Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Writer meme from PBW

This was taken from a post on PBW's blog. The idea is for published writers to share their thoughts on a set of comments, thus helping those hoping to get published, or those who have been published and are wondering what happens next. I've posted the questions in bold, my answers in plain. If you're published or have any insights on the questions, please replicate them on your own blog and post a comment on PBW's blog so others can find your take on them.

1. How to Go Pro: What happens after you get The Call? What are the stages the book in process goes through? What you can do as an author to help it happen and be as painless as possible, etc.?

The most important thing, in my view, is to listen to your editor. You will need this person's help, and they will need yours. There's no room for precious author syndrome - save that for when you're rich and famous (and then watch people moan that your books aren't as good as they used to be.)

Your editor will tell you where your book is lacking. Do not ignore these comments. Your editor may make suggestions on how to fix these problems. Feel free to ignore these suggestions and come up with your own. Work as a team and remind yourself your editor is working with you to make your book stronger.

2. Staying Pro: I'd like to see more on how to KEEP selling, or how to organize my time (and) Once you start selling the plan is to keep selling and have a nice long career. Pointers?

Forget everything else and write more books. That's your job. If the first don't do so well, you can submit new and better books under a pseudonym.

3. Budget Marketing: What can be done about marketing for writers with a $2k advance?

Talk to the publicist at your publisher. Decide whether the money is better spent on behind-the-scenes stuff like entries in bookstore catalogues or front counter stuff like bookmarks. Ask them what they would do with $500, $1000 dollars to promote the book. A decent author website is a good start.

4. Trouble-Free Marketing: Can the writer do anything to avoid looking like a newbie dork (about marketing)? How does the little guy get some attention without attracting trouble?

Talk to your publicist. Don't duplicate their efforts.
Every time they set you up some publicity, go along and give it all you've got. Say yes to everything, and do it. If you hold out for major media events and let them down over smaller, more personal items like school and library visits, you're sending the publicist a message. How do you know who's going to be in the audience, anyway?

5. Real Sales Numbers: How many books really did sell last week? How many copies of each book on the best sellers lists (and the midlist as well)? Which venues are selling (online vs main stores vs independents).

Your publisher will know.

6. What's Selling, and What's Not: I'd like to know what novels publishers are wanting now and the best way to keep up with the markets. How can someone check their idea with what is coming out on PW or the other publishing trades? What is the science behind it?

Forget it and write what you love.

7. Author Abuse: What exactly constitutes Bad/Poor treatment from a publisher (excluding poor sales, thin to no marketing, or normal business-related problems)?

If your editor leaves and the book is orphaned, you're probably in for a rough time. Getting angry because your publisher won't take out full page ads for your book only demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the publishing industry.

8. Ambient Wisdom or Myth: I wish if I knew if I were doing the right thing, rewriting my 300K novel into a trilogy, because the ambient wisdom is a first-timer can't sell a 300K book.


9. Real Deal and Not Blowing It: What do you do when you actually hear from an agent/editor who wants to represent/publish you? What kinds of documents are you going to be required to complete, what knowledge do you need, is it inappropriate to fly out just to hug the person, what are pitfalls that will make sure your book never sees daylight...what happens when you get past the hard part?

Order a couple books on contracts (Kirsch, for example) and read them cover to cover. Listen to the editor/agent, and don't feel you have to reply to every question immediately.

10. Any Age Discrimination: Are agents and publishers scared of first time authors over the age of 50?

No. You could write a book a year until you turn seventy or eighty.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think even Stephen King would have to cut a 300K novel -- but then again, The Stand had to be about that long (and was phenomenal!)