Category Archives: WDWPUB

#NaNoWriMo is coming to end…what to do next?

At the end of November many writers will have 50k words, or close too it. Some will have completed a novel. Others will be close to completion. Most will need a long nap. Writing 2k every day can be exhausting, especially when the words are forced or not flowing. Producing that kind output is a full time job when many of those participating in NaNo have other jobs and families, its even more exhausting.

So now that it’s almost over, what do you do next? Most of the advice I see out there is to take a break. While I think that is an excellent idea, I think there is one thing you should do before you set aside your NaNo project. I suggest you make an outline of what you think you just wrote. Your mind has been in constant thought, producing word after word. Its time to see if those words make sense.

When I wrote Rekindled during NaNoWriMo, as soon as I was done, I took out a notebook and started labeling pages. One was for Hero. Another for the Heroine. I had a page for the best friend and ex-girlfriend’s romance. I had a page for the dead father. A page for the hero’s boss and the hero’s mother and their relationship. I had a page for the heroine’s best friend. A page for dead father’s best friend who is holding a lot of the secrets tying all the above people together. I had a page for the bad guys who were tying to kill the Heroine. Finally, I had a page for the plot line. I jotted down what I thought I knew about what I wrote WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE MANUSCRIPT. I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about what I had just written.

Then, I took a break. I didn’t work on that manuscript at all, though I thought about it and I keep a notebook with me, jotting things down.

Next, I printed it out and sat in a big comfy chair with my feet up and just read it. This was the hardest part. I didn’t allow myself a red pen. I forced myself to stay away from the computer. I did however give myself permission to take notes. They were mostly questions, like “why did I write that scene in that point-of-view?” or “who really is Kaylee’s father?” That question really hit me hard because I hadn’t planned for Kaylee to have a different biological dad than the one who raised her and who had been murdered, but it was my subconscious at work, so I had to figure it out. This process was very difficult, but very important in understanding what my brain had done while I was busy tossing words onto the page to meet my word count.

After I had gone through the manuscript, I had to make some difficult decisions. Many of my scenes were written in the wrong point of view. So they had to be changed. I had to delete two point of view characters. Also, the reason Kaylee had come home in the beginning of the book wasn’t the reason I had been working of off halfway through the book.

I honestly was so confused by middle of December I felt like I almost had to start all over again. So, I took a deep breath and went back to basics. I asked myself what the Kernel Idea was for this book. I wrote that down and one sentence gave me a lot of direction, but I still had a lot of rewriting to do, but it went much smoother after that.

Nanowrimo coverIn 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.

Ready, Set, #NaNoWriMo

The first time I heard of NaNoWriMo was back in 2004. I had only been writing for about year, but was struggling with my process. The more I learned, the harder writing became and I thought that maybe if I could go back to the good old days where I didn’t know anything about novel structure, plotting, GMC, character arc, turning points, emotional plot points, yadda, yadda, yadda, things would get “easier”…enter NaNoWriMo.

I had an idea for a book. My first thought (what Bob would call a Kernel idea) What if you’re x-wife returned to town on the same day her father was murdered and you’re job was to arrest her? I had nothing else. No backstory. No setting. Not even a single character name. I knew nothing about the story other than my hero was a cop, the heroine had runaway years ago, came back, and found her father’s body in the front hallway, dead. Normally I’d spend a month or two talking out the plot, the characters, doing research, writing “false starts’ and getting a feel for the story, but NaNoWriMo was about to start. Everyone was doing it and my critique partners at the time challenged the “plotter” of the group to write from the seat of her pants.

RekindledSo I did. I wrote almost 65,000 words in one month. Not bad. I produced a book, Rekindled. This year I’m unofficially participating. I’m finishing up book 3 in the New York State Trooper Series, which will be out by the end of this year, but I’m also starting to plot and write a new book. I’ll be heading down to Write on the River to start work on the new book.

I think NaNoWriMo is great for writers. Check out the #nanowrimo hastag on twitter. It creates an energy that is contagious. Writer’s cheering each other on. Encouraging each other to continue, push forward and write through the blocks. We measure our progress through word count, so it makes sense to set a word count goal each day, and work toward it. But there is more to a book than word count.

