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Anne R. Allen's Blog


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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Enjoy the Luxury of the Unpublished Life

 “WTF?” Sez you. “Luxury? Getting daily rejections? Living in this mousehole on a diet of ramen and generic Froot Loops? While the few friends I have left laugh at my “delusions” of being a published writer? I’m supposed to #%&!ing enjoy this?”

Well, yes. It’s the only time in your career when you will have the freedom to just…write.

OK, calm down. I know sometimes you think you can’t stand this torture one more day. How long can anybody be expected to live on hope alone? Time’s wingèd chariot hurries near! You’re tired of the rejection, humiliation and frustration!! You’re desperate to—

  • Show all those skeptical friends and relations you really do have talent.
  • Let your significant other know all those pep talks weren’t wasted.
  • Show up at Thanksgiving dinner and tell your brother-in-law who always makes digs about your “career in navel-gazing” to #%&! off.
  • Say to all those condescending customers at McChili’s that you may be bussing tables now, but you’re a WRITER dammit.

I know how it feels to be filled with that desperate longing to see your work published. I lived with it for over a decade. And felt the euphoria when I finally got my first book contract—I doubt there’s a drug in the world to match that high.

But it doesn’t last long. Because after you sign is when your real work begins. And if you thought you were finished with rejection, humiliation and frustration, think again. This is what could be in store—

  • Hate-hate-hating that stupid cover that makes your dashing Scottish hero look like David Lee Roth in a dress.
  • Praying your new editor will see your book through after the old one leaves to start her own literary agency.
  • Sending out press releases, blanketing social media sites, haunting forums & being nice to people you’ve been trying to ignore for years.
  • Sucking up to the local talk radio guy whose show has always pissed you off, begging for an interview.
  • Groveling to the editor of the local fishwrap to get him to run maybe an inch on your launch.
  • Begging bookstore managers to let you do a signing—and get enough copies into the store to make it worthwhile.
  • Typing your fingers to the bone in a marathon blog tour. (There will be a guest post here next week from YA writer Janice Hardy telling all about blog tours. A must-read.)*
  • Getting your obnoxious friend who went to film school to help you put together a book trailer.
  • Traveling to strange cities on crowded planes to talk to people who don’t have a clue who you are and care less—if you’re lucky enough to get a book tour at all.
  • Checking your amazon ranking twice a day and agonizing every time it goes down.
  • Trying to wheedle reviews out of anybody you can press a free book upon.
Ah yes. Reviews.

Begging someone to do a review is daunting. But dealing with a bad review is soul-torture. If you had trouble dealing with that guy in your critique group who hated your heroine because she didn’t get herself a blunderbuss and smoke that cheating hound of a duke, wait until the trolls hit your amazon page and give you a few of those clueless, nasty one-star appraisals that bring down your ratings..

Bad reviews. Everybody gets them. They can be brutal. More on that in a couple of weeks.

And remember—all the time you’re launching your new career in marketing, you’ll have to be writing a second novel. Probably in less than a year. While still bussing those tables.

Won’t you be happy you’ve got all those rejected novels stacked up in your files? Think of them as inventory. A novel that might not be the break-out blockbuster to launch a career may make a nice follow-up once you’re established.

So revel in the luxury of writing in your mousehole. With no marketing responsibilities. Or the public humiliation of bad reviews. While you build inventory.

But tell off your brother-in-law anyway. And let those condescending people at table three know you really are a writer, published or not.

*Tune in next Sunday for a fantastic guest post from Janice Hardywho writes the super-helpful blog, The Other Side of the Story . She’s going to give us an in-depth look at the newest book promotion tool—the blog tour.

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Blogger Emily Cross said...

Excellent post Anne, but I think it'll be worth it - maybe I'm naive etc. but anything worth doing = a lot of hard work, so in the end that book on the shelf will be worth it (i hope)rather than never getting published.

October 3, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Me too, Emily. I'm just telling people (myself included) to enjoy each stage of the process.

October 3, 2010 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Christine Macdonald said...

Building inventory. I like it.

October 3, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Roni Loren said...

Great post, Anne! I think it is important to enjoy every phase. I'm trying to keep repeating that as I bite my nails through the editor submission process. :) It's an exciting time, but the stress of rejection never goes away.

