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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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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, January 19, 2014

Six Pieces of Bad Advice New Writers Need to Ignore


A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote a post about writing as a hobby as opposed to a profession (hint: they're both good choices), I got a couple of comments from new writers who were discouraged to read how much work and dedication it takes to become a professional writer.

They can be forgiven for being unaware of the realities, since so much misinformation about the business of writing has become part of our general culture.

From Ernest Hemingway's self-mythologizing to tales of fictional writers like Jessica Fletcher, Richard Castle, and Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris, we've been shown a romanticized—and mostly untrue—picture of what it's like to be a writer.

The indie revolution has brought a whole new twist to the myth-making. New writers now hear all they have to do is write a book, put it on Amazon, send out a few Tweets, and they're off to big-bux land in the footsteps of Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey.

And for some reason, everybody who's ever watched Oprah (or Richard and Judy in the UK) thinks they know all about what it takes to be a professional writer. Tell somebody you write and you'll immediately get lots of clueless advice from the "civilians" around you—from your family to your hairdresser to that know-it-all guy at work.

But the truth is, writing for a living is hard. If you love it, that won't stop you for a minute, but if you believe there are shortcuts, you're going to be awfully disappointed.

Here are six pieces of bad advice it's best to ignore if you want to launch a successful writing career.

1) Start with genre fiction, because it's easy to write.


People will tell you to start with something “easy” like a romance/mystery/kid’s book.

Yeah, I heard that one a lot when I was starting out. So the first book I tried to write was a romance. I spent nearly eight months on it. Oh, what a disaster!  I learned the hard way that every genre takes years to learn to write well. And if you don’t love a genre and read it voraciously, you’ll never be good enough enough to gain an audience.

This is true whether you self-publish or go the traditional route.

Readers are just as picky as agents when it comes to choosing what they buy. They don't want fill-in-the blanks fiction. They want passion and originality within their genre.

Also, if your book is successful in getting a traditional publisher or a bunch of fans, they're going to want more of the same. Whatever genre you succeed in is the one you'll be expected to write throughout your career. Why would you do that with a genre you don't love?


2) Write about vampires/zombies/dystopian YA/mommy porn: that's what's selling.


Alas, traditional publishing has smoked its last 50 Shades cigarette and sneaked out the back door without leaving a note. Dystopian apocalypses have met their Armageddon. Vampires and zombies have been safely returned to their graves, and werepersons, angel/demons and witch/warlocks have been banished to the shadows from whence they came.

The known authors in these genres are still selling, but traditional publishing is saturated and won't look at new writers in most of these genres. You can self-publish, but you'll be on the tail end of a waning trend, so you'll need to bring something original to it.

The big trends in traditional publishing are usually over by the time the general public hears about them. By the time something's big on TV or film, it's been played out in the publishing industry.

As I said in #1, only write what you love. If you simply adore the undead, your passion may bring a new spark to the genre and you may find a great niche audience in the indie market. But only write in the currently popular genres if they are at the top of your own reading list.

Writing to trends almost always backfires, as I found out myself. Back in the 1980s, I tried to write a "glitz" novel. Glitz was super-hot at the time. Judith Kranz and Jackie Collins were queens of the genre (and the bestseller lists.) The stories involved lots of designer name-dropping and steamy sex. But no matter how hard I worked at glorifying sex and money, the book turned out funny.

I was actually writing chick lit, but I didn't know that because it hadn't been invented yet. I still write chick lit, a genre that had its heyday at the beginning of the millenium. But I didn't write it because I was trying to follow a trend. It's what I like to read.

I'm not telling you to dump your ms. in one of these genres, or even that your books in these genres won't sell as indies. But don't write in a genre just because it's selling right now, because it's probably oversaturated.

3) Querying agents is a good way to get feedback.


I often hear new writers encouraging each other to "send it out: it can't hurt to try." (This often comes from your critique group, who are re-e-e-e-ally tired of reworking chapter one for the sixteenth time.)

But actually, it can hurt. A lot. Rejection is no fun. Why invite it when it means nothing? And a rejection from an agent means just that: zip, zilch, nada.

These days, most agents don't give feedback of any kind. Even the gentlest suggestion can backfire when upset authors retaliate with nasty return emails or worse...much worse.

That's why a good percentage of agents don't respond to queries at all unless they're interested, and most of the others send a one sentence generic note along the lines of "this does not fit our needs at this time."

Every writing group and forum is full of complaints from new authors who are trying to read meaning into those one-liners. But believe me, they only mean your book didn't tick off all the boxes on the list of what the agent's contacts at the Big Five are looking for this week. That's ALL.

For more on what rejections really mean, here's Ruth Harris's post on the subject.

There's also the problem that if your query is especially clueless, the agent may remember your name, and not in a good way.

DO NOTE: Agents don't get paid for reading your queries. They don't owe you feedback. They only get paid when they sell a book, and if your book isn't ready to sell, you're clogging up the pipeline and slowing down the process for other writers (like maybe you, a couple of years from now) who really are ready to publish.

The way to get feedback is to join a critique group or find a beta reader.

There are lots of opportunities for these online. Some can be snarky and useless, so do check with other users before you put your fledgling writing out there. Kristen Lamb's WANATribe.com is a bully-free, friendly community where you can meet beta readers. Two other great resources are are CritiqueCircle.com and SheWrites.  GalleyCat has a great new sign-up system for finding the right critique group.

Also the wonderful Jami Gold has a valuable post this week on how to find beta readers. 

For more on querying agents, we're going to have a guest post in March from agent Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg (yes, the one who was attacked by the crazed rejected author a couple of years ago) She's now a partner at Foreword Literary Agency and she'll be talking about the changing guidelines for queries.

4) You can launch a career with one book.


Blame the movies: the writer-hero struggles to finish that opus, finally types the last page, sends it to an agent and voila!—he has a contract and a book tour and he's an overnight millionaire.

This doesn’t happen anymore. If it ever did.

