Tag Archive: Writing


When A Publishing Plan Goes Wrong

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I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. There were countless hours spent pounding out stories on an old typewriter at my parents kitchen table. Writing is something I’ve always done, not always in the same format, poetry, stories, plays and novels. Always, however writing.

Being a published author has been a dream, a goal of mine and it is one I have been working towards. I worked at it, I researched it, I networked. I read, voraciously. Then I wrote, and I wrote and I rewrote. Then finally I submitted to a competition, (not the first one I’d ever submitted too and not the first novel I finally finished). Much to my delight I made it through the first cut. Top 40 of 260. The next logical step was to submit to agents and publishers. After which I got a whole lot of nothing and a couple of rejections.

There was no way I was giving up on this, I loved my story, I believed in my story for as much as letting other people read it was terrifying.

The next step I decided on was manuscript assessment. A process no scarier than letting anyone read it, except hopefully if they didn’t hate it they would be able to help me figure out what I could do to improve it. The feedback I got was thankfully positive, I was thrilled that someone else liked my story. The best thing was this was where I got the best piece of advice, ‘it’s really good but a structural rewrite, if you want to put in the effort, will make it great.’ That one suggestion and I finally understood some earlier feedback that had made no sense to me.

This began the biggest part of my journey. I wrote, whenever I could, a scene here a scene there. I added, I took away. It was slow going, very slow going because when you are a wife, and mother as well as juggling work, it can be difficult to find time. Added to that was the fact this wasn’t the only project I was working on, sometimes inspiration for this project simply dried up but other ideas would just flow.

Then I had an amazing breakthrough. I got my version of the elevator pitch with a boutique publisher. Somehow I sold him on my story when I sold him on myself and my work ethic. He asked for what I had, which to be honest was an incomplete and patchy story. This kick started my writing again with vengeance. I wrote, rewrote and edited the first 50 pages and sent it off.

Even with no contract and no solid deadline it lit a fire in my belly. The writing burned through me and the story finally found it’s voice and form. The publisher got back to me and said as soon as I was done he wanted to offer me a contract. You may know how happy I was that day, it was as if everything I had worked for and through had been validated. Working my arse off I got it finished and finally got my contract.

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It would be wonderful if that was the end of the story. If we started editing and my book made it out into the world.

Instead I got

Nothing.

A few months after I signed my contract the publisher decided to go on indefinite hiatus due to stress. This left me in some state of limbo. What could I do, technically I was still in contract and he hadn’t closed the business just said he needed a break. I figured, that was probably a good enough reason to break contract if I needed too so I started putting out feelers again. Not a lot but a few, and there were no bites.

Then, from out of nowhere, when my contract was closer to its end than beginning, the publisher decides to go ahead and send me the first lot of edits, asking me how I would like to go forward. I was hesitant but the lure of publication is strong.

By this time though I had re-edited my story yet again, why not, it can always be improved. So I added his edits and sent off the new version. Then…

Nothing.

I send a message about cover art, because an artist I know has created a beautiful pic for me that I really wanted to use. I get a positive response.

Next thing I know a friend messages me and asks if I’m okay with the fact my publisher has decided to close his doors. That was the first I heard about it, then came the bulk email.

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I was heartbroken and so incredibly angry. I know there were extenuating circumstances, and I truly believe he didn’t mean for this to be the end result but it still felt like a crushing rejection. I ranted, I cried, I poured my frustrations out to an author I admire, who surprisingly answered me with some good advice.

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At this point you realise you have two choices. You either give up or you pick yourself up and push forward. I’m not much of a quitter, this is not something I’d spent a few weeks or months on and had little invested in, this was something I’d been working towards the greater part of my whole life.

Publishing is not an easy industry to break into and with the advances in technology I realised I had another choice; traditional publishing or self-publishing. My heart wanted me to go traditional, that was my dream. To have someone believe enough in my story to want to share it with others. I really wanted to be able to put a book in people’s hands. That path though could mean years of submitting and waiting and most likely a lot of rejections. Self-publishing meant I could get it out there by the time I was originally supposed to be published.

I bit the bullet. I love my story, I believe in myself (sometimes – so it must have been a good self-esteem day I made the decision) and I wanted to go forward rather than sit in a holding pattern indefinitely. I found myself an editor and hit send. I already had the art I wanted for my cover art and I know a wonderfully talented graphic designer who was happy to put the cover together for me.

When my editor got back to me saying that at times it ‘was like reading an already published book’, I couldn’t have been happier. With feedback like that you’d think it would be easy to upload to the e-book site and hit submit. One button and it is all done. That one button though carried a lot of weight, all my hopes and fears resting on one small click. In the end my hubby said ‘just do it,’ and I really had to take that chance on myself.

