Tag Archives: publishers

Can You Be Successful Working On 60%?

14 Aug

As writers, can we have full on, ‘I am fed up with this, and don’t think I can be bothered anymore,’ syndrome? If we can, does it pass? Or does this mean we really are finished?

I guess the answer lies in our long-term dreams. Our personal determination, the drive to beat the hurdles that lay in our path.

I always relate writing to any other area in your life. If you do not want something enough, it just won’t happen. Sure, there are plenty of people out there that you can say ‘got lucky’. Many of those will agree with you, however, luck, or hard work are the same thing. You work hard to create your own luck.

I was discussing with someone the other day where they saw their life going – jobs, family etc. Having known this person for a long time, I was quite comfortable in telling them that the reason everything they ever tried failed (I didn’t use that term but I am simplifying for the sake of this post), was that they only ever put in 60%. Everytime a hurdle came up, or the effort involved something they didn’t like, they gave up. The truth is, this person only feels that for it to be worth working for, they have to enjoy every moment.

Don’t get me wrong, to do something you love is the greatest gift, but, and this is the big but, to survive in this world you have to be making money from your love. How much are you going to keep loving it if you do it full-time yet can’t pay the bills? The way I see it, no matter what you do, where your passion lies, if another area of your life goes on unfulfilled, it will eat away at you, and all the positives that you gain from one area slowly get sucked into a void.

It is this very reason that most people are unable to sustain a full-time career in a creative way. Most writers work full-time in a dreaded day job, their dream of a publishing deal only unleashed of an evening. I know of artists in a similar situation. It is not uncommon, and most of us accept it is the nature of our choice. It is not any different to those who love cricket, and play at weekends and occasional evenings. We can not all be professional, and until we are (hope must always remain) we can only ever treat it as a hobby.

But what of this ‘can’t be bothered anymore’ attitude? We all hit highs and lows. Indeed, reading writers blogs of recent weeks, many of us seem to be lacking the drive we need to stay focused on the end goal. Few however, like me, have reached rock bottom, wondering whats the point?

Some of you may have read last weeks post, since then, I have learnt that my hard drive is corrupt, the work lost forever. I have managed to retrieve from Gav the first seven chapters, thirteen however must be re written. I have notes. I have sections that needed re writing. I knew it was only a first draft. Getting the words down on the page, as they flowed draft. However, I know, as many writers do, that sometimes the words and emotions in that first draft will remain to the end. The rawness of the writing conveying so much more than carefully deliberated sentence structures that we all succumb to. Sometimes, we put ourselves in a mindset that can at times be painful, just to make sure the message is true. I am not sure I can go through that again for this piece.

I am not counting the hours of lost work. That doesn’t really mean much, but that emotion…

The thing is losing my work has killed that WIP. I won’t be returning to it. It has also killed my motivation to blog, tweet, well anything writing related. I am even blocking out ideas for my next project. It’s like I am deliberately telling it all to go away. I don’t want to know. Don’t knock at my door. Where writing is concerned, I would say my effort is at 2%

Now it maybe that I start a new job this week so I am preoccupied. It is a convenient excuse, but the truth is, as anyone who reads my blog regularly will have realised, I have been seriously lacking heart for some time. I have decided, it is time to give up. Well for now anyway. I am pretty certain that every time I berate myself for not writing, I knock myself a little more. Not to mention my falling twitter stats. Maybe social media got too much? I wont be participating on twitter for a while. I also won’t plan to blog too regularly, if I get one out a week it will have to do. You see, I do want to write, I want to be published, but the networking, writing, scenario has got a little too much recently. I can’t keep up. I don’t want to. I just want to write when I have time, when the inspiration comes – when it is my choice.

It is hard work moving forward with our dreams, but it is up to us to set the schedule. It is also up to us to accept the responsibility when the dreams remain unfulfilled. If you only run at 60% that is fine, just don’t blame others when it doesn’t work out. I would love to point the finger at everyone and anyone for my current frame of mind, but I know, it is all down to me. I hope I will get pass this, but I guess only time will tell.

