Please welcome guest blogger and Cool Gus Team member Amy Shojai to Write on the River.
(Image © Amy Shojai, CABC…Amy’s in house editor.)
When publishing goes KER-FLOOEY, what’s a hybrid author to do? Other than sit in a corner and make the chicken squeak.(Wait, that’s what the dog suggested…)
In my line of work, I always listen to the dog (and the cat) but when it comes to publishing I got much better advice from Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Bob invented the term hybrid author when New York publishing succumbed to weird-icity. And today, I consider myself a success in no small part because of partnering with the Cool Gus team.
A few years ago, I had a high-profile agent, a spokesperson gig with a major pet products company, and a dozen award winning pet books published by “Noo Yawk” publishers. Oh, I worked my furry tail off for years to get there, but thought I’d finally arrived. And then virtually overnight, it all went away.
I tried a new agent and that didn’t work either. So I quit writing. I even took a real job for about six months until I realized it doesn’t matter that “Noo Yawk” doesn’t care. It only matters that I CARE.
Nobody cares more about YOU and your goals than YOU. So ya gotta be nice to you, treat you like royalty, and find ways to say “yes I can” instead of wallowing in “why I can’t.”
WHO ARE YOU, REALLY?
I am a writer. It’s not what I do, it’s who I am. But the “old Amy” no longer worked in the new world. So I reinvented myself first by brushing the dust bunnies off my backlist and kindle-izing these award winning books. I wrote some new ones, too.
That led to partnering with Jen Talty and Bob Mayer’s COOL GUS Publishing, who made the titles available in print and all other Ebook formats. Following Bob’s lead again I voiced several of the books for Audible.com. Most recently of all, Cool Gus published my debut thriller and launched the critically acclaimed dog-viewpoint THRILLERS WITH BITE series. The second book in the series HIDE AND SEEK will soon be released. Today, I’m earning more per book sale, and spending less on aspirin that at any time in my publishing career.
All because publishing went KER-FLOOEY. That’s a techie term. You have my permission to use it. (I’m a writer, so I can make schtuff up.)
BEYOND NaNoWriMo: KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
So, what does this have to do with you? Today there are fewer eyebrows raised toward hybrid authors than when Bob jumped off the digital cliff. He was an early adopter. I followed soon after, but now the flood gates have opened.
How do you become the cream that rises to the top of that flood? Did you complete NaNoWriMo? Are you line at the starting gate, ready to pull the trigger on a spanking-new baby book?
Whether you plan to DIY Ebook, hire POD done, or choose a la carte services for cover design, publishing and more, LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Discover the options and make educated choices.
Because do-overs sucketh big time.
EBOOK FOR WRITERS WEBINAR Dec. 7, 2-3:30 NY Time
Cool Gus introduced me to one of their early success stories, author Kristen Lamb, a kick-ass speaker and author advocate and blog-maven extraordinaire who has since create WANA International, based on the book We Are Not Alone first published by Bob and Jen’s publishing team. I have a blast presenting WANA webinars!
Next Saturday, December 7, 2013, join my EBOOKS FOR WRITERS Webinar from 2-3:30 NY time for all the must-know options for publishing in today’s digital age. It’s only $40 (but you’ll get $10 off with the code GO INDIE). Register here.
No hotel, no travel, no makeup required. I love Webinars because I can wear jammies and have a cat or dog on my lap (well, as much of the dog as will fit). The recording makes it possible to revisit the session later—especially helpful for those with a time conflict who live in, say, Australia. Or the wilds of Manhattan. And, if you aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger on your book, the session helps you figure out next steps when you ARE ready. (Hint: Might be a cool early holiday gift for a writer in your life.)
The live Power Point presentation includes lots of SQUEEE! cute animal picture illustrations, answers your questions and gives you a life-preserver to keep you afloat as you dive off the self-publishing cliff. You will learn:
· Pros & Cons of Ebook Publishing compared to “Traditional”
· Options Available from DIY platforms to for-hire services
· Kinds of costs involved
· What you can (and should) do yourself
· What you should hire professionals to do
· Resources for helpful self-publishing software, editorial assistance and cover design help
· Practical step-by-step how-to “Kindle-ize” your manuscript
· Formatting tips for illustrations, covers, sidebars and table of contents
· Promotional must-knows including DO’s and DON’TS!
