Friday, 31 January 2014

What am I doing again?


I made note of something this year: there are some amazing people in publishing, but there are some amazing self-publishers too. And on top of that, you have hybrid authors - people doing both. This had me trying to get to grips with all aspects of publishing. 

It also had me wondering how much preparation some PeN JuNkiEs put into their career choice - or side career, however you or they want to look at it. And also, how many books did they have under their belt before they were published? At what point should you consider pitching or publishing? When you’ve written one book or five? And should you write many stand-alone books or a series?

Because of my uncertainty, I’m pitching very - and I mean VERY - slowly. I’m doing this to silence my personal conflict and appease both sides. I feel like I should pitch because time is not on my side, but I also don’t want to rush into anything with what could be considered substandard material. That would only be damaging. Though I sometimes think these thoughts are tricks. After all, perfection doesn’t exists, so maybe “not feeling ready” is, in actual fact, the highest form of procrastination.

My plan is to have at least three books finished before I start pitching ferociously. Having three books in my chosen genres allows me to establish my style and recognise any flaws that keep cropping up. It doesn’t hurt to have extra material either. If ever I’m lucky enough to have an agent say they would like to look at my other works, at least I’ll have something to pick from.

There’s a whole bunch of other stuff I need to look at as well, like whether I’m going to use my real name or a pen name. There’s so much to consider, so basically…yeah, don’t be surprised if, due to my indecisiveness, you see a lot of changes around here!



I’m still in the midst of creating myself.


Maybe poetry ain't so bad


I’ve said it before, I don’t like poetry. But maybe I’m wrong. 

I know I've mentioned my confusion with Homecoming by Simon Armitage, the poem about the canary-yellow jacket. I assume it’s famous, I don’t know, but it was in our anthology and full of ambiguity.

But now I've realised, after having attended Jawdance with Terri, that the evil isn’t poetry. The evil never was. It was interpretation. Uh…that and perhaps my lack of depth when understanding some of the shit out there. 
  
Jawdance is an open mic event for poets. It’s not the first open mic I've been to. The first one I attended only solidified my disliking for poetry. Some strange stuff happened there that I simply did not get. A guy standing with a piece of paper yelling at the crowd: “I’m better than YOU!” It was about upper class people looking down on the lower classes…I think. I wasn’t paying as much attention to his words as I was the flying spittle that left his mouth with everything he yelled.

The next was a guy who played a guitar like a violin with an empty glass. It was haunting, eerie and disturbing enough that I wasn’t actually able to focus on his poem. 

But since Jawdance, I’ve come to realise that, like music, it’s all about taste. Not liking some poetry didn’t have to mean not liking ALL poetry. And it was such a relief to hear a poet get up on stage and hear her say she’d like to kick those purple prose sonnet makers. So! I’m not the only one!


Yes, that's Terri. Isn't her self portrait just so awesome?! lol
Anyway, just thought I’d mention that and congratulate Terri for getting up on stage for the first time. She introduced me to a whole bunch of poets and poems that I can firmly say I enjoyed. 


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Letter to a Younger Me

Screw it. Dear Terri...

At some point this month during a mini panic attack, I started thinking about how great it would be if I could go back in time and talk to my younger self. Being so perfect, there’s little I would change (lies). BUT! If I absolutely had to tell myself a thing or ten, well, I wouldn’t, because that boat has already sailed.

So, you know what I’m gonna do? Attempt to pass on my wisdom to a younger writer. This probably isn’t a good idea because I have no idea what the future holds. But here goes anyway…


Dear Terri,

Earlier this month, I mentally shat myself. I spent three days not writing in my quest to figure out the publishing industry. It was all brought on by a wave of posts that were new to me, including this scary one.

See, when I was younger, I wrote madly and figured the rest will come when the story is done. I can’t think why, for the briefest moment, I didn’t once think to check out how publishing actually worked.

