The Next 1000 Miles

Full-Frontal Honesty

So, in the Indie world, there are two kinds of authors: Published and Working to be Published. And just to be clear, Indie mean Independent, so you’re doing this all on your own as your own personal publishing house. That said, keep in mind more successful Indie artists will have agents and publicists still working for them, but they are the CEO & President of their decisions.

Keep this in mind, publishing is hard, but worth it. If this is your true passion only two things will stand in your way, time and money. There aren’t any other justifiable factors.

Full disclosure, thanks to some helpful friends and insights, a spent a total of about $1300 to get my first book up and out there. I am certain it could be done for less, but the main thing I would tell anyone looking to publish, double your budget for marketing. I had (have) no marketing budget beyond social media and giveaways. I’m hoping to change that for the next book [tune in later for more on that].

After being submersed in the publishing world for the past couple of months, here are some insights to help you on your way:

  • Join/Look for book clubs. Best place I’ve found is on Goodreads.
  • Social media…just start getting out there. Befriend anyone and everyone with similar interests.
  • Beta-Readers, start with friends and family then try branching out. The more eyes you have on your story, the more input you’ll get. [Note: betas are not editors and should not be treated as such. They are more for content and flow.]
  • Invest in a good cover. (Lord some of the books I have come across look like someone created it on their smart phone from 2007)
  • PAY FOR EDITING! This is the same principle as selling your car and not cleaning it. I wouldn’t get in a filthy, smelly vehicle to test drive it anymore than I would continue reading a broken-English mess paragraph after paragraph.
  • Get to know authors and ask questions. There is more to a book than simply putting it on paper and authors who are out there know plenty. We’re a community in an ever-changing world. Let’s stick together before we get picked off one at a time.
  • Be prepared to hunt for Reviewers right after your editing phase is done. Reviews = Sales
  • Look into Giveaways. Why just hand out copies to anyone? Hold contests to draw in a crowd, get interest. Those that don’t win may just go on to buy your book anyhow.

I’ll have more tidbits for you later! Until then, feel free to email me your questions.

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Journey of 1000 Miles

Speeding the Last Mile

Ever left on a trip and that last fifteen minutes before you leave the house feel like you have a tornado in your brain? Do I have enough clothes, keys, cell phone, charger…toothbrush, etc? Lord, what have I forgotten?!

I am like that presently with the book closing up. Formatting is my hurdle, getting all of the documents ready, verbiage, acknowledgements, descriptions, etc. Exciting, but a little nerve racking that I’m going to screw something up.

Any published authors out there with any tips?

Life Duh's

Life Duh.10

If you rely on others to make you happy, you never will be happy. Happiness is something only you are responsible for.

Journey of 1000 Miles

Bury Your Head Like a Popple

Well, it has begun. Like Mortal Kombat without a Player 2, I have entered into the realm of doing  from the realm of talking about doing. I submitted a handful of query letters today and I swallowed very hard on each SEND as if I was choking down a little prayer to go with them.

First tip to anyone submitting a query, since most agencies are going green and value time, they are mostly through email. Test your message first. If you are like me, you type out your thoughts in an Word program first, then copy & paste into an email. I was baffled when it removed spacing between paragraphs. Well, that is apparently a formatting issue.

So, of course you want your first letter to go to the Agency you want the most. I bcc’d myself on my letters and I was mortified on the first one I sent. Well, they will be getting a triple-spaced version of my query letter thanks to what I thought was a revised copy. F-N great! Well, hopefully they can look past my initial blunder and still like the message. If not, I may have to try again later. LOL, technology.

Anywho, test out your letter on someone else before you try an agency. If they don’t like it or can’t understand it, guess what? Research the website and submission guidelines for any agency. They are all different and most do not want attachments (virus potential).

I started a tally, so feel free to check in on it in the next month or so and see how it goes. It’ll be located under the 1000 Miles tab or HERE. Until then, I am going to bury my head like a Popple and keep trying.

Journey of 1000 Miles

Double-Fisted Net Wielder

Being the new guy/gal in any scenario is wretched. It’s a time-intensive pain-staking venture into basic self-promotion. That’s a very dry way of saying you have to be social. If you broke down the primary colors of any basic relationship, you’ll see just how many variants you keep; it’s not just business and friends. You have your childhood friends, college friends, work friends, hobby friends, drinking friends, family friends, friends with families, single friends, those friends that you call to help you bury bodies, those friends you call to help you create the bodies you need to bury, the friends that can never be counted on, the friends that always can, Facebook friends and those friends you aren’t sure how you ever met them or why you’re friends.