For self-publishers, it's almost impossible to get a readership with one book. Most successful marketing of self-published books is based on free and cheap deals to entice readers to come in and sample your work so they'll buy more. If there's no "more", all you're doing is giving away the store. Both Howey and Hocking had close to ten books a piece before they started making the big sales.

And even if you're going the traditional route, you need at least two books. I know this from experience, too.

I landed an agent with one of my first chick lit queries, and she had it six months and almost made a deal with Bantam. But did I use that time to work hard on a second book? No. I wasted my leisure hours obsessing about stupid stuff like whether I should quit my day job and what I'd wear on a book tour. (Yeah, I was running one of those movies in my head the whole time.)

When the deal fell through, my agent asked if I had anything else. I didn't. So she dropped me. I thought I could regain the magic with another agent, but by then the book had been out on submission to editors and no agent would touch it. I was back at square one with an unpublishable manuscript.

These days, most authors have to query agents for years, then when they get a deal, it's usually for multiple books. If you don't have those manuscripts waiting in the hopper, you'd better be good at writing very, very fast (while going on blog tours and social networking like mad.) 

And that book tour? These days they don't happen for anybody but superstars. Tours for newer authors simply don't offer a good return on investment except for reality TV stars or politicians with SuperPacs to buy up all the books.

5) Just finish the book, throw it up on Amazon and let the customer reviews tell you what needs editing.


No. No. NO!! This one makes me cringe. I still see lots of writers telling each other this nonsense in forums, and even some of the big self-publishing gurus advocate it.

But they are not doing new writers any favors. 

First of all, this gives ammunition to every self-publishing hater out there. You're creating the very "tsunami of crap" indies are accused of perpetrating.

And using Amazon or Goodreads customer reviewers as your critique group is one of the worst ideas ever.

Anybody who thinks they're going to learn anything from online reviews hasn't read them. 

Could George Orwell have learned from this review of 1984?

"I highly reccomend that you DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. And please for the love of God don't read that "Brave New World" book by Hoxley. It is twice as worse as 1984. To put it bluntly, DON'T READ ANY GEORGE ORWELL. Your just waisting your time.""

Or maybe Tolstoy could have improved Anna Karenina after reading this?

"If you see Anna for $5 at your neighbor's garage sale, go ahead and buy it. Hollow it out, and stash a handgun in there. Leave it next to your toilet if you have unwanted guests. Beat your disobedient child with it. Put it in your fireplace and have a nice glass of vodka. Just don't read it! You have been warned."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which tops pretty much everybody's "Best of 2013" lists has nearly 200 one-star reviews on Amazon with enlightening comments like this:

"This book is too depressing and sad. I have yet to finish it. Just when I think it will get better something else bad happens."

Right. Don't let anything bad happen to your characters, Ms. Tartt. We want books about nice people watching paint dry.

All you can tell from one-star customer reviews is that the reviewer was probably having a bad day. They do not help you write better books.

See #3 for suggestions of places to get useful feedback.

Then hire an editor. 


6) Don’t waste time on short fiction.


This is another one I fell for. I spent way too much time working on unpublishable novels instead of honing my craft with short fiction that could build a list of credits and establish my brand.

People will still tell you that short stories are a waste of time because they don’t make any money, but that has all changed with the ebook (see my posts on "Why you Should be Writing Short Fiction" and "Short is the New Long".)

Here are some reasons to write short-form fiction

  • Short stories are the best place to hone your skills. 
  • Short stories make money these days, both as stand-alone ebooks and in anthologies 
  • Publishing credits for short fiction and essays makes you more attractive to agents, publishers and readers. 
  • Winning a story contest gives your self-confidence a boost. (And you might even win a little cash.)
  • It’s a whole lot easier to publish a short story than a novel: there are thousands of literary magazines and contests in the US, but only five major book publishing houses. 

Short is definitely the new long right now. Novellas are having a renaissance, too. (In February we will host Paul Alan Fahey, author of a series of popular novellas. He'll offer a nuts-and-bolts formula for writing a compelling novella.)

What about you, scriveners? Have you followed any of this bad advice? What other writing misinformation have you heard? I had too much to list in one post, so I'll be writing about this again in February. Anything to add to my list?


BOOK OF THE WEEK

This month, Sherwood, Ltd is 99c for Kindle US, UK, Nook, and FREE on Smashwords and on Kobo. And for book-sniffers (I have to admit to some closet book-sniffing myself) it is available in paper for the marked-down price of $8.54 (regularly $8.99 on Amazon and $12.99 in stores.) It's also on sale in paper in the in the UK for £6.81.




"A wily tale of murder, deceit, and intrigue that can stand with the best of them. Her characters are all too real and her dialogue took me from laughter to chills to suspicion of everybody in the book...Read this book. It will be well worth the time."...David Keith at Smashwords


"One uses the term 'romping good yarn' advisedly but in fact this tale is exactly that. Aspiring author and failed A-lister Camilla, desperate for funds and affection, joins forces with a publishing team that beggars description. The similarities between the legend of Robin Hood and this story are subtle, the links never overdone or cliched. The narrative leaps from one twist to the next turn with pace and energy. The characters are delightfully off-centre and the hero? Well, he is definitely of a kind to swing down from the trees armed with bow and nocked arrow."...Prue Batten, author of the Guy of Gisborne series

BTW although Sherwood has all 5-star reviews on Smashwords, its Amazon buy page has had a visit from a couple of bullies who object to my "behavior" (i.e. writing a 2011 blogpost urging non-techie grandmas to write reviews). If you have read and enjoyed the book, some genuine reviews would be very welcome, especially on Amazon.


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


Glamour Magazine "My Real Life Story" Essay Contest NO ENTRY FEE. $5000 prize, plus possible publication in Glamour. Creative nonfiction. Must be factual and appropriate for a Glamour audience. 2500-3500 words. Deadline February 1st.

GLIMMER TRAIN FAMILY MATTERS CONTEST $1500 prize, plus publication in Glimmer Train Stories, plus 20 copies. $15 ENTRY FEE. They're looking for stories about families of all configurations. It's fine to draw on real experiences, but the work must read like fiction. Maximum word count: 12,000. Any shorter lengths are welcome. Deadline: March 31, 2014.

