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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, July 6, 2014

12 Dumb Things Writers do to Sidetrack Our Own Success

by Anne R. Allen

We writers tend to be a delusional lot. Most of us know the average writer doesn't make a bunch of money, but we secretly believe our own efforts will bring us fabulous fame and fortune.

Or at least pay the rent.

When we start out, we're certain our books will leapfrog over all the usual obstacles, and in record time, we will land on the NYT  bestseller list and the cover of Time. 

Don't be embarrassed. The delusions are necessary. If we accepted the reality of how hard it is to make a living as a writer, we'd never get that first sentence on the page.

But those delusions—and the fear of losing the comfort they bring—can take us on dangerous detours that can derail a fledgling career.

They did for me.

My own personal detours happened because I didn't learn enough about the business. People kept telling me to join RWA to find out the ins and outs of the industry (excellent advice, by the way), but since I didn't see myself as a romance writer, I didn't join until my career had been stalled for several years.

I was sure I didn't have to learn the business side of things. I'd have a magical fairy god-agent to deal with all the boring stuff.

I actually landed an agent with my very first query. Who promptly left the agency without telling me. I'd read in the literary agent guidebooks that the process is slow and you should never phone an agent, so I waited over six months before I called to ask what was going on. (Yeah. I wasn't kidding about the "dumb" part.)

I wasted most of that time writing almost nothing, because I was waiting for my agent to guide me. Should this be a series? Should I rewrite it as romance? If this doesn't sell, what other kind of book should I be writing?

I had four more agents after that. None of whom sold my books. Or gave me any guidance.

Turns out I might have been just a tad delusional about those magical fairy god-agents.

Here are some other dumb things I see a lot of beginning writers doing today. If you recognize yourself or a friend, check out some of the "get back on track" solutions to get that career off and running again.

1) Aiming too low 

Lots of brilliant writers never leave square one. They settle into a pleasant little comfort zone and never try to climb to the next step.

They enter—and win—the same couple of local contests every year and publish stories in the same handful of little magazines for decades. Nobody but the three judges of the contest and the five subscribers to the litzine have ever seen their work. But the writers get a thrilling little buzz every year from their wins and are scared of facing rejection in the larger marketplace.

Others never send their work out at all. They'll read the same book to a critique group for a decade or keep reading first chapters of books they never finish. I've met people at writers' conferences who always bring the same chapter of the same book to the workshops, year after year. I don't know if any of them ever get published. Or even finish their novels.

How to get back on track: Face your fears and accept that getting rejected is part of the process. Look at the "opportunity alerts" at the bottom of this column. Submit to a new magazine. Enter a contest with higher stakes. Finish that novel. Expand your world!

2) Aiming too high (a.k.a. not knowing you're a beginner.)

I cringe when a newbie writer with only a handful of credits tells me she will never write for free. Or after publishing four or five short stories an author says he'll never sell to anybody but Asimov's, Ellery Queen, or The New Yorker. Writers like this may say they're practicing the "law of attraction" by visualizing the big bux, but what they're actually doing is aiming to fail.

If you want to visualize yourself making it to the top of the success ladder, you need to visualize the whole ladder.

Even twenty years ago, expecting instant success was self-defeating. Nobody pole-vaults from the mailroom to the board room after their first paycheck. Especially in the publishing business.

And now, alas, we live in an era when everybody in this business works for free some of the time. Interns apprentice for no pay in literary agencies and publishing houses. Agents don't get paid until when/if they make a deal.

Even the rich and famous do it. Anne Rice pens Facebook posts all day long. Stephen King tweets. Tons of bestselling authors blog. All without remuneration.

How to get back on track: Accept that everybody has to start on the first rung of the ladder. Put in your 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours. If you write nonfic, write for smaller magazines, anthologies, and blogs and collect your clips. If you write mostly fiction, send those stories out to the non- and lower-paying litzines. The prestige you get from writing for some of them can be worth more to your career than getting a story into a higher paying slick monthly.

3) Taking an endless trip on the Query-Go-Round

Some writers never take the time to learn to write a good query. They keep sending out the same letter that calls their work a "fiction novel" and addresses the agent as "To Whom it May Concern" and talks about how their book is so much better than "all the crap out there."

Or they might fall for scams like this one, which charges $700 to write queries for you. (All query-mill letters are automatically rejected. Agents can tell.)

Or they can do the opposite and become query addicts. They send out queries on the same book for decades. They hone that query to perfection. They take all the workshops on querying at every writers conference they go to. What they don't do is work on the book. Or write another one.

These people don't want to discover what's really wrong:

  • That much-rejected book could be an unpolished gem that might get a contract if the author ran it through a few beta readers, cut the word count, and got somebody to proofread it.
  • Or it could be a finished masterpiece that just needs a good query.
  • Or it could be a polished book with a killer query, but the genre/theme is not trending right now. When everybody's looking for zeppelins, they've got zombies. Or the other way around.

But they'll never know if they're trapped on the query-go-round, addicted to the high they get from that rare request for a partial, then maybe a full, then waiting a year for the form rejection that says nothing. (Agents are very cagy these days. Their rejections are crafted to say nothing but "no thanks." And more and more, they reject with silence. Unfortunately, they've learned that any feedback at all can draw angry retaliation from crazed newbies.)

How to get back on track: Workshop the book if you haven't, and then write another one. Maybe not so trendy this time. Or look for a small press that specializes in your brand of zombie zeppelins. Or self-publish (but not until you've written zombie-zeppelin book #2. It's very hard to market a singleton title as an indie.) 

And if you're querying and have never read the Query Shark  or networked with the good people at QueryTracker, do. They may solve a lot of your problems.

4) Getting trapped with a bad agent and/or signing the first contract you're offered without reading the fine print

In these days of "forever" books and eternal bookshelves, bad contracts are much more dangerous than they were in the pre-ebook days.

You may end up signing away the rights to your book and characters for a lifetime—and even your children's lifetimes. 

Some publishers insist that you give the right of first refusal for every word you will ever write. Here's a cautionary tale from Jordan McCollum. There are lots of bad contracts out there, even with well-known agents and publishers.

And unfortunately, there are lots of incompetent and disappearing agents, scammers, and vanity publishers eager to lead you astray and deplete your savings.

If you have fantasies of a magical fairy god-agent, you could easily fall prey.

How to get back on track: educate yourself about the business before you jump in. Join professional writing organizations like  RWA  or SCBWI . Keep yourself informed by checking Writer Beware, and read popular publishing industry blogs like the Passive Voice. (Very indie oriented, but usually solid advice.)