Publishing is scary, putting yourself out there in such a way opens you up to people you might otherwise hide from. Self-publishing may even be more so because at the end of the day you are the only one who believes in what you have done, it is all on you (friends and family don’t really count here, they are supposed to believe in you and support you).

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This is my journey so far. Not the one I wanted but the one I ended up with. I haven’t made my millions, I haven’t sold 50 copies as yet, but I have had great feedback from a large number of those who have read it. I’ve found some fans and even had my first royalty payment. All of which is better than nothing and better than not taking that chance in the first place.

 

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In-Love-with-a-Fictional-Character.pngThis is something I have done since I first began to devour books. When I was younger I wanted to be George from the Famous Five.

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When I was about twelve I had a huge crush on Atreyu from The Never Ending Story, I balled my eyes out when Artax died in the Swamp of Sorrows.

0133735_42657_MC_Tx360.jpgLater various characters from Feist’s Midkemia filled my imagination. And who wouldn’t want Reilly’s Scarecrow to be their significant other or at least friend. I was never the sort to be swept off my feet by Mr Darcy and the love I felt for characters was mostly familial. I wanted them to be my friends. When I lacked friends in the real world I never lacked for them in my imagination. I would retreat from the teasing and hurt by venturing into other worlds;

Narnia, Crabapple Farm, River Heights, Kirrin Island, Ancient Egypt and the list goes on. I went on adventures with Pug and Thomas, Reepicheep, Tasslehoff Burfoot, solved mysteries with Nancy and Trixie.

Nancy-Drew-vintage-image.jpgAs I got older my tastes changed, but how I read and why I read didn’t. Mother would be a great laugh to hang with, in fact an afternoon spent with Eve and Roarke, Mother, Mercy, Adam and various surrounding players would be my idea of wonderful. On another day, Beka Cooper, Keladry, Annabeth, Caroline and I could all sit down over a civilised cheesecake and chocolate and right all the wrongs in the world, what a glorious day that would be.

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It’s okay if you don’t know a lot of these names that’s your loss, but then you may have a list of names I wouldn’t recognise and that is fine too. Just like in real life we all like different people, so we are all drawn to different characters and stories.

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Characters fill my head, mine and others. I often find them easier to relate to, less likely to cause me grief in any way. It was in these characters that I found acceptance to be me, as silly as it may sound. If girls, and women, such as these, who don’t comfortably fit into a mould, can have friends, family and success, then maybe I could as well. I never felt I fit, not really, but I did with my fictional friends.

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Writing my own stories in some ways has been an extension of this love affair. I never set out to write Evayn as she is now, as the character she is becoming (see what I did there?) She started in fact as what my husband lovingly, or laughingly, referred to as, my naked amnesia chick. Holy heck she has come a long way. (There may be spoilers ahead but only little ones.) Now I know her so well I know when she will roll her eyes, bite her lip or bottle up all that is bothering her. I know that holding steel in her hand calms her and helps her think. I know the dragon in her confuses her and she struggles to embrace that fully, in a way she never struggled with that she inherited from her father. I know her dark places. I’ve been there with her and want nothing more than to be with her at the end of this adventure we are going on.

There are many characters in this world I’ve created whom I’ve become attached to. Some I’ve shed tears over and others I want to slap, I hope that means I’ve done a good job with them because those are the feelings I get when I deal with real people.

Reading led me to writing. Reading has always been a central part of who I am. For me it is something that provides a break to life and all the crap that can be found in it. I willingly say I rarely read non-fiction or literary work. I read to escape not to be reminded of that which actually surround me. Reading has given me people to love and despise without the need to actually interact with people, (and I am a person that a sometimes struggles with being around people). It is also a refuge and that is part of the end result of falling in love with a world and its characters. I have read some books over and over and yes even over (sometimes to the point of the book falling apart). Those books are my safe place to go. There are times when I want to close out the rest of the world and curl up with an old friend, it is like a safety blanket, warm, cuddly and comfortable. Safe.

As a writer I want to write a story people like, a character people love and if I can create a world that people want to return to then that would be my idea of success.

Though lots of book sales would also be an acceptable definition.

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After The Fact

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So what now?

It’s a big thing. You don’t realise just how much energy you expend just before hitting that submit button. I mean you know it’s your main focus but you don’t realise just what that will mean once you’ve done the deed.

And once you’ve done that deed you can feel a bit flat, at somewhat of a loose end.