Dog Lovers! AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB FICTION WRITING CONTEST NO ENTRY FEE. Submit one short story, maximum 2,000 words. Entries can be on any subject, but must feature a dog. (But it can't talk) Prizes $500, $240, $100. Deadline January 31.

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89 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Reviews are a really bad place to go for editing suggestions!
I know a couple authors who kick butt in the short story arena. They have built up a huge career by writing and submitting short stories.
And I second your suggestion to have more than one book ready. I didn't even start writing my second book until after the first was released. Would've been better if I'd already done that. (Especially since I am such a slow writer.)

January 19, 2014 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

Wonderful post! I had 30 short stories published in commercial markets before I even attempted to write a novel. And you are so right about writing what you love. If you don't, the work seems flat. Not to mention, it's just too damned much work. As usual, a post well worth reading.

January 19, 2014 at 10:17 AM  
OpenID Hayden said...

Oh, God, trends. I keep getting non-writers badgering me left and write about my output and why I'm not earning the same as Rowling. Why can't I write another Harry Potter or Hunger Games? Why waste my time writing fantasy books for and about gay kids?

Sometimes I wish I could go all nuclear Poe on them and shoot back with long, dark, hallucinatory verses about how much they know about what goes on in my heart and head when I write. And then stand back and watch their brains melt.

I know, I sound bitter, but heck. Trends. Ugh.

January 19, 2014 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Guilie Castillo said...

Excellent post, Anne. Yep, misinformation and misguided advice is all over the place, and new writers have a hell of a time trying to figure out who to listen to and who to ignore. Without taking into account that all-important eye-opening moment of every writer's life: the first bad critique. Bad, not nasty. Bad, as in realistic. Boom goes the bubble. I've seen a few meltdowns in my critique group (The Internet Writing Workshop, http://internetwritingworkshop.org/index.shtml, cost- and bully-free, too): people who ignored all good advice and published too soon, who thought all the "marketing takes over your life" warnings were exaggerated and now wonder where their first million (bucks, books sold, whatever) is. More posts like yours is what the internet needs, so I'll be sharing this one around as much as I can. Thanks for being so generous with your time and experience. Much appreciated :)

January 19, 2014 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Romance is hard to write. So are SF, thrillers and mysteries. Chick lit is no cinch and neither is fantasy. The bottom line is that writing anything that people will want to read is hard. Writing a book is lots of work and anyone who thinks s/he will breeze through the learning curve is delusional.

I also want to add that good grammar is part of the deal. I am constantly astonished at the "look inside" samples that are filled with grammar no-nos. No one would try to split the atom without a nuclear reactor so why do some seem to think a readable book can be written without a knowledge of the basics of grammar?

I'm looking forward to Paul's advice about writing a novella. A neglected form that is coming back big!

January 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I feel sorry for new writers these days. It's so hard to know what to do. Not only is there bad advice, there's also too much advice. My head spins jumping from blog to blog and one author says this, and another author says to do that. Who can even write a sentence. But I'm glad you're here to set everyone straight.

January 19, 2014 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--I'm a slow writer too. I'm so glad I had so many rejected manuscripts in the files. With a good editor, a lot of them got turned into successful novels.

Melodie--30 published short stories! You're a pro and that's how it's done. I wish I'd known that. My path to publication was actually longer because I didn't go the short story route first.

Hayden--Don't you just hate that? Everybody's an expert. They have no idea how hard it is to pull characters and ideas out of the ether every day. But don't melt their poor brains. They can't help it. Those misconceptions are part of the culture, alas.

Giulie--Thanks for spreading the word! Oh, yes that first, ego-deflating critique. I got it at a big writers conference in front of a lot of people. I thought I was such an expert, because I was a voracious reader, and I read lots of literary and classic fiction. Boy was I wrong.

Ruth--You're so right about grammar. That's such a big subject It's going to have to be in part two of this post. People would never hire a plumber who doesn't know how to use a wrench. Spelling and grammar are our tools. We need to know how to use them.

Anne--That sure is the downside of the Internet age: too much information, much of it bogus. I hope Ruth and I can help cut through the BS and let people know the learning curve is still there. There are no shortcuts to learning to write well.

January 19, 2014 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Linda Adams said...

I did know a writer who would write three chapters of a novel and send it to an agent as an "audit" to see if they would be interested. Trust, there is nothing that will set an agent off more because you just wasted their time. A writer was sent away from a pitch session I was at because she hadn't finished the book. The agent wanted nothing to do with her.

But critiques from a group can also be tricky. You really have to go in knowing your strengths and weaknesses and know what you can ignore. I did a review for an indie writer for a collection of short stories. At the end, he had some general author comments and pretty much his critique group said to take the description out because it was boring, so he did. And it was really obvious in the writing, especially since he was writing horror and fantasy where it's pretty essential. The critique group should have told him, "Your description isn't very interesting. Here's some things you can try."

I'd add one more piece of bad advice to the list because it's so pervasive: That you're doing writing wrong. This little gem is everywhere, because unfortunately it really sells. But it makes the writer not trust himself or the story.

January 19, 2014 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Thanks again for sharing your valuable knowledge with us. These all ring true for me, heard them all! I have finally learned to ignore the advice that doesn't work for me. FINALLY! Your advice is always valued. You have been there. Done that. And that. And that!

January 19, 2014 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Nina Badzin said...

Does anyone actually do #5? YIKES!

Also wanted to tell you that I haven't totally given up on fiction. I have three different short stories accepted at three different journals at the end of 2013. They'll come out some time this year. To give your readers encouragement . . . these are stories that were rejected at tons of places. I always start high and work my way through the list of places I'd be happy to see the story land. I've had every story accepted eventually. These three will make stories #11, 12, and 13 for me out the in literary journal world. They don't get even close to the number of readers on my blog posts, but it's a much deeper kind of satisfaction to know they've been accepted and placed alongside other words of literary value.

January 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Inky Fox said...