5) Chasing trends

Some writers have files filled with half-written Twilight clones, maybe a Dan-Brown artifact-chaser, a couple of a YA Dystopians and 25 ½ Shades of Mommy Porn. They never quite finish any of their projects because, well, what they really like is family sagas or space operas, but everybody says those aren't selling.

How to get back on track: Don't follow trends; set them. Anything that's on the bestseller list now will be saturated and waning by the time you get a book finished, polished, edited and ready to go. Write what you love to read, not what's on the bestseller list or a hot TV trend right now.

6) Forgetting the part where you learn how to write

We've all met newbie writers who say stuff like: "Why should I have to study writing? I read all the time and I edit our Justin Bieber fan club newsletter. I'm a great speller. So I can write a novel, no prob."

These people don't understand that writing narrative is an intricate, specialized craft. Eating a sandwich doesn't teach a person how to bake bread. They wouldn't expect to be able to knit a sweater or play golf without some kind of instruction. So why do they think they can write a novel in a total vacuum?

I'm amazed how many people would rather spend 20 years flailing around writing badly rather than pay a few bucks for a workshop or a book on plotting or structure. 

Some of these people think they can hire an editor who will magically turn a bunch of random pages into a coherent novel. Anybody who's worked as a freelance editor has had to deal with a few of these. It's amazing when you see the horror on their faces when it dawns on them that writing a novel involves a whole lot of work.

How to get back on track: Take a writing class or workshop and buy a few books on writing. Nathan Bransford has a brilliant one called How to Write a Novel for only $4.99. Or try Save the Cat by Blake Snyder or How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey.

7) Partying like it's 1999

Some writers are hooked on old media. They don't want to know anything about online marketing and every year they launch a new paper book with a signing party at a local bookstore announced by an ad in the hometown newspaper, or postcards sent to a local mailing list.

The same twelve people come. Every year. Twelve people who would have bought the book anyway. Nobody else knows these authors have books, because they don't have a website or a blog or an Amazon author page and consider themselves "above" social media.

You Google these people and up comes the picture from when they campaigned for John Kerry in 2004.

If they're with a traditional small or mid-sized press, they may have an ebook, but they don't know how to get online reviews or set up an Amazon author page, so their book ranks at about #7,891,000.

Or they self-publish with a vanity press and insist on putting tons of money into a hardcover novel that nobody can afford.

How to get back on track: Join the 21st century. It may seem scary, but it's more fun than you realize. Take baby steps. Get a friend or relative to help you set up your Amazon author page. Start reading blogs. Molly Greene and Kristen Lamb give top-notch info on how to use social media on their blogs. Pick up Molly's Blog it!, Kristen Lamb's Rise of the Machines or, um How to be a Writer in the E-Age by yours truly and #1 Amazon bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde.

8) Refusing to accept that publishing is a business 

An amazing number of writers seem to think the writing life is a perpetual high school English class where there are gold stars for everybody. They are offended when publishers and agents are "mercenary" or "only out for money."

Newsflash: people don't run businesses in order to lose money. Not everybody can live off the Bank of Dad forever.

If you want to make a living as a writer, you have to learn how the business works.

You wouldn't try to open a restaurant if you'd never worked in one, but most new writers know nothing about the business they're trying to enter.

How to get back on track: Give up the magical fairy god-agent fantasy. Then go read the archives of Jane Friedman's awesome blog, subscribe to (free) Publisher's Lunch and follow a few agents on Twitter. Or pick up a solid book on how to self-publish like David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital.

9) Chasing that first-draft high 

We all live for that moment when we're in the zone and the muse is dictating that story as fast as we can write it down. Nothing's better than that.

But most of us know that euphoric high is fleeting.

Sooner or later we have to confront the reality that this book is not, in actual fact, the greatest cultural achievement in all human history, and we may have to, um, write a second draft.

In the middle of which we will be sure the book sucks.

But people hooked on that first-draft-high never get to the "my-book-sucks" stage. They never let a beta reader tell them about the holes in the plot or how it's totally confusing when Estella's name changes to Ralph halfway through. They'd never use a critique group. They never rewrite or hire an editor.

These self-adoring geniuses just go write another brilliant masterpiece instead. And another. And can't figure out why nobody wants to read them.

Whether they endlessly send the masterpieces to agents, or self-publish and constantly tweet "buy my book", they fail to become professional writers.

How to get back on track: Learn that the first draft is between you and your muse, but the final draft is for the READER. If you don't keep your readers in mind, you won't have any. It's simple as that.

10) Spending all your time and money on iffy marketing schemes 

There are thousands of blogs and books that promise you instant riches with ebooks. Most of them are out of date and all of them are lying. 

That's because nothing is certain in this business (except rejection and bad reviews.) Nobody can  fulfill a promise that you'll make the bestseller list or become a millionaire.

I know lots of people do fall for the hype and bullbleep because I see them all over the place: 
  • Writers who tweet their books 24/7—or pay somebody to—and constantly spam their FB friends. 
  • Blogging authors who are always running contests to give away book swag they've overbought and nobody wants.
  • Or they give away expensive gift cards to bribe people to "like" their Facebook page. A page those people will never visit again. 
  • Or they make boring book trailers and hammer friends and family to go "like" the videos on YouTube. Friends and family who are too busy, um, reading books. 
  • Or—this is the one that's trending now—they put a ginormous amount of money into a Kickstarter campaign designed to beg for an even more ginormous amount of money to pay a publicist to do all of the above.
And in case you still think tweeting your book boosts sales, I now have personal experience that says it doesn't. A sweet friend put one of my books into a tweet circle a couple of weeks ago and it got tweeted at least 500 times.

Guess how many books I sold that week? None. Zip Zilch Nada. I'd sold 40 the week before. So if anything, those tweets made people NOT buy the book.

How to get back on track: Look at what actual successful authors are doing. Hugh Howey built his huge audience by connecting with fans on his blog and on forums. Catherine Ryan Hyde and Anne Rice have constant interaction with their readers on Facebook. Catherine gives away lots of free books from her blog.

All these bestselling authors are connecting with their fans one-on-one, not "targeting" a faceless "them". Books have to be hand-sold. Marketing schemes don't work unless you're the Big Five and can load every chain bookstore in the world with huge front-of store displays.

And don't tweet your book unless you have news about it. Like that it's free for the next 24 hours, and you just got a rave review from Big Al.

