Tag Archives: publication

Crossroads

After writing and publishing for over 25 years, I am at a crossroads.

Romance or mystery?

Screenplay or graphic novel?

Self-publish or traditionally publish?

Self-produce a movie or sell an option through an agent?

Upon professional advice, I have made some changes:

1. Given up my Facebook Fan page
2. Queried the top 5 publishers on my bucket list
3. Bought Final Draft to write a screenplay and a graphic novel
4. Solicited my favorite movie production company
5. Read the classics I was not assigned in school

I spent the majority of my summer in a rented space rewriting THE DIVORCE PLANNER on spec. For those not in the publishing business, “on spec” means the editor is interested in the concept but not the execution of a story and will not commit to a contract until the story delivers. Now I am waiting to see whether or not my rewrite results in a written contract to publish the story.

After warning my fans that I would be moving to this website for news and updates, I said goodbye to 10 years on Facebook. That doesn’t bode well if I ever want a job in marketing, but it does give me peace of mind after my business consultation.

Why a business consultation? Because writing for publication is a business. It needs to be profitable. The IRS can deem my writing a hobby if I fail to make the numbers that result in a tax bracket that pays them each year. And, after the time I have invested, I owed it to myself to see what I can do to maximize my potential before I decide to pursue other interests.

Right now, I do not want to commit to another writing project. During my morning runs, a story idea is developing. I have written the synopsis down. But I have not opened up a blank page to write the first chapter.

Why?

Because I need this time to breathe and wonder before I plunge back into the writing waters and swim to another shore.

3 Reasons to Write for Free

Should professional authors write for free?

From Tim Kreider’s well-thought out New York Times article “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” to the profanity-laden rants of best selling novelists offended by the request, which I won’t link to here, the question sparks a lively debate fueled by a variety of responses that leave even the most prolific authors speechless.

I understand the reasoning on both sides of the debate. I hate when writers agree to write gratis only to sue for payment later (see “An Unnecessary Lawsuit”). I also hate when professional organizations and highly successful authors swear to never give away a piece of work because it will destabilize writing as a viable career. After all, other professionals, from lawyers to contractors, work pro bono under certain circumstances.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1985 and I’ve given away as much writing as I’ve sold.

Here are the top three reasons why I’ve written for free:

Advertising

In a world where more books are published than there are people to read them, advertising is a key element to boosting sales.

Unless you are a known author with a wide following, you can’t expect a new book to instantly result in a spike in sales. You have to let people know about your book long before it hits the bookstores.

Writing for free to promote your upcoming release is similar to paying for an ad on Goodreads or the New York Times Book Review. For those authors without a publicity budget, writing free articles on your book’s topic is cheaper than paying for a well placed ad in the same publication because it only costs your time. Additionally, it gives readers a chance to sample your work.

Most authors who advise against writing for exposure have enough devoted fans to guaranty a steady stream of income. Therefore, they can either rely on their fame to sell books or can afford a publicist who will do the job for them.

Charity

Whether it’s the school fundraiser or finding a cure for autism, I have donated my writing. I don’t ask for a tax write-off, although I’ve received them from larger organizations. If my writing can generate funds for a good cause, I’m willing to do it for free.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a poetry booth where people pay $10 for a customized poem. Other times it’s autographing copies of books that will be auctioned off at a charity ball.

Either way, the satisfaction I receive from being of service is enough payment for me.

Special Interests

A lot of times I will research and write articles on speculation because a topic interests me. One such article focused on healing for women who had undergone an abortion. When every paying publication rejected my article, I queried a local publication that paid in copies.

Three weeks after the article appeared, I received a message through the publisher from a woman who had written a letter.

“I read your article and I’ve decided to return to the Church after 20 years,” the woman wrote. “I had an abortion 20 years ago and have never felt the same. I mean, I’m lucky, I have two healthy boys who are now teenagers, but still, I haven’t stopped thinking of the first child, and sometimes I have felt so alone, like I was the only woman who regretted having an abortion, even though it’s what I wanted at the time.”

I kept that letter. It’s a reminder of the greater reason why I write. Helping to transform someone’s life is the most precious payment I could ever receive.



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Practice Patience

Time business concept.

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” Proverb

I was born leaping forward into the doctor’s outstretched hands. Too impatient, I skipped crawling. At eight months, I took my first step and plunged head first against the corner of the coffee table, ripping a hole above my eyebrow.

By the time I entered elementary school, the teachers recommended I skip a grade. My father, however, refused. He said it was important to go through all the grades. I didn’t understand his reasoning. I was anxious to blaze through school. I wanted to make history as the youngest person to attend college. My father, however, knew skipping one grade would lead to other missed opportunities. He didn’t want me to become a twelve year old working with a bunch of thirty year olds. He wanted me to enjoy growing up one step at a time. The teachers compromised by supplementing my education through the Gifted and Talented Education Program, which allowed me to take lots of baby steps with others my age.

Over the years, I’ve adopted my father’s wise reasoning. It is important to not rush through anything, including the steps toward publication. That’s why I’m not anxious to hear back from my beta readers regarding my crime novel. Readers may pester me with questions, but I am firm in my response. I haven’t heard from all of my beta readers, so there is no news to report.

Every book’s journey is different. Some books are drafted, revised, published, and sold within a matter of months. Others take years from concept to bookstore.

I’m done leaping forward and stumbling backward. It’s time to take a breath and focus. By the time I get feedback from the beta readers, I will have had enough time away from the book to view it with fresh eyes for the next round of edits. When the time is right, I will start querying for an agent.

In the meantime, you can join me in practicing patience. Enjoy taking tiny steps in whatever is it you are working on…even if that means waiting to discover what your next step is.


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