What you may ask yourself is what do these people have in common? They can all help you on your journey from author to published author. Granted, when you start out, you are the new kid all over again. You’ve shed the moniker of friend (whatever hue you may be to someone) and must now forge a separate path.

I met with a few friends for coffee this weekend. We like to chat about video games, movies, TV shows and IT-related hoopla. One is a writer/director for an Indie set of YouTube videos <insert plug here FB / YouTube >. He also does other projects and is aspiring to write a book. I am ever-encouraging of anyone wanting to pursue entertainment passions (writing, videos, acting, painting, etc.).

It is always important to me to keep a good and expansive circle of friends around to take notice and mention you along the way. Similar to what I just did for my friend, David, someday he in turn may mention me or my blog or my story to one of his friends. Thus the networking magic-sprinkle-dust is thrown into the air and hopefully it will land on people willing to pass it along.

Likewise, don’t forget or disregard friends that aren’t religiously following your every move. They will when they have time. I’m guilty of that too, I had my friend’s Bar Flies series in my YouTube playlist for months and now just started getting caught up. Likewise, my other friends aren’t keeping up on my Time Traveler series. Eventually, we’ll all get caught up on those and will then be behind on each other’s new works. Such is the cycle.

One tip for anyone starting to put dabbles of work out there: make sure that your patience matches your subtlety. People will follow you and look at your content until you get to that pushy/uncomfortable stage. Openly calling someone out asking if they’ve read your work creates an uncomfortable rift if they haven’t. Instead, mention your work in passing, not directly, when the conversation allows it.

“Oh, ya. This series I have on my blog currently is also on my Facebook page. It’s about time travel and how this teenager is affected because he’s unable to control it.”

NOT

“Hey, have you read my Blog? Do you follow my Page on Facebook? I sent you like five requests. You should check it out and let me know.”

See how one spotlights your work and the ways to find it and the other points the spotlight at your friend? Plus, if they have read it, they will agree and follow your conversation, which confirms you have a follower. And if they haven’t, maybe this will give them an open opportunity to ask you questions about it since you are not demanding a response.

Bait your traps and wait, don’t go screaming wildly with a net toward your audience. I say this because I am generally that lunatic in the safari hat running at you, net double-gripped above my head like a Viking warrior. This is the “do as I say, not as I do” portion of my blog. Now, go Like me on Facebook and re-read everything off my blog. Do not make me break out the war paint.

NaNoWriMo Count: 2100 +

Journey of 1000 Miles

Don’t Push Too Hard

Forcing one out will only lead to chaos and destruction. It will be messy and dirty and you will regret it. Just try to let it come at its own time. I’m talking about creative thoughts. Inevitably when writing, you will come to that point in the road. There is a path  leading you to the next spot where your story continues except you’ve hit a small hiccup, you’re out of gas. The thoughts fueling your imaginarium-mobile ran dry, you sputtered and now you’re stranded. You could trudge through and go on foot, but it’s a chilly bitch out there. You sure you want to risk it? You could get pretty lost and just have to trek back to pick up from where you started.

As ludicrous as it sounds, you produce your own fuel in your own time. I’ve found that if I write for too long, the elasticity of my imaginarium gets worn. To repair it, I either take a few days and listen to some music, read a book (other people’s works are inspiring) or watch a movie I’ve never seen before. Generally out of those three, something will get my motor running again. If not, try writing five pages on the first topic you’d like to see in your next book. A change of pace might help get you back into the creative spirit.

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Journey of 1000 Miles

Quadriplegic Tour Guide

And over there you will notice… no over there… that way. This is how I feel describing some things in my blog. I really don’t know if this is coming across beneficially or not, but hey, I’m trying. Like today’s topic: Query Letter.

Ok, I am not comfortably close to submitting a query letter yet, but I figure  now is the time to at least start drafting one. As I have researched, it’s basically taking all of your elaborate efforts over the past months (years) and condensing them into one flavorful bite. Should be monumentally easy… And if you agree to that, I sincerely hate you right now.

Query letters are the wide-spread hope that your bite-sized, taste test of literary genius is worthy of a full meal. Myself, I thought more words were better, turns out that was mistake 1. I wanted a hefty novel that captured interest while getting my thoughts out, even paraphrasing the imaginarium on my topic, I was (and still am) resting above 137K words. Turns out most literary agents will not be thrilled to wade through hundreds of pages if your query letter is as bland as tofu. So, as I have come across, I will sum up what I’ve found out.

