Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recently a NY Times bestselling author that I very much admire had a release and not long after, comments were left on her forum regarding this latest work. I'm not going to name names because (1) I can only imagine she has been hurt enough by what has been said and (2) it isn't the point of this blog. What was all the hoopla about, you are wondering? Editing.

Now I will agree on some of the things that have been said. There were errors throughout the entire book, things a good editor should have caught. Since I have never been NY published, I do not know firsthand the editing process at the Big Six but I can't imagine it is that different from places like Loose Id or Samhain. There are multiple rounds of edits, line edits, post-proof reviews, and for print, galleys. Multiple eyes comb through a manuscript before it goes on sale.

What I did find interesting and completely unfair was the castrating of the author on both Amazon and Goodreads and I'll explain why. It is very easy when going through your manuscript to miss things. Sometimes your mind plays tricks on you, substituting the correct word for the error written on the page. And sometimes you are just too close to the ms to see the flaws. That is why we have crit partners and editors. To lay the blame on the author alone is hardly fair.

And this author is not alone. I have noticed, especially recently, the decline in editing at the Big Six. Now have these problems always been there? Or am I just noticing them because I have been through the editing process myself (with a quite wonderful editor, I might add)? I am curious. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

E-Readers & E-Books Are Here To Stay

The other day, I came across someone who slammed e-readers. The blogger's argument: E-books are NOT going to become more popular than print. There were many points he/she mentioned, which I won't go into here. Rather I'm going to focus on why "I" think e-readers are only going to become more popular and why "I" believe e-books are going to start edging out print books in the future.

Let's begin with an example:

Years ago, if you wanted to see a movie, there was only one way to do it -- you had to visit a theater. I watched a special on Gone With The Wind not too long ago.  Several fans stated they viewed the film several times at the theater. Why? Because back then, people were fortunate if they owned a television and, as we all know, there were no VHS/Beta tapes or DVDs. There was no other option for moviegoers. If they wanted to see a film a second time, they had to take a trip to do so. Plain and simple.

Then, technology changed.

Nowadays, moviegoers can decide which is better. I visit the theater on the rare occasion when I really want to see a film or I go out on a date with my better half. Otherwise, I purchase or rent movies I want to see when they release on DVD or Bluray. I enjoy watching movies in the comfort of my home, with a pause button for those moments when I need to take a potty break. To be totally honest, it's easier and far more pleasurable to watch a flick on my couch than it is to drive to the local Rave Motion Picture Theater. Does this mean that movies will no longer be available in theaters? Of course not. There will always be those who want to see a movie on the big screen, just as there will be those who want to view films at home.

The same can be said of e-readers and e-books.

The ease with which you can purchase an e-book, have it delivered to your wireless device, and start reading is incredible. No longer do you have to drive to the store, locate the book in question (and/or drive around until you locate the book if it's out of stock), and purchase it. It's as simple as a keystroke. In less than five minutes, you can have what you want to read right in front of you. People love things that make their lives easier, and I'm one of them.

However, the ease of which you can purchase an e-book isn't argument enough. So I'll present another, far more debatable, reason I believe e-readers and e-books will become more prominent.

The next generation.

I've been ill the last couple of days, so my kiddos have visited me while I've rested in bed.  Yesterday, my oldest child saw me reading on my Kindle. She asked about it, I handed it to her, and she was fascinated (she LOVES to read). Within minutes, she was asking for one of her own.  As a fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (which granted, are not in e-book format), she was excited by the idea she could read all the books she wanted without having to wait to visit the bookstore to purchase them.  I told her we'd think about it, but eventually we will purchase her a Kindle. I have a feeling once she gets her claws into one, and discovers the ease in which she can tote around an entire library in the palm of her hand, she'll pretty much kiss her print copies good-bye.

Each decade, the world changes in some fashion. Fifteen years ago, kids wanted a pager. Now they want a cell. You can't fight the future, so there really isn't any sense in trying. Yes, as a reader "you" might prefer print. But will your children? Will your grandchildren? That remains to be seen. Bookstores are already aware of this trend, as the first thing readers see (or I see) when they enter Barnes and Noble is a huge display featuring the Nook. As iPads, Kindles, and Nooks because cheaper and the youth of the nation catches on, you won't be able to stop what is bound to happen. 

