Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Burning Bridges: Sometimes You Should Just Keep Your Mouth Shut!

I hate to admit it, but I've always been one of those people. You know, the ones that have trouble keeping their yaps shut. My favorite saying is, "If you don't have anything nice to say, come to sit next to me." Unfortunately, this has gotten me into trouble from time to time. My foot lives in my mouth. Sometimes I even put salt on it to help it taste better.

Yep, it's that bad.

However, even I know that when it comes to writing, it's never a good idea to lose control of the yap. Especially when it comes to rejection or a bad review.

If you haven't read the post by Ernie from yesterday, check it out. That was my inspiration for today.  The author's behavior in the post Ernie directed us to blew my mind! Basically, an author sent her novel to be reviewed by someone who has their on online review site. The reviewer liked the story but hated all the typos and grammatical errors in it, and of course, commented on that. The author blew a gasket and accused the reviewer of being a liar. All sorts of other craziness ensued.

It was like reading a soap opera written just for bloggers.

The thing is, the author said a lot of things which will probably come back to haunt her later. I know that if I were an agent or publisher, I'd have to think twice about working with this individual. Reviewing her work on my blog site would be out of the question...unless, I needed a good laugh.

The internet is not a chalkboard where things can be easily erased. What you say online lives on and on and on. Authors, think before you spew words you can't take back. Sure, there are injustices in the writing world, but handle them privately, and even then with care. 

Don't burn bridges because you can't handle rejection or criticism. Take it with a grain of salt, and if you must, come sit next to me. Or find someone you can vent to who won't betray your secrets!

Curious about what went down? Check out the previous post.

Here's to keeping your mouth shut!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Not to Do as an Author

The following has gone viral. (Warning, adult language is used in spots.) This is an object lesson in how not to respond to a negative review of your novel(s).

The Greek Seaman: by Jacqueline Howett


Monday, March 21, 2011

Publicity, Promotion

The above are other words for selling, of course. And now that an author has to not only write, but sell their own books, more and more of us are--for the first time ever--working in the sales department.

If I'd wanted to be a salesperson, I tell myself, I would not have become a writer! In the Good Old Days, a writer wrote, a publisher published and sold. Alas, no more. Publishers are stacking that task onto the backs of the writers. Which means, there are a LOT of brand new salespeople in the world of literature.

My only attempt at selling was a job I quit just before I got fired from. (See sentence above that begins: If Id' wanted to be....) I'm hoping I'll prove better at selling my own dang book.

So far, my attempts have included guest blogging, trying to be active and visible online, and booking myself into a couple of mystery conventions. I chose large confabs that fans attend. A writers' conference isn't going to do it for this purpose. Wednesday I leave for Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe, and in late April I'll attend Malice Domestic. These are both well established venues for promoting and selling. With that in mind, and having been told I could probably count on having my book available by mid-April, I'm booked as an official New Author at Malice Domestic. Three other authors and I, all from Mainly Murder Press, went together on an ad in the program. It shows a placeholder cover that I designed, but it's at least getting my name and title before people. There have been a few holdups, so I'm having to cross my fingers that my book will be ready for Malice, but I have faith!

I'm now emailing people to see if I can get some pre-publication (or maybe *at* publication) reviews. I've had some good results, but no one has broken my door down to get my attention.

In the past few days I've designed bookmarks for this book. The cover is not the final version, but the publisher told me I could use it for promotion.

Meanwhile, I learned that an anthology that has been in the works for some time is probably being printed this week! So I'd better start promoting that, too. Today I had a dozen postcards printed up at the local print shop. I forgot to have them cut, so I'll go by my husband's office and borrow the paper cutter as soon as I finish this.

I've read mixed results for online ads, so I'm not going to do any of those yet. Both the above-mentioned volumes are paperbacks, but I'll eventually put out an e-book for the novel. At that time I might do some online ads.

Some authors have had good luck with give-aways, which I'll try when I have the physical product to give away.

This is all stumbling in the dark, though! Baby steps.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Glamour of Writing

The other evening I was sitting around with the my writing group, the gang responsible for the illustrious little blog you are currently reading, pondering the very nature of writing itself. It's been said before and will be said again that writing is a lonely business. You can social network as much as you want, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you, the computer, and whatever freaky little story you've got wandering around in your head.

My friend and fellow contributor to All Things Writing, Kaye George said, "It isn't about glamour. It's about hard work."

Ain't that the truth!

I sometimes think about writers who were well known not only for their work, but for their lifestyle, too. Truman Capote comes to mind because he was a fixture on the New York social scene for many years, a kooky little guy with an annoying voice that made writing Or F. Scott Fitzgerald. The parties he and his wife, Zelda, (now why doesn't anyone name their kid that anymore?) were legendary. True, he may have been a raging alcoholic with lots of issues but hey--he still made writing appear glamorous.

