Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, April 01, 2012
  Don't Burn Yourself
Mario here:

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 better. *sniff*

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I have a way for you to get over your disappointment at the box office failure of John Carter: go see 21 Jump Street. You will laugh so hard you'll forget all about JC. Just don't have too much to drink before you go. Or, if you do, pick up some Depends on the way to the theatre.
I'll check out 21 Jump St. But does it have Martians?
More advice. This is good advice. I am always glad when folks give good advice for free. Thanks, Mario, for taking up your valuable time to share this with us. For free.
TheaH: My pleasure. It's my way of giving back something besides cooties.

But really, Mario, this is great advice. I also enjoyed the Vonnegut tips you linked to. Valuable stuff. :)
Mario -

No Martians, but it does have Korean Jesus.
Bobette and I saw "The Hunger Games" last weekend. I had problems with it, mostly for credibility issues surrounding a futuristic society that kills their kids in rememberance of their freedom (or some such nonesense)... and then the rules changed midway...give me a break...John Carter's transition to Mars made more sense, and that was a stretch, but still, the visuals and blockbuster grandure of John Carter beat the pants off Hunger Games. Gads...We are ready to go see Mirror, Mirror.
Thanks, Mario. I was about to break your 5th rule. Whew! Close one. Now that I've read Kurt Vonnegut's rules, I realize I have to reread another one of his books. Read Cat's Cradle last year and enjoyed it so much more than when I read it in college.

Bonnie B
Heres a book I found that explores the craft of writing in the 21st Century. Between the Sheets is the story of two writers journey to publish their art and navigate the emerging world of digital self-publishing. The authors share insightful wisdom and humor in relating their successes in the new age of the book.

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