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Teaching an Online Class

7 May

I took a class a while ago and it’s really been bothering me. Let’s just say, it did not go smoothly. Or well. Nor do I think anyone learned anything. And so, in this world where online classes pop up everywhere, I have a few things to say. (I know, you’re shocked.)

First off:  There is more to teaching than dumb luck.

Just because you were successful at something, doesn’t mean you can teach it. I’m begging you. Please. Don’t.

That said, let’s look at some of the things that make a successful Online Class:

  1. Clear Description — The description of the class before students register should be clear enough that they know what they’re paying for… And what they’re not.
  2. Class Syllabus —  Cut down on worry and questions by having an outline of what’s covered when. Often people are anxious to get to their own questions. If they know the section they signed up for is coming, they can relax and wait…and not get the class off topic.
  3. Introduction— Introductions need to go both ways.
    1. Be clear during introductions who you are, what you bring to the table, and how you work
    2. If you’re doing group introductions (and I really think you should), be clear what you want them to tell you
  4. Schedule — Classes should happen on assigned days by a certain (pre-stated) time. Remember, if you’re on the west coast, east coast people are up waiting to get the class. Please be considerate. Also, when you miss the deadline, part of your credibility disappears.
  5. Ground Rules — You are the moderator as well as the teacher. In your first post (with the Syllabus and Introductions) set up ground rules of how the class will function, how/when input can be given, privacy rules and treatment –as well as consequences. Yes, most of these shouldn’t even need to be said, but say them.
  6. Posting the Classes –Most online classes are still being done on loops. There are a couple ways to make this work:
    1. Send the class in an email and post it in the files section
    2. Send a notice that the class is posted in the files section
    3. Yes, always post the class in the files section – You don’t know what it’s going to do in email AND the participants paid for the class. They should be able to download them.
  7. Numbering — Make sure the class & homework numbers match up. So, Class #1 and Homework #1 go together. If there’s not going to be homework for every class, think about coming up with titles instead of numbers.
  8. Number of Students — Limit this. Know how many people you can juggle, how much homework you can read, how many people giving input you can handle…and what’s best for the class. Be ready to say no. This class had over 60 people in it. The teacher regularly responded to 6. Others were out-and-out ignored. Questions went unanswered. When one person asked something, the teacher actually said, “I answered a similar question for (one of the blessed 6) yesterday. Please go find it and review”… The person’s question was actually a follow-up to that. Needless to say, participation plummeted after that.
  9. You’re available — For goodness sake, do not agree to do a class while you are on deadline, vacation, moving, changing jobs, or any other pre-calendared thing. Telling the class does not make it okay for you to be unavailable. These people paid money to learn from you.
  10. Listen to the Question — Don’t just give the answer to the question you want them to ask. Answer the question they actually asked. Yes, there might be follow-up. But you’re there to teach. Not to humor people…which brings us to #11
  11. Leveling — Understand people are at different levels, be prepared to talk about different levels of your topic.

Almost all of this can be planned and taken care of before the class even begins. If you’re writing the classes as you go (I don’t mean tweaking them for clarity. I mean writing them.) you’re already behind. Go in planning for success.

Remember, not only is your name on the class, but whichever group you’re giving it through. I know I’ll never take another class through this chapter — I don’t believe they have the discernment to pick good teachers. So, don’t be that teacher.

kk,
Bria

 

Writing Your Query

16 Apr

This is often the last step before your manuscript goes out the door.

Let’s be honest, by the last step of anything you’re typically ready to be done with it. Because of this, when you hear people talk about query (and synopsis) writing, the conversation typically sounds more barrier focused than marketing focus.

And that’s exactly what your query is: The first step in your book marketing.

With the whole re-boot of the 10 Minute Mentor, one of the suggestions was to discuss query letters.

Last year I did a blog on the similarities between reading cover letters/resumes and query letters/partials. If you ever follow my twitter #getthejob hashtag, you know I’ve got this down to a science. I trust that agents have their sourcing down to a science too. The secret is to getting past the first two glances (which studies on the resume end show are typically done in under 6 seconds. I assume it’s pretty darn close for agents as well) and into the third look.

Here are my suggestions:

ONE: Content

Just like the book, info dumps are bad. When people ask me to look at their query before they send it, that’s typically the first thing I notice. It’s also typically the first thing I do when writing my own.

That’s 1000005.7% okay for the first draft. You need to get it all out. But, it’s not going to fly for the final query.

After writing the info dump, I put each piece of information on an index card. Then I play the hierarchy game. Cards get weeded out as “secondary” or “important, but not a selling point” or “detail” — that’s my own personal demon. The Detail. And I see it in a lot of queries too.

If the detail isn’t going to sell the book, set it aside.

This might be something you do in reverse. Don’t know how to start the query? Grab those index cards (or if you’re a plotter, your summary/outline) and start highlighting!

TWO: Process

After working your content, set the query aside just like you would a manuscript. You need fresh eyes for this just as much as you need it for any other writing.

When you come back, you’re definitely going to tweak it. If you don’t, question that.

Then ask people who have read/discussed this project to read it. Incorporate any feedback.

This last step is one I think too many people skip: Have at least 2 people who have not read or discussed the project read the query. Remember, agents won’t have sat around sipping coffee and discussing your work with you. They come in blind.

Good questions to ask those blind readers:

    • What do you think the hook is?
    • What do you think the book is about?
    • Is there anything that was confusing or unclear?
    • Do you think I should play something up more?
    • Did it flow?

These are your most valuable readers. Listen to them

THREE: Set up (not the blind date kind)

LEVEL ONE, the open: Make sure you have your salutation correct. The name is correct. It’s spelled correctly. If you’re doing Mr./Ms. you have the right gender.

LEVEL ONE-A, the secondary open: In the opening paragraph, I’ve heard a lot of agents say “personalize it so I know why you’re querying me.” A note about this: Unless you really have a reason to personalize it, I’d jump right to the good stuff. Also, be careful how you personalize it. This can bite you in the bottom. If you never met the person, don’t claim you did.

Whatever you do, do not invoke one of their writer’s names (see #AgentRec). Trust me, if the writer gave you a recommendation, the agent knows before your query hits their in-box.

LEVEL TWO, The previously mentioned “good stuff”:  Dive directly into your query. Don’t ask a question, or soft step into it. Line one: Your Hook.

Agent’s know why they’re receiving your query. You don’t need to tell them. It’s like pulling up to the Wendy’s drive-thru speaker and saying, “I’m here because I know you make and sell cheeseburgers. I’d like to purchase a cheeseburger. Here is the cheeseburger I’d like to purchase” before telling them your order.

