Wednesday, November 28, 2012
We are switching gears this week to hear from a writer that decided to go the self-publish route. It sounds like E. B. Black knows a thing or two about marketing and promoting. I'm sure her new book will go far.
Some authors publish their book after getting a call from an agent, other authors publish after getting a call inside themselves. The second kind of call was the one I received.
Most people don't know this about me, but years ago, I ran a general talk forum that was somewhat popular. My friends all tried to do the same and their forums died quickly. I expected that to be the case with me as well.
Instead, my forum lasted for two years, until I deleted it. It had hundreds of thousands of posts and hundreds of members. How did this happen? Because I advertised for my forum every day. I added content to it regularly and held contests on it. I was obsessed with it and got lucky finding the target audience for it.
When I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I began by writing every day. I dreamed that someday I'd be published and in every Barnes and Noble store, until I met several members on AQConnect. I was trying to write my first query letter and needed advice.
I heard about how many of them had self-published. I read their books and was impressed by the quality of them. I realized that although it's very unlikely that a self-published book will sell a lot of copies, it's no less unlikely than me getting a publishing contract and becoming a bestseller.
It reminded me a lot of running that forum and I was thankful for that experience. Advertising is very similar. People get just as annoyed with spamming links to your forum as they do with spamming links to your Amazon Buy page. I learned basic HTML and graphic design in order to keep the lay-out of my forum nice. Now, I use those things to create cover images and format my e-books.
Self-publishing is not for people who don't like doing everything themselves. It's a lot of hard work that doesn't always involve typing out stories. I find it relaxing, but not all writers will feel the same. Because everyone's path in life isn't identical.
Your heart and experiences will call you in the right direction. Follow it.
E.B. Black lives in SoCal with her family and two rottweilers. She daydreams about dressing up like a necromancer for Halloween and fantasy worlds she can throw her characters into.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Here's a dose of inspiration just in time for Thanksgiving. I'm sure this author is very thankful to be handled by a great agent. Welcome to the latest success story from another AQC regular, Jennie Bates Bozic. She has just recently got the call and is now on submission for her novel, Damselfly. Good luck and best wishes!
My “Getting the Call” story is different than most because, to those who don’t know my full story, it probably looks like everything worked out for me in record time. But it’s true that every overnight success is ten years in the making. In my case, it was eleven.
I began working on my first novel during my sophomore year of college in 2001. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know that the world coming together in my head wouldn’t let me go. For the next nine years, I worked on it from time to time, but would give up in frustration. I had no idea how to write a novel and I didn’t have the self-discipline to really go after my dream. But I still wrote in pieces. I jotted down pages worth of notes. I shared my scraps with friends and their responses encouraged me to keep trying. I bought lots of books on writing and storytelling and spent hours wandering around bookstores, trying to get inspired.
After dozens of false starts, I set that book aside and tried a different one. That went a little more smoothly… until the hard drive of my computer died and I wasn’t able to retrieve my work. It was gone forever and all I had left were the chapters I had emailed to friends.
Two years ago, I got married and my husband got fed up with me constantly complaining about how much I wanted to be a writer. “Why don’t you actually write then instead of talking about it?”
I was mad at him for about an hour, and then the truth of his words sunk in. So I started writing. I went back to my first book and cranked out a rough draft. I took a class in writing for children and young adults. A year later, I had an extremely rough draft and a terrible query letter.
I really wanted to make sure everything was completely ready before I sent my first query letter, so I started revising. As I chopped and sliced and rewrote, the sad realization that my writing reach exceeded my grasp settled down on me. My skill still wasn’t at the level it needed to be.
I knew at that point that it would be all too easy to give in to frustration and self-pity. I had worked SO hard, often getting in my daily thousand words even if I’d worked twelve hours that day, and it still wasn’t enough. But feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to get me any closer to my goal of being a professional author.
So I sat down and thought long and hard about the kind of story I could write next and I came up with Damselfly. I wrote the query first and ran it by several people to see if it sounded appealing. The feedback was encouraging, so I poured myself into writing that novel. Seven months later, it was finished and I sent out my first queries.
To my great surprise, the first response I got from an agent was not a rejection – it was a full request. Three weeks and two more full requests later, I woke up one morning and checked my email. There was an email from one of the agents who was reading my novel. My heart sank and I opened it.
