Typically jealousy turned to advice to a new writer.
If you’ve been around, you realize that I have recently seriously pursued publication. Seriously as in I actually did something about it. It’s been a long time coming and it’s been a really, really long time since I began writing.
(Just to recap:
- Began writing a stupidly Star Trek story in 2002.
- Began writing in February 2003
- Submitted stuff to a writing contest in December 2003. (Which gave me 3rd place.) First time I allowed pretty much anyone to see what I wrote.
- Started role playing in spring of 2004.
- Somewhere here I began seriously writing my first novel.
- Gave up on first novel in August 2008 as being too difficult to fix all the holes and I wanted to write another novel.
- Wrote second novel’s first draft between August 2008 and December 2008. Began editing.
- December 2009 began this blog.
- Submitted some stuff to the college writing contest in January 2010 and lost.
- Submitted Just Trust Me in January 2011 and came in 3rd place in Spring 2011.
- March 2011 began another novel, mermaids.
- Finally finished a synopsis in December 2011.
- Submitted Shad for publication in Feb 2012 along with Just Trust Me to Tor.com.
In between 2007 and 2012 I’ve also been writing so many other stories, both novels and short stories. This just mainly highlights the big things that happened physical, And why do I show this? Because I’ve been working hard. I’ve heard a lot since I began writing to get to where I am. To get to the point that I am pretty good.
So why do I bring this up?
Because a facebook friend of mine mentioned that she began writing in October an idea she’s had. Okay. That’s fine. I wrote Shad based off of an idea I had for over a year. But the problem I’m having, and where I’m struggling, is that she then says that she is going to do a read through to make sure it looks good and then submit it for publication. (Not only that, but she got a call for a publishing house. I have a gut feeling based on what she said though it’s a self publishing house.)
Still, it’s hard, because I read this and it’s like she might have it all figured out when she has only been writing since October really. And I want to justify why my stuff is better than hers but that’s not fair either. I don’t know. Maybe it is.
On the other hand, maybe we could help each other. I mean, after all, we both write. I have been dying for a writing partner. But does that do me any good? I don’t know. I would be so scared that I would assume a superior attitude unintentionally because everything tells me that logically, what she has can’t be good. And besides, I don’t know if, in the beginning, I would have been ready to tear apart my novels to the degree I do now.
You know, that’s an interesting thought. Okay, I am actually going to change the total tone of this post starting now. Why? Because sometimes it works better for me to brood and sometimes it works better for me to help. So I’m going to try to help.
Here are the biggest things I have learned from that past experience writing.
1.) Learn to write badly. With some stories (not all) it works just getting a brain fart on paper and fixing it up really carefully. I’ve done that with my last two stories and they’ve come out pretty decently. Sometime, especially beginning writers, get so caught up in making it look good the first time that they forget to actually edit.
2.) Editing is a long, long process: Nothing is good the first time. Good only comes from careful editing that often happens several times. In a short story, I went through one scene almost four times before I finally moved on, just because I couldn’t get it right. Then later I edited it another two.
3.) Sometimes editing involves deleting. Anyone who has done any kind of editing knows that editing isn’t pretty. It’s hard. It involves making decisions and sometimes those decisions require a delete key. I’ve combined two scenes into one, which involved rewriting both scenes. I’ve deleted whole sections. I’ve discovered after complete a story and editing it once that the story didn’t have a really good plot and I needed to fix that. It doesn’t involve just a read through.
4.) Characters need to talk. No story will be good unless you yourself can hear the characters. I have looked at scenes and said, “No. I don’t like that line. He won’t say that.” I’ve also written scenes where it felt like I could hear the POV character’s in my head. The more you get to know your characters, the more you will have to listen to them. And sometimes that means bad/annoying things happen. Sometimes it means pretty cool things happen.
For example, in mermaids I had problems because I wanted one character (Ronen) to kiss another (Avi). I got it so that it would. However, Avi’s reaction that I originally wrote didn’t work and instead, she banished Ronen from ever seeing her again. (Haha!) Problem is that Ronen was needed to 1) tell her she is going to be reagent and 2) make her eventually fall in love with her. (Evil author strikes again.) I could listen to Avi and allow her to banish him or I could make it easier for me. I chose the former and–tada!–the story actually came out better. (See why it’s important now.)