11) Failing to write the book at all 

Speaking of gimmicks, I can't believe how many newbie writers get drawn into the Kickstarter game. They spend a bunch of money on a video ad for Kickstarter explaining how if you just give them a bunch of money, they will sign a book for you that they plan to write someday.

Oh, and they'll also need your money for an editor, a formatter, and a cover designer and of course, a book trailer, which will only cost $10,000.

Okay, it's true that if you do something truly outrageous on Kickstarter, like ask for money to make potato salad, a bunch of idiots may give you money. But this is not a good business plan.

Because here's the reality: anybody with a BookBub, Pixel of Ink, EBUK or KND subscription can get any number of brilliant books from bestselling authors for 99c-$3.99 these days.

Why would readers give $500 to a newbie who's got nothing but an idea? We all have ideas. Would you hire a hairdresserfor 500 times the going ratewho hasn't yet attended beauty school, just because he has a mental picture of a choppy bob with feathered bangs which would look totally sweet on you?

Kickstarter is a wonderful tool for things like reviving Reading Rainbow and the Veronica Mars movie. But you need to have something to offer the world besides your own neediness.

Here are some other ways wannabes avoid actually writing:

  • Endlessly talking out their books with other wannabes. 
  • Boring everybody they meet with blow-by blow descriptions of scenes from the novel they haven't started yet.
  • Spending a year decorating the room where they're going to write someday.
  • Obsessing about finding just the right software to compose in.
  • Blogging about the book instead of writing it.
  • Researching the book for decades without actually writing a word.

How to get back on track: Either put your butt in a chair and your fingers on a keyboard or figure out what you really want to do with your life. Hint: it's okay not to be a writer.

12) Not reading (especially in your genre)

I'm amazed at people who claim to want to be writers, but when you ask them what they're reading they go totally blank.

Or they’ll mention a bestseller of a decade ago as the last book they read. Or they say they read nothing but classics—which you strongly suspect they haven't read since college. They may even follow by telling you "there's nothing good out there."

It's awfully hard to write a novel contemporary readers are going to like if you haven't read anything published since The Great Gatsby. And it's impossible to write something Romance/Mystery/Thriller readers are going to like if you don't read (and love) those genres.

How to get back on track: Make time for reading every day. Especially new books in your genre. Consider it part of your writing routine. If you'd rather watch Dancing with the Stars or play a videogame, ask yourself why you want to be a writer. Are you trying to please Mom? Or Mrs. Hoolihan from fourth grade? Would you rather be designing videogames or sequined dance costumes? That's okay. 

And probably pays better. 

This is a great profession if you love it, but there are no shortcuts and the pay is pretty lousy for all but a handful of superstars. If you'd rather be doing something else, let go of the delusions and go follow your bliss, wherever it takes you.

What about you, Scriveners? Have you been sidetracked by any of these detours from your writing path? How did you get back on track? Do you have any other pitfalls to warn us about?  

Oh, and you can hear a half-hour excerpt of my comic novel NO PLACE LIKE HOME narrated by C.S. Perryess and moi every Sunday night at 9 Pacific time, streaming at http://esterobayradio.com/ or 97.3 FM if you're in the Morro Bay area.


How To Be a Writer in the E-Age: a Self-Help Guide has been republished again! 
It is again available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA and all the other Amazon stores. 

It was not un- & re-published by choice. Our agent suddenly left her agency where we had been published with an "agent-assisted self-publishing" program, and without warning, the agency unpublished the book and sent us the files about two weeks ago. It was a "Yikes!" moment for this cybermoron. Especially since Catherine was on vacation at the time. But with some generous help from the kind tech blokes at EBUK, the book was back up within 24 hours. It took another two weeks and several requests to the Zon for our reviews to migrate, but as of this weekend, they're back. 

And I think this means that I am finally over my fantasies about those magical fairy god-agents (not that it was our agent's fault, but intra-agency squabbles happen, and authors need to be on our toes.)

Unfortunately all this happened the day the paper book was supposed to go to the printer. Needless to say, that has been delayed. I'll let you know when that finally happens.

This is one of the few guidebooks that addresses both the writers who hope to traditionally publish AND indies. We even give some info to help you choose. Also lots of stuff on how to blog, use social media, get critiques, deal with agents and avoid scammers...without driving yourself nuts.

"The moment I started to read "How to be a Writer in the E-Age" I knew it was a winner in every sense. The information is not only valuable to new authors, it's relevant to published authors who might be thinking about making the switch to e-publishing, too." Ryan Field, reviewer

"This comprehensive, humorous and down-to-earth guidebook covers our ever-changing industry, our growing choices, and lays down what we can expect at the end of our road so we plan our travels well." Joanna Celeste, reviewer at Joanna Celeste's book blog

"I hadn't done much writing in recent years, but this book opened my eyes to many new things. I've now started a blog and following the suggestions in this book, have many more followers than I thought possible"...Travel Blogger Sil Cadenasso


CHICKEN SOUP - HEARTFELT STORIES BY MOMS Pays $200 for 1,200 words. Stories can deal with the pains and highlights of motherhood, the wonders of parenting grandchildren, special moments of raising a newborn, being a role model to a teenager, or anything that touches the heart of a mom. Deadline September 30.

Want to Appear in Writer's Digest? Here's how. Have you ever tried to write a book in a month-as part of NaNoWriMo, with a writing group, or just on your own? What was your experience? WD wants to hear from you. Tell them about your write-a-thon! Send your story-along with your full name, city and state to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with "BIAM" in the subject line. Responses may appear in Writer's Digest publications and/or on WritersDigest.com.

Short Romance stories with holiday themes: Crimson Romance Ebooks (A division of F & W, publisher of Writer's Digest Books) is looking for holiday themed shorts (10K-20K words) Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa 2014, New Year's Even 2015, Deadline: August 15th

BLUE EARTH REVIEW FLASH FICTION CONTEST $2 ENTRY FEE. 750 words or less. Limit two stories per entry. First place $500. Second place $250. Third place $100. Winners will be published in the Blue Earth Review, the literary magazine of Minnesota State University. Deadline August 1.

A ROOM OF HER OWN FOUNDATION ORLANDO PRIZES $15 ENTRY FEE. Four Orlando prizes of $1,000 each and publication in The Los Angeles Review are awarded twice yearly for a poem, a short story, a short short story, and an essay by women writers. Deadline July 31.

Mash Stories: No entry fee. $100 prize. Quarterly short story competition aimed at promoting new talent. Flash fiction up to 500 words. Must incorporate the words: monkey, cathedral, relativity. Stories are voted on continuously throughout the submission period. Shortlisted stories are featured on the Mash website, professionally narrated on Mash podcast, and included in their magazine Deadline July 15.