LEVEL THREE, the bio: Yes. Have a bio. Include any pertinent information, writing group memberships, previous writing experience (You’re querying a YA but you used to write for a newspaper? Still valid.) This should be one paragraph unless you a previously published author.

If you are previously published also include links to your listed books’ sales sites. Save them the google.

LEVEL FOUR, the sign off: Thank them for their time. Don’t make any assumptions you’ll hear from them. Make yourself easy to contact:

Sincerely,
Real Name
Writing as: Pen Name (if applicable)
Website
Phone Number

They have your email (they’re looking at it) and they’re most likely not going to snail mail you anything. Leave the sign off looking clean.

FOUR: Mailing it

Follow the directions. Follow the directions. Follow the directions.

If you set it up ahead of time and it’s been awhile, recheck the directions.

Then follow the directions.

Don’t attach anything unless your query is in response to a pitch request and they ask you too (or, if that’s what’s in the directions.)

Also, follow the directions.

Personally, I BCCd myself on all my queries and put them in a special folder. This allowed me to check things quickly if I was somewhere I couldn’t get to my tracking spreadsheet but needed to respond to a follow-up question. It helped twice.

FIVE: Forget about it

Work on the next thing. This will keep you from being Crazy Refresh Woman. It will also be awesome when an agent calls you and one of  the questions she asks is, “What else do you have” and you can honestly answer that you’re currently working on ABC.

Remember, querying is just the first step. You’re going to get a lot of No Thank Yous. I hear about people giving up all the time after a small number (like 7 or 8). Start preparing yourself to not care. Yup. Do Not Care. A no is someone saying you aren’t a good match. That means, she’s not a good match for you either.

Wanting one of those agents to sign you is like wanting to marry that guy you’re really, really glad broke up with you…but you only realized it a year later.

So, good luck and don’t panic.

kk,
~Bria

Recommending a Writer to Your Agent

10 Apr

I’m not going to do the double work, but it was so popular on twitter that I thought I’d put a little post here too.

Today I tweeted about what it takes to have me recommend your work to The Laird. I’ll be honest, it almost never happens, but if you want to know what writers think about before taking that step, check out #AgentRec on twitter.

What started as 9 “quick tweets” turned into a little bit of a Q&A. I’ll take follow-up questions on twitter if anyone has them tonight.

 

Pen Name PSA

6 Apr

I’ve been to 7 writerly things in the last 1.5 months. At every event I’ve seen the same thing happen — and it shocked me every single time.

Sometimes it came from readers or bloggers, but sometimes it came from other writers *who should know better.* It’s a question that is not only rude but can put an author’s livelihood at jeopardy:

Is that a pen name?

First off, if I had a pen name, I’d have a REALLY good reason for it. Life is too complicated to balance multiple personalities. I never know how to introduce one of my friends. After those awkward, I’ll just let her introduce herself moments got out of hand, she finally said, “If the person is a friend, feel free to give them my real name.”

I hate having to make that call for something she feels strongly about. I finally just decided to introduce her to everyone as her pen name.

Beyond that, people have pen names for very real reasons. We’ve all seen it in the writing community and in the news: Writer’s who have lost jobs, their standing in their community, their place in their church, the respect of the peers because they write (typically Romance, Erotica or Fantasy)… all because people are nosy.

So it comes down to this: Everyone at these events claims to love books and writers. If you do, you won’t put them on the spot. You’ll respect them and their privacy. You won’t share if you overhear a name slip. You will be in on the secret and respectful of it.

Please, don’t make me stand next to a friend who is trying to keep her real life separate (typically for important reasons) and by utilizing a pen name and make her squirm. It’s uncomfortable, embarrassing and unfair.

If you love writers, protect them.

For the first time ever on the blog I’m going to ask you this: TELL OTHERS! Tell others how awkward, embarrassing and unfair that question is.

kk,
~Bria

FWIS: How to be the In-Between Girl

4 Apr

FWIS (From Where I Stand) is a monthly piece I’m collaborating on with Abby Mumford & Jessica Corra… all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. Check out their links for this months FWIS from their point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This month we’re doing a What Do You Really Want To Tell People month.

There’s a lot I want to tell people. If you follow me on twitter, you’ll see that’s really true. I chit chat about a lot of diverse things. But, when I thought about FWIS and being the ‘in-between girl’ I figured maybe I should write a little bit about what it’s like here in the middle. To be the In Between Girl.

When you first start writing, the goals are really tangible. Finish the first book. Edit the first book. Find critique partners and beta readers. Polish. Polish. Polish. Query. Query. Query.

And then, if you stay focused, keep polishing your craft, and work hard, you’ll sign with an agent who will then work with you.

But, no one tells you that’s often a weird place.

You’ve signed and you’re doing more revisions on a book that had felt done (they never are) and learning to put aside your own thoughts to work with someone new and then…when that is all set… your agent will start pitching you to editors.

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you’ve heard me say it: Always write like you’re going to sell tomorrow. You want as much of your work good-to-go as possible.

And that’s still (and always) right, but…

You knew there was a but, right?

For the first time, your work is out of your hands. You’re partnering with someone and part of the future rests on them. Sure, it’s someone you completely trust and have built a strong relationship with, but still.

It isn’t like when you’re writing and you can keep working on your ms until it’s just right.

It isn’t like when you’re getting feed back and implementing it until everything si smooth.

It isn’t like when you’re querying and ever rejection or R&R or request is something you have an action item for (send more, work out the notes, send the full).

There’s no action item during “waiting to hear” from your agent. Really. Trust me. As someone completely goal oriented, I’ve looked. There aren’t any.

But (of course, another but) there are things you should be doing.

You should be compartmentalizing or you’ll go crazy.

You should be writing the next thing or you’ll be dead in the water.

You should be building your brand and following the plan you built with your agent.

But most of all, you shouldn’t be waiting. Not only is waiting bad, bad, bad (and evil) it’s also exhausting.

You will never, ever find anything as exhausting as hitting the refresh button every five minutes and focusing on just one house or one editor or one plan.

It’s hard, but the In Between Girl needs to learn to put that all aside, trust her agent and forget she’s the IBG.  They say every step of the journey has it’s own struggles, but I’ll admit, this is my kryptonite. Not being able to act to move toward the goal right now is hard…. it’s more than hard.