I always hear that I should be writing short fiction instead of working on full manuscripts, but it's not my cup of tea. I don't particularly like short stories. Should I be forcing myself into this format to "get my name out there"? I could take an online course from a local college fairly easily...

January 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--That's just what I'm talking about. It not only infuriates agents, but whatever feedback you might get isn't useful. Altogether a bad idea.

You're right about critique groups. Catherine Ryan Hyde and I talk a lot about them in our book HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE. They can be toxic when members have bad advice or an agenda. And you need to make sure the group is a good fit in terms of experience and personalities, too.

Great suggestion. "You're doing writing wrong" will go into my next post.

Christine--When we try to follow all the advice all of the time, we end up with a big mess and lots of frustration.

Nina--I'm afraid so. There are indie gurus who tell newbies to do it. Scary. But MAJOR CONGRATS on all your story acceptances. That's a big deal. We may make a novelist out of you yet. :-)

Inky--I think I skipped an important step because I wasn't drawn to short stories either. But it was worth it for me to put in the time trying to learn to write them. Only you know if it's worth it for you, but I regret the time I spent on unpublishable novels more than the time I spent learning to write short stories. I'm still not drawn to the short form and I'm a dismal failure at novellas, so I know how you feel. Your genre may play a part. If you write romance or other shorter genre fiction, you may be able to skip the short story step.

January 19, 2014 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger M. A. McRae said...

Very interesting and quite valuable. I, too, cringe when I see writers tossing half finished tosh onto Amazon - it gives all of us a bad name.
It was interesting what you said about short stories - but it's one piece of advice I will not follow. You said it in an earlier point - don't write what you don't enjoy, and I have always found short stories unsatisfying, like sitting down for a meal and being offered a small and tasteless snack instead.
A very valuable blog post (I wonder if I'll be able to post this, or be caught out by 'Capcha.'

January 19, 2014 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

M. A. Yeah, if you really don't like short fiction you won't be able to write it well. That's true.

And your comment came in because this blog is CAPTCHA-free! I used to have a little badge that said so, but its graphics disappeared at some point so I had to delete.

Last week it was very hard to comment here--even I couldn't get in on Friday--so I changed the comment format and it seems to be working better. But anybody who has problems, feel free to email me your comment.

January 19, 2014 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Blogger is still thwarting comments. Here's a great one from Anita Siraki

Hi Anne!
Longtime reader of the blog and admirer of your and Ruth's fantastic posts. I tried to click 'submit' on my comment on the post you did on Six Pieces of Bad Advice New Writers Need to Ignore but the browser seems to have eaten my comment so I wanted to share my thoughts with you here (sorry if it's long).

I completely agree there's a lot of misinformation out there and it can be overwhelming to sift through it and determine which is right and which is more misleading. Great point about short stories as I think many writers definitely overlook them or see them as something of a nuisance even though they have a better chance of selling them if they hone their craft on those vs. just focusing on novels. That said, there are some people for whom short story writing doesn't come as naturally as novels, and vice versa so it all depends on the individual writer. There is still definitely an undercurrent of people expecting the same level of success as Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking on the indie front, although as many others have stated, they're the exceptions, not the rule. Very good point about how "Howey and Hocking had close to ten books a piece before they started making the big sales." And an especially good point about how even though a writer has landed an agent, that doesn't mean they're "home free" so to speak. Deals fall through all the time, or an agent turns out not to have the resources it seemed he or she did to find the best home for a writer's book(s).

I especially wanted to thank you for including resources about beta readers as although I've been part of online and in-person critiquing groups and continue to be in one, I find there's a lot of demand for something to facilitate easier connections between beta readers and writers. I think there's also an erroneous perception that genre fiction is somehow "easier" or that it "always sells better", so it was interesting to read that, as well.

One of the other bits of misinformation that I've seen get circulated is to put 100 percent of the emphasis on marketing and social media promotions, and a lot of new writers seem to get the idea that they should place their focus solely on that as opposed to writing. Granted, it's a very delicate balance to achieve and every writer I know struggles with it (writing time vs. time spent on marketing/promotional efforts), but I've seen a lot of emphasis on marketing that seems to ignore the fact that even if the marketing for a new writer is amazing and tons of people buy a book, if the writing is crappy, word will spread and people may be less inclined to purchase any future books from that writer.

Thanks!
Anita

January 19, 2014 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

Fortunately, I never got the bullet points listed from anyone, except maybe reading about how to query agents/publishers in various how-to guides and on Query.Net (IMO heavily biased towards young adults). I think I've only queried about a dozen and a half agents and a half dozen publishers in my years of writing, and the bulk of those queries were done in 2007 and 2011.

As for short fiction, while I've only sold two stories, it's definitely a great way (just like blogging) to practice and hone your writing skills. I had a short story blog for about a year and a half, and in that time, I published a boatload of short stories. While almost none of them were good enough to be published, I did get some valuable feedback from fellow readers and writers that has helped me in the long run with my writing.

January 19, 2014 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

Thanks, Anne and all those who commented. What a wealth of good advice here. I wish only I had found this several years ago.

January 19, 2014 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Rosalyn said...

Such useful advice here--thank you!

January 19, 2014 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Hi Anne,
HA! I feel a particular affinity for 3) Querying agents is a good way to get feedback.
That's advice that could drive agents to unpleasant ends.
Keep up the fine work.

January 19, 2014 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Thanks for the shout out, Anne. I'm looking forward to my February post and meeting your readers. Before writing novellas, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, entered contests-- won some, lost some--but each time I wrote a flash piece, or sent it in to a contest, I usually had a self-edited publishable short ready to send around to lit mags. I love writing short stories and still do. Always learning what works and what doesn't and the shorter forms are great building blocks to learning how to write longer pieces. Like novellas in the E-Age, that are now very, very popular. Off my soapbox. Great post as always. Paul

January 19, 2014 at 8:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anita--Mirabile dictu! Blogger may not allow your comments, but it now has this personal "reply" function. I didn't notice it earlier because I'm a cybermoron. But it's cool.

