Monday, April 9, 2012

Writing in 140: Situating Oneself in the Publishdom

In 2005, I interviewed my fave author, Bernice McFadden, at my blog, ChickLitGurrl. She offered three pieces of advice to writers: One, remain true to the story the characters are sharing with you; two, keep in mind that publishing is a business - and that publishers are in business to make money, so decide what you're in it for; and three, develop a thick skin. Seven years later, this advice still stands. Often, we talk about how to strengthen one’s writing and how/where to publish. Just as important as these things is the advice McFadden gives. Today, situate yourself in your literary journey. Are you remaining true to the stories you write? Have you thought about where you want to fit in the Publishdom? Are you standing and walking through the criticism that arises during the journey?

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Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. Her second mystery, Into the Web, drops April 23. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, writing, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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13 comments :

  1. Develop a tough skin - that was the hardest part. And to realize that sometimes I have to say, "No, but thanks" to friends. No only a thick skin when it comes to rejections, but a thicker skin when dealing with others who don't share my vision. Even though publishers are in it for the money...doesn't mean that I need to have the $$ in my eyes at all times. Where I see myself - that people admire and respect me and that I make a few bucks (but not by climbing over the backs of others). Nice to see you here, Shonell!

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  2. Hey there, Karen, :-D Thanks for commenting. I'm still working on the developing a thicker skin. It's definitely a process for me. And it's on the same level as yours, especially in regards to dealing with others who don't share the vision. That VISION I think is key because if there's not something you're holding onto as a writer, that vision of what you're working toward, then it's easier to fall prey to the criticisms and issues that can arise.

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  3. Shon, your post points to the topic of branding. Writing a certain type of book within a certain genre helps you build the type of following that allows you to make money as an author. For that very reason, if a traditional publisher offers a two-book deal, it's not going to be for one mystery and one dystopian YA.

    Self-publishers who want to sell books smartly think along these lines. Others assume that the autonomy of self-publishing means they can do anything they want. I've seen people go hog wild with pen names, launching simultaneous careers in erotica, fantasy, paranormal, and YA—and petering out.

    You may have a handful of friends who will read whatever you write, but many readers stick with a certain kind of book. To build a readership, it's still wise to develop a brand in one genre before jumping tracks.

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  4. We always need the reminder to stand strong when facing the negatives that come with being a writer. I have recently started thinking that rejection is such a harsh word and can feel so personal, that turn-down might be a better term for those letters we get that basically say, "thanks but no thanks."

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  5. I'd add a fourth one - celebrate! When you finish a chapter, dance around the house! When you finish the first draft, get a massage! When you get a contract, go out to dinner!
    My critique group took me out for high tea, complete with a bouquet and tiara, to celebrate my book's release. (We missed you, Maryann!) It's so easy to compare ourselves to others who are more successful - who earned out their advance, have a twelve book contract, made the NYT list - we lose sight of our own accomplishments. Celebrate your victories!

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  6. I would love to endure some criticism ... at least I'd know someone read my stuff.

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  7. I have another piece of advice. Stay off the computer in the morning and work on your next novel! Works for me. A recent epiphany - duh!

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  8. I definitely agree on that, Kathryn. It seems like some writers are so hungry to be OUT THERE that they throw everything they have, genre-wise, to the public without thinking about the strategy behind it all. There is rhyme and reason--even in this madness we call publishing.

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  9. Interesting, Maryann. I never thought about how the very word "rejection" might affect the writer. It's true; it is a rather harsh word. I think also defining and redefining that word is important to writers, too. Although ultimately being rejected means someone doesn't want to publish your work as is, there are so many factors to consider beyond the one many writers quickly jump to: "I'm a horrible writer and this book sucks because XYZ didn't want it."

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  10. LOVE that, Cathy. That is SO true. Waiting until a book is DONE to say "Yay" can be a long wait and might never happen if you get too caught up in the worries of WRITING the book, but celebrating smaller milestones will keep you pushing ahead.

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  11. Christopher, are you talking about the pat "Thank you, but no thank you" comments typically given to writers by agents and publishers?

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  12. Dani, I need to do that, too. So often, I attempt to do that, and go, "Isn't there something else more pressing I must deal with first?" SIGH Like my writing isn't a pressing issue. SMH

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  13. At Little Pickle Press, we call them decline letters. Often, it isn't that the manuscript isn't good, but that it doesn't expand the very small collection or that the schedule for that period is filled up. Timing is a big issue from the publishing side of things. That's why authors should never give up. Keep sending your stories out until the timing is right!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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