  1. Submit query letters to agents one at a time. Don’t send a copy to every literary agent within one agency. They will not appreciate it.
  2. Choose a literary agent in your genre. If you’re writing horror, don’t bother the children’s literature agent. Research what they do.
  3. Personalize a tad. Within your letter, briefly (key word briefly) mention a book that they may be the agent for that you associate work alongside. It will catch their eye more.
  4. Submit to more than one literary agency. There are over a 1,000 different agencies out there. Don’t just try 3. Pretend you are writing for acceptance into college. You want options to choose from, not settle for.
  5. The Letter… well, let’s save that for last… skip to rejection. Rejection letters or notifications will start piling up to epic proportions. Or at least be prepared for them to. Not everything you do is everyone’s taste or the direction they’re wanting to go (it’s not that you write crap). Pretend you are one of them. You get hundreds of query letters per week. Out of them, you get through 60% and your assistant handles the rest. Of those you see, you have to be in the right mood that day to accept what is in front of you. At the end of the week, your ‘yes’ pile and ‘no’ pile are equal. You can only take on 2-3 new authors in the next month, so you will have to weed the yes pile into ‘definite’ and ‘some other time’. After the query pile, you want more than a taste test, you want a couple of bites so you ask for the first chapter. You see where this is going? Because there is a next week…
  6. The LETTER:
    • First section – make it a once sentence line that sums up the intention of your entire story (pretend this is on the back cover of your book’s jacket)
    • Second section – elaborate that into a couple of short paragraphs including briefly what to expect when reading it (pretend this to be the synopsis inside of the jacket to your book)
    • Third section – Brief autobiography. Let them know a little about you.

Now, query letters are mainly submitted electronically through emails for the agency. However, if you are mailing them in and expect anything mailed back to you, include the self-addressed stamped envelope. Make their job easier, it’ll pay off.

If you do submit, make 100% positive that you are done. If they want to read the whole book, you don’t want an incomplete manuscript to be your answer. You will get tossed to the back of the line indefinitely.

And, for the love of God, make sure you spell check and grammar check your letter. This is your 15 seconds of attention, don’t make them dismiss you after 5 because you used the wrong form of ‘there’.

Keep in mind that I am just paraphrasing. I learn most of my accomplishments through painful idiocy. And since I haven’t tried yet, these are my guesstimates thus far. I am like a quadriplegic tour guide minus the wheelchair. So flop along with me and let’s see what rolls up next. As soon as I get my own template together, I’ll share a copy.

Journey of 1000 Miles

Waiting Dulls the Blade

Over the weekend, I had a little time to recharge my blogging battery a little. I thought briefly of where I am at and where I was a year ago. I admit that it’s a far cry from the point in time when I was simply easing into content of no longer writing.

Yes, at one time, I was reaching a stalemate with my inner self. Luckily, as most decisions go in life, you have to get to that breaking point before you see the value. Once you get there, a clarity reaches through and pulls you in the right direction. Call it intuition or a gut feeling, but in that split second we can choose what matters to us.

If there is anyone out there, teetering on what they truly want to do, I have a test for you. Make two decisions, a heads and a tails. Commit to the notion that whatever the outcome, you will go with it. For instance, heads I pursue publishing and tails I keep it as a hobby and focus on my career. Flip that coin in the air. On the way down, you will tell yourself which side of the coin you want it to land. Deep down, we know what we want. We just have to be bold enough to stand up for ourselves and do it.

Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is the willingness to act in spite of it.

So, take that random quote and be prepared to venture into the possibilities of heartache and loss in order to fight for what you truly want to be in life. Make it yours, make it memorable and make it happen now. Waiting will never make it hurt any less when you are rejected or told no. It will simply dull the blade that means to cut through you.

On a lighter note, tomorrow there will be no blog. Instead I will push out the second chapter in my Blogging Series, The Time Travelers Grandchild, for you’re viewing pleasure. YESSSS!!! It’s like movie day from grade school all over again!

 

Journey of 1000 Miles

Please, Don’t Open the Suitcase of Bees

“What does it take to get through to you?!?!”

This may be the question that you ask yourself if you are a stat-addict like myself. I have looked at stats from sites wondering why people looked at one thing and not another, why some received a “Like” while others sat blank. Well, my advice: drop that nonsense like a suitcase full of bees. You don’t need to carry it around and you don’t want to open it up. No-no, never open the suitcase full of bees.