And then I screamed. My husband came running in from the other room, convinced I was dying because I am so NOT a screamer. All I could do was babble incoherently and hold up the phone so he could read the email himself.
Steven Axelrod wanted me to call him at my convenience to discuss representation.
It took me a couple of hours to work up my courage, mostly because phone calls with anyone other than family and close friends make me incredibly nervous, which was why I had not included my phone number in my queries. He offered representation right away and then we spent some time discussing what that would mean. I asked most of my questions, but in my nervousness I forgot about half of them. Then I told him I would get back to him in about a week because I needed to let the other agents know.
And thus began the longest week of my life. Eight days later, after an extended deadline due to Hurricane Sandy, I was thrilled to accept Steve’s offer. I couldn’t be happier and I can’t imagine a better agent for my book and my career.
Hopefully I’ll be getting another call soon – this time with the news that my book has sold!
Bio: Jennie Bates Bozic’s first "book" was a short kid's story about a brother and a sister who are sent to Saturn as astronauts and meet an alien named Kleppy. Bestseller material there, I tell you! She has a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Hillsdale College and a diploma in 3D Animation in Visual Effects from Lost Boys Learning. She has spent the last four years creating visual effects for film and television. If you've watched shows such as The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, The Event, Heroes or Greek, chances are that you've seen some of her work. She is married to a wonderful man that she met in the World of Warcraft and they live in Los Angeles with their two cats.
Jennie's website - http://www.jenniebatesbozic.com/
Friday, November 16, 2012
Welcome to a special Getting the Call on a Friday, coming to us from all the way across the pond as they say. We've heard from many writers, but this has to be one of my all time favorite writer success stories. If this doesn't give you a dose of inspiration to keep querying or finish that NaNo project, then you picked the wrong hobby. Thank you, Tony, for sharing your dedication to growing and improving as a writer.
WRITING SPECULATIVE FICTION - my own therapy?
Where amateurs are concerned, fiction writing is a hobby, a spare time art-form. An alternative to one's regular occupation, i.e. the day job. Indulged in, perhaps, as a form of therapy, or even for a spot of light relief. I’m using the word 'amateur' to imply non-professional, defined as 'unpaid labor', which brings me rapidly to the subject of Speculative Fiction.
Most editors, nowadays, probably suspect there are more writers around than readers ... and the art of genre fiction writing is becoming a form of therapy mostly indulged in by amateurs. Perhaps not just as a hobby, but a way to express and analyse one's feelings about the world, and where it's going, and communicate them too. There are easier ways to relieve one's feelings when it comes to pure therapy. In some countries they sell little clay idols, hideous to behold. With just a little imagination, a suitable one can be identified with the galling frustration of the moment. Rage and indignation does the rest. One's trials and tribulations presumably scatter in the breeze with the dust of the manikin as it crumbles in a hairy fist, or shatters against a convenient stone wall.
It seems a lifetime ago when to become your own psychiatrist, the minimum you needed was pencil and paper; but nowadays, a laptop computer is more convenient. Anywhere can become a couch and it's more socially acceptable than talking to one’s self… or beating up your partner.
So put it all down ... scribble away, unbutton that creative belt and let it all hang out. Put all your frustrations down in a story. Develop your characters and let them tell your conscience how you feel. Above all be honest with yourself, even if it hurts. You may discover that it often does.
That's how I got into all this, with the success I've experienced to date. I'd like to be a really wealthy writer, but I suspect I’ve left it too late in life. More important to me though, is the fact that I recognize and have adjusted to, my own limitations.
I spent about twenty five years, in different companies, designing and building up product lines, travelling the world, setting up distributors, crumpling the competition, getting the best out of my staff, listening to their problems, and solving them. Occasionally even my own when I had time. The closer I got to the top of the tree, the more I longed to turn in my collection of emotion-screening masks for an axe, and hack away at the plastic feet of all the false idols I seemed to be worshiping I was fed up with the commercial rat-race, and the way it submerged my appreciation of the simpler things in life.
I resented the never-ending battle, necessary to just stay level let alone to advance, and I was filled with remorse at the neglect of my home-life and family. Worst of all, my conscience was wearing me down. It refused to believe my contrived excuses and justification for what I was doing. I eventually realized that I really wanted to give it all up, but I needed the money. Some kind of Do-It-Yourself therapy was the only solution that appealed to me.