The thing about writing is it is very personal. You pour so much of your time and in some respects yourself, into what you write. You want to have a good product, but the thought of putting it out there into the world can be quite terrifying. Once your book is live the terror doesn’t go away. In some ways it increases. What if no one buys it? What if people don’t like it? It can be a dark place to find yourself and for a creative person, who may be prone to moments of depression that can be a rough thing.

If you are lucky enough to have gone the traditional route then there is not a lot you can do once it is out there. You just have to trust in your work and your publisher to get that work out there.

If you have self published electronically then it is all really on you. Which means on some level you put some of that pressure on your friends. That is a difficult thing to work through. Friends and aquaintances want to support you and so they say all the right things. It makes you feel good to read or hear that support, until you go to your author log in and realise of the 100 people who said ‘awesome’ and other mutterings of support, only 20 people have actually put their hands in their pockets to support you.

So where does that leave you as an author who has perhaps spent years working towards this goal?

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Well you get over it. You get over yourself.

If you haven’t figured out by now that you need to have a thick skin to be in this industry, then you are either naive or not been in or around the industry for very long.

It isn’t your friends fault they don’t read, don’t like the genre you’ve written in, or that they prefer a paper copy. When it comes right down to it you can’t make someone read. You also can’t expect others to actually pay for something they have no interest in. The numbers are hard to deal with. That’s all they are though and realistically selling twenty copies to people who genuinely like the story you’ve put out there, makes it all worth it. It just doesn’t pay your bills.

Sure I won’t say no if someone buys it and doesn’t read it. And I’m more than willing to remind people that for an amount similar to a large coffee you can support a writer. I also like to let people know that for such a meagre amount the writer gets more money from the electronic sale, than they would if you had spent 4 times that amount to purchase their book.

A story that sells thousands is all author’s dream, or at least I guess it is, but it is just that, a dream, and dreams like that are usually ones you work towards, they rarely happen overnight. Reality is a lot harsher but we need to take hope from the few who put their money into your pocket and embrace your characters the same way you did when you formed them from your own precious time, (and sometimes your blood as well).

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The dream may happen in the future, but it is going to take forward action for that to happen, so you can’t let the funk post publication get to you. You need to just pick up your pen, or your keyboard and just keep writing.

If someone knows how to make my story of a kick arse girl who works hard and becomes a kick arse woman with a drive to seek justice and an ability to fight for it, get out there and become an overnight sensation, then please feel free to make that happen. (I’m also fine with movie or tv series offers as well.)

Otherwise if you’ve just swung by here to read my musings in this moment, then welcome, and if you’d like to check Becoming out, then please follow the link.

Countdown

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So here is the way things are.

The contract I signed didn’t amount to much in the end because a couple of weeks after telling me editing was starting on my book, the publisher announced he was closing up shop. No heads up, nothing. In fact just before the general email went out I’d been messaging him about cover design.

That was a bitter pill to swallow. It is hard when something you’ve worked so hard for falls apart in your hands.

images.jpegThen I had to decide what I was going to do. Getting an agent is damn near impossible, getting a publisher as difficult. So then there is a third option, one that is much easier these days and a great deal more profitable than it used to be.

The last option is the one I have settled on. So I’ve taken steps to ensure I do this as well as I can. I swallowed my fear and paid for a professional edit. I had someone doing some art for me and I decided that was going to be my cover art.

Stage one then complete with those decisions made.

Stage two, the editor got back to me in a more than timely manner and the feed back was pretty good all things considered.

Stage three, work on the edits from my end. This is turning into a series of levels. A few big edits and then a few smaller ones. The big ones have been done and now it is just some final tweaking. I have also picked up the art I’m using and it is now in the hands of a graphic designer who’s putting the other touches on for me.

I have it planned. Really I do, or at least that is what I keep telling myself. I will do the final edits. Use the art to get promotional stuff printed up. Contribute to a website where people discover new authors and then get up the courage to hit send on the publishing site.

I want this to work. I really want this to work. Despite that hunger it’s still a scary thought.

Stay tuned.

So Many Thoughts

I have so many things spinning around in my head.

Some times it is so confusing in there. There are so many stories floating around at times. It’s difficult to focus on just one. So right now I’m working on a couple of things. First edit of book two is a current big red mess. Well the first 100 pages at any rate.

My other project I’ve not touched whilst I’ve been on leave. Instead I’ve worked on knitting and sewing projects. Creative is creative after all. I quite like doing creative things with my hands there is something incredibly satisfying in it. It is just something I don’t do very often anymore as I have so many things going on.

It can be a very full schedule when you’re a wife, mother, full time employee and a writer. Oh there is also my convention habit.