And that’s why, all this waiting will have to be put in a box under the bed in the backroom of a deserted house on the other side of town. No matter where I am, I’ll keep working toward the next book, because that’s not only easier than waiting… It’s smarter.

So, don’t be the IBG… and ignore me if I occasionally cave and hit *refresh* when I go on submission.

kk,
~Bria

UPDATE:  To everyone reading this and nodding along… I’m getting DMs and emails telling me they were surprised and happy to read this post. That they didn’t know anyone else was feeling this way. Let’s change this post to: YOU ARE NOT ALONE 🙂

Solid Gold: So You Want To Freelance

23 Nov

One of the questions I get asked all the time is how to get started as a freelance writer. I make no secret that I earn my living not by writing delicious sex scenes and witty dialogue, but by such glorious things as SEO articles, white papers, press releases, and product descriptions. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always fun, but this makes me a professional, paid writer. Which, if you ask me, is the next best thing to being a professional, paid author. 

 Because the sad truth is, even with all the revolutions in self-publishing, ebook publishing, and traditional publishing these days, making money as a fiction writer is hard work. It takes time, perseverance, and time. And perseverance. And time.

Amidst all this perseverating and waiting, a girl’s still gotta eat. So if you’ve ever wondered how to get started with all this freelance writing stuff, here’s the path I took.

Note: I’ve been doing this for about four years now. The first year was rather lean; the year after that only slightly less so. It took me awhile to build up a stable client list, so pretty please don’t read this and immediately quit your day job.

Where to Find the Jobs

FIRST RULE OF THUMB: Do not follow any of those links that say you can earn a gazillion dollars as a freelance writer. You can’t. If, like me, you work super hard and land a few big clients, you can earn several thousand. Which, I’m told, is substantially less than a gazillion.

SECOND RULE OF THUMB: You are going to compete for writing jobs no matter where you look. So have writing samples, a website (if you can), a non-cutesy-or-romancey email address, and a resume handy at all times.

I started on Guru, which is a bidding website for freelancers of all shapes and sizes. To use it, you sign up, pay a fee, create a profile, and start placing bids for jobs that have been listed by companies (also of all shapes and sizes). Some of the jobs on here are perfectly legit and worth your time; others are not. Learn to weed. Also, until you’ve built up some feedback on the site, expect to have to work twice as hard to convince companies they want to hire you. You also have to give a percentage of all your earnings to that noble organization, so price accordingly.

(I no longer use Guru, but 80 percent of my current clients either originated there or are referrals from clients who originated there.)

(Oh, and remember that bit about referrals. I’ll come back to it.)

There are other job bidding sites, most notably Elance. I’ve never used that one, so I can’t give you my personal experience, but I understand it’s fairly similar to Guru.

Another place to bookmark is Freelance Writing Jobs. In the old days, they used to scour Craigslist, picking out the four or five writing jobs that weren’t a front for prostitution and posting them for all twenty million writers online to apply for. I believe they still do a little of this, though they are also approached by clients who specifically want them to advertise their positions. Competition here is stiff, people, but the jobs tend to be really good ones.

THIRD RULE OF THUMB: Make friends with people who matter. Now, here’s the real trick to freelance writing, if you ask me. Like any business, it’s who you know that really matters—and in this case, you want to know other freelance writers and SEO development companies. Why? Thank you for asking.

Established freelance writers (Like me! Hi there! How are you?) are good because we typically have lots of clients already in place. Sometimes, these clients are quiet for a long time and don’t need any work done. Other times, they come out like it’s some sort of zombie apocalypse and it makes sense for everyone to run the streets rather than stay sensibly (and anticlimactically) at home. This can sometimes cause established freelance writers (like me!) to need help getting it all done in time. When that happens, we turn to other writers we know and trust. Let me tell you, I have a handful of freelance writer friends like this, and we are often shifting our work around on each others’ shoulders. For a price. It’s good stuff.

SEO companies are great, too, especially if you can learn enough about writing SEO (search engine optimization) to really know what you’re doing. Most of the SEO companies I work for are incredible at what they do—which is graphic design, web programming, and marketing their services. What they aren’t always so good at is writing. Sometimes, they can’t string two words together unless they’re Lorem and Ipsum. Other times (and I think this is usually the case), they’d just prefer not to have to do it themselves. This is where I come in. There are several SEO companies out there who advertise having a writer on staff to handle all the content needs. That’s me. I offer the companies a great deal (since they’re doing all the work as far as client communication and marketing go), and they go ahead and package and mark up my services. It’s win-win all around, and I find that working with them is one of my favorite things to do. We have a good relationship and a solid system, and they almost always come back for more.

FOURTH RULE OF THUMB (does this phrase even mean anything any more?): Those lovely little referrals I mentioned before are your bread and butter. That’s because people who need freelance writers know other people who need freelance writers.

That’s pretty much it.

Do a good job and never hesitate to mention that you love referrals. I’ve got a pair of clients in D.C. who are brothers (and who have two totally different companies), and they are hilarious. They recommend me to everyone they know, and never fail to bestow highly floral and lavish praise. One of them even asked me to marry him. (Though I think he just wanted a discount.)
Oh, and There’s Other Stuff, Too

While I would say, without a doubt, that getting the clients is the hardest part of freelancing, the rest of the whole work-for-yourself stuff is pretty tricky, too. I try to limit my freelance hours to 20/week, but if I’m not careful, I can spend an extra 10 or so handling administrative tasks.

I’ve also learned the hard way how to price my services, the importance of having clients sign a contract, and how to handle invoicing and billing and (sad, sad face) what to do when a client won’t pay up. I do my own taxes and keep my business license current and have multiple payment options set up. I offer occasional discounts and promotions and create proposals and learn new techniques in web writing. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), I write about things that are so boring they make my eyeballs bleed mind-numbing tears of sadness.

Basically it’s, you know, work.

But it’s also a lot of fun, and most of my clients have been with me for years. I know their kids’ names and they send me boxes of grapefruit at Christmas. Some of them also follow me on Twitter, which means they know all about my romance writing and regularly read my (often inappropriate) tweets.

So…That’s My Story

There you go. That’s what I did. I did that. I do that.

There are many different ways to get started freelancing, and there are certainly other areas to explore than those listed above. I do about 95 percent ghostwritten web content, but there are possibilities in print writing and in getting an actual byline, if that’s more your thing. You can also look into writing mills and PLR, though I am opposed to both on moral grounds, so I try to steer clear.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments section, or, if you’d like to remain mysterious, you can email me at tamaramorganwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m also on Twitter more than I should be at @Tamara_Morgan. I will do my best to share the information I have, but please be aware that I don’t know everything. (There, husband. It’s in writing.)

