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Waaayyyy back in the Dark Ages of Publishing, I queried many, many…*sigh* many agents, only to be rejected. Then, I pitched a social media book for writers…and they laughed in my face. Social media is a fad. Authors only need a good book. Yup. Well, these are the same folks who are now requiring an author to have a strong social media platform and most won’t so much as look at a book if they can’t google an author’s name and have it show up (and show something vibrant and interesting).
Had it not been for the indie/e-book revolution, my first #1 best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and my second #1 best-selling book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, and now my new best-selling book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World would never have existed (let alone dominated the top three slots in multiple categories).
Thank you WANA and INDIE PUBLISHERS! *shout-out to Bob Mayer, Jen Talty & Cool Gus Publishing who took a chance on my first two books*
Aside from me (being a niche author), there were many traditionally authors who had extensive backlists (full of mega-successful books) who would have never made another dime off that work (and a lot are now making six and seven figures). There were also many authors who’d been rejected for years, who finally forged their own paths using e-books. Look up Romance Author Theresa Ragan. Theresa sold SO many books, that when NY came calling? She turned them down.
I wonder if she sent them a rejection letter with “does not fit my needs”? Hmmm, perhaps I should ask next time I see her :D.
There are also authors like John Locke who used e-book success to garner sweet publishing deals. Why am I mentioning this stuff? Because no matter what kind of author we are—traditional, indie, self-published? E-books are important.
Yes, even if we traditionally publish. Right now NY can produce a book (maybe two) in a year. That’s a lifetime in the Digital World. What better way to keep fans excited than by publishing backstory, short stories, deleted scenes, stories involving supporting characters? This helps keep readers passionate so when your book is on the shelves? They are SO THERE.
Today, to talk about e-books and her own experience is Award-Winning Author (of TWENTY-SIX books) Amy Shojai…who happens to be a WANA International Instructor because I only want the best for you guys.
Take it away, Amy!
A few years ago, I had a high-profile agent, a spokesperson gig with a major pet products company, and a dozen award winning pet books published by “Noo Yawk” publishers. Oh, I worked my furry tail off for years to get there, but thought I’d finally arrived.
Before y’all decide to use my face on your personal dart board, you should know this: publishing went KER-FLOOEY!
I ended up back at square one. My agent couldn’t get a bite on any of my proposals. The spokesperson gig cancelled. My books got remaindered instead of renewed. All those backlist books, my retirement income (sob!), instead became dust bunny habitat under the bed.
Betcha you heard the booming echo of head-banging frustration where you lived. And you know what? “Noo Yawk” didn’t care. Tried a new agent and that didn’t work either. So I quit writing. I even took a real job . . .for about six months until I realized it doesn’t matter that “Noo Yawk” doesn’t care.
It only matters that I CARE.
Nobody cares more about YOU and your goals than YOU. So ya gotta be nice to you, treat you like royalty, and find ways to say “yes I can” instead of wallowing in “why I can’t.”
WHO ARE YOU, ANYWAY?
I am a writer. It’s not what I do, it’s who I am. But the “old Amy” no longer worked in the new world. Without an agent, I had nobody telling me “don’t bother, it won’t sell.” Without an editorial deadline, I had time to revise and update the latest, greatest information. And without that high-profile on-the-road gig, I could experiment with projects without concern it might hiss-off a sponsor.
So I reinvented myself first by kindle-izing my backlist books. That led to partnering with Jen Talty and Bob Mayer’s COOL GUS Publishing, creating my BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog (thank you Kristen!), voicing my own audio books, writing original titles and most recently a critically acclaimed dog-viewpoint THRILLERS WITH BITE series.
All because publishing went KER-FLOOEY. That’s a techie term. You have my permission to use it (I’m a writer, so I can make schtuff up).
BEYOND NaNoWriMo: KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
So, what does this have to do with you? Today there are fewer eyebrows raised toward hybrid/indie/self-pub authors than when I jumped off the digital cliff. The flood gates have opened.
Did you complete NaNoWriMo? Are you lined up at the starting gate, ready to pull the trigger on a spanking-new baby book?
Whether you plan to DIY Ebook, hire POD done, or choose a la carte services for cover design, publishing and more, LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Discover the options and make educated choices.
