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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, November 1, 2015

5 Delusions That Block Writers from Professional Success

by Anne R. Allen


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

When we start out, we can't help visualizing our books leapfrogging over all the usual obstacles and soaring up the New York Times  bestseller list (perhaps as our faces appear on 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 keep a fledgling career stuck in Fantasyland.

They did for me.

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 started out with a couple of lucky breaks that unfortunately fed my delusions.

I landed an agent with a prestigious agency with my first query letter. And when he left the agency a few months later, I got another just as fabulous. Easy peasy.

Then, while the book was out on submission, I successfully published a second novel as a serial in an entertainment weekly with a substantial circulation. (I got paid per episode and made more money with that novel than my next two combined.)

But the first novel failed to sell and my second agent dropped me. Instead of capitalizing on my successful serial, I frantically tried to get another agent for the same book that had been shopped around by the first two.

Bad move. No agent wants to take on something that's already been rejected everywhere.

Another bad move: I started working on a huge, ambitious novel that took me five years to write instead of putting out more short stories and building up my publishing portfolio. I also disdained nonfiction. I didn't want to be a magazine feature writer.

I was a NOVELIST, dammit!!

But I didn't know that becoming a professional novelist takes a lot more than good fiction writing skills. You also need to learn to write good advertising copy, personal essays, and solid nonfiction pieces.

Plus you need to learn about the publishing business.

And it is a business. A life of creating art for art's sake is a lovely plan for an amateur with a secure independent income, but if you want to go pro, you have to learn the business side of publishing.

But I failed to study any of it and I let myself get stuck for years on the query-go-round with my old, rejected book, while I wrote and rewrote my magnum opus. I entered a few local writing contests, but didn't start submitting stories in a businesslike way. I got a couple more agents, but they couldn't sell my shopworn book.

People kept telling me to join RWA to find out the ins and outs of the industry (excellent advice, by the way), but I didn't see myself as a romance writer. Instead I signed with a small publisher in the UK that was trying to branch out from erotica into mainstream fiction. It involved getting to travel to England, so I'll never entirely regret my choice, but it didn't lead to financial success.

When I got one of the biggest breaks in my career, I didn't even recognise it as such. It came when a friend found an ad in a literary magazine for columnists for a Canadian writing zine called Inkwell Newswatch. She urged me to submit a writing sample (Thanks, Dorothy Segovia!) I wrote my first nonfiction article ever, got the job, and discovered I was pretty good at this nonfiction stuff.

It didn't feel like a big break at the time because I was deep in delusional fantasies of making it big with my second novel, even though by then my UK publisher was foundering. I put tons of energy into launching the book, but the company was soon to go belly-up.

What kept my career afloat? My little columns and articles in magazines and eventually, when the Newswatch closed its doors, this blog.

Here are some delusion-driven things I did that I still see going on with a lot of beginning writers today.

But hey, I made the mistakes so you don't have to...


1) Taking an Endless Ride on the Query-Go-Round


People who get stuck for years in query hell are often suffering from that "magical fairy god-agent" fantasy that kept me back for so long.

I'm not saying the query process isn't a long, tough slog. Getting an agent takes a lot of querying and not everybody is cut out for self-publishing. (And the most successful self-publishers have agents, too.)

But we need to keep learning and publishing short pieces and writing more books during the query process.

Otherwise we can end up endlessly going nowhere on the query-go-round. That's what happened to me.

I think I developed an addiction to the high you get with that request for a partial...then maybe a full...and then the fantasies you weave while waiting...and waiting...only to have your hopes dashed a year later when you get 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.)

Other writers get stuck on the query-go-round because they never take the time to learn to write a proper query and synopsis. They're relying on the brilliance of their work to hook the agent. 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 brags how their book is so much better than "all the crap out there." Their synopsis is ten pages long, but hey, it's okay to disregard agent guidelines when your book is genius.

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

Or they do what I did and become so obsessed with query writing, they forget to write better books. They send out queries on the same manuscript for years and hone that synopsis to perfection. They take all the workshops on querying at every writers conference they attend.

They become fabulous query writers and masters of the pitch and the synopsis...but they never write any new books and never get any short pieces published.

They don't want to discover what's really wrong:

  • That much-rejected book could be an hidden treasure that might get a contract if the author focused on polishing the book instead of the query. 
  • Or it could be a finished masterpiece that just needs a better query and synopsis. 
  • 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, you've got zombies. Or the other way around. 

Reality Check: 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 and Agent Query, do it. They may be your ticket off the query-go-round.

2) Believing Social Media Marketing Schemes will Make you a "Kindle Millionaire"


On the other end of the spectrum from the query addicts are the self-publishers who eat up all those books promising they'll become instant "E-Book Millionaires" by playing clever games with algorithms and social media. Thing is, those "Kindle Millionaire" books are as out of date as a 1970s book tour.

