Don't Burn Yourself
For some strange reason, the public thinks we writers are a bunch of smart people. But we are a delusional, angsty lot that does a lot of dumb things (like keep writing), especially when we get frustrated. This last week I finished teaching a workshop for WritersOnlineClasses.com
and for the last class I listed advice for the dumb things to keep in mind:
1) Avoid any vanity press. They won't do anything for you that you can't do for yourself if you self-publish. Plus, you keep all your money. And DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!
your contract may assign them the copyrights to your work so you can forget about taking your book somewhere else without forking over bucks to get your rights back.
2) A small press is a legitimate way to get your name out there. But another DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!
Don't sign a contract for more than one book. Why? Because the contract may assign the publisher the rights-of-first-refusal for a bunch more books. And your small press book may get you a deal with a major publisher (HURRAH!
) and then guess what? You're stuck. You can either split the royalties from the new books or buy out the contract with the small press. So if a small press is interested in your book, then by all means, sign with them if you think it's a good career move. But don't get blinded by gratitude and desperation that you give up too much.
3) Once upon a time, self-publishing your novel branded you as a desperate failed writer. But eBooks and Amazon have changed that. Many new and established writers have self-published eBooks to start or rejuvenate their writing careers. Don't be in a rush to publish before your work is ready and make sure to invest in a review by a professional editor. And don't skimp on a good cover.
4) Don't try and please everyone with your work. Do that, you lose your edge, weaken your voice, and end up with mush. No one likes mush. Find your writing tribe, the group of people who understand what you're trying to do and will urge you along (with an occasional kick in the ass). Don't join a critique group of thriller writers if you're working on a coming-of-age novel. Recognize that your manuscript will need work and it's a blessing when you can find understanding and demanding readers.
5) Once you've finished your manuscript, don't think you're another J.K. Rowling and the world can't wait for your work. DON'T
write a flattering email to a favorite author and gush about their books, then turn around and By The Way, Would you mind reading my 240K opus? Maybe a blurb? Recommend me to your agent?
Or hand out copies of your manuscript at a conference. People will speak about you with the same regard given to bedbugs and hangovers.
As for nuts and bolts writing advice, I demurred to someone who knows a lot more than I do:Kurt Vonnegut with his Eight Rules for Writing Fiction
PS. The movie The Hunger Games
rocks. But...I still liked John Carter
Labels: danger, Kurt Vonnegut, not writing, writing