I love my life, mostly. I guess I just wish things would happen faster. I wish I was already published, I wish certain other things had gone my way and a few other things were different. Things that I don’t need the world to know but that would make my life a little easier.

Part of the problem with the internet is it is so easy to over share. I could complain about the things that have gone wrong, the problems I have, but ultimately what would be the point? Complaining online won’t solve my problems. It may be cathartic in the moment but what can it possibly achieve? It won’t fix anything, it won’t make anything go away. I don’t understand why people do it.

Whining doesn’t help in anyway. You know what does help? Getting on with life. Doing what you are good at. Fix your sights on the goal, pick yourself up out of your pity party and put one foot in front of the other. That is how you get to where you want to be.

Life for most of us is not about the quick fix, it is about the long journey. Sure there are lucky people in life, those for whom things come easy. For the rest of us we work at it. We take one step after another, stopping to recharge, refocus and step again towards that goal we hold so dear.

And Then There is Work

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being a writer is the fact bills still need to be paid. Even for a lot of published writers a second job is required in order for all to be covered. For me though writing is something I have to do, but as yet it contributes nothing to my bank account. So I work at a regular (or not so regular many would say) job.

It is a job that allows me flexibility to travel to conventions, which is my stress relief from the pressures of that job and general life, so that is a very good thing. I’d like to think I’m pretty good at my job, and despite its peculiarities I like my job. I just wish at times that writing contributed a little something so I could spend more time focussing on that and not need to clock in the overtime shifts in order to pay for my convention habit, and my book habit.

Ahhh the first world problems of a writer-in-training.

 

A Little Break

So, writing is a slow process, unless I suppose you are a well known and already published author. A contract has 12 to 18 months on it and that’s if things go smoothly. Sometimes things don’t go smoothly.

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They haven’t for me. I wish they had. More than anything I wish they had. My life is busy and rough enough. There are times I just get tired of pushing, pressing and moving forward. Sometimes I just want to give up.

Thing is I know well enough that I can’t walk away. I’ve been a writer, an unpublished one, for a very long time. I used to sit at my parents dining room table with an old typewriter when I was about 13 or 14 and write up my first stories. Mostly they were mystery/adventure because thats what I read. When I got older I tried my hand at bad high school romance, with characters unlike any I read because I always identified with rougher girls, more troubled girls than I read about.

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I have always written. Writing is my outlet. Sometimes there are so many ideas that I can’t keep up. If I develop even half of those ideas I am going toe busy for a very long time. Problem is I write because I have to write but there is still part of me that really wants to share my stories but I’m not willing to give all those stories away. I did start publishing a couple of stories on line years ago, but I didn’t see it through and no one seemed to care.

Publishing is a difficult mistress. Writing is a cruel bitch to be enslaved to. But I am and I find I don’t mind it much, mostly. Sometimes though the frustration. You try to hold onto the highs but the time between them is so far it can be disheartening.

During one of those lows, when my publisher had things to work through, (life interferes most inconveniently at times) I had to walk away. I was getting irritated and frustrated because nothing was moving forward.

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Creatives can’t just stop being creative though, so I walked back to the theatre. I put on another persons clothes, hair and damn four inch heels and played make believe for a little while.

It was fun and exhausting. See a writer is in many ways a homebody, this writer particularly. Oh I love being on stage, it is an amazing, adrenaline filled experience. Some of those nights though, getting myself off my couch and out of my house was a drag. The reward though… the laughter, the camaraderie, the total shedding of self to play dress up as someone totally differently.

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I love being on stage. The wonderful side effect is now I feel energised and ready to write again. I’ve been able to put pen to paper on a couple of things and feel ready to push in to the bigger ones.

Sometimes you need to step away and reinvigorate the core of you.

No News is…

Writing is a fickle mistress at times. Mistress? Why mistress? Anyway, that little pondering is not for now.

So, no news is good news right? I don’t know, regardless, waiting is hard. I had hopes but I’ve managed to let go of those by now. What I haven’t let go of is my belief in myself. I believe my writing is good enough to sell. I believe my story is good enough that people will want to read it.

All of which is great, but that really isn’t why I write. I’ve already talked about this though. I write because I have to write. If I go for a longish period of time without writing I feel out of sorts. It may not make sense to anyone who isn’t a writer but it is something that just is and I’m good with that.

The problem with creative arts is that for all it is an isolating task, it also needs other people. I need people who can keep me focused, people who are happy for me to use them as sounding boards for some ideas. People who are prepared to read my work and be honest with me about it.