· Includes valuable links to further information, available as a down-load/handout.
I got to reinvent myself with help of Bob Mayer, Jen Talty, Kristen Lamb and others who mentored me into creating my BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD BLOG, and breathed new life into my book publishing career. So turn-about is fair play. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do. That’s one reason I jumped at the chance to guest here at Bob Mayer’s amazing blog site. Good karma gets returned so find ways to pay-it-forward, let others know about the seminar (and discount code GO INDIE). You won’t be sorry.
Amy Shojai, CABC is the award winning hybrid author of 26 books who got tired of publishing suck-isity and decided to do something about it. She channels her inner dog and cat, creating nonfiction and thriller books that edu-tain and empower writers and pet lovers.
(Image © Amy Shojai, CABC: Magical-Dawg, Seren-Kitty and the author)
- Authors create product, readers consume product – those in between must provide long-term value (writeitforward.wordpress.com)
PLEASE WELCOME GUEST BLOGGER COLIN FALCONER TO WRITE ON THE RIVER
ALWAYS TAKE EXTRA CARE WHEN PUTTING A BODY THROUGH A MEAT GRINDER
“Rule one of reading other people’s stories is that whenever you say ‘well that’s not convincing’ the author tells you that’s the bit that wasn’t made up. This is because real life is under no obligation to be convincing.” – Neil Gaiman
This year I re-edited and re-released a series of novels that I wrote about the genesis of the drug trade in South East Asia. They had never been published in the US before and CoolGus gave me the opportunity to bring them to a wider audience.
I had trekked the Burmese jungle, and been to Corsican hang-outs in Vientiane and the underbelly of Bangkok for much of the research. But I also needed some inside information on the Triads so I went to Hong Kong, just before the handover. With some persistence I found a detective inspector with the glorious monicker of John Chetwynd-Chatwin, a man of infinite charm and patience who offered to help me.
He introduced me to a number of his friends and colleagues in the Royal Hong Kong police force.
One of his fellow DCI’s – a brilliant character and a lovely bloke who looked a bit like Magnum PI and even had a revolver down the back of his pants – took me under his wing and showed me around. He was great company and also a fantastic story teller.
One of the stories he told me was about two triad henchmen who were driving around one night wondering with what to do with the body they had in the boot – as you do– so they broke into a dumpling factory and tried to force the corpse through a mincer.
(Yum cha anyone?)
But the body jammed and when one of them tried to free it he got his own hand stuck in the machine as well and lost two of his fingers. His mate took him and his mangled digits to the local emergency department.
But the doctor who tried to re-attach them was quite puzzled. His patient had lost an index finger and a thumb; what they had brought with them to the ER was a pinkie and part of a toe.
His suspicions were aroused, as they say.
And that’s how the cops made the arrest. The two hitmen were caught red-handed, so to speak.
The other story he told me involved a couple who leased a 26th floor apartment in Kowloon and decided to reinvigorate the sadly neglected window box. It was massive, the size of a small car.
But when they started digging, they discovered to their great surprise that it contained an acquaintance of the previous tenant. Further inquiries revealed that the last occupier – who was “known to the police” – had recently emigrated and left no forwarding address.
Didn’t even try and get his rental deposit back.
Naturally, I found a way to work both these stories into my plot, thinking I was being smart. Or was I?
Several friends who read the book took me aside: “Look, loved that one about the triads …but that bit about the meat mincer … and the window box … wasn’t that a bit far-fetched?
The only things they found unbelievable in the novel were the only two things I never actually invented.
As Neil Gaiman says, real life has no obligation to be convincing.
I continue in my efforts to make my fiction realistic; but not so realistic that people think that – well … think that that I’m just making it up.
Colin Falconer is the author of over twenty historical novels. See his blog to find more posts about writing and the writing life.
It takes a long time to write a novel. No matter how fast you are, it takes a while. In fact, while some things like NANOWRIMO on Twitter which has people writing at furious pace for a month is good to get the writing down, it is also negative in that quantity is not necessarily quality.