Partying like it's 2009 is not going to get you anywhere today.

There are thousands of online courses and books that promise you instant riches with ebooks and social media. I read some of them and tried some of the tactics after I finally found another publisher. Some of them worked very well. Then.

But nothing is certain in this business (except rejection and bad reviews.) What worked six months ago is probably useless now. And nobody can fulfill a promise that you'll make the bestseller list or become a millionaire.

I know lots of people are still falling for this old advice because I see them all over the place:

  • Writers who tweet their books 24/7—or pay somebody to.
  • Or constantly spam their FB friends with unwanted book ads (Especially erotica. Please, erotica authors, choose your target audience carefully. Not everybody likes their FB feed full of naked people in handcuffs.) 
  • Then there are those 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 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 recently I've had a barrage of Direct Messages from newbie authors who think it's the job of established authors to promote their books and blogs for them.
I suppose there's some new bad advice floating around out there saying: "Author-bloggers who already work 18 hours a day, LOVE to give up their few hours of sleep to promote newbie writers' work for free—especially newbie writers who can't bother to read their blogs or books. Make sure you bully them with phrases like 'I'm counting on you' and 'comment on my blog by the end of the day!' "

Um. No, kids. This is not how to sell books. Maybe some of this stuff worked 6 years ago, but it sure doesn't work now.

Reality Check: Look at what actual successful authors are doing. Hugh Howey built his huge audience by connecting with fans on his blog and Kindleboard 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.

Get great advice on what really works in book marketing from experts like Frances Caballo at Social Media Just For Writers and Penny Sansevieri at Author Marketing Experts.

3) Signing the First Contract You're Offered by an Agent or Publisher. (Especially a Self-Publishing Company.)


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 agents and publishers insist that you give them the right of "first refusal" for every word you will ever write. 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 or "subsidy" 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.

Ditto if you believe the vanity presses that tell you if you just throw enough money into marketing a book, you'll make millions.

Reality Check: 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 Preditors and Editors.

If you're thinking of going with a self-publishing company, read this piece from Jane Friedman: 10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Book Service.  And this one by Joel Friedlander: Is Your Book Held Hostage by a Subsidy Publisher?

And if you see any clauses you don't understand, especially if they contain the phrase "in perpetuity"—get thee to a lawyer.

4) Chasing Trends


An awful lot of writers have files filled with half-written Twilight clones, a couple of Dan-Brown artifact-chasers, a YA Dystopian, and 25 ½ Shades of Mommy Porn…with zombies. They never quite finish any of their projects because, well, what they really like is family sagas and women's literary fiction, but everybody says those aren't selling.

Yes, some fast-writing professionals can chase trends successfully. But if you're a newbie, your chances are slim. Most new writers can't produce a marketable book fast enough to cash in on any current trend.

Reality Check: Don't follow trends; set them.

Any subgenre 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. (What's hot on TV was probably trending in publishing a decade ago. Even zombies are stumbling a bit these days.)

Who would have thought that in the 1990s, an English boarding-school story with Halloweeny characters would ever sell? English boarding school stories went out decades before and fantasy wasn't selling. Besides, where would anybody put Harry Potter on a shelf? It wasn't horror like Goosebumps or a standard Enid Blyton boarding school story.

I'm sure there were people who told J.K. Rowling, "Joanne, sweetie, it's cute, but that boy wizard stuff will never sell. You should be writing chick lit like Bridget Jones Diary" or heartfelt women's fiction like Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchley. Or write about dinosaurs. Do something like Jurassic Park. This is the 1990s. You have to write what people are buying now."

And we would all have been the losers.

Write what you love. Because you love to write it. There is no other reason to write.

5) Expecting Instant Financial Success.


There's no such thing as overnight success. Learning to write stuff people want to read takes way longer than we imagine.

Also, it's increasingly tough to get paid to write. Yes, there are lots more opportunities out there for writers in the digital age, but there's also more competition..and lots more writers working for nothing and giving away free books.

I cringe when I meet writers with fantasies of making a living from writing from the get-go.

  • A newbie writer with only a handful of credits vows she'll "never write for free".
  • An author who has just finished her first novel brags that she'll only sign with a famous, established agent (newer agents who are building their lists are a much better bet) and they expect a huge advance. (Extremely unlikely. Advances are shrinking fast. )
  • After publishing four or five short stories, a writer says he'll never sell to anybody but Asimov's, Ellery Queen, or The New Yorker. (Even wildly successful novelists have trouble making the cut there.)
  • Or an author quits her day job after hitting "publish" on her first self-published ebook. 

Writers like this may imagine they're practicing the "law of attraction" by acting "as if" and 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 see the whole ladder.