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Blogger CS Perryess said...

Hey Anne,
I've met many of these mistake-makers. I probably belong in several categories at once, none to the extreme, but enough to keep me from getting much of anywhere. Thanks heaps.

July 6, 2014 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Publishing is a business? No...!
I'd wondered how well the Kickstarter campaigns worked. I have writing friends who've done it, some with success, some without hitting the mark.
First draft high? What on earth is that? I hate my first drafts. Or rather I hate writing them. Editing is much more fun.
While I've Tweeted about a sale once, I've never Tweeted about buying my book except on release day. I know authors that do though. Guess you just proved how effective that isn't!

July 6, 2014 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Greg Strandberg said...

Good post. I'm going to use that baking bread analogy on unsuspecting victims :)

July 6, 2014 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Yes and a thousand times yes. Another stellar, useful post, thanks Anne. It comes through so clearly how hard you've thought about this, from the hairdresser analogy to potato salad- I think to myself, how could it be so wildly funny and yet not in the least exaggerated.

I want to rank-order the dangers for me personally, just so I can set them in line:

YIKES (greatest danger,yep this is me)
6 and 7 (way too proud of my ability with words,and probably the least skilled technology analyst on earth. Hand raised, two counts guilty)
11 (I let my characters stump me far too often for far too long. I = wimp)
12 (not reading- it's true,I claim to be too busy, but really.. #9 and #11)

Meh,Sure (middle ground)
2 (aim too high, I am a bit lazy)
8 (I'm so-so at biz, but I like learning)
9 (first draft high, not so much. But I am VERY defensive about what I have written. It's a mediocre draft, sure, but it's MY mediocre draft!)

HAH, AS-IF (the furthest thing from dangerous to me)
1 (me, aim low? Where would I stash all this vanity?)
3 and 4 (nothing to do with agents poses me the slightest threat)
5 (ain't no trends over here, just one world)
10 (no money reduces visibility to spam marketing)

I note with some pride that one thing you don't warn of as universally dumb, is going indie. If that was intentional, I agree- no move is perfect, but I'd be hard pressed to think of one colleague who's regretted cutting the cord.

July 6, 2014 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--I've been in a whole lot of these categories myself. It's amazing how the subconscious seems to want to keep us from succeeding.

July 6, 2014 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--Some Kickstarter campaigns work because people have a lot of friends who are willing to chip in. But I see so many sad ones I know won't go anywhere and I wonder what they were thinking. I figure they got some bad advice from somebody.

I've had books that sailed onto the page along with that euphoria, and others that were pulling molars all the way. My current one seems to be like that. Sigh.

July 6, 2014 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Greg--I came up with the sandwich analogy just before I posted. I'm glad you like it. I never know if I'm being inspired, or just silly. Especially since I'm sick right now and on heavy meds. I first posted this as '10 Dumb Things" I couldn't even count. :-(

July 6, 2014 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Wm--Thanks for the great, detailed comment. I actually cobbled this together from two unfinished posts and got the numbering all wrong the first time it went live. I've been deathly ill since Tuesday and my brain is only at half-power. So if this makes any sense at all, it's slightly miraculous.

I certainly don't think it's dumb to go indie. I know way too many successful indie writers to say that. In fact I suggest it as one of the solutions to the Query-go-Round. Lots of genres aren't on agents' wish lists right now, but that doesn't mean the readers aren't there.

And as you'll see if you look at my Book of the Week entry, I just became officially self-published this week. HOW TO BE A WRITER is now officially self-published by CRH and me. What a scary time. But I got it re-published in our names (with a little help from my friends.)

July 6, 2014 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne, brilliant! Dumb Is Us—and we need to learn (and keep learning over and over) how to stop the dumb.

As Yogi Berra said: Half of this game is 90% mental. He was talking about baseball but same thing applies to writing. Getting out of your own way is the *real* challenge.

Novak Djokovic just beat Roger Federer to win Wimbledon. In the post-game interview he spoke about how hard—really, really hard—it was for him to deal with his inner doubts and demons. He's currently #1 in the world and, if it's hard for him, you know what that means for the rest of us.

July 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--LOL the Yogi Berra quote! So true in its lovely garbled way. Yeah, we keep doing the dumb stuff. Like today I couldn't count how many things were on my list. Sigh.

Fascinating about Novak Djokovic. Even when you're #1, you have self-doubt. So we're all up there with the greats in that department.

July 6, 2014 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

The only one I don't agree with is #2. I've been hearing it for years. People said, "Go for the easy stuff and get your credits built up," but when I did it, I discovered it wasn't worth much of anything. In fact, it was a rude shock when I applied to two different writing organizations and was told my 50+ credits didn't count at all.

Not only that, I discovered that by writing for those publications instead of the high level ones -- even if I was going to get rejections -- I was sending a message to myself over and over that I wasn't good enough to do better. That affected my writing. I came away from a writing message board where I saw people publishing that years and years, and they never went any higher.

I think one of the problems is that writing is so hard to get into. There can be a huge learning curve that takes many years, and it's often very discouraging because it can feel like the story is being sent off into a black hole. But the most important thing is to not sit back and wait for an acceptance, but to get the next project in play.

July 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Emerald O'Brien said...

Great post. I know I need to spend more time learning from workshops, articles, and reading in my genre (I always find this the most exciting). You've given me a good reminder to make these things happen more frequently.

July 6, 2014 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--I think the trick is knowing where you are on that ladder. The people you are talking about sound as if they're stuck at #1. The chances of being published by the New Yorker are pretty slim if you've only been published in the church newsletter. You're only going to get discouraging rejections. But if you've been published for years by prestigious small magazines, then it's time to set your sights higher.

And you're absolutely right that the important things is to not let the rejections get you down and go write something else.

July 6, 2014 at 12:14 PM  
OpenID paulfahey said...

Hi, Anne, first, hope you're on the mend health wise. That's number one for all of us. This is such a great post with so many things we writers should pay attention to. To comment on one: For years I was content to write flash fiction and publish in obscure lit mags and some not so obscure. I was sure I'd found my niche and totally convinced myself to stay put. But what happened is I was writing pretty much the same thing over and over with the same plot structure. I wasn't growing at all. When I started pushing myself to write longer short stories and then novellas, the magic happened and now I'm even thinking of a novel one of these days. So "expanding your work and your world," as you said, really hit home with me. So many good things here. Another "have to bookmark" post. Paul

July 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

I figured that I experienced about half to three quarters of those in some way, shape or form in the past 8 years or so. Fortunately, I was able to snag some sound advice from good writer friends, so when I decided to serious up with my writing in 2009, it made a world of difference.