Ever wonder, as an author and self-promoter, what your substantial yet quaint audience following is doing. If it’s constantly, you will only have the tailor measuring you for a straightjacket. Relax… this is not a sprint, this is a marathon. You can’t expect to race full speed down the track ahead of everyone only to have them all pass you by in the next five laps because you’ve exhausted yourself.

It’s a pleasure-me-quick type of world out there and as frequently as we’ll have to crank out new material, don’t expect the same in returning fashion for your needs, at least not yet. Realize that people have their own schedule and interactions. They will mention your work to others when the conversation suit it, which is not always going to be immediately. Not everyone is looking at you just because you’re waiting for them.

If you have time to sit and watch the screen as views and likes and whatnots accumulate then guess what? You should be writing. You should be dreaming. You should be planning.

Think to yourself, what do I do if my query letter is never accepted? Do I self-publish? Do I re-vamp? Do I hire an editor? Keep trying? Never stop submitting query letters, first of all. Someone will inevitably like your work, it just depends on how long. I mean, not to appear mean, but there is some true horseshit novels out there that I wonder what a publishing house was thinking about when signing. So, I am pretty certain that there is a genre for every and all stories.

However, if patience is a virtue that you traded in for creativity. Self-publishing is another avenue that we will have to discuss tomorrow. For now, keep the suitcase closed. Bees are evil. Honey or not, they want to destroy you.

Journey of 1000 Miles

I’m My Own Pimp

If the title caught you, then phase one is complete; I’ve hooked you in at least a little. WAIT, wait, wait… I’m not selling you anything, just relaying my personal experiences.

After finishing a novel, there is editing. While that editing is in the hands of other people who are looking through the chapters and giving me feedback, this is the perfect time to start the Social Media extravaganza. Yup, if you want published, you’ll have to start putting yourself out there on the proverbial street corner and peddle your wares. For me, I write under a different name, so it helps to keep my normal and pseudo lives separate.

Almost everyone has a Facebook account (shameless plug), but let’s not forget the other avenues of social media (i.e. FREE PRESS). You have Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Instagram and countless others depending on how marketable you want to become. I’ve seen some authors create a YouTube channel where they read their short stories. I am learning to Tweet, … slowly. The rest comes pretty naturally.

Oh, and Big-ups to my wife for pointing me to Word Press to start my blogging adventures. Love you, babe!

So, now you already have 100’s of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Your author persona is going to rake them all in and catapult you in the spotlight and soon you will catch fire like you were bathed in kerosene and jumping over a campfire, right?? Well, if you are like me, think again.

Sadly, unless you have outspokenly been promoting yourself since you first met your friends or acquaintances, you are starting a relationship with most of them all over again. I believed that at least 3/4 of my friends would “Like” my page immediately and follow me on my journey. So far, that is not the case, but think about it…

People differ from one outlet to another. Not everyone is checking their feeds or keeping up to date with others. In many cases, people use social media to briefly check on a few close friends and family in their lives, post about their own experiences and then they’re off. The posts or requests you send out may be read or may be overlooked. Not everyone wants a barrage of alerts. You are commercializing your relationship, so tread lightly and honestly. Let them come around if they want to and if not, keep them close by. Un-friending people is not the answer.

Me, I was very impatient in terms of getting responses to what had been more than a decade in the making. Once I started, I expected magic, miracles and bending the space/time continuum to take place. The sad fact is that it’s growth and any kind of healthy growth takes time.

I wanted to have hundreds of followers, but a handful at a time is perfect. Any progress, whether big or small, is still progress. It’s painful waiting for recognition when it comes a drop at a time but think to yourself that one day, you will be too busy writing and doing your own projects to possibly keep up on social media by yourself. So, cherish this time.

And start small, if you’re already on Facebook and Twitter, you know how to handle posts. If you haven’t had a social media site since MySpace was the big thing, don’t sign up for everything in the world without a plan on what content you are prepared to put out there. You don’t want a 100 followers and then the first month give them nothing. Attention spans last roughly the same lifetime as a gnat.

For me, this blog helps me to put my ideas out simultaneously to my other accounts so I don’t have to update different fans at different times. I’ll still do special offers and small contests on Facebook from time to time, like a coffee or an iTunes gift card giveaway, but keeping it small and informal is fine. If you’re looking into the same starting point as I am then you should know your limits and what you can achieve with the time that is given you.

And since I am not under a publishing house or have a literary agent, I am indeed pimping myself out. I am trying to get you to pick me as a source of entertainment. I want followers and fans and friends, but most of all I want to relay my stories. It’s a calling and we all need to follow our own first and foremost.

If you’d like to check out a sample of my work please click here. Yup, still pimping… P.I.M.P.