Nobody pole-vaults from the slush pile to the bestseller list—any more than a new hire jumps from the mailroom to the boardroom after their first month.

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. Even full-fledged agents often have day jobs.

Reality Check: Accept that everybody has to start on the first rung of the ladder. Put in your 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours. And meanwhile check our weekly Opportunity Alerts and get your short work into the marketplace.

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. And enter contests! The prestige you get from placing in a well-known contest or a prestigious litzine can be worth more to your career than getting a story into a slick, commercial magazine.

Next week I'll talk about five more delusions that plagued my early career and may be blocking your own success. 

And we'll have a big announcement about major changes happening with the blog.

What about you, scriveners? Do you recognize any of your own delusions here? What gave you your first reality check as a writer? Did you have any delusions I missed here?


BOOK OF THE WEEK


The Gatsby Game is a fictionalized take on a real Hollywood mystery. The mystery of the death of David Whiting, a highly delusional con man, during the filming of a Burt Reynolds' film in 1973 has never been solved. Anne R. Allen knew David, and this is her idea of what might have happened.

David Whiting's death is also the subject of the 2015 LA Critics-Award-winning film The David Whiting Story, directed by Walter Reuben.


ON SALE FOR 99c This Week!

The ebook is available for 99c at all the Amazons and NOOK,

Available in paper for $10.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

It's also available at Scribd and Inktera and Kobo at regular prices.




When Fitzgerald-quoting con man Alistair Milborne is found dead in a movie star's motel room—igniting a worldwide scandal—the small-town police can't decide if it's an accident, suicide, or foul play. As evidence of murder emerges, Nicky Conway, the smart-mouth nanny, becomes the prime suspect. She's the only one who knows what happened. 

But she also knows nobody will ever believe her. 

.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS



The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

Win $$$ and BEER!! SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST  $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016. 

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann
. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th 2015

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1, 2015.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

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78 Comments:

Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some big changes? They can only be for the better. (And it rocks already. Better? Mind-blowing.)
You're right that what worked in the past probably doesn't work now. Even stuff that worked last year doesn't work now.
A lot of opportunities arise because of short stories. I'm enjoying writing them now and found a whole new niche. (And they are so much easier to write in terms of time, especially for slow writers like me.)
And if I'd written for trends, I never would've written science fiction...

November 1, 2015 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne—Thank you for the absolutely invaluable advice from someone who's been-there-done-that! There are soooo many ways to fail and no one knows the way to succeed. True about so many endeavors but especially publishing!

November 1, 2015 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger D.G. Hudson said...

This is the kind of information I love - someone speaking from experience like you are doing, Anne. What I write is alternate fiction based on partial fact (a story set in Paris) and science fiction (I write hard scifi, with elements of intrigue, romance, and far future settings, not space opera so much). I am writing subsequent books and haven't subbed for a while due to family medical problems, but I will soon try again. I may even self-publish the scifi or the other novel eventually. If anything, I'm tenacious. I'll be back to read the second part of your post. Thanks for sharing what you've learned!

November 1, 2015 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Alex--I sure hope the changes will be for the better. At least the blog will be safer.

How very cool that you're enjoying writing short fiction now. I need to get more into it myself. I'm a snail-paced writer myself.

And yes, space opera is not a trending genre. But it has a solid niche market. By finding the right small publisher you may have found the sweet spot for writing what you love.

November 1, 2015 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Ruth--I sure have made my share of mistakes. You're right that failure comes in all shapes and sizes. Not one of the five agents I had was a scammer or a crook. They were all honorable. But they couldn't make magic. I had the wrong book at the wrong time. I should have put it away and written something else. Eventually the market changed and it found a home. I do think publishing is tougher to succeed at than most industries.

November 1, 2015 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

D. G.--Sometimes it's hard to admit our mistakes, but I sure made a bunch of them. Alternate history and alternate realities seem to be a popular genre, (especially if they involve zeppelins) and sci-fi is a solid, if not huge niche. Both are genres with steady sales, so you should do well.

I relate to family medical problems. They can pretty much put the kibosh on a fledgling writing career. I hop things improve. Branding yourself as a "speculative fiction" writer might cover both books and let you explore other aspects of sci-fi/fantasy and appeal to he same audience.

November 1, 2015 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Excellent post. My first short story was published in 1992, I continue to live a novel-free writer's life, & even though I still haven't met my magical fairy god-agent, I'm still writing. Delusional? Definitely, but I'm having a good time of it.

November 1, 2015 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Tam Francis said...

Oooo man, am I number one on your list! Sheesh. I finally had to give myself a deadline. Time to just stop querying this novel, self-pub it, and move on to the next! I already work-shopped it, had a professional MS eval, and rewrote my query after several workshops. Time to move on! Love this advice. Should have taken it a year ago.