I'm still toying with the idea of taking a creative writing class, if only to get an idea on where I might be able to improve/tighten my writing. In the meantime, I'll keep practicing my writing on my blog and acquiring sound advice to apply to my various writing projects.

I've had my reality check way early on, so I'm definitely under no delusions of grandeur with my writing. I recently reacquired the rights to my first commercially published novel, so I have that rare chance of making a 2nd impression with said novel, which by the way I'm running a contest on, 'cause we all know that a title can make or break a novel.

Father Nature's Corner

July 6, 2014 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

I was just thinking about #6, about the misconception of I've read a lot of books therefore I can write. So, been there, heck, maybe I'm still there, but at least I got myself into a couple of critique groups and started reading "How To Write," books.

I see this a lot in my critique group as well. Lots of excuses or the old, "You just don't get me."

My big embarrassing mistake was more like #2. I started querying WAY too early. I thought my 170K tome was ready to go. Thank God for thoughtful agents who asked, "Are you planning on making this two novels?" Doh! Much too long. A year later I'm at 120k and still looking to snip a little more fat.

Man, I wish I would have had this advice two years ago, but I've got it now. Thanks for putting it out there in an easy to understand and humorous way!

~ Tam Francis ~

July 6, 2014 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Emerald--It's amazing how we don't let ourselves read. I have that problem myself. I'm halfway through three different mysteries--all of which are great--but I keep thinking I should be DOING something. I have to remind myself that just kicking back and reading is actually doing something very constructive for our careers.

July 6, 2014 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--This is a doozy of a bug. I keep thinking I'm getting back to health and then I try to do something stupid, like stand up. :-)

Your own career is a perfect example of what I'm talking about in the post. You were comfy in your niche and didn't see why you should venture out. But as soon as you did, you got a publisher and your career took off. Congrats!

July 6, 2014 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G, B. You're running a contest for a new title for your book? How fun. I'll have to check it out. Great idea!

Classes can be helpful if you take from them what you need and don't take anything as gospel. I found the most useful ones for me were the ones in structure and story arcs. I was clueless about structure when I started out. I just had a series of episodes. We each have our own weak spots.

July 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--Some people really don't want to learn how to write yet. If they take a class, it will make things too real and they'd rather have the fantasy.

Querying too early is the #1 mistake of new writers. I did it myself.

If you've got a 120K book, are you sure you don't have two? Short books are the thing these days. You might even have the beginning of a series. Maybe that jitterbug dress could be worn by many girls through the decades, with each one getting a book of her own? Just a thought.

July 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Donna Fasano said...

Anne, I veer off the path often. *sigh* Thank you for always helping to get me back on track!

July 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great post. And you did it under the haze of illness! I recognize all of these in myself and or others. It helps to see it in black and white (well, black and green) Take care of yourself!

July 6, 2014 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger florence cronin said...

Heavens to Betsy ... have we all done the same dumb things? I suppose. I've falling into the trap of at least half of these and consider myself lucky to have two good people on my side who are brutally honest. Thanks for another great one ... we can't win the game if we don't want to put the dollar on the table. Take a chance. you never know what might happen :)

July 6, 2014 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Julie Musil said...

A very accurate list, Anne. Publishing with magazines was a great way for me to gain confidence, and realize that I could write something of value. But I quickly moved on. I guess you could say I wasted a couple of years hoping for the coveted book deal, but you know what? Even that time wasn't truly wasted. It gave me time to improve my craft. Plus, the indie revolution was gaining speed. By the time I decided to no longer chase a contract, I was ready to jump into indie--without looking back.

July 6, 2014 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Hein said...

Partying Like It's 1999 - what a great way to put it. So many of us think we'll do a few signings and become best selling authors. Nope. Writing is a business that requires us to stay on top of the trends and latest business practices.
Thanks for another excellent post.

July 6, 2014 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

When I started writing I dreamed of those booksignings with people standing in line to buy my book. LOL. Not quite reality.
Great advice on all counts.

July 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Judy Watters sent this comment via email:

Thanks for the reminders of all the Dumb things I have experienced personally. Thanks too for the resources, wise advice, and encouragement.

July 6, 2014 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donna--Even you? Since you're a USA Today bestselling author, that shows you can get sidetracked no matter where you are in your career!

July 6, 2014 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--It happens to all of us. Yeah, I think I have to rest a few more days. I don't bounce back from diseases the way I did when I was younger.

July 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--I think these are pretty universal. I have aimed too high, then aimed too low when I got discouraged; deluded myself that my work was magic, then decided it was crap and hid it away for years. But you're absolutely right that we can't win the game if we don't play!

July 6, 2014 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--I think a lot of us have taken that career road. Especially a few years ago when it was easier to get paying gigs at magazines. Then we'd go for the book deal, write another book, go for another agent/deal and rinse, wash, repeat.

But self-publishing has changed the game. Once you've been at it this long you're going to have a pretty polished product. That means it will stand out and find an audience. I'm so glad indie is working for you.

July 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elizabeth, We can't be blamed for getting stuck in the old paradigm. We've seen it in movies and TV shows all our lives. And a lot of writer-oriented publications seem to act as if the digital revolution hasn't happened. So we have to get into the blogosphere to find out what's happening, and some people find it intimidating. Thanks!

July 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Susan--Oh, me, too! I had my outfit all planned. What pen I'd use. Seriously. We all do it. But the world has changed. There are other ways to sell books now. We don't even need a special outfit. :-)

July 6, 2014 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Judy--Thanks for taking the time to contact me via email. I wish I knew what made Blogger reject some IDs and not others. You even have a gmail account which means they should love you.

We've all done the dumb things. We're all in this together. :-)

July 6, 2014 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ann West said...

I second that WRITE THE BOOK part. :) I finally wrote a novella after a 3 year hiatus and the darn thing is ZOOMING up the best seller charts! I"m still shaking my head on that. Other authors are asking me what I did and I'm like "I reached out to my network of writer friends, readers, and picked a hot selling genre category and keywords." Trust me, I know this genre well. I weekly pay a king's ransom for my next Darcy fix! :)

And #7 I was the opposite. I partied a little too hard like it's 2099, so I constantly was fascinated by the latest and greatest, from learning to code apps to web development. I was more interested in learning the new technical aspects of the ebook formats available and their capabilities than writing another book for too, too long.