I don't need glamour to be a writer and as Kaye pointed out, writing is hard work. If you spend all of your time doing the social network thing, when you do you have time to just write? Granted, we live in a time where social networking, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of others are important for a writer to use in order to attract a following. But a some point, do you lose sight of why you are social networking in the first place?

Writing isn't glamorous, but it can be rewarding. I would love to hear other thoughts on social networking vs plain old writing time. Drop a comment and share your thoughts with the gang from All Things Writing!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Time for a Rant

I'm grouchy today. I'll be grouchy all week. I hate Daylight Savings Time. I'm so tired I posted this on my Wednesday blog instead of here just now. Grrrr.

This will be short because I'm so sloggy and foggy and boggy today. And I'm not alone, if you can trust the studies that have been done on this horrible imposition.

According to this article ( done by Michigan State University, there are 5.7 per cent more workplace injuries and 67.6 per cent more workdays missed due to injuries on the first Monday after the time change.

More injuries reported here ( where a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an 8 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents on the Monday following the time change. 

And that's not all! You can die from DST! The same article cites a Swedish study done in 2008 that showed an increase of about 5 percent in heart attacks on the three weekdays following the spring time shift.

So, injury and death. Wonderful. Why are we doing this again?

Oh yes, let me wish you Happy PI Day. Maybe pie will make it better.

[[grumpy toad photo by Matt Reinbold used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
apple pie photo by Sage Ross used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license]]

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seeing stars

I was thrilled when a reader recently gave one of my publications a five-star review on Amazon. (Most of my reviews have been on Smashwords, so just getting one on Amazon was exciting.) Then I read that some people don't think very highly of them! In fact, I read that one reader discounts all five-star reviews, assuming that they come from friends or family. That reader also discounts all the one-star reviews, and reads only the others, the moderately-starred two-, three-, and four-star reviews.

Do you tend to give out many five-star ones? I used to casually give top reviews to every book I rated on Amazon. After realizing that they are meaningless to some people, I've started giving four-star reviews instead. That's probably more realistic, after all. I suppose a five-star should only go to the best book you've read all year, or maybe in the last six months.

I like to do other authors favors. I know how hard they work and what an effort it is to get to the stage where you have a book to be reviewed. But if it's not a favor to give a five-star review, then I don't want to do it.

By the way, if I couldn't rate a book at least four stars, I wouldn't even think of reviewing it. What do you think? Do you take the five-star reviews seriously? Or not?

(I'm still thrilled with the five-star review I got, no matter what!)

(Painting: Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ghost Writing--Should You Become a Ghost?

As a kid, when I heard that something was "ghost" written, I figured that meant some sort of intelligent ectoplasmic being was carrying around a typewriter and creating stories. After all, one of my favorite writers was Carolyn Keene who wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries. When I discovered the Keene wasn't a real person, but a name used by a ghost writer, that made total sense to me. No wonder she could write such great spooky mysteries. Carolyn was nothing more than a ghost! She would know all about being spooky.

Of course, I did eventually come to the understanding that a ghost writer is just someone who writes a novel, article or blog, but doesn't get author credit. Oh no. In fact, they get something better.

They get paid.

Yes, they make money on their writing. Actual money!

It wasn't too long ago that I would read the term ghost writer and think, "Now why would anyone want to do that? Why would you put in all your time and hard work on something that isn't yours? What if it becomes a best seller?" Well, my circumstances have changed, and I now see the allure, the potential of ghost writing. With your own novel, once it's edited, you are faced with querying, and hopefully, marketing it. Even if you sell it to someone, there is still lots of work to be done that cuts into your actual writing time, not to mention your budget. Now for some writers, this isn't a big deal. But for those of us already living on a shoe string budget and in need of money to help promote their book, ghost writing can be a great source of income.

I'm not saying it's easy. You don't get credit for what you've written. Then again, you don't have to query it, market it, or deal with any kind of rejection either. You get paid and that can pad your own marketing bank account.

Ghost writing a full length novel can take away a lot of your time and if you are working a full time job already, that may not be the way to go. Consider ghost writing blogs for people or short articles. It still takes time, but the turn around for these projects is much quicker.

This may not be a good fit for you. It certainly isn't for everyone, but if you are interested in exploring this option further, a good source for ghost writing jobs is Elance. Just be sure to charge what you are worth! Or simply Google "ghost writer" and you'll come up with all sorts of job postings.

 Happy hunting!