Happy writing!

Added by Bria: Tamara has sold! Love is a Battlefield a really fun contemp (I may be partial, because I adore Tamara, but I’ve read it and you haven’t so trust me) comes out on Valentine’s Day! Check her site out HERE.

Don’t Dis Other Writers

21 Nov

This is your fair warning: As I write this, I am exceedingly angry.

This week, I had three people who have lived in the writing world mock me (or just the group in general) for being a member of RWA — Romance Writers of America.

How dare you? How dare you, another writer, mock any group that is working hard to perfect its craft.

Mock those putting out bad prose, weak stories, plagiarizing, repeating the same plot over and over… mock anyone not doing the work, but don’t you dare – don’t you DARE – mock hard-working writers who are perfecting their genre.

As an aside: You want to mock Romance? Fine. Go find me ten books you love (with protags old enough) that have no sign of romance or relationships in them. I”ll wait… Oh, you know what? No. I won’t.

Relationships are one of the key driving forces behind humans, humanity, life and thus characterization. Even if those relationships don’t become a heated love affair, they still play out the same way. The steps are the same, even if in the end the characters don’t end up together.

So, I’m not much for mocking romance either… SFF, Mystery, Humor, Literature, Fiction, YA… All the greats have some type of relationship in them. That’s what makes us (and then our characters) human: Relationships.

Let me lay it out like this: When I wanted to start writing, there were no groups around me that were willing to take on unpublished beginners….except RWA. Those other groups? Snobs, all of them. I asked for help finding something from a specific group and was literally told, “Come back if you get published.” Um, yeah. And I’ll need you for what exactly then? was how I felt.

I ended up in RWA by default…with the same fears about “those romance writers” until I got in there and saw what they did. Then, I was blown away.

And here’s what RWA taught me. When I say “taught” I mean just that. I don’t mean a brief mention or overview, I mean meat and potatoes taught me. Monthly workshops and conferences that were more than just author love-fests (don’t get me wrong, I can fan girl with the best of them, but I also need to learn from the best of them):

  1. Plotting v Pants
  2. Using both those tracks to write
  3. The hero’s journey
  4. Character v Plot driven writing
  5. Professionalism
  6. Absolutely everything I know about the writing industry
  7. Querying
  8. How to write a synopsis
  9. Pitching
  10. Story arc
  11. Conflict
  12. Conflict development
  13. How to find an agent
  14. Basic agent contract knowledge
  15. Write-ins
  16. Brainstorming
  17. Networking
  18. Pacing
  19. Formating
  20. Worldbuilding
  21. Building a world bible
  22. Self-editing
  23. Working with crit partners & beta readers
  24. Story Structure
  25. Writing life structure
  26. Reading for growth and knowledge
  27. Building a platform
  28. Writing a hook
  29. The importance of the first 5 pages
  30. The importance of carrying that importance thru the whole book

I’m sure the list is longer. That’s just what I wrote in about a minute off the top of my head.

What amazes me even more, these same people who look down on RWA and all its members (which has a fair split of romance & non-romance writers) is that when I discuss 1/2 the things on the list, I first have to explain what they are.

I had a lovely chat with one of the top agents in the English writing world. We were in a car together for about an hour. She’d needed a ride and I had a car, so hop in! We’d just spent a weekend at an RWA conference and she spent the first 15 mins telling me how nice it was to not have to worry about etiquette and people who didn’t even know what a pitch was.

She literally said that the best conferences — the ones that were most professional and  with the most informed members — was RWA. She said the next group out was mystery writers.

What if I went around saying, Oh, you drawn cute little pictures..how nice. OR Oh, look more magic and swords… I’m sure that will be something substantial when you write about grown up stuff?

No, I don’t do that. One, because I don’t believe that (I envy illustrators their talent and I also write fantasy)…but that’s what everyone who knows nothing about Romance, Romance writers or RWA does every time they turn their nose up at the group or me for being a member.

We’re all writers just trying to get our best foot forward. Dont’ stomp on someone else’s foot. Be a good citizen of the writing world. Just like every aspect of life, be polite, treat others as you want to be treated and don’t judge something you only know through sterotyping.

In the end, does it matter? No. You can be insulting all you want. But, of those 3 people this week, 2 of them asked me a favor. Amazing how I was just to busy to commit.

Writers: Get Over Yourself

14 Nov

I’m about to write one of those posts that I fear every person I know is going to end up thinking, Omgosh, she’s talking about me!

Let me start by saying, I’m not talking about any specific person.

I’m a writer (ok, no newsflash there) – I’ve been writing for a few years now with the intent to get published.

Going further back in time, I’m a certified English (Lit and Writing degrees) teacher who didn’t teach very long. But I’ve tutored and covered a writing group and helped friends…and then I came back to writing and started my own journey.

That said, I’ve been pondering something for several months and I want to discuss it.  I don’t know if it’s ego or stubbornness or being blind to other’s abilities or blind to your own work, but I’ve seen something happen a lot. Something that kind of shocks me to be completely honest.

I’m going to start with myself (and one of the few things I did right) and move on:

When I started writing I was begging the world for mentors or leaders or teachers. I took classes, joined groups, went to readings, commented on blogs, went to seminars/workshops/retreats – anything where experienced writers would be and I might get the chance to learn from them. In the meantime, I watched so many friends get taken under the wing of writers I loved and respected and still, not one writer in my genre ever offered that hand.

I sent emails to people I’d met asking follow-up questions. I stayed to the “just social” rule at outings. I listened. I wrote it all down. I learned.

I sought out knowledge, correction and help wherever I could.

I’ll be honest. I never found a writing mentor. No one ever took  a shine to me and wanted to help my writing and career along. I know, it sounds horrible just saying it out loud. As I look at my friends and all the amazing people I know (and many of them DID have authors scoop them up to help along the way) I really am blessed, but as a new writer I wanted something more… Not the answers, just someone willing to help me read the map.

And yes, I’ve offered to do my ‘teaching crits’ for several people. I even had two people email and ask me to do them. (Please don’t everyone do that!)

My point: I’m a huge believer in getting as much knowledge from as many places and testing then utilizing what works for you. (I’ll do another blog post on how this can go wrong if you’re not careful later.)

If you are not doing that, you’re building your own barrier to success. If you believe you know all the answers, that you’re writing is good enough (or worse, it’s great and you don’t have to listen to anyone else) you might as well quit now.