Great post Anne!

July 6, 2014 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger ryan field said...

Great Post. I agree with everything (and I, too, usually learnt he hard way :)

I also think it's important to try to get the point out to new writers that they may or may not get lucky with that one book they've been working on for five or more years and it may or may not become a big book. In other words, if you want to be a writer now you have to think like a business person and you can't sell from that proverbial empty cart. Especially in genre fiction. Yes, the good thing about e-books is that they are around forever, and I think they can be promoted forever. But writers need more than one book to build a career.

July 6, 2014 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Belinda Pollard said...

Oh Anne. I've laughed so hard I've got tears streaming down my cheeks. Thank you, you precious thing.

July 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Belinda Pollard said...

And as a disclaimer, I'd like to confess that at different times I've done at least 15 of these 12. ;-)

July 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM  
OpenID internetdiderot.com said...

I know a friend, in a Creative Writing program no less, who "doesn't read" because he doesn't want to taint his natural writing voice. I really hope he's grown out of it in the years since I heard him say that.

July 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elizabeth--Major Congrats on the mega-success of your new Jane Austen-inspired novella, The Trouble with Horses. I tell people not to chase trends, but Janephilia is a trend worth following, since it's been going on for 200 years or so.

You're right that some younger people go to the other extreme and get so caught up in tech they forget about the books. Good for you that you got back on track!

July 6, 2014 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ryan--Excellent point. Even if that fantasy comes true and your first novel makes it to the top of the NYT bestseller list, it may not be the best career move. I know a writer that happened to and he froze up and could not finish the second book in his contract for several years. It didn't do as well and he had to start back at square one. Not a fun thing to go through. You seriously need at least two books before you start to publish.

July 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Belinda--I'm glad I gave you a laugh. Mostly I cringed as I wrote this, inspired by all the clueless things I've done. I think most writers have, if we'd just admit it.

July 6, 2014 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Internet--I hear that stuff all the time. "Oh, I don't want to read Margaret Atwood because I might start imitating her." And that would be a problem...how?

July 6, 2014 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ann West said...

I didn't chase the trend. I've been a Janeite since 2005. :) Just took me 9 years to be brave enough to write my own. I was very afraid because I don't have a Ph. D. in British Lit or because I haven't studied Regency history as keenly as I have say Tudor or American history that I couldn't write a quality piece. Many of the authors in the community have accolades that will make your knees shake under your gown! LOL

But I think it was a writing book by James Scott Bell that said something about historical to the point of the historical details can enhance the story, but it's still fiction, so make stuff up! And that's what I did. I wrote a novella that *I* would love to read again and again and it was such a passion project, the novella was written in just 10 days.

You cannot chase the Austen trend because the community will rise up and smite you, LOL. But if you make an honest effort to learn the expectations, then give it your best, and yeah, some may not like it, but others will appreciate that you tried.

July 7, 2014 at 3:53 AM  
Blogger Glendon Perkins said...

Fantastic post. It amazes me how many writers don't read. I've seen this situation over and over. Or when they are reading they don't pay attention to the writing basics in the story. I see dozens of questions asking if this is okay or that okay, or can someone tell me where to put periods in reference to quotation marks. I always want to ask them if they read books.

July 7, 2014 at 4:04 AM  
Blogger Julie Valerie said...

So glad How To Be a Writer in the E-Age: a Self-Help Guide is up and running. I refer to it all the time. I love that book. And I love this blog. You always seem to know exactly what I need to read on that particular week.

How do you do that?

Do you have some kind of superhero power?

Like you can read minds or sense our fingertips and know what terms we're searching on Google? And if you do have a special superhero power, does that power come with a really great wardrobe? Maybe something with gilded stars in your hair and a cape or something? Maybe shoes that help you run really, really fast? Because you know it's all about the superhero's super power . . . but it's ALSO about the superhero's snazzy outfit!

July 7, 2014 at 4:41 AM  
Blogger Churadogs said...

Excellent post. Interesting how everything you write here also applies to all the "Arts" and even applies to anyone thinking about starting and running a business.

July 7, 2014 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger Caroline Bock said...

Anne-- I am keeping this as a checklist!! One resource I would add: AUTHORS GUILD. They provide a terrific service to members -- members can request that their legal department review a publishing contract — invaluable for new and established writers. I continue to find the Authors Guild extremely helpful resource.

Also, as someone who writes novels, as a break, and as to get the 'whoo-hoo' moment of actually finishing something, I've started to write "flash fiction." You are right! There is no better feeling than finishing a piece, no matter how long or short.... Caroline (author of Before My Eyes from St. Martin's Press, 2014).

July 7, 2014 at 5:58 AM  
Blogger Laura Bear said...

Anne, thank you for this terrific post and hope you are feeling better soon. I recently signed a contract with a small press for my first novel and I have been trying to avoid as many newbie mistakes as possible. That said, I am bound to make plenty! Thank you for the guidance.

July 7, 2014 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Elizabeth--I meant that "chasing Jane" to be tongue in cheek, but you make a great point. .Don't try any kind of specific sub-genre unless you're already an avid reader. 9 years gave you a long time to absorb all that information and know just what the readers want.

July 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Glendon--I am too. Especially the ones who say they don't read because they don't want to be influenced by great writers. Um, why not?

But you do have to cut people some slack with dialogue punctuation. The Brits have a whole different set of rules and even I get mixed up about which side of the pond I should follow. Yanks don't like lonely punctuation outside of parens and quotes, but Brits do.

July 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Julie--LOL thanks for a laugh on a gray Monday morning. The idea of me in tights and a cape wearing a tiara is hilarious. Imagine Melissa McCarthy at sixty as WonderWoman and you've got the picture. :-)

I'm so glad you're still finding How to be a Writer in the E-Age useful! CRH is working on the paper version as we speak.

July 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger ryan field said...

Exactly. And for many reasons, self-confidence being a huge factor.

July 7, 2014 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Churadogs--Great point. All artists have to go through a delusional period or they'd never get their careers started. And entrepreneurs, too. You gotta have that dream, crazy as it is, and then slowly drizzle in the reality, bit by bit. And of course, having a writing career IS running a business. If we don't see it that way, we can be headed for catastrophe.

July 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Caroline--Not everybody would agree about the Author's Guild. It is very, very anti-indie and won't accept any members who have been published outside of the US. Also online publication doesn't count for clips. They turned me down several times. They may have changed their rules since then, but generally they only want Big Five published authors or freelancers who write for big US corporate slick monthlies. Very stuck in the 20th century. But for authors who are in old school contracts with old school publications, they are probably still valuable.