The amount of time I spend writing a novel has actually increased the more I learn about the craft. Rather than making it easier, more knowledge makes it more difficult to write, as I try to make the book the best possible product I can.
Writers are often asked what their daily schedule is. I think it is important to have the discipline to have a daily schedule and/or goal. It is too easy to let the writing go and take care of everything else if you don’t force yourself to face that daily goal.
It’s different for many writers but here are some from writers I know:
5 pages a day; 2,000 words a day; 10 pages a day; six hours a day.
I think an external goal that can be measured is the best to go for. It’s a tangible goal and you know when you’ve accomplished it. While this might seem to contradict the statement made above about something like NANOWRIMO, the key is that the writing is often going back and layering onto writing already done.
Beyond that tangible writing goal, I work seven days a week, anywhere from eight to fourteen hours a day. It’s hard for me to say how many hours a day I work because I am almost always ‘working’. If I’m not sitting in front of my computer, I’m in the library researching or watching the news for interesting facts or simply thinking about my story, playing it out in my mind, watching my characters come alive. I have many of my best plot ideas when driving or riding my bike. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, which is why I have my iPhone with recorder next to my bed ready for instant use.
My cable bill is very high, with every channel, on-demand, and DVR. There are writers who say ‘kill your television’ but I disagree with that. There’s some very good writing in that medium. I watch movies and shows the same way I read books: analytically to see what the writers did and also what were the possibilities that weren’t explored. The #1 thing a writer must do other than write is read and watch movies and shows. It is work. It will take away some of your enjoyment of things as you can get good at predicting what will happen next under Chekhov’s rule of ‘don’t have a gun in act one unless you use it by act 3. But note that I say ‘use it’ not ‘fire it’. That’s the key to great writing. To take what is expected and do the unexpected.
Writing is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. If you write only when excited or motivated you’ll never finish. You have to write even when it’s the last thing you want to do. Just put something down. You can always edit it later or throw it out (you’ll do a lot of throwing out and it hurts but it’s the sign of a mature writer; also, it’s one reason you don’t edit yourself to death on the first draft). I eventually average 500 to 550 pages of manuscript to produce 400 good pages in a final draft. My last manuscript was 126,000 words long and then I cut it back to 90,000 words. To sweat over that many pages and then “lose” them hurts but not as much as getting the manuscript rejected. The longer I’ve written, the more I’ve become a fan of rewriting and editing. I’m a fan of outlining and doing a lot of work before I write the first sentence of my manuscript, including extensive character development. This is a trend among several authors I’ve talked. Both Terry Brooks and Elizabeth George got back lengthy editorial letters on the first book they sold. They determined then and there to make sure that future manuscripts would not require such rewriting. And they didn’t. They learned to know what they were doing before they did it.
Overall, I’ve developed an inner “writing clock” that works in terms of weeks and months that lets me know how much I have to produce and how quickly. It varies its pace depending on the project at hand and it took years of experience to develop this inner clock. I force myself to put the time and effort in, even when I don’t feel like it. However, as I discuss in Write It Forward, almost every writer tends to underestimate the time it takes to complete a manuscript.
Experiment and find something that works for you in day-to-day writing. Maybe it will only be for one hour every morning before everyone else gets up– keep doing it. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done if you stick with it.
Scott Turow wrote Presumed Innocent on the train to and from work in Chicago. So don’t let circumstances stand in your way.
All the thinking, talking, going to writer’s conferences, classes, etc. are not going to do you any good if you don’t do one basic thing: WRITE.
Ultimately, though, as Bryce Courtney says, you need a large dose of ‘bum glue’. Gluing yourself to that seat and writing.
Do you have a large supply of bum glue?
In honor of Nanowrimo month, Cool Gus has put together a Nanowrimo Survival kit at a discount: three books in one at a big discount (over 50% off buying them individually). We’re only going to run this special for November, then we’ll be taking it down.
The Novel Writers Toolkit which is how to write the book.
Write It Forward which is how to be a professional author and build a career using my Who Dares Wins concept.
And How We Made Our First Million on Kindle which is about negotiating the world of digital publishing.