October 3, 2010 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Yes, Roni--I didn't have space to talk about that in-between phase of signing with an agent and waiting, hoping, praying she can sell it, and getting all those editors' rejections. Best of luck on a quick sale!

October 3, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Genie of the Shell said...

Yeah, it is very worthwhile to build inventory. But we don't really have to live in mouseholes and eat Ramen in the meantime! I blog all about how to live well before that first advance check comes in. ;) I don't think I would have the patience to keep writing if I had to live like a college student until my second contract.

October 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

LOL - thanks! This makes me feel a little better :)

October 3, 2010 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Liz Fichera said...

Wonderful list, Anne. It made me cry and laugh at the same time!

October 3, 2010 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Misha said...

Great post!

I totally agree with you. At the moment I feel as if I'm writing because I love it, instead of having to do it because I signed a contract to finish a book at a pecific time...


October 3, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Misha said...

meant specific...

October 3, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger BECKY said...

Hi Anne! What a marvelous post! And yes, we have to love/like/enjoy/tolerate..every part of being a writer, published or not, or else we aren't "real" writers, are we?! To write, just because we MUST, is a wonderful thing! Can't wait to come back and read Janice Hardy's post!

October 3, 2010 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger Jan Markley said...

Great post! You're right the pre-contract is agonizing beyond patience and the high of that contract is sweeter than candy. But it doesn't last long before you're into the thick of it. Reflecting on how writing/publishing never ends I did a blog post a while ago called: Be the Egg Encrusted Fork (to your writing). I'm just in the midst of finishing the edits on my second book (out in a few weeks) and working on my next two wips. And so it goes!

October 3, 2010 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Bridge Marie said...

Haha, great post! Always good to keep that silver lining in mind...

October 3, 2010 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Sierra Godfrey said...

This is such a good topic and one I've only seen covered once-- and not as well as you do, Anne. You are so correct that the luxury to write on your own time and schedule is important -- without responsibility or answering to anyone.

And yet....it's that darn siren call...

October 3, 2010 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Donna Hole said...

I hope I have these worries, concerns, frustrations soon.


October 3, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Piedmont Writer said...

You make it sound like such a shitty career choice, being a writer...hahahahahah...and I know in truth it has its ups and downs like everything else.

And I can't wait until Thanksgiving this year. My Sister-in-law is going to get an earful. Especially if I finally land an agent. Hell, even if I don't.

October 4, 2010 at 3:26 AM  
Blogger Florence said...

Love you on Twitter, love you better here.

There is no more to say, since you've said it all. Doesn't matter, does it?

We do it until we can't move ... take a chill pill ... get up and do it again.

Thanks for the great post :)

October 4, 2010 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great post. A reality check in spades! And, success. I think we should all remember that there are many, many people out there who long to write and never put word to paper. So, no matter what happens with what we write at least we can say that we have written! There is joy and pride in that.

October 4, 2010 at 10:40 AM  
OpenID gargimehra said...

We writers don’t’ usually focus on the positive side of things so much, but we really should. The freedom to write what we want is a huge plus, one which we should appreciate while we have it.

October 4, 2010 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Simon Kewin said...

Ah, Anne, another wonderful post! How come you seem to know what goes on in my mind?

October 4, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger SAMUEL PARK said...

What a wonderful post! It made me laugh out loud. It sounds like an old vaudeville joke...What's worse of not being published? Being published! I can think of a few embarrassing things I've had to do...certainly a lot of groveling. I enjoyed reading this post enormously--how is it that you always manage to come up with one great post after another?

October 4, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger LR said...

Great post Anne! Being "prepublished" certainly has its advantages. :)

October 5, 2010 at 3:59 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Excellent advice. Now when do I get to tell people to eff off, I'm a writer? Cause I could go for that. Soonish...

October 5, 2010 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Lia Bal said...

Excellent post, I’m glad I stumbled upon this blog. You made me see the good in being pre-published and I have a long time of that to live through since I’m still new to this publishing thing. I’ve been a closet writer for years but have finally came out of the closet and sent my first submission this summer (for a book that wasn’t even finished yet, oops).

October 6, 2010 at 5:38 PM  
Blogger Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh, how this rings true...!

October 8, 2010 at 11:25 PM  
OpenID kangaroobee said...

Wow, I am laughing so much. Thank you for sharing this with us. We should be so grateful to be unpublished. I can't imagine the pressure.

October 9, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

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