I love writing, but believe me when I say that there are certainly days when I find a million things to do before I commit to sitting down and putting some words on paper (or computer).

So I do a number of things to get myself inspired. Sometimes, I will just force myself to sit at the computer and write, anything, write & rewrite the same sentence 20 times if I must, but write until I get through that hump that is blocking me from moving on in the story. This usually works well when I know I have a good block of time, usually a couple hours, to work through it until I'm at a point where the words are flowing again.

Another tool of inspiration is reading quick stories, articles, blogs, or website snippits from my writing idols. I keep these saved under my "favorites" for easy viewing. Having the connection with other writers, even if I don't know them, helps me feel part of the community, and reignites my excitement...specially if I read their stories of struggle and ultimate success. Here are some links to my favorite authors:
Stephen King: http://www.stephenking.com/index.html
Stephenie Myer: http://www.stepheniemeyer.com
Christopher Paolini: http://www.alagaesia.com/index.php
J.K. Rowling: http://www.jkrowling.com/accessible/en
John Flanagan: http://www.rangersapprentice.com/
Terry Goodkind: http://www.terrygoodkind.com/
John Grisham: http://www.jgrisham.com/
David Baldacci: http://www.davidbaldacci.com/web/

I also keep earmarked passages from my favorite books handy. By reading a few paragraphs I get excited about the story again, about that author's style, and ultimately about my own writing.This has served me on quite a few occasions.

And finally, I find inspiration by going to bookstores. I love the feeling of knowing that every book on the shelves has its own story, unique characters, and perspective. All of those authors found a way to get their stories finished-they found the inspiration they needed to make their stories come to life. It gives me the hope & inspiration I need to finish my current project, so I too can add my contribution to that selection.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marketing - sharing links

Marketing is an important part of the process of getting our work into the public eye, but how do we do it, and do it effectively? If you're like me I am really good at promoting other people's projects, but not as effective when promoting my own. So I'm doing my research and preparing myself to be more effective in the area of marketing my own materials.

I've come across a helpful article and a website resource over the last couple days. I wanted to share them. I hope you'll find them helpful too.

Article on About.com, "Book Promotion for Creative Writers": http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/thebusinessofwriting/tp/onlineselfpromo.htm

Website: Winning the Web (Winning Marketing Strategies): http://www.winningtheweb.com

Are there any you'd like to share?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Breaking Through Writing Blocks

Yes! I'm excited because last night I was able to break through a writing block. It wasn't your typical "don't know what to write" kind of block, but more of a revision block. I kept changing the beginning of chapter 6 for my novel, The Hidden Force, but nothing seemed to fit.

I persisted, I didn't give up, and finally last night I found the right beginning to chapter 6.

So, why was it so challenging? Well, in my revision I've trimmed four chapters, taking the key elements and combining them into chapter 6. So finding a transition to that proved more challenging than I had anticipated. But I'm happy to report that the revision free-flow is back.

Anyone else having 2nd, 3rd, or 4th draft revision blocks out there?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Novel Writing & Revision - tools

Most of my writing focus of late has been concentrated on revising my newest YA novel, The Hidden Force. And the work is paying off as I see a story taking shape and characters coming to life.

Writing a novel is a long process, often made longer when the time to write is carved from an already hectic schedule of a job, a child, a husband, friends, social committments, etc. But sometimes, having the right tools can make the process a bit more precise and organized. I stumbled upon some great tools while reading through the February 2009 issue of Writers Digest (www.writersdigest.com). Check out this link: www.writersdigest.com/article/first-draft-finish-novel for free downloads of a Story Plan Checklist and some first draft worksheets.

And now, I'm off to work on revisions to chapter 6...happy writing!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Writing As A Business

I was talking to Allena Tapia (www.freelancewrite.about.com) yesterday. We were talking about common mistakes writers make early in their career. Here's a summary of some of the points I discussed referencing my experiences.

When I published my first book, I was so caught up in the excitement of the process that I didn't look at it like a business. I've since learned from that experience and recommend that writers treat their book and their careers just as its a new/emerging business. What I failed to do with the first book is 1. Plan for marketing before and after publication. Getting the word out about my book was my responsiblity. Noone would learn about my book by just having it sit on a website online. I recommend creating a marketing plan that includes several resources so as not to put all your marketing into one source. Spread the word with email blasts, online networking sites, press releases, readings at local sites that pertain to the material, and attend events. 2. Budget for ALL aspects of the business. My first book was a self-published venture. I budgeted for the publishing package, but didn't anticipate the "extra" costs that came up when I needed layout work or wanted changes made to the format. I also didn't budget for marketing collateral, travelling costs to promote the book, advertising, etc. These are things to keep in mind for both traditional and POD publishing. 3. Decide on TIME Committment - How much time can you commit to marketing your book? When I published my book, I did so at a time that made it very difficult for me to do all of the above. My book was published two weeks after my son was born. I was an unknown author with a first book and it was self-published...that combination meant it would take double or triple the work to get noticed. But again, I was swept up in the idea of seeing my work in print. So, I made some mistakes. And to be honest, I'm happy I learned all those lessons with my first book, because now I'm one step closer to creating a winning strategy for my next book. And I'm confident that this one will get the attention it deserves.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"My Writing Life" emerges

There's so much that goes into breaking-in and maintaining any new career, and writing is no exception. So starting today, I'm committing to doing something every day towards writing, revising, researching, marketing, and networking in this industry. Hopefully some of it will be useful to other writers out there. I hope you'll all share your own experiences and advice with me and the other readers of this blog.