Great tip about writing flash fiction between novels. Excellent idea on many levels. You get that thrill of accomplishment and you can reach a different set of readers.

July 7, 2014 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laura--Congrats on signing with a publisher! I'm sure they'll help steer you in the right direction on a lot of this stuff. The important thing to remember is marketing only works if you connect genuinely with readers.Best of luck with your book!

July 7, 2014 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Claude Nougat said...

Wow, Anne, spot on advice! I couldn't agree with you more on every point - particularly the one about Twitter: I've said so on my blog at least 2 years ago, Twitter does NOT help to sell, it's a lure, a mirage and an idiocy. Twitter is not a marketing platform. Facebook is a little better, but not much.

Actually social media is NOT the place to sell a book, think of it: a recent Gallup survey found that ONLY 5% of people on SM actually use the advice they get there to guide their purchases...Yes, that means that 95% of the people you interact with on SM will NOT buy your book because you tell them about it!

July 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Claude--I saw that Gallup survey too. I'm glad you brought it up. 5% that's all 95% of people do not take recommendations from Tweeps. So just make friends and exchange information on Twitter, but don't expect it to work as a sales tool.

July 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Diana Stevan said...

Anne, as usual, you've given me much to think about plus some great links to explore. I agree with your points especially the one about excessive tweeting. I can't blame the authors for trying but it is off-putting. It is about relationships and word of mouth. Thank you again for your generosity. Wishing you humongous sales. You deserve it.

July 7, 2014 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Diana--Thanks. That's very sweet. We all work so hard at this stuff. Some things work and some don't and nothing is sure-fire. (Well, except maybe that picture on the cover of Time LOL.) So we have to keep trying and hope something sticks.

July 7, 2014 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Molly Greene said...

I am late to the party as usual, but at least I'm not partying like it's 1999! Thank you so much for the shout-out, Anne, and thanks for your consistently fabulous posts that both inform and inspire. I've learned to be a good blogger by watching you!

July 7, 2014 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Jensen said...

Great post, Anne! I'm guilty of some of these, but fewer now than in my early days. And I'm so glad for the indie-friendly feel. When I was querying my middle-grade time travel and found myself hoping the agents would say no, I knew it was time to head out on my own. E-book release is August 1, with the print release a few weeks later, so I'll be sure to return to this as I promote!

July 7, 2014 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Molly--LOL. Yeah. I know a lot of them, especially my generation. They think the Internet is a fad that will blow over. Thanks a bunch. I learn a lot from you, too!

July 7, 2014 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jennifer--We're definitely indie-friendly. Ruth has been self-publishing for years and I just self-published my first book last week (not by choice, but we all have to start somewhere--check out my story in the "Book of the Week" section.) There are lots of reasons to go indie. And lots of reasons to take the trad. route. It's all about what works for you and your book. Sounds like you're following your heart. Always the best plan. Best of luck with your launch!

July 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Caroline Bock said...

Anne, I honestly didn't know that about the Author's Guild -- and I just checked and yes, of course you're right that they have qualifications for different membership levels and favor major publishing houses. I had a contract with Rodale (an indie publisher though admittedly an established one) when they reviewed my contract so I didn't think twice about posting the note, when I should I have double checked.

Anne, overall your advice is so helpful for writers at all stages...and I truly appreciate it! Caroline

July 7, 2014 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Caroline Bock said...

Anne, I honestly didn't know about membership qualifications and should have researched. But yes, you're right. I had a contract with Rodale when I dealt with the Author's Guild (an indie but a substantial one) so I didn't think twice. Next time I post something like that I will research!! Thank you for writing such a great blog for writers at all stages of their career!! Caroline

July 7, 2014 at 6:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Caroline--Rodale is a solid mid-sized publisher. Congrats. Yes, Author's Guild does accept authors from mid-sizers too. I should have been more accurate about that. Even established small presses--as long as they're not UK or Canadian. They were kind of snotty when they rejected me--even after I was published in some prestigious US journals and I was a member of the National Writers Union, so I guess I've got hurt feelings. They are very old school and anti-new media, so I wouldn't suggest anybody try to join unless they've got gold-plated corporate credentials. It can feel pretty bad to get rejected by an organization that's supposed to be helping authors.

July 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Terry Tyler said...

Do people really do all this sh*t???!! Crikey, what a bunch of self-deluding losers!!!! Having said that, when I got into the Amazon UK top 100 (over 2 years ago and it didn't last very long, was a freak!), I felt.... scared. Odd, that. I realised how odd it was as it was happening.

I liked your comments about the writers who think they're above social media. 'Met' a few of them! The only thing I disagree with is your comments about Twitter - nearly all my regular readers originally came to me via the site.

Very, very interesting and entertaining post - thanks!

July 8, 2014 at 1:16 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

These are so true. The sooner that authors are willing to accept publishing as a business the better off they will be. The rule of thumb I've heard of social media is to market your book in 10-20% of your posts. The rest of your posts should have nothing to do with your book. Thanks for sharing.

July 8, 2014 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Terry--I'm a major fan of Twitter. I'm just not a fan of using it to spam your Tweeps. Twitter--and all social media--is for connecting and communicating, not for broadcasting endless advertising. If you to tweet about your book, make sure it's news: a sale, a new review, a new retailer, whatever. Not just "buy my book" 100 times a day.

I think instant success can be a little scary. That may be why some writers stay stuck and aim low.

July 8, 2014 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kathy--the 10%-20% rule is a good one. And the main thing is to use that percentage wisely. Make sure what you say is newsy and interesting, not just "buy my book".

July 8, 2014 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger sue mcginty said...

I've made most of these mistakes but number 4 really jumped out at me. So excited to have my second book published by a "real" small press, I neglected to ask about edits (none), press release ("write your own"), book price to authors (almost retail).
It's a good idea to have several knowledgeable people look over your contract before putting your books life on the line.

July 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Boy did you ever hit the nail on the head with this one! Ouch! I had an agent once, big name, who accepted my firs Tempe Crabtree mystery. I kept writing, sent another one in a year--never heard from her--finally asked to see my rejection slips--she'd sent the first book out twice in three years. Eeek!

Years ago was with another publisher, other series, first two books looked great--but I never got a royalty or royalty report from him. Nudged really hard, he sent me $42 said he guessed that was about it.

July 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sue--#4 was my sidetrack, too. Almost a decade with incompetent agents. Then a contract with a publisher who was well-meaning but under-capitalized. We're so desperate for that validation, we tend not to look at the fine print--or compare notes with other authors.