I also was disillusion about just because I have good traffic on my blog does not mean it translates into sales. Doh! Wake-up call.

Again, another great blog! Thanks!

~ Tam Francis ~
www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com

November 1, 2015 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger D.G. Hudson said...

It's worth a try, Anne. Thanks for the suggestion!

November 1, 2015 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

CS--I happen to know you're not novel-free. Just publisher-free. :-) But it will happen. Maybe not with a magical fairy god-agent, but maybe a small press. As I say, delusions are necessary, or we'd never get anything written at all.

November 1, 2015 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger Laurie Boris said...

This is pretty brilliant. Thank you. I was stuck on the query-go-round for years (I love that phrase) but backed away for a while so I could write those "better" books. Best thing I ever did.

November 1, 2015 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Melodie Campbell said...

This quote is going on my blackboard wall in class this week:
"And it is a business. A life of creating art for art's sake is a lovely plan for an amateur with a secure independent income, but if you want to go pro, you have to learn the business side of publishing."
Terrific blog, Anne!

November 1, 2015 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Christine Ahern said...

Great advice. Again, thank you for sharing the wisdom you have attained through your experience. You are very generous. I especially like, "If you want to visualize yourself making it to the top of the success ladder, you need to see the whole ladder." Most of us really don't want to do that. It is too daunting! But, so necessary. Looking forward to your news about you blog!

November 1, 2015 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Louis Shalako said...

As a (talented) amateur with a secure income, yeah, absolutely. Creating art for the sake of creating art is a wonderful thing. I won't give that up for *a pig in a poke* as my grandfather would say. Other than that, if I join the fray, I shall try not to get burned or lose too much skin....unless it is for sufficient recompense.

November 1, 2015 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Don't quite agree with #5. Yes, writers shouldn't expect instant financial success. There's way too many who think they've written a novel and it should become a best seller--and the learning curve is huge.

But I also think it's a bad idea to encourage writers to write for free. I used to not think that, because I felt like some of the stories I was writing didn't fit in with paying magazines. But I also found myself looking at the magazines and their rejections rates and told myself I'd never get in those magazines.

That I wouldn't be good enough. As a result I stayed in the free ones and didn't learn skills that would get me into paying magazines. But I started taking some advanced writing courses that pushed me, and I started to see how destructive writing for free was. One class was for short stories, and I sent a story from it out to Fantasy a& Sci Fi--and got a personal rejection back. On almost every story since, I've gotten personal rejections back from professional paying publications.

I also got an invite to write for a literary magazine (not for a writing related reason). It didn't pay, and the quality of what they were getting was kind of inferior to the level of writing that I was doing. So I passed on it, and it wasn't a hard decision. I may not have a professional publication yet, but I'm not going to give my writing away.

November 1, 2015 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tam--I don't mean to say that everybody who's been querying a long time should self-publish. But it might be time to put your energy into a new book or some new stories. Who knows--your first book might be in a trending genre by then. Or you might have a second book in a series.

I sure hear you about blog traffic not translating into book sales. Especially if your book is fiction. My novel sales have no relation to blog traffic.

November 1, 2015 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Anne; Having made the same mistakes you did, I really loved your post. In my case, I had to write novels that had a waiting list of readers that i never knew existed before the magic happened. No, I'm not rich and famous, but I'm selling some books and love having readers say they love my writing. Plus, I hope to follow your blog no matter what you do with it. Faithful follower,

November 1, 2015 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's a comment from G.B. Miller. It got posted to the wrong blogpost. But it's an important comment and adds to the discussion:

Very delusional in regards to querying. It took me until I was doing my 2nd and 3rd go-round to realize how badly I messed up the 1st go-round (and yes, I seriously stunk up the East Coast with my querying).

Had the right idea about self-publishing, except it took me over 3 years to recover from the ASI fiasco I graced my ego with.

November 1, 2015 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Laurie--I'm so glad to hear you got off the ride to nowhere and wrote some more books. It's the only way most of us can have a career: labor in obscurity for longer than we think we can stand it.

But in the end, you'll have a bunch of books ready for a final edit that can launch into the marketplace in quick succession.

November 1, 2015 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Melodie--Thanks. I don't mean to say there's anything wrong with being a happy amateur. After all that's what Emily Dickinson was, and it didn't diminish the quality of her art. But most of us have to earn a living, so it's good to know how to do it with our books.

November 1, 2015 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Christine--You make a good point: visualizing the whole "ladder" at the beginning of the journey could have some daunting effects. But sometime after those first steps, we need to look at what's ahead and figure out how to get where we want to go.

November 1, 2015 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Louis--As I said to Melodie Campbell above, there's nothing wrong with being a "happy amateur". Some of our greatest writers and poets haven't earned a living with their words, and that doesn't diminish the value of what they wrote. You're lucky you can write what you want and not worry about the marketplace. People like you often set the next trend!