Yes. I just said that: If you’re not willing to search out knowledge, listen to others, and utilize what you learn, QUIT WRITING FOR PUBLICATION.

Ok, I’m picturing all the angry comments now. That’s fine 😉

There are several goals a writer should have:

  • To continue to get better
  • To have a clear voice
  • To learn to judge and utilize input

I know what you’re saying: Bria, “To be published isn’t on there!”

Nope. It isn’t. And here’s why: If you’re not doing those three things, being published isn’t going to happen. Those three things need to start immediately and continue forever.

Working with betas and/or crit partners, then taking agent rejections an agent, then an editor, then writing the next book, then working with betas or crit partners then starting the publication process all over again… those three goals need to stay in the front of your mind. Always get better. Keep your voice clear. Learn & utilize new info.

And so, here’s some advice people don’t say often enough:

If you want to be a writer, GET OVER YOURSELF.

Yes, it’s your story. Yes, you have a vision. Yes, you don’t want that diluted. But, here’s the deal — How often have you heard someone do something amazing (inventions, cures, discoveries, etc) and they basically say they were able to achieve it because they were standing on the shoulders of giants?

If you’re not willing to do that, you’re going to be recreating the wheel. Good luck with that.

kk,
Bria

PS – this totally makes me want to do another SYTYCW contest, which happened about 5 MONTHS before Harlequin stole my hashtag in the last 2 weeks (Yes, I’m still ticked off about that. Come on Harlequin marketing group – don’t steal from other smaller groups – it’s rude and bad business)

RWA Here I Come!!!!

27 Jun

Hi all!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the series on the 2011 YA Golden Heart finalists as much as I have! It’s been a joy to get to know my fellow finalists in such a fun way. Now, we’re all off to meet (most of us for the first time…some of us getting to catch up after not seeing each other for a long time.)

At the end of the week, one of us will be a GH Winner. Some will have new agents or book deals. Some will have made connections that will move their writing career forward for years. Some will make lifelong friends.

But all of us, in some way, will be a winner. Just finaling has brought so much energy, attention and excitement, that it feels like the world is ours — the Dash-Boards — for the taking.

One of my inner circle — Jeannie Lin — won two years ago. She told me it’s going to be crazy, you’re going to be tired, you’re going to be treated like a princess, people are going to be introducing themselves all week… enjoy the GH ride!

I plan on it!!! And, while I’m enjoying it, I’ll be tweeting at #Table7 – if you want to follow along, I’ll be there. I’m only semi-mobile so I’ll be able to see DMs and @briaquinlan comments – I’ll try to respond to everyone, but I only have small blocks of free time (who knew finaling would fill your schedule up so fast!!!) If there’s something at RWA11 you’d like to hear about – @ me on twitter!

And so, I’m off to meet my GH sistren!!!

NYC better look out!

YA Survey

8 Apr

On March 15th, Kate Hart did a great blog post on YA genres for the last year. If you didn’t get a chance to check it out, I highly suggest you scoot over there now. It’s HERE.

Welcome back.

Didn’t Kate do a great job… I mean, she even has cool graphs and charts. Do not ever expect that level of cool from me. She also did a lot of work and hunted down a lot of information. It got me thinking (as any good post does) and had me creating something to see what else we could learn. Plus, I’ve always loved Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me The Money page, so I decided to add some places to collect YA deal information as well.

If you’re a YA author who has signed  a publishing contract (not self-pub) in the last year (March 2010-today), please fill out my survey. It’s 100% CONFIDENTIAL. I actually did it on a survey program instead of email so people could feel comfortable being as honest as possible. So, here are some thoughts before you click the link:

  • Please fill out one survey for YA each deal you sign
  • Use whatever genre your publisher has slotted you as
  • Pass it on – the more people who fill it out, the more interesting it will be
  • If you want an email – ONE TIME – to notify you when the survey results are posted, please put that in the survey’s final comments box

Specific information won’t be shared unless you write something in the comment box at the very end of the survey. If you have something you’d like to share, or you’d be interested in answering follow-up questions, please put it there. Otherwise, everything reported from the survey will be generalizations.

Thanks so much for taking the time.

Click here to take survey

Inside A Grass Roots Marketing Campaign with Jeannie Lin

21 Oct

Introduction:

I hesitate to write this post.

I started to write up a bunch of disclaimers: This is my first time, I have no marketing background, there are no sales numbers to correlate with these largely anecdotal findings….

Soon the disclaimers started to outweigh the rest of the post. So I guess I should say, these are just my reflections on what seemed to work and what I might do differently the next time around. I’m doing it to reflect, share info, and hopefully spark some discussion around this nebulous arena we call marketing. This post is in no way suggesting how another newbie author should market. No two marketing campaigns should be alike. 

I am not saying that in a wishy-washy, it depends, blah blah blah, sort of manner. Bria knows I hate that. I’m saying, NO TWO MARKETING CAMPAIGNS SHOULD BE ALIKE. Otherwise, why do people pay publicists and marketing firms?

Oh there’s me making disclaimers again. Basically what I’m trying to say is I’m afraid. I’m afraid people will think I know something or somehow had a huge hand in the success that Butterfly Swords has had in getting buzz on the Internet.  Buzz, by the way, not sales. That’s another thing. I have an entirely different opinion on sales, which I won’t go into here. J

I’m afraid that people will think I’m a know it all or that I’ve been manipulative to readers with marketing strategy.  I’m also afraid talking about the nuts and bolts of marketing will ruin the fantasy. Writing is a business, and I know it. The way I envision my business team (which consists of Jeannie and Jeannie),  is that cold and analytical Marketing Jeannie sits in the basement and studies and comes up with strategies. Writer Jeannie, the friendly, imaginative one, is the persona who actually gets to go out and Twitter and blog and interact with people. Writer Jeannie feels emotional about Butterfly Swords. Writer Jeannie frets over bad reviews and gushes about geeky trivia. She worries about how to write her next story and how to add lushness and sexual tension without getting too purple-prosy.

Cold-hearted Marketing Jeannie cares about the book too. She just tries to separate out the promotion of the book from the writing/emotional ownership of the piece. She’s the business manager. She gives writer Jeannie marching orders.  She is never, NEVER allowed to blog or tweet or interact with readers at signings. She’s paranoid and fretful and perpetually trying to gather data, and she KNOWS these are not traits that sell books.

Writer Jeannie is writing this rambling post which the business team has now decided will be a separate intro, if Bria will post it that way. Marketing Jeannie will be allowed to post once, and once only, because both Jeannies wish someone had told them all this when they started.