When I did NaNoWriMo, I tossed my personal writing playbook out the window. I started off real strong, writing sometimes 4k words in one sitting. I never looked back, keep pushing forward. No matter how hard it was. Not matter how much I felt like not writing, I sat down and typed. I was going to complete NaNoWriMo no matter what. I kept writing. It was draining me, but anyone who knows me well, knows when I’m challenged and determined, there is no stopping me. I’m a finisher. Ever see the movie Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks? There is a scene in that movie where he goes to the Vet’s house and she had been painting, but was done for the night, with the walls half done! How could she not finish what she started? Tom just picks up the brush and decides the job must be finished. That’s me. I start something, got to finish it. No matter what.

When 01 December rolled around I had written THE END. I was exhausted. My brain had no concept of what I had just written, but I had completed the goal—write at least 50k. I never took my eye off that prize. I made a goal, and I completed the goal.

It took me two weeks before I could even look at a keyboard and a screen. I printed the manuscript out and started reading. I knew I would have some revisions, but what I found out was that my process had changed drastically.

I learned that every writer has to find the writing process that works for them and the only way to do that is to be willing to re-evaluate the way you do things and try something different.

Nanowrimo coverIn 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.

Write It Forward!

Guest Post by Bestselling Author Colin Falconer!

Please welcome one our TEAM members at Who Dares Wins Publishing: Colin Falconer. We are proud and honored to have him in our ranks. He has agreed to do a guest post here at Write It Forward. Welcome Colin!

His book, Venom, has been selected as a Compelling Read by Nook First this week!

**********

There are some who mourn the death of publishing as we know it, but to me it’s like wishing we could have the plague back, or getting nostalgic for the feudal system.

I don’t hate the Big Six, or printed books, or brick and mortar bookstores; but I hated the old system, as many authors did; (and because I also love reading books, I absolutely loathed it as a reader.)

No less than three different agents, big players with very high profile American authors on their books, have each at different times expressed bewilderment to me over their inability to sell my books in New York.

Now I like agents. A good agent is notoriously difficult to find but, in my experience, once they decide to bat for you they go in hard, elbows and knees. They are passionate people. They take you on because they like what you do and they want you to find an audience for it.

But they never could quite do it for me. It always went this way:

First I’d get a letter (yes I’ve been at it that long) from an agent saying how excited they were by my book. This is going to be HUUUUUGE.

Now we all know how hard it is to get an agent to read a complete manuscript, never mind enthuse over it, so when this happens you think you’re on a good thing, especially when that book is already a bestseller in half a dozen other countries.

Then they submitted; and each and every time the result was the same;

  • Step one: ‘We have a rejection from a major house that I was sure it was perfect for.’
  • Step two: ‘More said no, I’m very surprised.’
  • Step three: ‘We are out of options, I am mystified and/or amazed.’

Repeat this with three major agents over the last fifteen years. Get the picture? That’s just the frame.

I was always told by New York that I was too hard to promote because I was not resident in the US. I understand this rationale. What I could not understand was how I could sell 200K of the same book in Germany in the year following my rejection by the Big Six (and then the Little 17 and then the Absolutely Minute 28.)

My point: I can’t promote in Germany either, I can’t even speak the language. But the publisher could and he invested a few dollars in marketing the book they paid good money to obtain.

It took me ten years to get published in the US. First time out was okay, hardback release, and not a dollar on publicity. It earned out. The second book got the cover from hell, no marketing budget and disappeared without trace. They put Yet Another Career Killed by Bookscan on my gravestone and that was it, all over. I won’t bore you, you have heard this story as hundred times.

Build it and they will come only happens in Kevin Costner movies. If you build it and you don’t put up signposts, you are hitting homeruns with only your mother and the family dog watching from the bleachers.

Ten years ago a major NY literary agent took me to lunch and told me that after twenty years in the business and a stable of best-selling authors she was utterly disillusioned with it. She seemed so depressed I moved the steak knife out of reach. ‘Publishing needs a major kick in the ass,’ she said, unaware she had the gift of prophecy.

‘The trouble is,’ she added, ‘is that it’s being taken over by bean counters.’

It now appears that bean counters cannot count beans that well. Amazon might say to them that they do not even know what a bean looks like.

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker at the time. Two publishing executives talking. One says to the other: ‘I’ve got it! From now on, we’re only going to publish best sellers!’

Fair enough. But what Amazon did was try to let readers say what a best seller was; not someone in a suit in the marketing department. Eureka.

As a writer I can get over bad reviews – well after a couple of bourbons anyway. I know I’m far from perfect, and I will never stop learning or trying to do better. But what really sticks in my craw is the emails from American readers who have stumbled across my books and want to know why oh why they can’t buy them in the US.