Have you ever felt like this? What did you do? What should I do? (Warning: any offers of advice for the third question will probably be growled at – yeah, I really am defeated right now – but still smiling).

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Just stopping by…

22 Apr

After over a weeks break, I feel I should just drop in and say hello.

You all know my schedule, so I will not go on about it, but do know, in three weeks, it will all be done and I hope to fully submerge myself into my writing and ‘connecting.’

But do not think because I haven’t been here I have not been thinking about future posts and where I hope to start making changes. I have taken some advice on how to make the blog work better, as well as how to get Twitter working for me. Having said that, my followers seem to have increased by enough in the last couple of weeks for me to be happy with the effort I am putting in.

I wrote last week about looking at how to go about traditional publishing so I am looking at various agents and the needs of each. I want to show a small breakdown of how this works. The research definitely benefits me and passing on anything I find useful has to be a winner right?

The guide will finally be ready next week to be put forward for Amazon and itunes (yay!). In the meantime I have set up a page on Facebook so please do come and ‘like’ the page for updates of whats happening. Again, if I am honest I have set it up and probably won’t be adding content until I am ready to give it my full attention – but if you find me, you will at least be the first to know when it is updated.

For the reviews on this site, I have at least three books waiting to be listed. Only problem is I have now passed on two of them because they were too good to hang onto. I will still write a piece on each but I do like to still have the copy in my hand when I am typing.

I am very much aware of how much my blog in recent times has become a repetitive ‘I’. I hope to address this as well. At the end of the day, I am writing the posts, much of what I write is about what I am doing, what is moving me forward, but without you guys, there is no point in writing. All the time I am banging on about me, your attention is drifting. I will make this blog much more entertaining soon, honest! (If you have any tips on variation at this moment in time my brain could really do with a kick-start!)

For now, I am taking a long weekend break, and may finally get round to reading the last three issues of the writers magazine that I have had sat looking very forlorn on the side.

I hope you enjoy your Easter weekend and eat plenty of chocolate. I for one wont be eating that much – I hate it when chocolate is soft, and in weather like this, even from the fridge that chocolatey goodness doesn’t taste quite right. Thinking BBQ Sunday instead of our traditional family turkey, but we will wait and see. As I say, I am taking the weekend off and I haven’t yet decided if cooking also falls into this bracket.

So that’s the end of another bits and bobs blog post. It might be another week before I return again so please leave a comment to say hi. It may just spur me on a bit more.

(Oh yeah, and just as an after thought, what do you think of guest blogging? This was something that was put to me, along with leaving subtle links in comments, as a way of driving more traffic. Both of these are something I am not entirely convinced on, but everyone does it…do you? Give me a hand in, would you recommend it?)

Traditional Publishing – Where do we start?

11 Apr

Everyone at the moment is constantly talking about self-publishing and how easy it is. They lie, I tell you. They lie!

No seriously, one of the first things I talk about in A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing is that it is not easy. anyone who says it is either hasn’t done it, or doesn’t like to admit to having to work hard to fulfil a dream. Well, OK, some people get lucky but they will certainly be the minority.

Anyway, I am not writing todays post about self-publishing. Today, I want us to consider the traditional route of publishing. How do you go about it?

How much do you need to write of a novel? What do you send to an agent? Do you even need an agent? How do I find their contact details? These are just a few questions that I think should be answered.

This post will not do that.

No, this post is to tell you fabulous people that I intend to start writing about the stages of approaching a publisher. Unlike my earlier posts of unfulfilled promises, this will happen (I fully intend to fill those promises at some point – promise). It has to. I need the answers as well, plus, it will be helping me to complete part of my creative writing portfolio. (I have to include the first three chapters with synopsis and letter etc totalling 10,000 words).

But as much as I have an understanding of the process, I am not stupid enough to think I know it all. I would love to hear your suggestions of things that need confirming. What myths have you heard? What have you experienced? If we can explore this together, it may not seem such a daunting prospect. As for those who say publishers are on their way out – as if!

Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

(By the way, no the chart upload thing still hasn’t worked (see last post), and those random blog posts for my assignments have slotted within past posts so haven’t shown up as new. However, I have written some articles that I may upload just to show I can diversify my writing – honest!)