Because do-overs sucketh big time. This is why I am offering my:
Next Saturday, December 7, 2013, join my EBOOKS FOR WRITERS Webinar from 2-3:30 NY time for all the must-know options for publishing in today’s digital age. It’s only $40 (but you’ll get $10 off with the code GO INDIE). Register here.
No hotel, no travel, no makeup required! I love Webinars because I can wear jammies and have your cat or dog on my lap. The recording makes it possible to revisit the session later—especially helpful for those with a time conflict who live in, say, Australia. Or the wilds of Manhattan. And, if you aren’t yet ready to pull the trigger on your book, the session helps you figure out next steps when you ARE ready.
(Hint: Might be a cool early holiday gift for a writer in your life.)
The live Power Point presentation includes lots of SQUEEE! cute animal picture illustrations, answers your questions and gives you a life-preserver to keep you afloat as you dive off the self-publishing cliff. You will learn:
• Pros & Cons of Ebook Publishing compared to “Traditional”
• Options Available from DIY platforms to for-hire services
• Kinds of costs involved
• What you can (and should) do yourself
• What you should hire professionals to do
• Resources for helpful self-publishing software, editorial assistance and cover design help
• Practical step-by-step how-to “Kindle-ize” your manuscript
• Formatting tips for illustrations, covers, sidebars and table of contents
• Promotional must-knows including DO’s and DON’TS!
• Includes valuable links to further information, available as a down-load/handout.
I got to reinvent myself with help of others like Kristen Lamb who mentored me into creating a kick-ass BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD BLOG, so turn-about is fair play. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do. That’s one reason I jumped at the chance to guest here at Kristen’s amazing blog site. Good karma gets returned so find ways to pay-it-forward, let others know about the seminar (and discount code GO INDIE). You can thank me later ;).
By Jay Donovan
Yes, it’s me again, Kristen’s Tech Guy. Kristen has family issues hitting her hard and has been nursing a loved one back to health. We’ll have to wait for a future blog post to learn if Nurse Kristen is more Florence Nightingale or Nurse Ratchet.
You’d have thought she’d have learned after I hijacked her site last time. Then again, knowing Kristen, she’s aware that I ‘sampled’ a couple glasses of wine while TechGirl and I made lasagna. Kristen’s call for help at an ungodly late hour is most likely a ploy Sun Tzu would be proud of.
Regardless, challenge accepted!
Actually, this is a fantastic chance to catch everyone up on the goings on in WANAville.
First off, thanks to everyone who joined us for the October WANACon Writers Conference. We appreciate your trust in us and hope you had as good a time as we did. For those who couldn’t join us, the session recordings are available for On Demand viewing here.
The next WANACon will be Friday February 21st and Saturday February 22nd, (hopefully) far enough from the chaos of the holidays that a conference track on what to do next with your NaNoWriMo creation makes sense, and close enough to Valentine’s Day for one on writing romance.
We’re not moving away from live classes, but with busy WANAs all over the globe, we’re structuring classes to be more flexible for those who can’t attend live.
And a shameless plug…
Book Tours in Your PJs
On Friday, my company, TechSurgeons is adding an new Author Service – Virtual Book Tours. They’ll use the same tech WANA uses for WANACon and live classes. At an introductory price of $50, you can rent a virtual room for 6 hours for you and up to 10 others at a time. You’ll be able talk to your readers, share web cams, instant message with the shy ones, display PDFs of sample chapters, extras, and ‘out takes’ or whatever creative ideas you have. Contact me for more details.
Remember WANATribe, -the- private social media site by authors for authors.
We have Tribes for all genres and interests. And if you don’t see the one you want, you can create it. Joining and using WANATribe is free.
As a thank you prize for
reading putting up with my post, here’s a video of (I believe) George Clooney and Brad Pitt dueling with a flamethrower and fire extinguisher. Inside sources claimed this was filmed just before they went to their respective makeup artists.
Okay, that was mean. Here’s an amazingly cool video of the Ohio State band performing their “Hollywood Blockbuster” Show.