July 8, 2014 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Marilyn--Those are a couple of horror stories--but they're not uncommon. Even big name agents often don't do well by all their clients. They may make money off one or two clients and neglect the rest, or they may make all their money from speaking engagements and how-to-write books and never sell to publishers at all. And the publishers who don't send out royalty statements are more common than people realize. Even if you only earned $10, they are required to tell you about it.

July 8, 2014 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Kim McDougall said...

All great tips. Some of these things we should know instinctively, but need reminding. I've pinned this to my "Writing Tips" board. Thanks!

July 8, 2014 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Victoria said...

Thanks for all the reminders... it was sort of a check list... yup, did that. Oh, that too, oh yes, got that one... I'm hoping I have learned from it, though. I am a slow learner. I have set e age goals and am working to meet them. For example, linking my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and then posting to EACH. One to the party of friends (FB) and one to the cocktail party of pros. (T). Not necessarily the same stuff, but they are linked, in case anyone wants a little more. Sigh. It's so hard, I must lie down now... Victoria Heckman

July 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kim--I think the problem is that creative work is done with the aid of our "inner child" and sometimes that child hangs around and dictates what we do with that work. Two year olds are very creative, but don't make the best decisions. :-) Thanks for Pinning!

July 8, 2014 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Victoria--It does seem overwhelming, especially the social media stuff. But once you get into the habit, you don't need to spend much time there. We all develop slightly different audiences on each site, but Twitter tends to be more businesslike and FB tends to be more for play Google Plus is definitely techie hangout. Pinterest seems to be more for the visually oriented creatives. I haven't ventured there myself. And yes, when I think about it, I have to lie down, too. :-)

July 8, 2014 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger James A. Bretney said...

Brian McLaughlin tipped me off to your blog via Linkedin. Glad I read it

July 9, 2014 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

James--Welcome! I hope you'll stop by again. We have new posts every Sunday. Thank Brian for me!

July 9, 2014 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Jordan McCollum said...

How crazy to have come here via a Tweet and find myself linked! Thanks for sharing!

July 9, 2014 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jordan--Welcome! I tagged you in the post, but Google alerts don't seem to pick up anything anymore. The only ones I get these days are from spam sites. They need to redo their algos or something. Anyway, I'm glad you happened by!

Your experience isn't unique, but you wrote about it so poignantly. Your story serves as a cautionary tale for all new writers. Caveat Scriptor!

July 9, 2014 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger LD Masterson said...

I got as far as number two and starting chuckling. Should I admit I've done both one and two. We won't mention how many of the others.

July 10, 2014 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

LD--Me too! For the longest time, I only went for freebie magazines. Then I decided to send my stories to the New Yorker. Neither strategy did much to further my career. :-)

July 10, 2014 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Sara Litchfield said...

This is one of the most wonderful posts I've read, genuinely! I'm so glad I found you and Kristen Lamb early days in my pursuit of Project Get Published, which comes to fruition next month! Your advice is always stellar and entertaining to boot :)

July 14, 2014 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sara--Thanks so much! I've earned a lot from Kristen, too. Congrats on your upcoming launch!

July 14, 2014 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger E.J. Wesley said...

Beautiful post, Anne! Almost every writer I've encountered is guilty of at least a couple of these things. Which is to say, we all take a misstep here or there. Getting back on track, as you say, is the key.

July 18, 2014 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

E.J. I don't think many writers have avoided all these. I sure haven't. All part of the process, I think. Thanks!

July 18, 2014 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Anna aizic-meir said...

Ouch, the truth hearts, so my subconsciousness struggles to reject all truths, still holding on to my publicist- who charged me lots of $ to tweet about my book; and though I haven't sold any for that time, I keep my expensive publicist tight and close, as a pacifier, as my baby- blanky, close to my broken writers heart....

Naa..I let her go after she asked me to tweet myself and blog and....so what is that she will do besides collecting my bloody money?

Thanks for disillusioning- is it even a word- and wish I knew all that back then, before my book went life.
So off I go back to my drawing board to think and write...
Thanks Anne

July 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anna--If "disillusioning" isn't a word, it should be. :-)

I've yet to see a professional publicist campaign that pays its way, but I may just hang out with more people who are do-it-yourself types. But there are good publicity sites who get results. I've just heard of a new one that plans blog tours, cover reveals, etc, for a reasonable price "Book Partners in Crime". Starts at $30 for a cover reveal tour. I think those can create buzz. B

But you're right that the best thing for us to do is write.

July 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I'm late to the game, just saw the link to this article tweeted this morning. However better late than never as this post was so helpful to me and I thank you so much for all of the fantastic information. I'm delusional in many ways -- including about writing -- but I do make the odd attempt to face reality. You've given me perspective and I'm grateful. Best!!!

August 15, 2014 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jenny--Thanks for commenting! Writers need to be delusional, or we'd never get past page one. But some delusions are less useful than others. :-) I'm glad the post helped put things in better perspective for you.

August 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Rita Mailheau said...

Dear Ann,
Thank you for your candor.

I cringed my way through your list. I have bumbled my way through some of these painful lessons. I'm printing this list and tacking it to the wall to prevent future grief.

I'll be back!


September 2, 2014 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Rita--Thanks for stopping by! I'm honored to have a place on your wall! Yes, we've all done this stuff. As Ruth and I say, "we've made a full set of mistakes, so you don't have to."

September 2, 2014 at 11:54 AM  
OpenID ioaningeorgianmihail said...

Hi thank you for the work invested in here and for this tips.As a writer I believe that we always need to improve our writing style even if in year you tend to find more stability.I have some experience in writing,I write poems and elegies(long elegies hundreds of strophes),I use crossed rime,antic meter as rhythm,dialogue in strophes and greek mythology.Reading is highly important also cuz it can made you write better or at least gives you some good ideas.I finished some books,hard part with publishing cuz now the postmodernism is rulling.I have also in flaws.For now I just managed to appear in on cultural tv show for kinda on hour and in a news,but I'm not giving up.Writing is my life,I live to write and write to live

February 7, 2015 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

ioaning--Writing poetry is different from writing commercial fiction. I'm mostly addressing novel writers with this post. Poetry is probably never going to be commercial, but it feeds the soul.

However, my advice to read, read, read applies to all kinds of writers. Most of us aren't bilingual like you, but I think it helps to read in as many languages as you can comprehend. That brings richness to everything we create. Best of luck with your writing!

February 7, 2015 at 10:29 PM  

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