November 1, 2015 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's a comment that came via email

"Thanks for this post. As a self-published author I have no delusions. I enjoy writing. If a reader buys my book and I receive positive feedback, yay! I’m on cloud-nine. I see many writers around me who follow this crazy dream that one day they’ll hit the big time! I already have. I’ve met a group of interesting and wonderful people, they’re called writers - people who share their experiences and their love of the craft.

I don’t have to write like Ian Rankin or have his success to call myself a crime writer."

Gina Amos

November 1, 2015 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--There's an ongoing debate about this in the writing community.We are living in an era when some of the most prestigious venues don't pay--like the Huffington Post.

And agents and editors have to work for free as interns sometimes for quite a while--in jobs that used to pay. I think we have to strike a balance and ask ourselves: is the prestige worth the exposure? Very often it isn't at all.

It also depends on your genre. If you're trying to make your mark as a literary writer, getting in a university zine that doesn't pay can do more for you than getting into Women's World. But if you're a romance writer, WW is a fabulous clip as well as paying a nice chunk of change.

November 1, 2015 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Sue Coletta said...

This post had my laughing out loud because it's so true! I think I had all of these delusions at one point or another. Now, thankfully, the haze has faded from my eyes and reality has set in. But I'm still loving what I do. Money is a bonus. Funny you mention Ellery Queen. In my MWA newsletter there was a link and I was looking at the submission form and wondering if I should give it a try. Can't hurt, right?

November 1, 2015 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Phyllis--I think we were passengers on the same query-go-round for quite a while. Ha! I love your idea that your readers were waiting--because they were. We all have readers out there. We just have to get the books ready for them. If I hadn't had five books in the hopper when opportunity struck, I would not be where I am now.

I sure hope all our followers will be coming with us in our move--and that it won't be a hassle for you. But thanks for the vote of confidence!

November 1, 2015 at 2:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

G. B.--Thanks for speaking up about ASI. You are not the only writer to have been waylaid by a vanity press! They make their packages sound so professional and they even team up with the Big Five. Then they have you under contract and it's hell to break free.

And I so much hear you about the stinky queries. I had file drawers full of them that I only finally tossed a couple of years ago. Cringe-making! I was the master of the two page verbose query. Unreadable stuff.

November 1, 2015 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Gina--I think your attitude is so healthy! Enjoy your writing!

November 1, 2015 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

Great post as usual, Anne. Lots of hard earned wisdom that we're all benefitting from. Can't wait to see what's happening with the blog. I loved The Gatsby Game. A fun and informative read. Hope people grab their copies. I remember this was the first book I read on Kindle. Actually I bought a kindle to read it as it was only available as an e book. Writing because you love what you're writing (paraphrasing here) has always been my modus operandi. See you next week. Can't wait to see what's happening here. Best, Paul

November 1, 2015 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sue--I think most of us who have made it to a professional level went through the delusional stage at some point.

Absolutely you should submit to Ellery Queen. Check out a few stories to see what they're publishing these days, but there's no reason not to aim high as long as we're doing it with our eyes open.

November 1, 2015 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Paul--I was so honored when you got a Kindle to read my book. Wow. That seems so long ago now.

You have done exactly what I'm advising here: write what you love even if it isn't "trending", then find a publisher where you fit in. A small press usually works harder to promote all its writers books because the investment is a bigger percentage of their budget.

November 1, 2015 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Wm. L. Hahn said...

Anne, it's always so good. This time you shared your personal story and the embarrassment (as you see it) you suffered to get on track. Everyone's got a unique track, I believe, and it's hard to see you being such a good teacher for the rest of us if you hadn't made these mistakes. Ooh, deep, maybe they weren't mistakes at all...
And your one point that really struck me hard this time was about the people who are swearing off "free" and regard anything free as the enemy. It's getting very ugly out there; some folks in all the arts think they can somehow stomp it out if they are loud enough. I'm quite sure several would be unfriending me if I told them what I really think. Which is pretty much the same as what you really think.
Thanks for keeping the record straight.

November 1, 2015 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

I saw that same discussion back in 1997 when online magazines were popping up and offering exposure. Most of it seems to compromise on the writer's side, not on the publisher's side.

November 1, 2015 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Linda--It was starting to happen in the 90s, but it's so much worse now. There was no HuffPo in those days. Journalists have an even harder time getting paid now as print media evaporates. And you're absolutely right that the writer never wins. But the playing field has changed a lot since then. Freebie ebooks are everywhere. Nobody thought of giving books away free except to prestigious book review magazines in the 1990s.

November 1, 2015 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Will--They were mistakes, but I needed to make them. :-) It took me that long to learn to write well enough. I was stuck in literary fiction fantasy-land. The problem with being brought up by two PhDs and going to Ivy colleges.