Instead, I chose to weigh up success with seeing my book on a shelf in a bookshop. I didn’t think about how it would get there. I didn’t consider the process or the pay, obviously. More than anything, I just wanted people to read my stuff, so working on my craft was at the top of my list. And that’s not a bad thing, but if I’d kept one eye on my craft and other on the industry I'd more than likely be a chameleon-human-hybrid a little ahead of the game right now.

I pretty much only took note of things when they were relevant, but really, I should have approached writing with as much research as I did other potentially life changing things. Like my uni degrees. Or even when selecting a bank for God’s sake!

So yeah. Do this. Because while I was dreaming about one day seeing my book on a shelf, IF I had been paying attention, I would have noticed that the life span of brick and mortar bookshelves were about to face a bleak future and that the traditional publishing industry was about to revamp...or face death.

Right now, I suppose money is seeming important because life is starting to get real. And weirdly, after that link you sent me on Twitter, many followed. That was when I started to see that this whole publishing thing? It’s not what I thought it was.

On top of that, I dither between whether or not money is important. I still just want people to read my writing more than anything, though that doesn’t mean I’m willing to be taken the piss out of for it. So it's clear, that should someone else love my writing as much as I do, I need to learn a lot more about these things:

Agents ~ what they really do.

Advances ~ Why you should take them and why you shouldn’t.

Pay ~ royalties, net? and gross? - all 'o that!

Traditional Publishing ~ What’s expected of you.

Self-publishing ~ Ditto.

And yes. I added self-pubbing in there. Why? Because digital books are having an effect on traditional publishing. Because publishers are merging. Because publishers are ripping writers off. Because bookshops are closing down (just google that one!) Because as a new author, you may be expected to sit back and "sell-out." Because not all that glitters is gold. And most importantly, because there are options out there. Digital stuff is on the rise and who knows where we could be now if we were in the know?

We need to get familiar with all this and stay familiar with it. Even some of the most obvious things like “what’s not in fashion right now?” i.e what are readers sick of reading? Because before this is a writing thing, it’s a business thing, and we need to know just where this business is heading.

Personally, as I always say, I think you’re way ahead of my old nineteen-year-old self. You’ve got things at your finger tips that were not at mine. I mean, think about where our blogs would be now if we had started them earlier.

We have no excuse to be behind. We have no excuse to be playing catch up. It’s not cool jumping on a bandwagon when it’s already full. So let’s do this. Let’s stay on track. Let’s stay ahead of the game and let's find out what we actually, really, truthfully want so that we can pursue it through fogless, non-rosy tinted glasses.


Love from your (wannabe) Sensei,

Shay


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Who's BETA?

Readers Vs Writers

Because I’m not willing to share with you my Betty Crocker’s chocolate fudge cake (it was delicious by the way), I’ll share with you my opinion/experiences instead.


I’ve spoken about Beta readers before, but this time I’m gonna be doing some fighting talk! Sort of.

So, which one should you consult when testing the waters with your MS? The Reader or the Writer?
From my experience, I’ll say both, and here’s what I believe to be some of the pro’s and con’s of the two.

The Writer

+  Hands down, they’re easier to find. (You’re probably mingling with them already and if you aren’t, you should, if only for your sanity.)

-  They may want you to return the favour and read their MS…and it may be wayyy longer than yours, lack edits, be in a genre you don’t like or anything else in between!

+  As a writer, they’ll hopefully appreciate what you’ve gone through in order to type out that MS, meaning they’re more likely to approach their review of your work in a civilised, thoughtful manner.

-  They will almost always weigh up your writing against theirs. They may get caught up in making comparisons to their work and how they learnt to write which can sometimes lead to pointing out “mistakes” that are in fact your style.

+  If they themselves are awesome writers, they can do wonders correcting your work.

-  They might get so carried away with correcting your work that they miss the story.