My definition of Assisted Publishing

7 Mar

We are all familiar with the terms mainstream publishing, self-publishing and vanity publishing. Lets start by exploring these terms.

Mainstream publishing is where a writer has a contract with an established publisher. You as the writer submit your text, they tell you what they want changed, and once everyone is happy, the text is polished with bells and whistles. You don’t get much say in the process, but you haven’t had to spend your own money either.

Self-publishing you do everything. And i mean everything – editing, proofreading, design, illustration (if required) typesetting etc. Good luck there.

Vanity publishing is a nightmare. You pay your money up front, you get thrown loads of copies of your books, and then you have to shift them. I don’t know the figures on this one but I haven’t found an example yet of someone who has actually benefited from this process.

So what is assisted publishing? It is, to all extents and purposes self-publishing. The difference is, you are free to outsource the parts you can’t do yourself.

I shall give you an example. My book, ‘the basic guide to self-publishing’ (working title), is now under what I consider the assisted publishing heading. I have written the text, I have spent hours researching the subject, but that is where my work ends. It is being edited and proof read, and I am now in talks with several designers (you’ve heard that before right?). When complete, I hope to convert the work to the right format myself, and then I shall send it off to my chosen company, ready for the wonderful world of e-book sellers.

Why have I done this? I have heard so many times of self publishers who have made minor mistakes, and major ones as well, and this has affected their sales. I don’t want to be one of these people. I could complete many of these tasks to a degree, but not to what I would class professional standards.

The one thing I haven’t done at this stage is consider outsourcing my marketing. That is not to say I haven’t made contacts. As my first adventure (remember this all started as a University project), I want to experiment with my marketing. Quite honestly, my plan is if I manage to get a couple of good reviews, I may then invest in a high marketing campaign. This is completely the wrong way to do it but I am quite aware of how easy it is for a budget to escalate.

Besides, this is assisted publishing. I get to pick what and when I do things.

So, what do you think? Does this sound like a plan that you are already following? Rather than self-publishing, are we all after the route of assisted publishing?

Secret Smile – Nicci French

26 Feb

Female writers do not need to lean over to chick lit for to create believable female protagonists; you won’t find a male writer doing this. In this case it is not a female writer, nor a male writer, but rather the joint writing skills of married couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Billed as ‘French’s most chilling novel yet,’ Secret Smile has the potential of a thriller, with love and revenge of a romance. So why write it like chick lit?

Miranda Cotton thinks she’s put boyfriend Brendan out of her life for good. But two weeks later, he’s intimately involved with her sister. Soon what began as an embarrassment becomes threatening – then even more terrifying than a girl’s worst nightmare. Because this time Brendan will stop at nothing to be part of Miranda’s life – even if it means taking it from her…

Yes, it does hold some thriller aspects, but I am more concerned with the characterisation. The representation of Miranda depicts a fiercely, independent, level-headed woman. Working as a painter and decorator for her uncle, she owns her own flat and enjoys her own company. She has a settled group of friends and a loving family.

When Brendan reappears and Miranda relays her fears to friends and family, they turn their backs on her, accusing Miranda of jealousy. This for the reader is the first stumbling block. Miranda is not portrayed as the jealous type, so why would those closest to her, believe she is?

Later in the story, even the police treat Miranda with contempt, leaving you rolling your eyes at the poor plotting. The forcefulness of Miranda’s rejection leaves a bitter taste on your tongue – sympathy for her, whilst shocked by French’s audacity to think that this could be viewed as plausible.

Then, in true Bridget Jones style, Miranda, forced to take matters into her own hands, and fed up with the despair and repetitive events in her life starts doing exercise. I half expected French to start telling me Miranda’s weight at the start of each chapter.

The whole idea was for the reader to question Miranda’s sanity. Were Brendan’s actions all in her head? I won’t lie, this did work to an extent, but I feel it could have been better. I will also admit that I enjoyed all the characters; it was the way they interacted that left me confused. The emotion depicted was very real, but it was hard to gauge a sense of place when you are constantly second guessing how the characters will react, and then asking why?