On my last outing in NY they told me yet again: we like your book but you’re too hard to promote here. These days that argument makes even less sense than it did ten years ago. According to Google Analytics I get 73% of the audience on my blog from the US, another 8% from exotic faraway lands like Canada.

I am finally learning to build my own signposts.

I am not an apologist for Amazon. I don’t want to see them monopolise the publishing industry; I don’t want to swap the plague for Ebola virus. But yes, this business really did need a very large boot in the fundamental orifice.

From here on I want the reader to decide if I’m midlist or not; not some bean counter staring at an Excel spreadsheet. The writer- reader relationship is what matters to me.

Anyone who gets in the way of that, well, I thank them for their interest, but I am afraid they do not meet my needs at this time.

Nook First

Success in publishing rests on acting instead of reacting

I received a couple of “rejections” the other day.  As a professional writer with over 20 years experience, I’ve had more than my share of rejections.  In this case one was from Amazon regarding publishing with their Encore program and something else.  The other was for a book we’ve already published but I was looking to see if a major publisher would pick it up considering the success I’ve had the last two years.

My reaction, as is normal for most when they get a “rejection”, was negative.  But as I teach in Write It Forward I didn’t respond.  I sat on it, thought about it and talked it out with my wife and business partner.

Then, the following morning, I had a moment of enlightenment, while working out in the fitness center in the hotel in Melbourne where I was presenting at the Australian RWA Conference.

Re-reading Amazon’s response, I realized they weren’t rejecting me. They were complimenting me.  They basically were saying the royalty cuts and exclusivity they wanted in exchange for their Encore program were for a long list of things they would do for me; except we’re already doing all those things at Who Dares Publishing.  So it made no sense and they understood that.

Jen Talty and I formed the company in November 2009, not long after Amazon had launched their Encore program (and most people hadn’t even heard of it—I hadn’t) and long before there was a Thomas and Mercer.  Even before Borders went down the drain.  Before eBooks took the publishing world by storm.  When people were laughing at eBooks at the January 2010 Digital Book World Conference, saying “Why should we worry about something that’s only 3% of our income?”

I formed it because my experience as a Green Beret A-Team taught me that a small, highly efficient team can do things which larger, more cumbersome, and less efficient organizations couldn’t.  An A-Team is a force multiplier, which can have an effect far beyond the scope of most teams.  It’s the most formidable military organization in the world.

Jen worked full time for all of  2010 and neither of us were able to take even a single dollar out of the business. We had to put every hard-earned dime right back into it.  In essence, working for nothing.  Very few people would have worked as hard as Jen did for as long as she did, with little reward and no guarantee it would work.

The first author we brought on board besides my books was Kristen Lamb with We Are Not Alone: The Writers’ Guide to Social Media.  I think that’s telling.  We knew back then that the key to success in the electronic world was promoting via social media, and it’s the first thing we published.  And we incorporated the things she espouses in the book; the primary one is have your content first, before you start blasting things out on social media. The fact Jen and I were able to evolve into the Write It Forward blog we now have here and the new Write It Forward book that was just published last week is a key part of our success.

Slowly, we brought other authors on board. Amy Shojai, a well known multi-published pet expert and speaker. Natalie C. Markey, expert in special needs dogs and also teaches Writing Mom’s. Victoria Martinez, an expert in unique and unusual tidbits of Royal History. Marius Gabriel, best-selling author of Romantic Thrillers.  What we were looking for, besides great content, were authors who were willing to promote, to be part of a team.

We also had some authors shy away, not willing to take a chance with us.  Some ran back to their traditional publishers and signed deals with very low e-royalty rates, but they were going for the known, rather than be willing to take a chance.  I’ve seen none of those author’s books doing much of anything on Kindle or PubIt, so I’m not sure how that worked out for them.  In fact, I haven’t seen any of the backlist titles we’d already have available for sale even published yet in eBook.  I imagine those titles are sitting somewhere in that publisher’s queue waiting for it’s chance.  Meanwhile, they are earning nothing.

In the space of 24 hours I went from feeling bummed over a rejection to feeling very excited with the realization that we did it right at Who Dares Wins Publishing and we’re continuing to do it right.  That a rejection is actually a blessing, that frees me once more to focus on taking Who Dares Wins to the next level.  The key is that we can move to the next level because we’re not reacting to try to achieve what others are scrambling to do right now, because we already did all those things that publishers and authors are trying to comprehend.  We’re moving into the future because we’re acting, not reacting.

Write It Forward!

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