No question: new writers are taught to spend way too much time marketing way too early these days. I agree that most writers have an affinity for the long or short form that can be pretty powerful. Same with fiction or nonfiction.

But I need to say that I HATED writing nonfiction for many decades, but when I started writing freelance articles out of financial necessity, I found out I was actually kind of good at it.

Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone opens doors. And, of course, sometimes it doesn't. If you just can't bring yourself to try short fiction, don't. This stuff doesn't pay enough not to be fun.

January 19, 2014 at 8:48 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

GB--I'm not saying there's anything wrong with querying agents if you feel your work is ready. That's what they're waiting for. Just don't abuse their time when you don't have a complete work or it isn't the best you can possibly make it.

I do think you need to be careful about putting short stories on your blog, because that's officially publishing them, and technically you can't sell first rights or enter contests.

I think it's better to look for feedback at a place like Wattpad or Readwave that requires membership, so it's not officially "published" to the general public, the way a blog is. If you take them down before you submit them, you can usually get away with it, but if you're trying for a big money prize, it could disqualify you. But I'm glad to hear it worked for you and you did get some stories accepted.

January 19, 2014 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosi--I wish I'd heard this when I was starting out, too!

January 19, 2014 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rosalyn--I'm so glad you find it useful. Thanks for commenting.

January 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...


CS—I think it's made a lot of agents pretty jaded. But then they'll probably say that's what interns are for :-)

January 19, 2014 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul aka Mindprinter--We're looking forward to it! I know you're a master of the short form. I think you'll help those of us who think of "short" as about 85K words. And you're right that short stories are building blocks. I used to write flash fiction for a local contest, even though I found it really tough. But I'd try every year. They didn't usually win, but I always had something I could send to a litmag, even if it went over word count. Those were incredibly important learning tools for me.

January 19, 2014 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger fOIS In The City said...

Glad to be back to my fav Sunday post !! I think the real bottom line if there is one ... is to do what you love. Writing isn't easy, but if you truly love it, you won't mind the blood, sweat and tears. I think I've used up all my cliches for today. Thanks for another great post, Anne :)

January 19, 2014 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Anad Trebolt said...

Hi Ms. Allen!
I found your blog and love this post! I am a indie author, new to the biz and completely confused about a multitude of things. This post cleared up a lot, but most of all I'm glad to see the good news about short stories (or shorties as I call them). I found it easier to write a short story because it was small enough for me to really examine and clean up before I submitted it to an editor.
I have added you to my favorites list and look forward to more posts. Thank you for being so candid. The truth is often hard to find.
Dana J.

January 20, 2014 at 12:49 AM  
Blogger Trekelny said...

Right to the point- I'm sharing this tomorrow, it's so good and folks need to be reminded to follow you.
I'm cheating on novellas, by writing epic fantasy in installments. Two novellas I have out now are part of a series, and I can already tell that when I'm done (four tales, most likely) I can combine them back into a respectable size tale (for fantasy I mean). But I don't think that's the same as what you advise, stand-alone material. Sue me- I can pretend I'm keeping up with your advice and I'm going to play that hand!
Write what you love- what sane choice do any of us have? For the rest, I think the friends (and Providence) have saved me from damaging myself on the internet, by following my instincts down all of these evil paths. Lucky, I've been very lucky so far. And since I'm currently disconnecting from any real effort to market, I just focus now on trying to write well which is a freeing sensation.

January 20, 2014 at 4:40 AM  
Blogger Kathy Steinemann said...

Thanks, Anne. It's heartening to see some bad advice shot down. I especially enjoyed your information about beta readers. I've added several bookmarks to explore for my next novel.

January 20, 2014 at 6:02 AM  
OpenID joanneguidoccio.com said...

Thanks for the reality check, Anne.

January 20, 2014 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

Great post and I agree wholeheartedly with MOST of your list. Biggies for me on you list where to keep writing short fiction and keep writing novels (needing more than one). It feels like such an accomplishment when you finish the first novel, but when you realize how many other people have finished their first, second and third etc, novels it can be discouraging.

I'm not sure why you would encourage writers NOT to query. Maybe my experience is unique (though I doubt it), but I got wonderful feedback from agents, not from my query letter alone, but when they requested partials and whole manuscripts. Their little bits of "While we liked your one story line, your other MC's story line moved to slow." "Are you planning on making this into two novel?" Easy to figure out what I needed to do as far as editing went with those gems.

I would also add, that although critique groups and beta readers are good,(you need them) they may not know what's salable or marketable. I love my writer's group, but they are VERY pro-self-publishing (which I may do), but if agents do request your ms, you can gain insights that a beta reader or writing peer may not give.

Perhaps my beta readers and writing group peers are just too nice? But that has been my experience and I have to respectfully disagree with NOT querying agents. I think it can be a valuable measuring stick and writing a good query is part of writing a good blurb and blurbs can sell your novel no matter which path to publishing you take.

January 20, 2014 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

oops were not where (sorry just woke up_

January 20, 2014 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Jessica Mador said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 20, 2014 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Absolutely, Anne. Flash is a great gateway to writing short stories and beyond. Novellas ain't 85K no more. :)

January 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Misha Gericke said...

The short story advice I sort of follow. Not because someone ever told me to do it, but because I've found that it's incredibly difficult for me to gear my mind toward short stories.

Even when I had to write them for school, they were really just excerpts from what should have been longer stories.

January 20, 2014 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Nissa Annakindt said...

I wrote a blog post once on 'The Worst Writing Advice Laurence Block Ever Gave Me'. It was about Block's advice that the modern writer (in 1986) ought to give up on short stories and start out with a novel.

That locked me into a pattern of starting novel after novel and not finishing. I am now working on a short story featuring the same characters as that in one of my unfinished novels. I'm sure I won't sell the short stories, but if they are any good I can offer them as freebies to promote the related novel someday.

January 20, 2014 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great list. They do romanticize the writing life in movies and on TV. I was lucky to get hooked up with a small publisher about seven years ago. She warned me then that it often takes numerous published books before readers really find you. My seventh book with that publisher was finally a bestseller and pulled up sales on my other books with it.