Now, for your eye candy of the week. ;-)

Monday, March 28, 2011

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

I make no secret of the fact that I write under a pseudonym. There were a few reasons I chose this route, but the largest one was I didn’t want my ultra!religious grandfather Googling his family for funsies and discovering that I write books with swearing, moral ambiguity, and, of course, explicit sex scenes. Granted, there are a few other perks. I love stories with romance, but should I ever decide to pen something more mainstream, I’ll likely do it under something closer resembling my actual name. This will avoid confusing my erotic romance readers, and turning off readers otherwise inclined to buy books in that market.

For many people, pennames are a part of the trade. A good friend and contributor of Romancing the Muses writers her urban fantasy under one name and her steamier stuff under another, but makes no secret of it. Were I ever to attempt a hand at writing something I don’t currently write—ménage, for instance—it likely wouldn’t be under this name.

Pennames go a long way in providing anonymity, and the good news is there are no rules. You can keep your identity a secret, as Stephen King attempted with Richard Bachman, or be open about it, like JA Saare. People have any number of reasons to write under a different name. Want to try something different? Now’s as good a time as any!

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Which seat can I take?"

If you’re at all in tune with the Internet, you’ve probably at least been asked to watch Rebecca Black's “Friday” video. For those of you who haven’t heard, “Friday” has been deemed by online critics as the worst song in the history of music—and the music video makes the popular Robin Sparkles video of “How I Met Your Mother” fame seem nearly Shakespearean. And yet, for all its bad press, thirteen year old Rebecca Black has received praise from such popular naysayers as Simon Cowell and there are talks of a record deal.

Imagine now that you are a struggling musician living from gig to gig while having to support yourself with a day job that takes hours away from the creative process. You could be the next John Lennon, but no one would know it, because so much of what is sensationalized these days has little to do with talent, rather exposure. Because Rebecca Black’s mother shelved out two grand so her daughter could make a music video, the feed went live and—love it or loathe it—it generated a response. I wouldn’t be surprised if the girl signs a record deal that goes platinum. As Taylor Swift has effortlessly proven, talent has little to do with success.

It’s easy to become disheartened with your own writing when you see the literary equivalent of Rebecca Black selling like proverbial hotcakes at various presses. Rejection is one thing, but knowing you’re better than what is being accepted can be damn near crushing. The sad reality is publishing is a business like any other. In the case of erotic romance, some pubs might focus more on the erotic aspects of a manuscript rather than the romance, and being they see the sales numbers on the other side, sign on authors because they know what sells. It’s frustrating as an author, especially if you’re serious about what you do. Yet publishers have to keep their best interest in mind as well; if you don’t sell your manuscript to one, ask yourself why. If your rejection letter comes with more than just a form thank-you-for-your-interest-but-sorry note, take what the editor says to heart. You may not have enough heat to make it into some places, whereas your book could find the perfect home elsewhere.

Dealing with rejection in the light of the plethora of bad out there is difficult, and one of those times you have to ask yourself what you’re doing this for, how badly you want it, and how many times you’re willing to hear “no” before someone says “yes.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm going to piggyback off Jaime's blog yesterday and talk a bit more about events. Besides Epic, I've attended three others in the last two years: Lori Fosters, Lora Leigh's, and RT. Each had a much different feel and offered unique opportunities.

RT or the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is a yearly event that in my opinion has two downfalls. It is rather costly, around $500 just to register for the conference. Add the cost of food and hotel and you are looking at better than $1000 for a five day event. For many, especially ebook authors just starting out, we are lucky to get paid that much in a year making the cost far outweigh any possible benefits. Secondly, it is a huge event. Promotional opportunities are there -- you can purchase a spot on the many tables lining the halls to place bookmarks and such -- for those who have a difficult time socializing in large crowds, it is quite easy to get lost in the sea of authors.

But the information available at RT, in the form of the many workshops offered, more than makes this event worthwhile. Not only are you able to rub elbows with authors you admire (and wanna be like when you grown up:), you can learn some valuable insight on the industry. Who better to learn from than those who have already tread the path? My only wish was that I'd known about RT before being published. The workshops geared toward aspiring authors (info on publishers, how to write a query letter and synopsis, etc.) would have saved me hours of scouring the internet.

