Thursday, September 25, 2014

Never let anyone tell you that your idea is not cool enough to publish

Frankly, I wish I had thought of this one. Kud-effin-os.  Just proves that if you do something with enough talent and panache, you can get it published. 

And to prove my point, the blog goes into how the cover needed to convey the right amount of menace and not fall into kitsch. If that was my book cover, I'd be hyped.

On the other hand, it doesn't hurt when  you can get GRRM to say it's "Game of Thrones."

Frankly, if anyone else had said that, I'd take that with a salt shaker.  Does anyone think that the statement "Game of Thrones" is now an overused descriptor? For TV, it seems to mean genre TV with cutthroat politics/soap opera. For books, cold  mean almost anything like, "regular fantasy," "grimdark" or even "Our PR maven has no clue."


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Things Writers Should Know about the business side of writing.

Chuck Wendig's blog is always good for shaking the proverbial writing tree and seeing what hits the ground. This week's entry by the talented Kameron Hurley reminds us that all publishers, epub or traditional, are seeing the biz differently than you. They see it literally as a business and your book, and you by extension, as a  product and a method of marketing.

If they don't see you that way, they won't be a publisher for long.

With that in mind, I've got some quick rules of thumb for you about publishers and your writing career. There are always exceptions to these, some of which prove the rule.

  1. A Writer's Vision is for marketing copy only: If you talk about your vision -- as in how a publisher doesn't get your "vision" or your genius -- it's a clue that you don't get   that a novel is a collaborative project. A good editor and publisher can be a godsend on cutting the chaff to make your book a leaner, meaner storytelling machine.
  2. Copy Editors edit, Editors advocate :  When you meet an editor at conference or con, you'll meet your story's champion. They will try to do their best for the story, not you, your story. So while that means they might go to bat for the story against the publisher, they'll also go to bat for the story against you if you insist on keeping things that distract from the focus of the story.
  3. Self-Publish? Congrats you're a publisher: Back in my early days, it was hard enough to wrap my head around the idea that proofreading wasn't done by editors -- they've got enough to handle (advocating, profit/loss statements, finding more quality stories). They hire copy editors to handle the proofing. And you should too. If you can't afford one, find a volunteer. Same goes for covers and probably marketing as well.
  4. Volunteers take their sweet time: There's that old adage that you can have two out of three things when working on a project, either fast, cheap or good. If you're getting a volunteer to help  (especially  people you shanghai in with promises of "exposure.") then prepare for them to take their time. They have lives and are doing you a favor.
  5. Consider yourself on a 10 year plan: If you look up any "New" Writer's award, you'll find a good decade of practice and exposure behind them. Some wrote in fanfic, or advertising or in other fields like RPGs or non-fiction. You are in for the long haul buddy.
  6. Writing may always be your part-time gig: There's more and more scuttlebutt that the days of a full-time novel writer maybe coming to a close, or that it's reaching a long nadir of sorts. I say this not to discourage, but to help brace you for the long slog ahead.
  7. Paid writing is paid writing -- if that's what you want: You may find that if you really want that writing lifestyle, you'll have branch out in ways that keep you at the keyboard, but not necessarily doing what you dreamed of. Fiction novel writing is one of the toughest gigs to get and there's more luck involved than most people are willling to admit. Non-fiction, advertising, how-tos, pretty much everything pays better with more frequency than a novel. 
  8. Business 101 is not Ethics 101: And Ethics 101 is that doing something legal is not the same as doing something that's ethical. As Ms. Kameron Hurley can attest, read your contracts and assume that publisher's know you're going to fight that boilerplate contract that tries to have you sell all of your rights in perpetuity for $500. Or that if you're an artists that negotiates doing your own book cover, then get paid for it as a separate item, otherwise you just did work for free.
  9. Don't write for the market, but that is the harder road: You're going to write your next novel for a minimum of two years, maybe more. You have to love what you're doing or you're lose steam. Sometimes what you think is cool isn't a slam dunk for the marketeers, and that's all right, but know you've got an uphill battle (Says the guys who is trying to pitch a Weird Western.)
  10. Live more, read more, write more: Seeing how real people live and interact, seeing how other writers tackle the same stories as you do and seeing yourself improve will help you inch closer to perfecting your craft.
  11. Bonus Round! Read and write out of your comfort zone: Creativity is like a body that needs food and exercise. And just as eating and excising the same every day short changes a body, the same goes for your writing. Try new things and stretching yourself, you may discover unexpected inspiration and new tricks.
Now go fourth, my writing comrades and write!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The road less traveled, or maybe more traveled than not

Good ol' Chuck has another guest blog by Tom Pollack about how to juggle this crazy career we call Part-Time Writer. (Don't call it a hobby and don't call yourself "aspiring" just write, damn it!)