Marketing Jeannie is kind of strict and academic. She’s all about business. Please don’t hate her.

(Inserted by Friend Bria: This rocks and is brilliant. All Jeannies need a big high-five)

Inside a Grass Roots Marketing Campaign

Marketing hat on.

I could write a dissertation on my thoughts on marketing and justifications for why I did what I did. But that would get boring for everyone but me very quickly. So I’m going to limit it to the key high points that worked and what I’d rethink if I could do it again.

Two biggest boosts:

1)      The cover. Oh my God, the cover. Not only is it red and eye-catching, it’s exciting and conversation worthy. And it looks like no other romance out there right now. “You’re the one with the beautiful cover,” people say when they meet me. It’s SO good for crossover (which is one of my marketing strategies). Men will read a book with a cover like that. Fantasy/paranormal readers will read it. Asian fiction readers will read it.

It’s an element that I had no control over, other than that this was new for Harlequin and my editor asked for some suggestions and pictures that inspired me. This picture has been my avatar for several years and is the one I sent them.  Other than that, I prayed.

 2)      ARC available through NetGalley. Bound galleys are not printed up for category romances. It’s just not profitable, given the business model. So I was trying to get ARCs to reviewers, some of whom were actually coming to me to request it, but I didn’t have an electronic or paper arc. The author copies wouldn’t be available until the release date was almost here. Being a newbie, I asked my editor what I was supposed to do to get review copies out because I know piracy is an issue. In a stroke of luck, my editor decided to put the ARC on NetGalley due to demand. And because it was on NetGalley, more people requested and reviewed Butterfly Swords. It was a feedback loop. By October, Butterfly Swords had moved up to being the top requested galley from Harlequin. (Disclaimer: they do remove older galleys after release date.)

Those two things helped boost the image and availability of Butterfly Swords more than anything I could have ever done myself. I think they both came from in-house support by my editor. Both were completely out of my hands.  

Which leads to my next part. Sometimes you have to ride the wave. Search for the natural marketing messages surrounding the release. Find out what ripples your book may be causing and amplify it if you can. Butterfly Swords has a limited shelf life. It’s only out for one month in book stores. It doesn’t get the larger print run or the in-house marketing push that single-titles get.

So here’s the grass roots part of marketing BUTTERFLY SWORDS:

1)     Market it like a big book.

I only decided to do this because I felt there were some elements about the book that gave it a BIG BOOK feel. I’m not talking about the writing here. I’m talking about marketing elements. It had some buzz for winning the Golden Heart. It had buzz for being a hard sell. It had buzz for being an Asian historical. The story itself is high concept. It sounds like an epic adventure.

Big books with house backing sell better. Readers hear more about them. People become curious and the momentum builds. I had a little book that I wanted to be treated like a big book. I looked at how HQN was marketing some of their big books. This summer, HQN was pushing Julie Kagawa and there was an internet page they put up to showcase her Iron Fey series. When I enlisted a web designer to make a showcase page for Butterfly Swords, I literally told her, “Make it look like this: http://enterthefaeryworld.com/ironfey/” . I wanted visitors to the page to perhaps believe that I had just as much backing behind me as someone like Kagawa. Did it work? I don’t know: http://www.butterfly-swords.com

I didn’t have a lot of money for ads. I couldn’t afford print and couldn’t do much more online, so I noticed where big name, but relatively new, historical authors like Sherry Thomas, Tessa Dare, and Jennifer Haymore advertised. I decided to  buy ads at All About Romance because there’s a reader community there that’s not filled with writers and aspiring writers. They’re people who just love books. I also chose them because I had been mentioned on their forum two times on threads prior to the marketing campaign. Since the marketing campaign, I’ve been mentioned two more times in reader threads. These were spontaneous. They were not put up by me or friends. Maybe a couple of mentions is no big deal, but the books that get noticed on there are the big publisher backed books. The books headed for bestseller lists or books by long established writers.

2)     Blog Tours

I enlisted a publicity admin assistant (not a publicist, btw) to help me organize blog tours for The Taming of Mei Lin which released in September and Butterfly Swords for October. We were both pretty new at this. I was booked for over 40 interviews and guest blogs. Did traffic increase to my site? Yes. Did everyone seem to know about the book? Yes.  A lot of the guest blogs catered to the same audience in the book blog world, but repetition is not a bad thing in advertising.

Would I do it again? I’d probably scale down considerably. We got a lot of requests and invitations after the initial tour was set and I was a paranoid newbie, so I didn’t turn down anything. I’m very grateful we had so much interest, but the blogs did take a lot of effort. If I could do it again, I’d scale it back down to no more than two appearances a week. More than that and you can’t promote each event as efficiently. They start to collide with one another. The blogosphere gets saturated. In the future, I’d target sites with a larger following and also go cross-genre a little better.

3)     Cross-genre marketing

I only attempted this because I sensed the potential within the storyline. You need to listen to what phrases are being echoed over and over. One of the echo phrases was “I normally don’t read romance, but…” I was hearing this before release and I keep on hearing it now. I knew that Asian historicals were risky in romance. So this would seem to dictate that I had to try to get a non-romance readership or Butterfly Swords would be dead in the water. 

I looked at markets that already existed: RPG gamers, Asian historical fiction, wuxia, martial arts and sword fighting fans. I believe there was crossover potential for paranormal and fantasy readers. Indeed, a bookseller told me she read the book and is pushing it to her paranormal and urban fantasy readers because of the action scenes. 

Not all those markets are as book-bloggy as romance so I had to reach out and find how to reach those markets and members within each community. I did a Warrior Women series on my blog where I featured a stunt woman, a martial artist, and a swords practitioner. I had my mom send the book to several Vietnamese newspapers. I reached out to the DragonCon Silk Road track since they’re enthusiasts of Asian culture and Asian fantasy.

I don’t know the effects of these efforts yet. In retrospect, I don’t feel like I hit these cross-over markets well enough. I’ve only recently targeted gaming and wuxia sites for reviews and the book is almost out of stores already. Thank goodness for online ordering and ebooks!

4)     Social Media

These answers apply specifically to me and my particular style of interaction online as well as my marketing strategy. So don’t take this as general advice for everyone. Someone’s going to look at this and tell me they reach thousands of readers through Facebook and none through Twitter. That wasn’t going to happen with my campaign and my level on online activity. No two marketing strategies should be alike, right?

For each avenue, I put down how much effort I put into it along with my suggestions about it.