As far as the working for free thing, I may not like it, but it's a fact of life in the digital age. Everybody's writing for free. Even people like Anne Rice and Neil Gaiman give tons of stuff free on their FB pages and blogs. Most big name writers give free books and stories to their email subscribers. And look at the big names who write for the HuffPo. They don't get paid a dime.

If you don't give some stuff away, you just won't be in the marketplace. Some people prefer that. And that's fine. But they're not going to make it very far. Do we like it? Nope. We'd all like to get paid for every precious word we write. But giving away freebies is how it's done these days.

November 1, 2015 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Kait said...

I think you have covered all my t-shirts well. Now that I know instant publishing success is just a fantasy, I still long for the days of innocence before I knew the facts of publishing life. That said, it's an exciting ride and one I wouldn't miss. The publishing world these days is always new and different and if you love change, this is the place to be!

November 1, 2015 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Jan M. Leotti said...

Great advice, Anne. I'm actually back to writing short fiction after taking a break to start a novel last year, and I agree. It's a great way to practice your craft and build valuable credits. Marketing has always stumped me. I'm not a natural marketer, but I always felt, for me, a quieter, more personal approach felt right. For example, trying to build a community of readers in my own home town, and possibly spreading out from there. Networking by joining a writers group or, when getting enough credits, trying to get a reading gig at a local book store. I have some time to think about this, as mostly I'm still working on getting my credits together, but this post is full of good info which I'll add to my files, so thanks! :)

November 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Kait--I miss those days too! Fantasyland can be a fun place to be. All the possibilities! That's one of the reasons not to try to publish too soon. You can still keep those fantasies intact while you learn the basics of the writing craft.

But once you step into the real world of publishing, it is one heck of a roller coaster ride, that's for sure! :-)

November 1, 2015 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jan--Good for you to be writing short fiction! It's making a comeback in a major way. (I have a piece on that in the 2016 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market.)

It's great to be making in-person connections and in the end those are going to be your most solid and important.

But you're doing the right thing to be commenting on blogs as well. You can reach the entire world here in cyberspace. The interactions are still one-on-one, like this one. Thanks for being a regular commenter.

November 1, 2015 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Louis Shalako said...

I don't believe in luck. If I could write what I wanted...hmn. I wonder what that might look like. Ah, coffee table books on WW I airplanes and stuff like that is something perhaps better suited to traditional publishing. I'll be darned if I would do something like that for free or essentially unpaid.

November 1, 2015 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Jan M. Leotti said...

I love your blog. I'm so glad I came out from lurking to commenting. You are so warm and personal, and you make people feel safe and valued. Honestly, that's what got me into commenting on your blog--your personal touch! It shines through your writing. :)

November 1, 2015 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Donrazor Landon said...

Thanks, Alex for supplying a link to Anne's blog. Great take Anne. I wrote my own eBook and published it more for myself than to get rich and quit my day job. Your experience gave me a great "real life" perspective, though. Thank you!

November 1, 2015 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous KP said...

In the 6 years I've published and released 8 books, my main sticking point was marketing and selling . It's an area I'm horrible in (and have failed classes to prove it.) I always figure I keep forging ahead and hope my writing makes it.

I have decent cover art and editors - it's just I'm not a strict genre writer
I also get feedback that my works are written well just hard to understand. I write primarily for the teen market but my slang is horribly outdated lolz . Im stumped on making it more accessible... after blowing 3k on 'professionals' and only moving 60 copies I feel like I'm banging my head on the wall. I hope I'm as successful as you are someday.

November 1, 2015 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

KP--Writers who are actually "literary" but try to shoehorn ourselves into a genre have a special problem with marketing. I have the problem myself. Not everybody who buys my books is happy with them. We market my work as "romantic comedy-mystery" but what I really write is fairly cerebral satire. So I relate. Trying to find our audience is especially tough for intellectuals. But it is possible. I have a core of fans who are so wonderful I wish I could kiss them all!

Keep at it. You'll find your peeps!

November 1, 2015 at 7:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's an emailed comment from Boomer Highway's Beth Havey

"I think I've been a good girl and have stayed away from the bad things you mention in your piece.As a result I have sold few books, but my reputation is intact. I am going to run a give-away from my blog and I did do one from Goodreads.

But as I see it, working diligently on my novel is what I am doing and should be doing. Luckily we can pay the bills and I can do this. I queried too early. Now I am again assembling a list of agents and when I do query, it will be a better query and I'll have a much better product.

If I still can't make that happen, I will self-publish a good product on my own.

So one day at a time. I am a writer. I am a good writer. I do need a break, but in the end, I might have to make my own break.

November 1, 2015 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Donrazor--I'm a huge fan of Alex and his IWSG. People have many different reasons for writing, and the indie movement has made it possible to be a happy amateur and actually make a little money for your art.