January 20, 2014 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Fois--Great to see you're out of hibernation. You're so right. Writing has to come from our passions, not a bunch of rules or fantasies. We have to do it because we love it!

January 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dana--I'm glad I could clear things up for you. There is so much misinformation out there. You're lucky to have the skills to write short stories. I think it's easier to expand a story than shrink it (which is what I have to.) Welcome!

January 20, 2014 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

The definition of novella is changing, as Paul Fahey will tell us next month. But the long story/novella form is hot right now. Hugh Howey did just what you're doing: he wrote many installments in a bigger saga. Hasn't worked so badly for him. :-) So keep on doing what you're doing!

January 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kathy, finding good beta readers and critiquers (and knowing how to use their advice) is crucial to becoming the best writer you can be. Good luck!

January 20, 2014 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I do get tired of seeing this bad advice spread around. Writing is hard enough without getting sidetracked by clueless people.

January 20, 2014 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--I'm not saying you shouldn't query agents when your ms. is polished! And you're right that composing queries is great practice for marketing later.

But it's unfair to them to expect agents to critique unfinished or unpolished work. That's not their job. They're looking for complete work that is the very best it can be. That is, it's been run through a critique group or some beta readers and revised carefully. It's true that critique groups can be "too nice" and if you're with people who are all planning to self-pub, I advise getting into another group that's more inclusive.

January 20, 2014 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Short fiction is hard for me too. I tend to be long-winded, as you can see from my blogposts :-) But stepping out of your comfort zone can be good for your craft. It was for me. Getting in anthologies with better known writers is a great marketing strategy for marketing novels. And having short fiction available with your series characters is a great way to fill gaps between book releases. But if you really can't do it and hate the process, then skip them.

January 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Emerald O'Brien said...

Thank you for this list. I am a new writer, about to publish my first novel, and I have heard a few of these. The one I seem to read most often is regarding writing in a specific genre because it is popular at the moment. I haven't been given this advice directly, but there are several articles written about it. It just seems wrong to write something you might not even be interested in. As you stated clearly, it's not a good idea to write something you don't read. My first book is a mystery, the genre I read most often, and your words have confirmed my decision to stick with what I love.

January 20, 2014 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I think that was probably good advice in 1986, when the magazine short story market was drying up. That's when I heard it too. But Lawrence Block has changed his tune. He wrote on this blog about his success with self-publishing his short stories a couple of years ago. http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2011/11/lawrence-block-talks-self-publishing.html And you're doing it just right, writing shorts about your series characters. Those will be a gold mine later on.

January 20, 2014 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Susan--This is why I'm happy with my small press, too. They've been willing to take the financial risks while I built up an audience. When one book hits the bestseller list, the others get discovered. That's what happened with me, too. But it takes time.

January 20, 2014 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Emerald--You're exactly right. If you love mysteries, that's what you should write. Different subgenres of mysteries come and go. Cozies aren't blockbusters, but they still sell. Dark Scandinavian mysteries dominated the charts for a few years, but now things have settled down. But to throw a vampire or zombie or a morose Swede in to try to make a book trendy wouldn't be smart. (Although it could be hilarious.) Good luck with your new novel!

January 20, 2014 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Mel Kinnel said...

I started off writing short fiction so it's nice to know that all of that writing was great practice and could be useful in my writing journey.

January 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Mel--It isn't just great practice. It's money in the bank. You'll have a goldmine there to dip into for anthologies, promos, freebie teases and entering contests. Stories can be sold over and over.

January 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Emerald O'Brien said...

Thank you very much!

January 20, 2014 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Caroline Bock said...

Really good advice. When I get down about a handful of amazon reviews for my work, I always look at other "big-time" book reviews and understand that these are not professional book critics. The other "trap" as a new writer, or even as a writer in a critique group, I'd be careful of is the "likeable" character criticism. I'm not even sure what this means -- everybody must be liked, or worse, loved? Or, is it about empathy for a character? About writing characters that reveal their heart, soul, mind, even if it's different from yours, foreign, twisted, unbearable and totally unlikable? Bottom line for me: I don't even like the work "like" as a writer anymore. Great advice.

January 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM  
OpenID jennifertanner said...

Hi Anne,

My Kindle is a graveyard of books that I stopped reading after the first chapter because they needed major editing. I don't know if it's because these authors believe that every word they write is golden (I wish I had such confidence!) or maybe they can't afford an editor. I've never attempted a short story, but I've played around with hint fiction (a story in 25 words or less) and that 'empirical' form of writing has helped keep my writing lean. BTW...thanks for the Opportunity Alerts!

January 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Caroline--I'm so with you on that! In fact I've been working on a whole post about it. Why does every female character have to be everybody's best friend, a walking piece of political correctitude, and "kick-ass" besides? I get one-star reviews of my comedies criticizing my heroine for "making bad choices" and being "terminally naive". Do you ever hear heroines of TV sitcoms criticized that way? Why are all heroines of books supposed to be perfect? Where's the room for them to change and grow? And where are the laughs? I have no idea who put these ideas into women's heads.

Male heroes can be as prickly and difficult and vain as they want. Hercule Poirot, anyone? I may quote from this comment in my post. I'm so glad to meet a kindred spirit!! I like to read about interesting people, not idealized versions of myself.

January 20, 2014 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jennifer--I used to make the mistake of downloading free books before checking the "peek inside". No more. (Love the image of the Kindle as a graveyard. Mine too.)

I've never heard of "hint fiction" but I like the idea--great exercise. NPR has been running a contest for 6-word stories about race, called "the race card". Fascinating what people can do with only a handful of words. It's like writing a sonnet, or haiku. It makes your brain work in different ways and keeps you flexible. I write poetry for that reason. Doesn't mean I'm really a "poet" but I have turned out some publishable pieces and I enjoyed the process.

Glad you like the Opportunities. Some weeks I wonder if they're worth the work, so it's good to hear you like them.

January 20, 2014 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Glendon Perkins said...