The Lori Foster event, held in Columbus, is much more informal than RT. While there were a few workshops, I can't really say much about them, as I did not attend any. Most of the authors camped out in the ballroom, either sitting at one of the tables or just walking around the room mingling. It was a comfortable laid back environment and the purpose, IMO, is not so much to sell your book but to sell yourself. Not only do you have an opportunity to connect with readers, with the technology available to us these days, you can make life-long friendships.

Lora Leigh's event is held every year in Huntington, West Virginia. This event is catered much more towards the reader than it is toward the writer. All of the writer's attending the signing have to be invited, so if you go to this event, most likely you will attending as a reader. But that is okay. Like Lori Foster's, you can still promo yourself and your work just by getting out there and meeting people.

While the conferences vary widely in price and offer different opportunities for you as an author, I would highly suggest checking some out. Writing can be such an isolated occupation -- especially for those just trying to get their start. Attending a conference can help you gain a foothold in the industry, not only through information gained but the friendships you acquire.

Have you attended any conferences recently? What were your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What to attend?

This year, I have three conferences on my agenda. As there are many to choose from, I had to made difficult choices. Which brings me to the topic of the blog: Which gatherings are the best to attend as an up and coming author?

My first conference was Lori Foster's Annual Readers and Authors Get Together.  I wasn't sure what to expect. There were a lot of e-published authors in attendance, as well as NYT authors I really wanted to meet. After I got settled with my partner in crime, Madelyn Ford, we sat back and observed.  I can say that it was a fantastic experience, which is why I decided to return this year. However, I feel it's only fair to state that it's not necessarily a prime venue to promote your work.

To make myself clear, there are promotional opportunities. You  can send along promotional materials for the goody bags, you can create a gift basket that will be sold for charity, there was a film crew available to talk with authors, and there is also a signing. All of those things are extremely helpful if you're trying to gain recognition in the community. However, the big authors are the ones readers want to meet. That isn't to say you shouldn't attend the event as, in my opinion, it allows an author to do something better than promote -- it allows you to get your name out there. By chatting with other authors, agents, editors, etc, you can get a feel of the community and where you want to go. It also doesn't hurt that you get to rub elbows with some of your favorite authors (did I mention I got to meet Joey W. Hill? I was in HEAVEN). As for the big gatherings (RWA, RT, etc) I've never been. Fortunately, Madelyn Ford has, and she says the information gained is invaluable.

So when it comes to penning out your schedule, keep in mind that different events will offer different things. It's all about what you're looking for. I personally enjoy meeting up with friends in the community to relax and unwind, which Lori Foster's Author and Reader Get Together is perfect for. I would suggest that if you're looking to promote that you look into the larger functions, such as RWA and RT.  Either way, it's always nice to be surrounded by people who love books and writing as much as you do.

Have a fantastic hump day. Your eye candy of the week waits below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guest Author Charlene Wilson

Today I've brought debut author Charlene Wilson with me to
Romancing the Muses.

Thanks for stopping by Charlene!

Now for the question ...

What is the hardest thing (for you) about being a published Author?

Having my debut novel, Cornerstone Deep, release in November was a thrill!  To hold my baby in my hands, my name on the cover and the characters I love so much be alive on the pages inside…  It was like a dream. 

But then, reality hit.  All my promoting to that point only scratched the surface of what needed to be done.  The blog appearances I’d scheduled for my book tour were about to air and I hadn’t stopped to think how it would affect me personally.  They were about me. My work.  My thoughts.  My views.  Heavens, I’m shy!  And one of those appearances was with an internet radio show.  My voice was actually going to be heard by all those strangers.  I panicked!  (In fact, I hid my head under my pillow and felt my cheeks burn red as I listened to it).  My poor friends and family.  They did their best to calm me.

In the weeks that followed, I tried several different angles to accomplish the awful chore of selling myself and my book.  I even called on one of my characters to take over a couple of my guest blog spots.  (Thank you, Mianna.  I’ll make it up to you in Cornerstone Deep book two Echoes).  *wink*  It made it easier to look at the task through another’s eyes.

I do feel I’ve made headway in overcoming my promotion shyness.  I’m learning new ways to achieve my goals and I have wonderful friends that walk me through the steps to help me succeed in my marketing platform.  One thing I’ve definitely learned is that authors help authors, and I love doing my part to help others promote their work.  (Note the Highlighted Author blog link below).