I'm blogging about it, so I must have a few thoughts myself on the subject. Consider them more of an extra table of goodies to Mr. Pollack's buffet of ideas. 

Plan Your Time
Beyond Planning your time, steal time back when you can. Be a complete klepto when it comes to pens/pencils, paper and your downtime. Instead of whipping out your smartphone and making Angry Birds angrier, jot down a few sentences .

This does two things; inch you closer to your weekly word count and trains you to jump into writing mode faster. Not only will have less guilt about a slow day when all those extra sentences got you over the hum, you're more likely to skip that thirty minute Internet "warm up" on if you've learned how to write a romance scene in a frigid, noisy airport.

Stick To Your Plan -- But Don't Let It Turn You Into an Asshole.
I think Tom is close to something here, but missed a bigger truth to writing. The truth that a writer pretty much a paradox who in one moment has to lock themselves in a oubliette, pull a rope to close the top and write in utter solitude and in the next moment is in the middle of humanity, seeing it for all of its wonder (and terror.)

'Cause in order to write characters that make your readers empathize with the human condition, you have to see, hear and taste that particular condition for yourself.  And you can't do that chained to your laptop. 

Enjoy It
You have to, or it will burn you out faster than roman candles duck taped to gas cans. This not only goes for the writing part but also the "go forth among humanity" part as well. 
Perhaps the best way to think of it is this way: Most people have to have their own children before they rediscover the wonder in life through the eyes of their little ones.

But as a writer, you always have to have your inner tyke on tap.

Yakity Yak, Here's some feedback

The great speech recognition experiment is done.

And in the end it wasn't so great. The software worked for a while and the diction was close enough that it greatly helped my output for a while.

But at some point, the software's accuracy went downhill instead of improving. Worse yet, the mircophone that came with the software didn't want to synch up with the program half the time.

So what started as something that was close enough to remind me of what I had original intended, became a slog of rewriting that had me seriously wondering if I had really gained any ground. And despite my best efforts, I was missing more typos than I was catching.

When my writing workshop mates reported that my last submission was a new low point grammar wise, that was the final straw.

So now it's back to the slower, more silent, typing and handwriting efforts of the past.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How much "exposure" do you need?

It looks like Showtime should have had a different pitch for their latest contest. Instead of promising graphic designers exposure at an upcoming boxing event, they should have labeled it a free vacation package.  That might have gone over a bit better. Or the designers who are boxing fans would be more inclined to say yes.

Though to be fair, this is an ad/PR firm working on Showtime's behalf. I'm guessing more PR than ad company.

Let's look at that email and Mr. Cassaro's response.

I'd have a few "Qs." (It's cute when ad people try to be hip.) How long are these spots? How prominent will my contact info be on these spots and at the MGM Grand? Yeah, I get exposure on the social media, which might include some decision makers for various companies that might be client material (who now know I will work for "contests.") But who do I get real face time with?

The answers are pretty pat here. The only real exposure will be on social media, which is a crap shoot (pun intended) and where it really counts at the MGM and on broadcast the answer will be "They will see your art only, no contact info. What you are asking for is almost like an ad." Well, PR/Ad firm, that is what your pitching me right? I've gotta leverage the most out of it.

Because working as a creative is a business at heart and, when you're lucky, a business with heart, but you have to make savvy decisions about your "exposure." Because frankly, it's a wash most of the time in any business.

I've seen all type, sign makers, marketing firms, and even contractors get taken in with a big client who promises "exposure" and to put your name out there if they are happy with the end result.

And then somehow it never works out.

You've put the client is now in a position of real power and they'll abuse it like crazy. Mostly by making countless changes to the project that you take the hit on to keep the client happy. You'll realize those hits have put you in red too late.

Ask the VFX companies hows that working for them.

So I'll wrap up with this classic bit from a classic curmudgeon. It's relevant.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The price of growing up ...

is seeing all of your childhood heroes pass away.

Robin Williams

May his family find the solace they need in these trying times.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yep. That's pretty much how Starbucks is.

When that urge to be a "Starbucks" writer hits me, I gotta look at the time. If it's past 5pm, forget it. The 7-person knitting circle has taken all of the comfy leather chairs.

I don't make this stuff up, honest.