As the story unfolded, Miranda fell into trap after trap and the writing became cliché. Most disappointing, was the ending. I wouldn’t have expected the twist, but it was still decidedly flat. Exactly what I would expect from chick lit, not a thriller.

For a new French reader, this could be an enjoyable read. But for those of us familiar with the work, this feels rushed and not executed to the high standard we have come to expect.

Warner, June 2004, 24.00, 308 pp.            
ISBN 0446533475 

The demise of publishers – really?

19 Jan

Matt Shatz, head of strategic content relations for Nokia, has spoken out about the future of publishing houses. The former Vice President has speculated that publishers are being squeezed out of the market.

Shatz’s key concern is whether or not authors really need publishers. As publishers are slow to respond to the eBook phenomenon, and digitisation makes it easier for authors to ‘do it yourself’, are the publishers, in effect, making themselves redundant?

For me, this article certainly has many valid points, and I certainly can’t argue with the idea. However, to say that publishers may become a thing of the past, because of the advantages that the Internet now offers, is short-sighted.

Shatz’s surmised: “In short, I don’t think publishers will figure all this out in time, which is why retailers will dominate the customer relationships in the future.”

I agree that publishers have much to learn. They need to get up to speed with e-publishing and e-marketing. They need to adapt and grow, as the music industry did several years back. Most importantly, they need to learn the benefits of this new market.

Publishers do not just put books on shelves; they make the books. They do not just slap some words between a cover. Editing, proof reading, design, and typesetting – the publishers polish the work and make it shine, something many self-publishers have failed to do.

Scaling down of business, smaller advances, and minimising marketing budgets according to Shatz are proof that publishers are in decline. Yet, how is this any different to any other business at this time? I thought that was to be expected in a ‘recession’.  I can understand that online retailers would have an effect on the publishers, primarily because the larger high street retailers, such as Waterstones, are struggling in the current market. Yet, publishers supply the online retailers too.

If we are talking about authors turning their backs on publishers, I don’t see this either. Many people I speak to who have self-published, have either done it because they were not successful in securing a publishing deal, or, they have re-published out of print books. Yes, there are exceptions, but most writers would still prefer a publisher.

Helen Smith, author of Alison Wonderland, has participated in both forms of publishing: “My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I would recommend it to anyone else in my position (i.e. with out-of-print books) – though if someone wants a career as an author, I would always recommend finding an agent and a publisher before going it alone.”

Is the end of publishing just the thought of the week? Or a one-sided argument? To me, speculating over negative business has never helped anything. Yes, there are and will continue to be changes in the industry; many will lose out if they don’t start looking ahead.

But is this the demise of publishers? Not likely.

I am such a plum…

12 Jan

I sent an email today to Jessica S. The title was ‘I am such a plum’. I won’t go into details, lets just say I did something that has made me feel very silly. No harm done but to make such a mistake when you aim in the long run to be professional,  does make you stop and think.

Am I ready for this?

The simple answer is of course not. But that’s not to say I am going to walk away and bury my head. I can’t. Besides everything else I have to keep on top just to finish university. Only a few more months to go and I won’t be beat.

I am currently attempting to start work on my fourth idea for my creative writing project. I don’t want to talk about it. It just scares me. I think that is the very reason for the delay in getting properly started.

My e-book research is going well. Very well in fact. The body of text for the guide-book I was hoping to publish, not well, not well at all. I have actually sent it to Eoin Purcell after he kindly said he would take a peep. I am deeply embarrassed (a rather plum shade I would say), because I know it isn’t good enough. At the time I thought it was, but now, I am fully aware it needs a lot, and I mean a lot of work doing to it. I can assure you that is fact and not just self-doubt.

In the coming weeks I shall be starting my research on the need for children’s e-books. I shall also be hoping to get analytical with my blog project. Luckily enough the bulk of what I need to analyse is already written thanks to this very blog.

I have decided that being a plum and making mistakes now is just fine. I am married with two kids, I am closer to thirty than twenty, but I am only just understanding what I want from my career. How many people can honestly say they wasnt a rather purple shade time to time at the start?