5.) Your first novel (typically) sucks. I don’t remember where I read that exactly, but the message is the same. The person said to write you first novel, learn everything you can, and then hide in a drawer because it really isn’t good. Though I still love the characters and the plot in Hope (my first novel), I did eventually discard it because it was so bad.
6.) If you can find them, find a writer support. When I first began, I had my brother. Then my sister kinda took over the place along with my friend, Alyssa. Now, I have no one and it is actually really hard. I would love to be able to sit down and talk with someone about this thing I should be writing instead of this, but I don’t have anyone. So find that special person and keep them close.
7.) Don’t ask yahoo answers for any help. They won’t help you.
That’s the big things I can think of right now. Writing is fun. It takes time. It’s hard because it is a personal activity that doesn’t involve other people too often. But if you really want to learn how to be a good writer, then go for it. Because nothing beats having hundreds of characters dancing in your head.
My summer plans may be to self-publish ebooks.
(Edit: I don’t know what happens when you follow posts, but I did accidently publish this last night and didn’t want to publish it until Friday.)
I made the joke earlier this week about how I should run an etsy account this summer to get money, because OBVIOUSLY, I’m not getting the job I want. (One that has me working with kids. :) ) Yesterday, I looked into it and dropped the idea completely. Etsy seems dangerous and very much of a scam. I prefer places that take a cut of what I sell, instead of have me pay in hopes of selling.
But I began thinking: I have so many other skills. I’m not great at crafts. I’m not bad. Just not great. However, I am pretty good at two things.
1) Writing stories. (At least, I think so, and you guys haven’t said anything contrary. :) )
2) Sketching people (and drawing people in general.)
That made me wonder: Why don’t I see about publishing ebooks over the summer instead? So I did whatever I do whenever I get an idea; I researched it. (And now you get the benefits of my research.)
(That isn’t to say I won’t also pursue sketching people. You can actually find me and submit a picture via Picture for Pencil on facebook.)
It starts with this article about how this person, who analyzed the ebooks published on Amazon, discovered that the majority if ebooks sold were actually bought from independent sellers.
When I began my research, I found this one cnet review on the numerous ways to self publish ebooks out there. That made me look at smashwords. I have done some slight looking into self-publishing and ebooks before, and if I recall correctly, smashwords was where I liked the best. Mainly because they reach out to the majority of separate publishers, so I can get on the ibookstore, Barnes&Nobel and other places all from one place.
(Here is a random link on what some authors thought of smashwords, but note that it is from the smashwords blog.)
I really began looking into though, because I have nothing better do with my afternoon besides play mario kart battle (online). There are some huge, mega success stories out there, such as here with Amanda. But does that mean anything? I don’t know. I know there is still a one in a million chance.
Here’s my thought, and then I’ll go into everything else. I have already submitted two works of mine to traditional publishers. One, Shad, I won’t hear about until probably May or June. Another, Just Trust Me, I won’t hear about until probably August or so. (My mouse is acting funky and it’s really hard to type a post with that going on. :P I know. Totally off topic.) That’s all fine and good, but I don’t think much of anything is really going to happen with either of them.
What if I offically published my short stories as ebooks though? I am currently loving short stories (I’m reading Sherlock Holmes right now.) because I can read them in an hour or two, and then move on. Or, if I don’t have time, I can not do anything. Between my two stories I just finished and Time of the Dragon Slayers (the newspaper version), I have two stories I can put up almost immediatly. Then, I also have two to three stories that just need a bit of editing, and they can go up as well. I’d only sell them for $0.99.
Would this work? Would anyone buy anything? I don’t know. I look at my stats and I see that there has been only a handful of views in the stories I provided here. However, I would think that when someone is going to read a story, they won’t go browsing wordpress; they go directly to the place that sells their ebooks.
On the negative side, people don’t buy short stories as much as they buy novels. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me. On the other hand, though, I THOUGHT short stories was how someone got into publishing novels, but the more I read today, the more I saw that it seems many places don’t even buy novels anymore. (Or maybe they just don’t buy collections of short stories. Not sure about that one.)