On aircraft, in trains, restaurants, waiting at airports, anywhere I had the time and the inclination I made notes and kept them. Some of them later turned into cynical poems, several with scientific themes, and I had many of them published. I was also well received whenever I could fit in time to give readings, on various club evenings, as well as radio and TV.
I did have a few short stories accepted, a long time ago, back in my SF fan days, but my first new project was a soul-searching, experimental, self-published, semi-autobiography work, entitled HOW TO BE A CHIEF EXECUTIVE. It took two years to write, and get off the ground, in between all the time I spent developing, and promoting international exports of advanced technology instruments and equipment. Well, last century, I did get a medal from the Queen for that day job, and the book did modestly well too, but whatever I spent marketing it, always brought in orders that almost exactly balanced my costs. This century however, it is available from Amazon and other outlets as an eBook and a paperback, and the revenue arrives at no cost to me at all.
Then one day I finally threw in my executive job and went to work for myself, as a computer programmer and instructor, specializing in developing AI software, which could generate business programs. With no more international travelling, I soon I found I had more time to start writing genre fiction again, and this century I’ve managed to complete over a hundred stories, including shorts and novelettes.
Relevant magazines, anthology publishers, and websites began to take my work, and I had success in several competitions. I’ve also won awards for a couple of my self-published collections, TENERIFE TALL TALES, and MACABRE TALES.
My first novel, POINTS OF VIEW, was published just before my 86th.birthday this year, by Eternal Press, in the USA. Yes, I’m still progressing, and in addition to being nearly ready with my second novel, I believe now that there can be contentment in approaching the limits of one's abilities. The trick is to get as far as you believe you can, or maybe even stop just before that.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Here is a reminder that success takes patience. Careers in writing do not blossom overnight. Thank you Kathryn for sharing your story and showing us that there are many levels of triumphs. The ones we yearn for in the beginning of our journey may not be the ultimate accomplishments we believe them to be. There is much more to come because it truly is an expedition into the unknown.
I started writing The Heart of the Rose after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!
So I got out my old typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I tentatively called the book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library (no computers or Internet back then) I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the King. His brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) now I have to laugh. It was pretty bad. All that archaic language I used (all the rage back in the 80’s). Yikes! But people, mainly women, loved it.
And so my writing career began. That was 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.
Then one day years later I found it in my bottom drawer and decided to rewrite it; try to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive.
In the meantime, I wrote another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out, as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky feel to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the book into a horror novel. Like Stephen King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would really sell, she said. Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood as hers. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and started sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly.
But right before it was to go to editing, the publisher, Towers Publishing…went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a husband and son was one step above poverty at times. Back then I was so naïve. That was 1983 and that take-over publisher was Leisure Books.
As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor that had bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to try to save it. She believed in it that much.
Out of the blue, in 1984, when I had completely given up on the book, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy Evil Stalks the Night! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and Leisure Books promptly bought that one in 1985, as well; labeling it, and asking me to sex it up some, as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?)! It wasn’t a lot of money for either. A thousand dollar advance and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But back in those days the publishers had a bigger distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, warehoused and sent to bookstores. So 4% of all those books did add up.
So my career began. I sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years –as I was working full time and living my life. Some did well (my Zebra and Leisure paperbacks) and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.
And twenty-seven years later, when Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, including The Heart of the Rose – and I said a resounding yes!
Of course, I had to totally rewrite The Heart of the Rose for the resurrected edition because my writing when I was twenty-one was immature, unpolished and had been done on an electric typewriter, with lots of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. Then also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. I also totally rewrote the book because, as was the style in the 1980’s, the prose was written in that old-fashioned prose using thees and ayes. The dialect of 15th century England. There were sex scenes I had to tone down. It was awful. So I modernized the language, cut all the redundant adjectives and adverbs and helped the characters to grow up a little (they were so dramatic). The Heart of the Rose-Revised Author’s Edition published by Eternal Press in November 2010 (http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327 ), hopefully, then is a lot better book than it ever was in 1985. It should be…I have had thirty-nine more years of life and experiences to help make it a better book. Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith
About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.
http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)