This is a magnificent post. I'm thrilled I was directed to it. Many of your points have reinforced my beliefs (and my preachings).

January 20, 2014 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Marie Ann Bailey said...

What a great post! I'm more than happy to ignore the bad advice :) I do have a couple of questions, though, and I hope you'll have time to respond. Regarding #4: if a deal falls through on one book and your agent asks for another, would it be better if the other book you have at the ready is in the same genre as the first? I have one horror novel and then a series of four mystery/crime novels. (All novels are in early stages.) If I decide to start with the mystery/crime series, but Book 1 fails, should I pull out the horror novel then? My second thought is regarding short fiction. I am far more comfortable with short fiction than I am with novel writing (novel writing intimidates me, to be honest). After reading #6, I'm wondering if I am going down a rabbit hole with the novel writing. Sigh. I would love to know your thoughts. I've been writing for a long time, but the whole "I'm serious enough to try and publish" is relatively new.

January 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Welcome! I just circled you at Google Plus. It looks as if you're going about building a career exactly the right way. Linking to short stories published in journals instead of publishing them on your blog gives you so much more cred in the industry! It's worth it to keep sending out stories. Sometimes you even get paid. :-)

January 20, 2014 at 6:58 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Marie Ann--Most agents only rep certain genres. If you query one who reps both mystery and horror, you might get both looked at, but it's not that common. Personally, I'd say work on the mystery series, since you seem to have more ideas (and maybe more interest?). Maybe you could turn the horror one into a kind of mystery at some point?

As to writing short stories, I honestly believe most of us are drawn to one form or the other. If you're good at short form fiction, you might find that your mysteries are really novellas--a genre that has come into its own in the e-age. Make sure to check our post on novellas on February 9th. Paul Alan Fahey was a short story writer for years. He edited a prestigious literary magazine, so he was very much in the short story culture. But now he's writing novellas for a traditional publisher and they're really working for him. People love shorter ebooks. He has a whole formula for structuring them that you may find very useful. Good luck!

January 20, 2014 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

Oh good, I've met so many writers who think agents or their assistants are grad school snobs who "wouldn't get their story." I believe in and applaud a little of the gatekeeper mentality.

Yes, I agree, it's unfair to use them to critique unfinished work. I guess the conundrum is "when is it the BEST" and polished enough. I thought my ms was (I had work-shopped and had it beta read) but now realize, after wonderful helpful rejections, that I had more to do! Hurray for kind agents who I hope didn't feel taken advantage of.

I guess my point is, that for a new writer, when you think your ms is the best, you might be surprised and helped by the query process :)

Thank you for all your wonderful tips and feedback, I'm still learning.

January 20, 2014 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Phew-- I'm glad I had a clue about most of these things. There are so many dos and don'ts out there about writing, publishing and what to expect, it's good to shut out the noise sometimes and just write because you love it. :) Thanks for the wise words.

January 21, 2014 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--Shutting out the noise really is key. We do need to listen for new information, because things are changing all the time. But we need a good "noise filter" because so much of what we hear is outdated or just plain wrong. Yeah, mostly we need to ignore it all and WRITE.

January 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Jami Gold said...

Thanks for the shout out, Anne! Great advice here--with all of us working together, we'll get the word out. :)

And I just added the GalleyCat Directory to my post about beta readers. I didn't have that one yet. :) Thanks!

January 21, 2014 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jami--It was a great post. Your blog provides such a wealth of great information. Yeah, we need to work together!

January 21, 2014 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Donelle Lacy said...

This is a great post. I especially love the encouragement about short stories. I've written them since I was young, but always thought they didn't sell as well as novel series. They are very good for practicing writing skill!

January 21, 2014 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Maria McKelvey said...

This information was extremely helpful for me. I am working on my first biography and it really consumes me because I am passionate about the story. At the same time I have a basketful of ideas for short, creative non-fiction that I also work on. I am just as passionate about these stories. You are so right about all the "advice" out there; it makes my head spin. The best advice I got from a dear friend was to sit down and right. Period. Louisa May Alcott wrote blood and guts short stokes before she wrote Little Women. I look forward to the next posting!

January 22, 2014 at 6:11 AM  
Blogger M.J. Pullen said...

Fantastic post - I wish I had read this before self-publishing my first novel three years ago. I think I'm the counterexample, however, on not learning anything from negative reviews. I guess my first novel was just good enough in its first revision - I had been through beta readers but probably needed a developmental editor anyway - that the people who didn't like it managed for the most part to say WHY. It was painful (and I still don't recommend this as a way to get feedback), but I did learn a TON from my one-star reviews in aggregate. I don't feel I was adding to the tsunami of crap: it's still nearly a four-star book, which given my clueless state at publication, I'll take as a win -- but my other books are certainly much, much better for the experience. There are other, better ways to get that kind of feedback, if you are patient and determined enough, but at the time I wasn't either. :-)

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, that first book managed to get a lot of attention a few months after publication, so I think I'm past the point of being able to take it down and revamp it with an editor (which is what I wish I could do, and what I would advise new authors to do, as you suggest).

Still, I think we CAN learn from negative reviews -- taken not individually, but in aggregate. Any one review can be about the reviewer himself or herself, but when I noticed trends across the one-star reviews, it gave me information about how people were perceiving my book. Some of that information was useful, and some of it needed to be dismissed. Come to think of it, though, even the stuff I dismissed helped me define who I did and did not want to be as a writer. So while I wouldn't recommend my path to anyone else, I think there can be a silver lining to any missteps we make in our publishing process.

January 22, 2014 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

MJ--It sounds as if you learned a lot...the hard way. But I need to say that most bestsellers do NOT have 5 stars. A four star average is ideal. The higher you go, the more people want to knock you down. Donna Tartt doesn't have 200 one-stars because she's a bad writer. Most people would kill to have her skills (and sales.)