Jay Donovan is the official WANA Tech Guy and takes care of all WANA’s technology needs. He’s writing an “Expansion Pack” on the proper use of pen names to supplement Kristen’s “Rise of the Machines” and should be working on it instead of hijacking blogs and talking about himself in third person, but where’s the fun in that?
Yesterday, we talked about fueling the muse to go the distance. For the professional writer, every month is NaNoWriMo, so there is NO BETTER indoctrination into this business. NaNo shapes us from hobbyists to pros, but we need to do some preparation if we want to be successful—finish 50,000 words and actually have something that can be revised into a real novel that others might part with money to read. Genre obviously will dictate the fuel required, but today we’ll explore one of my favorites.
Feel free to watch movies similar to your genre for some immersion, but this really isn’t what I’d encourage you to study.
Study plot points. Sit with a notebook and write out in one to three sentences:
What was the character’s life like before it was interrupted by the BBT’s (CORE ANTAGONIST’S) agenda? I will use two divergent examples—World War Z and Steel Magnolias— to make my point and hopefully not spoil the more recent of the two. As far as Steel Magnolias? Y’all have had since 1989 to see it. Tough :P.
In World War Z, we meet a guy making breakfast for his family. He’s hung up some mysterious “old bad@$$ life” in order to be with his wife and kids.
In Steel Magnolias, we meet M’Lynn taking care of all the little details of her daughter’s wedding. She’s a Hover-Mother who takes care of the broken glasses, finds the right shade of pink nail polish, and stops Dad from shooting birds out of the trees. She’s a fixer and she’s in control.
This is the first hint of the BBT’s (Big Boss Troublemaker’s) agenda, the first tangible place it intersects with the protagonist’s life and causes disruption.
In World War Z, Jack and his family are in the car. He and his wife are on their way to take the kids to school when all hell breaks loose. It’s the first glimpse the protagonist sees of the looming threat, but aside from escaping with his family, he’s made no vested decision to get involved.
In Steel Magnolias the Inciting Incident happens in the beauty shop when Shelby’s blood sugars drop dangerously low and she goes into convulsions. Mom tries to help and Shelby swats her away (a hint at her future defiance). This is the first time the audience has met the BBT (Death/Diabetes manifested in the proxy Shelby).
Look for the major turning points in the movie. According to one of my FAVORITE craft books (Story Engineering) in Act One, the protagonist is running. He or she doesn’t know where exactly the conflict is coming from or precisely what IT is. Act Two, the protagonist is a Warrior. He or she has glimpsed the face of the BBT and fights back.
For instance, in World War Z, Jack knows it’s a virus creating “zombies” and he decides to return to the old job and fight. He agrees to search for Patient Zero in hopes they can find a cure.
In Steel Magnolias, M’Lynn shifts from Running (Here’s your orange juice. Have you checked your blood sugar?) to Warrior. Her daughter defies her and decides to get pregnant even though it could (and will) cost her life. Momma puts on full battle gear, determined to “control” her daughter’s fate. Diabetes has shifted from looming “controllable” threat to a ticking time bomb Mom still believes she can diffuse if she just tries hard enough.
Act Three, the protagonist shifts from Warrior to Hero.
This is right before the turning point to Act Three. This is where EVERYTHING is stripped away from the protagonist and it seems all is lost. The DM is the catalyst that shifts our protagonist from Warrior to Hero. Anyone else would give up the “fight” and go home, but not our protagonist.
In World War Z the protagonist is critically injured, he’s lost his family, outside help, and he’s faced with a crushing setback. There is no Patient Zero, at least no “clear” Patient Zero. It’s a dead end and it looks like time has just about run out for humankind.
In Steel Magnolias Shelby dies despite all of M’Lynn’s tireless efforts to control. She realizes she has no power. She never was in control and now she’s utterly lost.
Act Three/ Character Arc
How does the protagonist mentally shift over the course of the story? What was the critical flaw that would have held them back in the beginning, that would have made the protagonist “lose” if pitted against the BBT.
For Jack, he has to be willing to give up his family to save his family.
For M’Lynn, she has to admit she can’t control life or death in order to embrace the messiness of living.
How is the story problem resolved?
Pay attention to the Big Boss Battle. How has the protagonist changed? What decisions do they make (or not make)?
What is the outcome? How is the world set “right”?