Own personal website:  Moderate. Keep it updated. People visiting your website are a little interested in you, which is good. Have stuff there to give them what they want to know, but don’t spend a lot of time trying to get followers there.  Most people on the internet don’t have time to avidly follow their favorite authors. Use it as a central station for promotions and updates and also to have a repository of info for your marketing allies. Bloggers, journalists, and interviewers very often go to my webpage to find info to put in their blogs and articles. Have good content for them to grab. Also link your blog up to Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads so they’ll automatically update.

Facebook: Minimal. A presence is good and some people use it as their preferred method of communication. I find it good to keep it updated, but I don’t spend a lot of time interacting there. As a result, my network there only consists of a closer inner circle and is pretty small.

Twitter: Moderate. I spend a lot of time on there because personally I like it. But that’s time suck stuff. You do have to invest some time to get the hang of it and garner enough friendlies to help you signal boost. This is authentic interaction you need to do, so if it feels weird and sucks, don’t do it or find another way. The bang for your buck Is actually pretty good because the nature of Twitter allows you to reach people outside your comfortable little circle. One of my marketing strategies was to hit international readers. I think Twitter has helped that more than any other social media.

Goodreads: GOODREADS IS FRICKIN AWESOME!!!  But you do not need to spend your time networking on there to get some leverage. Using the Giveaways will give you some exposure and the effort is minimal. There’s enough of an organic and avid reader base that if you can get traction in other media, you’ll start to see people marking your book to-read on Goodreads and reviewing it. Goodreads users simply LIKE being there. I’m a low-end member. I track my books and sometimes do little reviews. I don’t have much of a friend base and now I’m kind of afraid to. I kind of prefer to use Goodreads to gauge how much notice the book is getting “naturally” from my other methods and I don’t want to mess with that. BEST RETURN ON TIME INVESTMENT—because I’ve pretty much stayed away from interacting on Goodreads, but have still seen some interest based on reviews and giveaways on Goodreads.

Followers and Friends: I am a moderate user on all these media. I don’t expend much effort trolling for followers. Not that there’s a problem with that! I just don’t think I would be good at managing it. Most of the growth has been organic. The only time I’ve done a promotion to get followers is to entice people to subscribe to my newsletter, which is a mechanism for me pushing data out to interested users, not an interactive space. I’ve only done that lightly as it is.

Frankly, I don’t want people following me who are not in some way interested. I’m afraid of boring them. I’m afraid of being overly ignored. I know this is contrary to the “cast a wide net” mentality, but I’d rather have a small number of interested followers than a large number of people who could care less. It’s just my natural comfort zone. This is also one of my marketing strategies. I want depth versus breadth in the reader base. I think Butterfly Swords with its “geek factor” supports this type of small, but loyal following.

5)      Evangelists

People willing to hawk Butterfly Swords on street corners and blog corners. Once again, I have absolutely no control over this. I have more than a couple evangelists who’ve been willing to go to bat for Butterfly Swords. I’m not naming names, because I know I’ll miss some of them. Some are friends and I’ve done the same for them. Many are not. They just saw something in Butterfly Swords that made them want to take it up and support it. Did the promotional push have anything to do with it? Was it a timing thing? Am I just that charming of a person? (tongue firmly in cheek) Or did they read the book and just plain like it? I think about these things a lot, and I just don’t know.

So there’s the marketing story of Butterfly Swords, in a nutshell…and remember this is Marketing Jeannie speaking, so along with being paranoid and calculating, she is also all about SELLING THIS BOOK:

I think the real reason it worked is because Butterfly Swords has some killer marketing messages. On the surface, it’s got many crossover elements that can reach into different genres. The emotional message is compelling. It’s an underdog and a winner, all at once. It took some risks to bring it to market and that’s just plain exciting. On top of all that, it looks GOOD.  The book cover and the marketing campaign are sexy and red and euphoric.

And it’s in bookstores for a limited time only.
Don’t wait. November is too late!
(Sorry, I had to try J)

 First I want to say thanks to Jeannie for one of the best posts ever written in history! THANKS!

And now, I’m sure you want a copy of Butterfly Swords for yourself. I personally guarantee you’ll love it! And to prove that, I’m giving another copy away this week. To win, we’ll stick with the marketing theme:

What’s the most interesting/best/most memorable way you’ve seen a book marketed? Did you buy it? If you did, did it live up to the hype? Let me know and I’ll be picking a random winner on Friday 🙂

What I Learned Outside the Workshops

3 Aug

I’ve always thought you can learn something from everyone…it’s just not typically what they’re trying to teach you. Conferences are no different.

The 2010 RWA Nationals was, for me, an observation conference. A time to learn more than just what you’ll hear on the tape at home. Here’s some of what I learned.

ONE: Someone is always listening.

I don’t care if you’re in a locked room five miles from the conference. If you say something thoughtless, cruel, mean, gossipy, inaccurate, inconsiderate or just plain nasty, someone will hear it. Then everyone will hear it. So, if you can’t keep your mouth shut because it’s the kind thing to do, do it for self-preservation.

TWO: Chitter Chatter

Chitter Chatter is different – Chitter Chatter is the gossip circuit. This is never going to stop, and frankly, I’m glad. Chitter Chatter once stopped me from making a bad business decision. It gave me insight into a bad gut feeling I had and a direction to look in order to verify if the chitter chatter was correct or not.

Agent’s use it. Editors use it. Authors use it.

What I’m surprised no one seems to realize (or they forget) unpublished writers use it too. If you’re a completely horrible person to one of us and degrade an honest and professional attempt to sell a book, that’s going to get around. Mocking seems to be all the rage, but mocking and snark, well they aren’t going to help you make friends – but they will influence people.

THREE: Promo

This could probably be an entire blog post, but I’ll break it down here.

THREE-A: PROMO ITEMS

There were a bunch of really great promo items. Lots of great, creative ideas that represented their book. But, here’s what a few of us (I had a couple conversations with different groups) figured out: Go for the keepable-usable promo item. Something where they see your name over and over and over again. Several people told us about great promo ideas but then couldn’t tell us who had done it because it was a one-and-done item.

THREE-B: PROMO PEOPLE

Lot’s of people did little branding things on their person…how they dressed, colors, a go-to item. This is a hard one (which, honestly who doesn’t remember the hub-bub about the ladies who dressed like their characters a few years ago). It seems like this one is totally hit or miss. I know there’s a woman I’ve known for several years who does this and it’s never worked for me. But then I saw somethings at RWA10 that seemed to really be catchy in a good way. Walk Carefully.