So, what is involved? Well, a lot of things.
I would need to design a cover. I’m trying to decide if I would want to do that myself or hire a friend of mine to do it. (Well, friend’s sister.) I think it would be fun to design one but I’m not sure if I can do a good job at it. And even though everyone SAYS not to judge a book by its cover, you know everyone does.
I would need to format the books so as to actually be able to upload them. That means I need to use Word. (EVIL!!!!) Then again, no big deal. I can work with that.
Finally, I’d need to do some promotion. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know how much is too much. According to that post by Amanda, it is a good idea to get the book reviewed on book bloggers sites. However, I’m not a very assertive person when it comes to self promotion. (I might not even post it on facebook, which, as I think about it, is really stupid. But I’m shy like that.)
One final thing that I must do is have it edited on some level. This one is really hard for me because I THINK I have become a pretty decent editor myself. But no one sees all of their mistakes. So I don’t know how much I will or won’t do that.
Why would I pursue this over traditional publishing? The biggest reason is that I like to maintain my rights to everything. It’s mine and I want to keep it that way. From what I was reading, traditional publishers don’t let you do that. They also don’t let you maintain your rights to an ebook. (Some of what I read today talked about how much they might make you change, which scares me. I’ve worked hard on tightening my stories as much as possible.)
There’s also the fact that I can get more books out quickly. I’m waiting from February until at least May or June to get an answer back on Shad, which, since it’s my first novel, will probably be no. So it’ll take a couple years until I get any kind of acceptance. On the other hand, I can start getting my writing, and not just my name, out there by next month. Besides that, people do get contracts if they are popular ebook sellers.
Also, though this isn’t as much (okay, it’s some. I need $1000 for school next year. $3000 if I decide to drive.), I can make more money through an ebook venue per book. Don’t know if that’ll make much of a difference or not. Compared to a traditional publisher, I won’t be getting any kind of advance.
(See the Pros and Cons of self-publishing and More reasons to self publish for more information.)
Traditional publishing helps you more in the editing process. They also may get books in the store. An article promoting traditional publishing said that if most people who got rejected immediately by a traditional publisher went the self publishing route, they would never actually improve. (Which I disagree with actually. More writing improves practice.)
However, they don’t help you much with the promotion of your book. I, as the writer, still must do that.
Am I going to do this? I don’t know. I’m seriously considering it. If I did, I would get both a smashwords account and an amazon account. However, as a word of warning, Amazon’s lending system (AKD) mandates that you do not have your book for sale anywhere else. You can disable this, and I would do that. This way, I get both the Amazon market (which I’m pretty sure I don’t get with smashwords. Still trying to figure that out.) and all the other markets.
Any thoughts on ebook publishing?
I’m actually doing it. (And I’m not sure I like this.)
I wrote up a synopsis, took my first forty pages, wrote a cover letter (that sucks, just because I’m a nobody but oh well) and addressed an envelope to myself. All of these things got put into a pretty envelope and is just steps away from being sealed forever. Well, at least until some editor in New York opens it and reads the story I have to offer.
That’s right. I actually am going to send out a manuscript to a real life publisher. This is bigger than submitting a short story. This is huge.
I’m somewhat a combination of this:
and some of this.
But mainly, I’m just a lot of this.
Nor do I even get to find out until this summer, which is probably going to be at best that they want to see my full manuscript, and even then, they probably won’t even take it.
After all, one of my goals this year was to get a rejection letter. Now I’m going to get two. Hopefully, I’ll get more. If I look at them as one step closer to getting actually published, then it’s a good thing. After all, have you ever heard of a published writer who didn’t get a few rejection letters first? (Though, honestly, I’m offering to be the first one there! Not a problem with that.)
Anyway, seeing how it’s currently Sunday night, and I need packing tape to actually seal the package, It won’t get sent out until tomorrow. Until then, I have a chapter thirty-six to plot through and a paper on my math history to write.