But for people who want a professional writing career, it's easy to get sidetracked. And there are a lot of predators lurking out there preying on newbie writers with big dreams.

I think Alex and I both do our part to try to keep writers safe from them.

November 1, 2015 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Beth--Great to hear you're working on your novel. I certainly enjoy your short fiction. We all need a second income as we build our skills and our audience. Best of luck on the agent hunt!

November 1, 2015 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger BooksAndPals said...

Thanks for the shout out, Anne. :)

November 1, 2015 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Florence Cronin said...

Anne, all of us who are still "out there" wanting to get "to somewhere" need to read and re-read all the posts you do about lessons to be learned. I for one, find them wonderfully insightful and a bit stark. The insights are your honest and frank discussion about what our motives are ... the stark is the reality of what we find when we rip the veil from in front of our eyes :)

You are a true treasure !!

November 1, 2015 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Juana G said...

Hiya! Thank you for this post. I saw D.G. Kaye tweet this link on Twitter, and she usually shares really great information, so I clicked. I was not disappointed! This is so true of any creative pursuit. I did belly dance for six years, and in that amount of time, there are so many people who think that if a dancer has any shows lined up, she's "made" it. Which is SO not true! haha. I can think of a few dancers who are fabulous, and who make me feel so inspired when they dance, and who work really hard to promote their shows and classes, and they still have to have day jobs. There's a big difference between doing something for fun or working on your craft and putting in all the effort it takes to produce something "good" with which people want to engage and doing the bare minimum and expecting big results. It simply doesn't work that way, and I think there's a disconnect many times between expectations and reality.

I love that you highlighted the fact that publishing, like any other business, is a business. This holds true for dance, for acting, for filmmaking, for illustrating, and pretty much any other creative pursuit. It is a business, and you have to have your mind on both aspects of the work, both the business part and the creative part, in order to really navigate the business world.

On another note, I HATE IT when authors just tweet "Buy my book!" ad nauseum, or when someone follows me on Twitter and says, "Follow me back!" when they have an account that looks like that's all they do. You're so right that the part about connecting with people is the point of engaging on social media. I'm not excellent at this part, but I like to share things with people I think are interesting. That's my philosophy for pretty much all my accounts. If I'm constantly just "dead-tweeting," I'm not connecting with the audience on any level. We, as social beings, want to connect. More importantly, when we don't connect on an emotional level with the content that's being shared, we aren't interested. I'm a new writer who has a couple year-old blogs on WordPress and is attempting a first novel for NaNoWriMo, but I think my dance experience is really helpful when it comes to the writing world. I see a lot of parallels between the dance world and the blogging/writing world.

Thanks again for this post! There are some really great tips on here. I will be sharing this. Have a good day!

November 2, 2015 at 1:02 AM  
Blogger Michael J. Fitzgerald said...

Excellent piece (as always...). It comes as the doldrums had set in as I have been writing the third book in my 'Fracking War' series. Your line about what worked six months ago (in promotions) is as prophetic as painful. But what was best was reminding readers that it's all about the writing. My editor (and spouse!) reminded me of that a few days ago when I complained about flat book sales (I self-published.). Back to the story and the characters. I can hear them shouting at me to get them out of the trouble I put them in the last chapter.

November 2, 2015 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Jeannie Miernik said...

Thank you for the mountain of great advice and resources... and for the implicit permission to do exactly what I'll want to do if I don't meet with insta-success: Write another, better book! Because that's the fun part. :)

November 2, 2015 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Karen Jones Gowen said...

Wonderful complete bash on the head we dreamy writers regularly need, since there are new scams always popping up to take advantage of our recurring fantasies old and new.

November 2, 2015 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Tiffany Parry said...

Thank you for consistently keeping it real. I've been reading your posts since Chapter 1 of my (one and only) manuscript. You simultaneously make me want to throw in the towel and shoot for the moon. Your cautions and pointed advice terrify me, but you still encourage me to "write what I love." So this newbie writes and reads, studies and learns, all in spite of being petrified by everything potential publishing dreams represent. Because of you, my bookmarked list of resources in my "someday" file overflows and should someday ever come, I'm grateful that it will be rooted in reality. So thanks. :)

November 2, 2015 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Al--Thanks for being such a dedicated reviewer! Authors are a dime a dozen, but good reviewers who are in it for the long haul are rare indeed. Thanks for all you do for authors!

November 2, 2015 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Florence--There are a lot of people out there making money off of writers' dreams. My information may be stark, but it will keep newbies safe from all those predators!

November 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Juana--Welcome to the blog! Great insight that "making it" in the arts is pretty much the same no matter what your art form--dance, painting, music, writing. About 95% of artists have day jobs. But that doesn't make the art any less valuable.