In World War Z, Jack’s sacrifice gives humanity a fighting chance. In Steele Magnolias we see little Jackson (biological grandson) running and picking up Easter eggs (there is NO mistake that this story is bookended by Easter). Resurrection through Jackson is what ultimately defeats Death. Shelby lives on through her little boy.
Great movies have great dialogue. Study it. How do characters talk? When I get submissions, one of the major problems I see is in dialogue. Coaching the reader, brain-holding, and people simply talking in ways that are unrealistic. For instance, most of us, when having a conversation, don’t sit and call each other by name.
“But, Bob, if Fifi goes base-jumping she could die.”
“Yes, Joe, but it’s Fifi’s life and if she want’s to be stuff on a rock, it’s her decision, not ours.”
“I agree, Bob, but I love Fifi.”
“Joe, then tell her. Fifi’s craving attention.”
If you’re writing a military book, watch a pal play Call of Duty or Modern Warfare. Game designers use folks from Special Operations as consultants. They use DELTA Force, Green Berets, SEALS, etc for all the world-building, so why reinvent the wheel? Hollywood is notorious for getting this stuff dead WRONG, so if you want accurate military dialogue, games are better. Or, watch movies who’ve done their homework, not shoot-em-up brain candy flicks.
And for any military folks out there, I could NOT resist. No drinking fluids near keyboard while watching…
Movies are great for getting an idea of setting. Pay attention to the terrain and make notes.
Fill that muse to bursting and NaNo will be a LOT easier.
Another HUGE help for NaNo is a solid core story problem. I strongly recommend my antagonist class TONIGHT.
What are your thoughts? What are some things you do to prepare to write a novel? What movies have the best dialogue? Setting? Yes, I know I have ruined all movies for you. You will thank me later :P.
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of October, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Today is always a hard day for me, as I’m sure it is for many others who suffered far worse. Every year, I have nightmares, can’t sleep and spend most of every September 11th crying if I stop long enough to think. At first, I wasn’t going to blog, but then I thought back to one of my favorite poems, In Flander’s Fields. Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem after presiding over the funeral of a friend lost in WWI in The Second Battle of Ypres.
I loved the poem so much, I committed it to memory. I was eight years old.
This morning, I couldn’t get the verses out of my head, thus please forgive me. I took some creative liberty with the original poem in hopes of honoring those lost on 9-11. I’m no poet, but maybe this can be a little bit of beauty to help us always remember those so senselessly taken.
In Stonycreek, the flowers blow
as airplanes taxi row on row.
They mark our place; and in the sky
The birds, still singing, bravely fly
Scarce heard amidst the tears below.
We are the Dead; twelve years ago
We loved, and laughed and didn’t know
Evil could rain from up above
And tear us from the ones we loved.
Two towers lost; the Pentagon.
A burning field.
Remember us; let children grow
To honor those who fought the foe.
The light be yours to keep it bright
Remember those who chose to fight
If you forget, we shall not rest
Though flowers blow…
By Jay Donovan
Poor Kristen fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous of which is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but a couple steps down is this: “Never leave your Tech Guy in charge of your blog.”
Kristen called me Saturday to see if I could approve comments for a couple more days and said it would be easy since she didn’t have anything to post for the first time in a long while. Being a kind soul, of course I agreed.
Five minutes later, an epiphany…
So I called her, got voice mail, and left this message: “Hi Kristen, it’s Jay. I just thought of a blog post to put up for you.” And I’m not proud about my loss of control, but I couldn’t help myself—I ended the call with an honest to God *maniacal laugh*.
You’d think she’d know better than to allow me to get used to having so much power. Especially since I used up all my willpower by not filtering last week’s posts through the ValSpeak filter.
You don’t believe me? I find your lack of faith disturbing.
It think it is time we demonstrated the full power of this filter.
Set your course for Kristen’s last post: Learning to Drop the Donkey.
All of us want to do a good job. We want to put our best foot forward. We all say that we want feedback and critique, but deep down, if we are real honest, we want people to love everything we say and do.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality. We can’t please everyone, and it is easy to fall into a people-pleasing trap that will steal our passion, our art, and our very identity.
Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational blog-messer-upper:
All of us want to totally do a bitchin’ job. Us guys want to totally put our best foot forward. Us guys all say that we want feedback and critique, man, but deep down, oh, baby, if we are real honest, like, wow, we want guys to totally love everythin’ we say and do.
Unfortunately, fer shure, this isn’t thuh reality. Us guys can’t please everyone, like, and it is easy to fall into a guys-pleasin’ trap that will steal our passion, oh, baby, our art, fer shure, and our super identity.
See what I could have done. Yet I resisted. But Kristen has to further tempt me with an idle blog, and her unable to see her site, let alone stop me. *Maniacal Laugh* Sorry, #20 of the Evil Overlord list gets me every time.
Um, now what? Anyone have a suggestion? Bueller?
“I’ve got one. The question isn’t ‘what are we going to do,’ the question is ‘what aren’t we going to do?’”
Good thought Ferris, how about a Kristen roast?
“That’s a righteous idea.”
Post your favorite Kristen story in the comments. I want good ones. Sweet ones about Kristen pulling you back from the ledge. Funny ones about Kristen’s top #KlutzClub moments. The goal here is not just to make her ears burn, but to make to make her blush the entire time she’s in places the Verizon guy fears to go.
Here are the rules; I like my roasts medium-rare. Comments which are too mean will be nuked and replaced with that photo with you and your Aunt Gertrude from when you were 11. Yeah, the one taken a split-second after her dog barfed down your shirt. It doesn’t matter how I got a copy of it. Worry instead about it being the next big meme. *Maniacal Laugh* Did it again. Damn!
Jay Donovan is the official WANA Tech Guy and is writing an “Expansion Pack” on the proper use of pen names to supplement Kristen’s “Rise of the Machines”. He should be working on it instead of hijacking blogs and talking about himself in third person, but where’s the fun in that?
Many men and women suffer over body image issues. We try to eat healthy, work out and yet we can never measure up. For most of us, we just wear black in mourning for our pre-baby figures. We live in yoga pants and the idea of bathing suit shopping requires three stiff drinks and a Xanax. For me? I haven’t worn shorts in fifteen years.
Is the pressure to be thin too much? The actresses and models get skinnier and skinnier by the year. When did ZERO become a SIZE?
I actually happen to be a size 6-8-10-12-14-16-22 depending on where I shop.
And then, when I DO finally get
drunk enough the urge to shop, I am greeted with this:
And then THIS:
Whatever happened to wanting to look like Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield? Women used to be soft and curvy and sexy. Now we aspire to look like the sliver of wood that holds together hors d’oeuvres we’re too scared to eat?
Because we would be SO FAT! Like, a size SIX!
I knew that the fashion industry was creating a body-dysmorphia problem of epic proportions, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I saw THIS:
We thought anorexia and bulemia among young girls and women was bad, but now body issues are now even affecting inanimate objects. Though headless, many mannequins are getting fatter and can’t keep up with the ever-shrinking sizes.
When I interviewed this poor mannequin (we will call her “Sheila” to protect her identity), she claimed the pressure to be perfect all the time was too much. She’s supposed to just stand there and be ogled for NO PAY, and now apparently a Size Zero is FAT.
Sheila is a Size Zero, but this store forced her to model the newest size/fashion craze…a Size Negative Three. The store believed that if the clothes were tight, Sheila would stop being such an undisciplined pig and lose weight. Everyone walking by would see her bulging sweater and then maybe she would stop stuffing her non-existent face.
Save the mannequins. It’s bad enough that men, women and children are suffering with body image issues, but we have rights. Mannequins like Sheila have no voice (likely due, in part to the lack of a head). Sheila needs us to CARE!
Stop the madness. Boycott Matchstick Jeans and Toothpick Pants! The fashion industry has lost its ever-loving MIND and people are hurting enough, why should people of plastic and foam suffer, too?
Have you noticed any inanimate objects getting fat? Maybe your couch is eating too many chips and Goldfish? Is your vacuum getting a bloated
bag belly? Hampers stuffing themselves? Refrigerators food hoarding?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World will be out (God-willing) July 4th. I will let y’all know when it’s ready for sale and I am updating/rewriting the other two ;).
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!