FOUR: KIND OF PROMO….or not

There are three types of people at nationals:

  1. Those who know how to have a give and take conversation
  2. Those who just keep asking questions or nodding and never hold up their end
  3. Those who Dear-Lord-Why-Do-They-Think-I-Want-To-Spend-Two-Hours-Listening-To-Them-Talk

Guess which subgroup is my least favorite? Seriously people, conference isn’t about telling everyone every little thing about your book. When someone says, “What do you write?” They’re looking for a “YA paranormal with humor” answer…not the entire plot, plus your motivation, plus your subplot, plus why it’s going to sell, plus plus plus plus

Not only that, but if you put yourself in that third group, you’ll get ONE chance to talk to a person. They’ll avoid you after that (I’m sure I fell into that group just from sheer nerves occasionally. We all do – but don’t live there)

FIVE: KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE

This is so hard. I’m sure I blew this one every time. You’re enjoying meeting new people (especially when they’re people you always wanted to meet) and you just stay. Like Gypsy said, always leaving wanting more…. As Bria said, or at least not thinking your in group 3 above.

SIX: IT’S BUSINESS, BABY

This is not a vacation. It’s not a party (although there are parties). It’s not a time to wear clothes that make you look….fill in the blank. This is a business trip. A time to network, learn more about the industry and grow your career. I’d point to all the blogs I’ve done on have a “writing career” but that would just take too much time. Use your common sense…or borrow some.

So, tell me. What interesting Writing Life Lesson did you learn just being at a conference … or any writerly hot spot?

On My Way – RWA National Conference

26 Jul

Tonight (technically, tomorrow morning. but when you’re getting up at 3am, it might as well be tonight) I leave for the RWA — Romance Writers of America — National Conference.

Those of you who don’t write romance, stop laughing. Technically, I don’t write romance either. But, I’ve been to other conferences (waves at…oh, let’s not name names) and learned NOTHING. Yeah, I got to hear some great stories, but typically they were ego stroking fests. The writers would talk about oh, say use of language in a certain subsection of a genre (why I was at that workshop) for maybe 3-5 mins and then panel members would start with the “I LOVED your…” and the love fest would begin.

No learning of course, just loving.

Thank goodness for RWA. Everyone who writes should hook into them. Just ask an agent who are the most prepared, most professional unpublished writers. Every time I’ve heard someone ask, the answer was RWA.

So, I’m off to conference tonight (tomorrow morning for you sticklers) and I’m looking forward to several things:

  1. Meeting my agent face to face for the first time (huge, huge draw for me! very excited!)
  2. Learning more about the business end of things
  3. Being a presenters date (always nice to pretend you’re important)
  4. Seeing friends. I’m the last of a certain group without a book deal (except a new friend who is my secret club co-member. I can’t tell you the name of the club, we’re that exclusive) and I’m really excited to see all of them with their First Sale ribbons. I may be more excited than some of them are!

I’ve got all my workshops picked out and a list of people I want to “bump into” *not stalk, I’m above that* *kind of* and I’m ready to go.

When I get back, I’m sure I’ll have  at least a weeks worth of info to share, but what do YOU want to hear about/learn about from Nationals? Let me know!

10 Minute Mentor – Talk the Writer Talk

9 Jun

People throw abbreviations around like crazy in the writing world. Some were obvious, but so many needed to be explained. And who wants to be the girl asking what those letters that everyone else seems to know mean. Here’s a quick run down of some of the first you’ll see tossed around:

 

ARC – Advanced Readers Copies. These are copies of a book that come up before it’s release date for promotion. Typically used to gain reviews and as giveaways.

Beta – A reader. Depending on the writer/reader relationship the type and amount of feedback varies

Black Moment – The Oh No! This has all gone terribly wrong! Now they’ll NEVER be together/Save the World/Solve the Problem! moment

CP – Critique Partner. Depending on the relationship, these people work on one another’s books critiquing and cleaning them up to make the manuscript the best story and product it can be

Deep POV – This is a whole lesson. Deep POV is sliding so far into the POV character’s head that you’re almost in first person in some ways. When I’m having problems with my 3rd person POV, I actually do write in 1st person for a while and then flip things and clean it up.

GMC – Goal, Motivation, Conflict – the most important things your story and characters need. Deb Dixon wrote the book on this. No, literally. She wrote the book. Go get it.

h/h – hero and heroine

HEA – Happily Ever After. As in, they’ve been through everything and overcome it and are a strong couple, they’re going to last. This is one of the tenets of Romance, so you’ll see this often.

HFN – Happy For Now. This is especially popular in books for teens as most teens are not going to live Happily Ever After with their high school prom date

MC – Main Character — not the guy at a wedding with the microphone 😉

ms – Manuscript. Some people use this in place of WIP, but typically a finished project

mss – Manuscripts plural

POV Point of View. Which character are you seeing the story through

WIP – Work In Progress. This is something you’re working on right now or that isn’t done.

YA – Young Adult. You’ll see people fighting the age bracketing on this, but I was taught: 12-18 (ignore the 65 year old women reading Twilight)

For a great dictionary of publishing terms, check out BookEnds blog. Jessica Faust keeps updating this source.

10 Minute Mentor

17 May

Not long ago, a friend on Twitter announced she was ready to start her revisions again. Trying to be encouraging, I said, “You’ve got your list and you’re ready to go!”

Only, her response wasn’t, “Yup! Can’t wait!” It was, “What list?’

We jumped together to DM and started a conversation on revisions: what they are, what they aren’t, and how to do them. It was a *great* conversation – really made me personally think some things through a little deeper and solidify my thoughts and processes.

When she thanked me, I asked her to just do it for someone else some day.

That weekend, Darynda Jones and I were doing our monthly 4-hour drive to our writer’s meet and I mentioned the great conversation I’d had with the Twitter friend. We realized, that information, the stuff we’d been DYING for people to just tell us and explain the “why” also had probably taken (if we were talking constantly instead of tweeting and working) about ten minutes.

It hadn’t killed me, actually it helped me probably as much as her. There’s a wonderful saying that basically states if you want to learn something, teach it.

And, it was exactly what I’d wished someone had done for me a few years ago.

And so, The Ten Minute Mentor sprung to life in my mind. We’ll see how many topics I can discuss in the 10 mins timeframes and make them make sense…and helpful 🙂

Let me know, what’s a topic you wish someone had just given you the quick and dirty on when you started writing?