Second books: the writer’s perspective
I’ve always thought second books are weak. They never carry the momentum of the book as well as the first or third book in a trilogy. As such, I found this article about writing a sequel very interesting. My favorite line is:
Although I didn’t technically write an entirely new book like Bacigalupi did, I was still making major plot changes in my eighth draft, and my final novel bears very little resemblance to my original story. In fact, my earliest draft was such a mess that it frightened my editor, Nancy Mercado. Wisely, she didn’t tell me so at the time. She merely said in her kind way, “You might want to take a closer look at the first one hundred pages. And the last one hundred pages.”
I wrote a story for my creative writing class. No surprise there. I liked my story a lot too and I’ll probably post it here within the next couple of days. It’s really good actually (At least. I think so.).
Here’s the problem. This story revolves around the idea that a girl, Marie, basically hates her life, finds Johnny Cash as an artist and begins to really listen to him. Through his songs, she ends up saving herself. (It sounds morbid. Maybe it is a bit. I’m not sure.) Anyway, part of what I did here is integrate lyrics of Johnny Cash music into the story.
Did you know there is serious problems with that? I didn’t.
Apparently, you can’t just cite the songs as a source like a research paper and all is fine. People apparently want money from the lyrics, even if the person has been dead for 69 years.
This involves writing letters for each song, asking to use the lyrics (even if there is just two lines used). On top of that all, just because they were all recorded by Johnny Cash doesn’t mean that they all need to be written to whoever owns the Johnny Cash music. I looked at two songs, Flesh and Blood and Hurt, and both of them are owned by different people.
So basically… this means that the story I wrote either a) needs to get them completely edited out or b) is just another story that I can use to build my skill and not do anything else besides post it here.
Well, I’ll actually correct myself. After reading everything in this thread, well, most everything, it basically comes down to that you might or might not get help and you might or might not get permission. If you really, really, really need the lyrics in there, then you should include them. If not, then don’t. (Someone went as far as to say avoid poetry of all kind, which I typically agree with.)
There is the chance that having two copies work out well, because then if permission cannot be obtained, then the story can be submitted through the backup
Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me, because my story relies on my lyrics. She almost has a conversation with them.
So, I’m back down to one short story. That makes me sad. I really need to get better at writing.
Here’s another article about reprinting lyrics if you’re highly curious.
Making your own ebook.
Someone asked me if I could make them an ebook. I have a mac and I’m pretty good on computers so they thought I’d be a good fit. I said I need to check it out.
Did you know that real ebooks need ISBN numbers?
And did you know that you have to BUY the ISBN number?
I missed that memo somewhere.
Now, they do only run around $250 for 10. But still, I didn’t realize that making an e-book would actually cost money.
That being said, I found this nifty little guide out there. In short, they explain all the services out there for ebooks and ebook creation, who gives you ISBN numbers, how much you get, how long it takes, ect. I also found this article that explains the few common forms of ebooks, why PDFs and picture books are not the brightest idea in an epud format and how to make your own epub format.
In short, I think making an ebook would be terribly easy to do. I’m just surprised some that it actually costs money.
This is really an awesome article about how they print book covers. Wow! Well worth the read for pretty much anyone.
Ebooks for free increasing sales?
A lot of us right now know about the controversy and questions of the future of publishing. If i was smart, I would be doing my research paper on the status of ebooks at the moment, and in the future, but I’m not smart. However, while looking for other things, I found an article that linked to a study. The study found that the short term sales of print books went up after a free online ebook was released.
Interestingly, when a book was released for free and for an indefinite time, it actually increased the sales by an average of 5%. However, when Tor released an ebook for only a week, it decreased the sales of that book drastically.
Anyway, here is the summary of the study and here is the whole article, in case you are interested in reading on that.
The ban of a writer’s existence: the synopsis
I wrote a novel a while back. I edited it really carefully. I think it’s good. I don’t know, but I think.
The problem that I’m having is I need to write a synopsis for this novel in order to do anything with it. That leaves me confuzzled. I do searches and I can’t seem to learn a lot.
Which brings me to this week’s question.
Do you know if any good websites or tips for writing really good synopses?
Maybe, in view of this question, I should make it my goal this year to get my first rejection letter. (Ouch. That’s tough. But a good plan in my head.)