Also in my case I need a publisher, because for me I don’t know that I have the time to wade through the intricacies of self-publishing. I could never do anything without doing it properly and that takes time. The thing with a publisher is they have all these other things going on with them as well. It would be a wonderful thing for me if I could have someone focussed entirely on helping me achieve my goal but this is the real world. So things happen according to other people’s time frames.

I guess this is part of what being a grown up is, understanding that some things take time, and a little, or a lot, of patience. In the meantime I will keep writing, reading and creating.

 

Still Writing

Okay so book one is finished, with beta readers and hopefully my publisher, I’d like to say these things are set in stone but unfortunately I’ve been around various aspects of the creative industries to know that nothing is certain until it is actually out there in the hands of the consumers.

Oh believe me I want it to be done, I want the book published, I want people to buy it, read it and hopefully like it. I also want to get paid for it. Selfish of me I know. I write because I have to write. If I don’t write things feel out of whack. I will probably always write regardless. Is is too much to ask though to be paid for it? I hope not.

I had an argument with a young chap once about not paying for books, just reading pirated versions. I told him he was an arrogant, selfish toad (possibly in more colourful language) for expecting others to entertain him with no compensation. Problem is many feel that way. They don’t see the creative process for what it is, someone’s hard spent time for which they should be compensated.

I am not here today to get into a rant about this. Today is a brief update. Book one is finished, book two has a complete rough first draft and book three has elements to it already complete. For now that series is being walked away from as a delve into another idea. Oh I am so excited about this idea but that is all I can say at the moment. I have been involved in this industry long enough to know sometimes you are just better off not saying anything because so many don’t understand and the heartbreak of rejection is terrible. For now this will be my secret work in progress. I know the first series will likely be finished first, before this second one is properly given it’s wings.

Still I write because I must write.

Oh My Glob!!!

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Wow! I totally had no idea that I’d neglected this page for so long. That is simply terrible. For myself not so much for anyone else. This is my writing blog. The one that details my journey and, let’s be honest, my geeky stuff as well. If I can’t regularly add to this how am I going to manage when I’m published and needing to keep a profile as an author. Of course that is the hopefully vain part of me that dreams that someone will care. A girl has to dream right.

So.

Where did I leave things?

June Nova and a signed contract. Both great things. Now six months have passed and what has changed? Nothing and a whole heap. November bought another Nova tour. Yay!!! These events are my stress relief. They give me the chance to catch up with friends from around the country and shmoose with people I admire from various reactive pursuits and pretend they will remember me the following day. It’s okay I know they won’t but I’m a writer I spend a large amount of time living in a fantasy land.

12279208_10208499849113168_8893095336609938655_nYou may wonder though, how the chaos and busyness of a weekend convention, where I barely get to eat sometimes and grab pee breaks when I can find a minute, can be considered stress relief. Well when you have a day job that many would consider one of the most stressful out there, any kind of change is a relief. Plus I get fun stories and sometimes ever funner (it is a thing now) pics.

12305998_896270337135300_2107145663_nWriting takes up a chunk of my spare time. I have finished my first run though of book two. Even though my intention had been to step away from Evayn and her story for a while and work on something different. The story it seemed had other ideas. It simply would not let me go. I’m not sure whether that was because it was the most unformed part of the whole thing and I had a whole heap of world building to do, or because the characters weren’t ready for a holiday yet. Whatever the reason, the second act is now loosely formed and I’m happy with it.

Now I’ve finally been released to step away from them and have completed three short stories for a friend who wanted to collaborate on a project. The worst part of it all is I’ve written them and sent them off and now I’m waiting for a response. That as we all know is the worst part. What if he doesn’t like them? What if they really don’t fit his interpretation of the very loose parameters he gave me? What if?

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I’m not sure how much that matters though. Well it does and it doesn’t. See writing is really very complicated in it’s simplicity. Full of double meaning and both sides of coins. It matters in that I really do want him to like them. I want him to feel they are useful for the project. On the other hand though, I am really happy with the stories and have a special place in my heart for the characters I created. So yes,it does matter if he likes them, but also it doesn’t.

Confused yet? I probably am, but that is pretty normal for me.

Now those stories are doing what they will in the ether I have begun working on a different project. I’m finding it fun and interesting and not at all sure where it will take me story wise. I have an overall view of it in my head but it is very unformed. How it all shakes out in the end will, hopefully be a very interesting journey for me.

So I have finally done another post, hopefully with this new year, all its potential and all my plans (and a book launch baby!) I will maintain this page in a better manner than last year. That is about as close as I have come to any kind of New Years resolution.

Take care peeps. Enjoy your journey.