The Reader


+  Readers ask for very little in return except that you meet their expectations in what they consider to be a good story (so make sure you let them know what they’re in for and advertise it properly!)

-  Not that easy to come by. If they were, this whole writing thing would be a doddle.

+  As long as your work has minor or no mistakes, they can really get to grips with the story. They tend to prefer different styles and are less likely to question your MS the way a writer would. Not having to compare your MS to their own means they can really get to the meat of your plot without that overly critical eye.

-  They may not be able to directly identify the problems with your MS in "writer lingo".

+  Readers who truly love to read can have a super-fast turn-around time.

-  Even if they absolutely love your book, the same way they may not be able to identify what’s wrong with it, they may not be able to do the opposite either. “I loved it – it was fantastic!!!111!” might be all you get. I know thats not exactly a con, because if you get enough of these, at least you know you’re doing something right, but it’s nice knowing just what you did right! Right?


And there you have it. Again, these are my opinions and experiences. Do with them what you will…


Monday, 20 January 2014

Dear [insert author's name here]

"I Loved Your Work!"

We need to do this more.

Okay, writers like J.K Rowling and Mr King probably don’t need our adoration, but your general writer? Be not afraid to reach out.

By general writer, I’m talking about the ones who aren’t blockbuster best sellers. I’m talking about the ones who, like a majority of us, grind and get very little or sometimes nothing in return, though still produce awesome works.


Write to these guys.

If you love what they’ve done, let them know. It’s not just beneficial to them (as we know, writing is a lonely thing), it can be beneficial to you, too. Trust me, it’s not uncommon for an author to really appreciate someone’s genuine feedback or praise. The same way you probably would. It’s bad enough most of us tend not to leave reviews for God’s sake!

I actually feel privileged when an author, no matter how big or small, takes time out to reply to me. Or even better, send me a sneak peek of their work to come, as Noah Fregger has done. 

And look, the truth is, writers are a weird bunch of people. Were mostly borderline schizophrenics and heavily paranoid about our work. When someone first reached out to me after having read my writing on a website, you know what I did? Yeah, I replied. And yeah, I thanked them, too. But I also checked, double checked, and then triple checked to make sure this person was real. To make sure they werent a scout from some vanity press. Thats how much I doubted myself.

Im on sturdier ground now...but what Im saying is...a show of appreciation means a lot to a writer. Our dreams are to share our worlds and characters, and to have someone come back and say they really enjoyed the few hours or minutes they spent in it. So I’m urging you to do it, even if it’s just a few words, let an author know their hard work kept you turning pages.

Plus, you never know what you might get in return!



Saturday, 18 January 2014

2014 Goals*

And so it Begins

Happy New Year ya’all!!! (what accent am I even going for here?)

I shan’t bore you with any other long winded greetings as the buzz of the new year left a long time ago. People have already returned to the grind. So I’ll just get on to jotting down my aims for this year because I know you
re all quivering with excitement to hear my new goals.

(clears throat)


This 2014 I hope to…

1. Go to a writer’s conference
I need to do this. I need to experience one. Have I been missing out on opportunities? Well, I’ll soon find out.

2. Start and finish another book
Yes. This is part of my dream to have three completed books by the end of the year. Perhaps not fully edited, but definitely there.

3. Submit to agents/publishers
I’m not sure yet about how I’m going to approach this. Will I only go for open doors or will I query specific agents? What about both? By summer, I’ll know.

4. Continue to support some awesome indie writers
That is all.

5. Work out who I am
I really need to sit down and think about who I am and what I’m writing. Who are my intended audience? What am I writing? Gritty YA? New Adult without the romance? Or Adult? And more importantly, what’s my author name going to be?

6. Learn how to write scripts
Because I need a new down-time hobbie…although Tekken seems to be perfect right now.


And that’s all folks! Wish me well, and I hope you all have a prosperous 2014. ….Jokes! Who wants competition? Hmph.**


*Subject to change. Te he!
**Double jokes.


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