As I gain confidence in diving into the deeper waters of self promotion, I’m able to relax and do what I really love.  Write.  I’m looking forward to completing the second book in my series.  Then, comes the editing…and that’s a whole other Hardest Thing blog post.

Find Charlene here:

Highlighted Author blog:

Thanks again Charlene!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Springing Forward

When my alarm clock went off at what is truly five in the morning, I wondered, not for the first time, what the virtue of springing forward actually was, and if there was a way to bargain with the government to get my extra hour of sleep back. Of course, in a few days—maybe a week—the shock of going to bed and getting up an hour earlier will have faded and all will feel normal again, save for the fact that the world will look dark in the a.m and light at night. Springing forward does have its upside, though we may not see it at first.

The same can be said for writing. Springing forward can make the process easier, particularly when dealing with a section or a scene about which you can’t get motivated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled with a chapter and known if I could just get past it, the rest of the manuscript would justify the parts that were harder to write. Sometimes, springing forward in a story can help make certain parts seem less of a challenge. In my experience, when considering the writing points of A B C, if I leap to C from A, writing B becomes more about bridging the other two sections together.

Springing forward does have its virtues; at any rate, if you run into a wall, it’s one of the available options by which to scale it. As for me, I’d prefer at the moment to fall back…to sleep.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Promoting your book

I try not to be a ranty sort of person, mainly for my own sanity, not to mention my professional reputation. But sometimes an occasional "rant" is necessary. This rant involves promotions...or maybe it should be called "how not to turn off the very audience you're wanting to solicit." 
We all want to support each other. Absolutely. If I can vote for your book, cover, help you out with something...whatever the request, I'm happy to do it. But certain authors who repeatedly spam me (signing me up for their newsletter without my asking for it, is one example) without even so much as an occasional "hello" have only earned one thing from me, and that's a decision to avoid them. And if it comes down to apples and oranges, unless it's something I can't resist, I may not buy their book. Unless that was their secret motive all along, I think that's a sign of ineffective promotion.

None of us is given a primer of the dos and don'ts of self-promotion. What worked for me was to watch how authors I respected handled themselves online. We all make mistakes, and that's fine. But the same people, year after year, seem to be the ones who use "promotion" as an excuse for less than thoughtful behavior.

How does this relate to a new author, just trying to start their career? We have to promote. It's a necessary evil in this day and age. But for every couple of tweets/FB posts regarding your book, your latest contract, etc. maybe add in something here and there a little more personal. It doesn't have to be something you're not comfortable sharing - maybe you burnt two dozen cookies this afternoon. Though it may seem stupid, sharing something we all can relate to shows people you're not on Twitter/FB just to hawk your wares. Commenting on other people's statuses also helps you engage. That doesn't mean you have to write a novel to each person, but a sincere "way to go!" or "excited for you" can go a long way.

Once you've started eyeing a publishing career, it's natural to want to talk about all the exciting things happening to you and the wonderful tidbits you're learning. Enthusiasm can be contagious. Most of my tweets/updates on FB/Twitter are writing-related, but that's also mostly because it's my life, LOL.

What about you? Anything you've learned that helps you navigate the rocky waters of self-promotion?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Don't I know you from somewhere?

Actually writing your manuscript is only part of a longer battle, but then again, that’s old news. You have, among other things, drafts, revisions, betas, crit partner edits…and then, if you’re accepted at a pub, there’s the three to seven rounds of additional edits, line edits, galleys, cover art…and that’s all before you even have a product to pimp.

But before you get ahead of yourself, you have to get to know your characters. They are the ones telling the story, after all. We see everything they see and our opinions are often shaped by their bias. So we get to know them. Seems easy enough, right? As the architect, you should be on first name basis with your creation.

You also should have a good grasp on when to disclose certain pieces of information. Once you have a back story established for your title characters, it can be very tempting to unleash it in a tidal wave of information on unsuspecting readers. As with any person, character actions, motivations, reactions, and thoughts are almost always—at least in part—based on the experience given before the events of the novel commence. Even still, there should be a pace to what is revealed, when it’s revealed, and how. To make your reader connect with a character—when necessary—it’s always better to show them responding to present situations by drawing upon their past.

Slowly revealing a character by revealing their past enables readers to see them as more than names on a page. If done well, the result will be someone who feels real enough to be in the room with you—someone you can picture without hesitation.