A whole lot of reviews are written by sock puppets--people paid to give bad (or good) reviews, or trolls who just enjoy being evil. So before you take advice from one of them, see if they've written any other reviews. Usually they haven't, or every one will be identical. Don't assume that reviewers have read your book. They often simply paraphrase another bad review. I know an author of a novella who got at least 10 one-stars complaining the book was "too long and boring". The real reviews said the only thing wrong with it was it was too short. That's why I personally wouldn't take advice from any one-star review. If you learned something from sock puppets, it's like learning from an 8-Ball: you're doing all the work in your own head.

As far as taking the book down and revamping it, if it's not selling at all, no harm done. But if you're making sales, keep it up. Some people love books even if they're not well edited. Write a new one, hire an editor, and move on.

January 22, 2014 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Steven G. Cronin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 23, 2014 at 5:43 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donelle, the great thing is you can now write short stories about the characters in your novel series and they can be a gold mine for marketing (give them free to subscribers) or they can be sold as stand-alones or included in anthologies to get readers interested in your series. And yes, they're great practice.

January 23, 2014 at 9:35 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Maria--It's true: the best advice is "butt in chair". Some writers can work on several short pieces while they're working on a longer one. If you've got some essays going--especially if they're on the topic of your book--all the work is going to work together to raise your profile.

Alcott wrote some real potboilers before she settled into her Little Women style. Some of them have been discovered recently. Kind of over the top for a modern audience, I hear.

January 23, 2014 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger John Wiswell said...

Genre fiction looks very easy to write when you don't do it. It's my contention that most jobs you've never tried and know very little about appear easy, or at least dramatically less complicated and draining than they actually are.

January 23, 2014 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

John--A wise observation. I remember when Stephen Colbert tried to work as a field worker for a day. Toughest work there is, and some of the lowest paid. Or try waiting tables in a busy restaurant sometime. Newbies can end up in tears. And certainly, just because people don't teach a genre in college doesn't mean it isn't tough to write well.

January 23, 2014 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger LD Masterson said...

I don't remember ever being told not to waste time on short fiction, it just never dawned on me to try it. Then I wrote a couple for my local writing group, had one published, and now I'm happily writing long and short forms.

I have been told many times, however, to write whatever's popular - vampires, zombies, wizards, etc.

January 23, 2014 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

I can't believe some of this advice is actually floating out there! Thanks for the wise words, Anne :)

January 23, 2014 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LD--Maybe if you weren't writing short stories, the know-it-alls didn't feel they had to tell you how you were doing it all wrong. :-) I get told to write about zombies about once a week. Even if they were still hot, I could not write about falling in love with rotting corpses to save my life. But I sure do admire anybody who can come up with something new to say about them...or vampires.

January 23, 2014 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--You're lucky. You probably don't bop in and out of as many forums as I do. Yesterday LinkedIn suggested I join a writers group. In the thread of the group I think I saw pretty much all of these. For a moment I considered joining so I could link to this post and enlighten them, but then I realized they'd never read it anyway. People always believe in the "authority of ignorance."

January 23, 2014 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Marie Ann Bailey said...

Anne, thank you so much for responding to my questions. I will move forward with the mystery/crime series. It also makes more sense because there's much more character development in the series ... but I digress. I subscribe to your blog so I will keep my eyes open for the February 9 post :) Thanks again!

January 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger M.J. Pullen said...

Thanks for the reply, Anne! Of course I did my own gut-check about the negative reviews and only took into consideration the ones that I felt had a genuine point (there was a too-long flashback in the middle of my book that slowed the story down, which was pointed out even by some of the positive reviewers - it's since been a bit streamlined!). But you are so right that you do have to consider the source with all reviews. Looking for usable insight is like panning for gold where that's concerned. And great point about the 5-star reviews bringing on negative ones. That phenomena could be a whole blog in itself. Loved your post - thanks again!

February 4, 2014 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger LK Watts said...

Another brilliant post Anne. I'm a lover of chick lit too. In fact I've just recently published my first novel and it's featured on Sibel Hodge's blog.
http://www.sibelhodge.com/my-blog/a-step-too-far-by-lk-watts

Writing is a tough business but as long as you keep writing, reading and following blogs like these then you'll surely make it one day.

February 4, 2014 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LK--Congrats on the publication of A Step Too Far! Getting on Sibel's blog was a brilliant way to reach chick lit readers. Keep doing what you're doing and once you have a couple more books out in the genre, you'll see your career coming together.

February 4, 2014 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Richard Turner said...

I tried to order one of your books on my kindle, but, to them, you do not exist, only Anne Allen & Anne Allan.
Are you only available in the States?

February 5, 2014 at 3:40 AM  
Blogger Kamille Elahi said...

This is why I'm so wary of advice these days. Some of it is good but I think some does more harm than good.

February 5, 2014 at 3:48 AM  
Blogger LK Watts said...

Thanks Anne - I certainly hope so. I really want to market this book as I believe it's got a large potential audience. So I hope this strategy will get the book in front of the right sort of people.

February 5, 2014 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Richard--Thanks for your interest! Links to my books on Amazon.co.uk are on my "books" page. My books are available on all Amazon sites as well as Nook and some are on Kobo and Smashwords. I make a lot of sales in Canada. Did you put "Anne R. Allen" in the search window? You may have to put the book title in as well if you're in Australia, which is a newer site so I haven't sold as much there. But I've been on bestseller lists in Amazon.fr and Amazon.de, and Amazon.es. Where are you?

February 5, 2014 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kamille--You're right. We need to be wary of any advice that's absolutist and dogmatic. And always consider the source. People who are most authoritative in tone may be the least informed. Beware the "authority of ignorance."

February 5, 2014 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LK--These days it's "slow and steady wins the race". You don't need a splashy debut--you need to keep writing and slowly building name recognition. I'm sure you'll do great.

February 5, 2014 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I just went to the UK site and saw my bio was still the old one before I published the last three books, so thanks, Richard for getting me over there. I thought the US one migrated to the UK like the reviews. The problem may be that you didn't put the full stop after my initial. It's gotta be Anne R. Allen, not Anne R Allen. Picky Amazon elves.

February 6, 2014 at 10:41 AM  

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