Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Because of him

I was the kid who wrote thirty page stories in fifth grade. And the one who wrote the school play in sixth grade. I was the girl who stored hundreds of stories on her computer (and in several half-written journals).
Writing was a hobby, a pastime, something to do while waiting for another stat read in college. Or a funny short story in the margins of my animal science textbooks. Writing was just a way to calm a busy mind.
But then a quiet boy from Kansas asked for my hand. When I confessed my love of literature, he gently pushed me to write. He’s encouraged, prodded and even consoled me every step of the way.
Traveling to and from New York, or San Francisco or even just over the mountain to Los Angeles—he’s not once complained or questioned the process. His belief in me has (at times) been the only reason I’ve continued.
Tonight, during our walk behind our little ranch, he encouraged me (again) to attend another conference/retreat.

Writers, hold your loved ones close. Because of them, we can be us.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ready or Not?

You’ve edited (and reedited) your novel and suffered through bruising critique sessions—but is your manuscript ready?
According to The Cheshire Cat, it depends a good deal on where you want (your book) to go…

Congratulations! You’re now an entrepreneur. The quality of your novel depends on you. And only you. 

You’re the author, editor, marketer, distributor and financial advisor. Treat your book like any other business. No one is a master of all trades, be prepared to hire out (photography, editor, accounting…).

Remember, you pay for what you get. Lackluster sales are the product of cheap editors and lousy covers. Readers can spot a substandard, second-rate book a mile away. As well as superficial online reviews from your friends.

Readers depend on reviews for debut authors, if you have less than 200 sincere reviews or 5,000 in sales—pull the book and repeat the process. 

When in doubt, don’t send it out.  Double check the list below.
  • Self-Edit for inconsistences
  • Critique novel in full (twice)
  • Send to editor or beta reader (not family, friend or neighbor) 
  • Write pitch (what appears on the back cover)
  • Develop business and marketing strategy
  • Research genre and comparables (sales and reviews) 
  • Wait for reviews. Do not solicit from friends. 
  • Less than 5,000 sales—your book has flopped, repeat the process

Traditional Publishing:
The publisher pays for in-house editing, printing, marketing and distribution. They’ll run a Profit & Loss statement to determine the projected worth of your story (and you as an author). 

When, and only when, your critique group says you’re ready to publish, send your manuscript to another writer. 

Not your mom. Not your neighbor. Not your friend. 

Get their feedback and then apply to an advanced critique group or hire a professional editor (remember, you pay for what you get). 

If your inbox is filling with rejection letters, you’ve sent it off too soon. Stop submitting and repeat the process.

When in doubt, don’t send it out. Double check the list below.
  • Self-Edit for inconsistences
  • Critique novel in full (twice)
  • Send to editor or beta reader (not family, friend or neighbor) 
  • Write pitch, query letter and synopsis
  • Research your genre and potential agents (only submit up to 10 at a time)
  • Wait for rejection/acceptance letters
  • If more rejections than acceptance letters come, repeat the process

Beware of predatory publishers lurking in the corner. 
They'll disguise themselves as indie publishers but are little more than Create Space con artists.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And the winner is...

For the last three weeks, four wonderful writers participated in an online critique camp. They critiqued, they conferenced and then critiqued both their own work and those of the camp. 

Participating in her first fiction piece, Anke Hodenpijl shocked our class with an unbelievable rewrite. From a confusing short story devoid of a setting and motive came a lovable and lonely heroine—one that’ll be a top contender for the Writers of Kern Fall Writing Contest.

Congratulations, Anke!


Anke's work has appeared in the Phoenix Gazette, Denver Catholic Register and the Bakersfield Californian. Her poetry is included in an Art for Healing Anthology.