If you check out our archives, you'll see that my pet peeves match yours as far as all that "buy my book" noise. Engaging with people, not yelling at them, is what sells books.

Best of luck with NaNoWriMo!!

November 2, 2015 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Michael--Oh, that third book slump! I know so many writers who go through that. Very often they end up producing their best book yet, but it's never as easy as we think it "should" be. But for self-publishers, I've read that five books is the magic turning point. That's when new readers looking for a series will be likely to take the plunge and when your sales have a chance to add up to something substantial. Back to those characters!

November 2, 2015 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jeannie--It is the fun part! The rest is noise. It's noise we have to make, but it's not at the core of what we do. I'm dying to get into my next novel. Still at outlining stage, but I do love it when I get to jump in there and live with my characters.

November 2, 2015 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Karen--Hi there! Good to see you here. As a busy publisher as well as novelist, I know you're dealing with dreamy writers all the time. And you're so right about the predators. We need our dreams, but we also need to protect ourselves while we're dreaming.

November 2, 2015 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tiffany--Thanks for being a loyal reader. The publishing industry is scary, but the trick is to keep one foot in reality while you dream. If you're aware of the predators, you can protect yourself from them. That puts you way ahead of a lot of vulnerable newbies. And yes, write what you love to read. There's no other way.

November 2, 2015 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

You had me at hello on this one, Anne! As I read through this piece I was nodding my head and smiling to myself (my husband doesn't even comment on my odd behaviour any more). I've indulged in just about all these writing fantasies and learned more than I ever dreamed possible about myself along the way. I expect I'll make more mistakes as I go, but hey, I'm thinking I'm in good company. Keep up the good work, and here's to living the dream! 🍷

November 2, 2015 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debbie--As I said, these fantasies are necessary to get us going. And if we didn't make mistakes we'd never learn anything. Yes, you are in good company!

Dreams do come true for people who keep at it and keep learning!

November 2, 2015 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Yolanda Renee said...

I've made every mistake out there and then some, and yet I still keep dreaming and trying. I'd only be bored on a daily basis with out all this 'fun' so pour it on. I can take it - I just hope some day I actually sell a book! :-)

November 2, 2015 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Yolanda--I prefer to think of them as "stages" rather than mistakes. We all have to practice a little self-delusion to get ourselves started. Enjoy the process!

November 2, 2015 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Terry Tyler said...

I started self-pubbing 4 years ago, and thought that by now all those that think bandwagon jumping-on is a route to financial success would have given up and gone home by now - but alas, there are more and more all the time!

Something the retweeting app users don't realise is that they mostly get blocked or unfollowed (and certainly not RTd by) most people, so they're just RTing to other app run profiles! There are loads of them that RT me every day - I never do it back, but still they leap on everything I put out there.

I agree what you said above re 'stages' - I used to think tweeting ALL my books twice a day and RTing about 200 people was the way forward - argh!!!!! Now, I just have a new pinned tweet each day (usually a review or feature, unless I have a new book out).

November 3, 2015 at 3:46 AM  
Blogger Tanya Miranda said...

I am selective of my friends in "real life", and social media is the antithesis of this. You have to be friends with thousands in order for social media to work for you. But alas, you just can't live without it. Someday, I'll figure how to make it work without cringing every time I send out a post to the universe. I can't imagine sending out multiple posts in a day to buy my book. I'm glad I never tried it.

#5 is my favorite on the list. Instant Success? Like the folks who workout for a just one week and wonder why they haven't lost 10 pounds and don't have a chiseled body yet. Everything takes time, effort, and study. And, like most great successes, lots of suffering. :-1

November 3, 2015 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Jesse Magnan said...

I will admit, I actually tried to do the write what sells thing. Erotica is extremely popular in ebooks, and I figured why not. I found out that I cannot write it. I am far too technical and far too graphic for what that readership demands. Fortunately I had the self awareness to see this about myself.

AS for for writing non fiction articles and essays, any tips or places to go to get ideas? I have not written anything non fiction in over five years and that was only for college.

November 3, 2015 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Terry--You're so right that the RT robots just RT to each other--robot to robot pointlessness. I mostly use Twitter to share articles I read and think are important or helpful to other writers and people in social media. Every so often I dip into the stream and find fascinating stuff. Only once or twice have I found a book Tweet that I wanted to click on.

But I have found bloggers who interested me and eventually I might buy their books. So Twitter works, but not the way people think it does.

November 3, 2015 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Tanya--It's true that the whole point of social media is to gather 1000s of "friends" who can't possibly be actual friends because of the sheer numbers. I send out posts that I think are of interest to a big group and figure a few of them will pick up on them. I make sure they aren't all just links to my own work. Whenever I want a comprehensive list of good writing posts for the week, I go to Elizabeth S. Craig's "Twitterific" page. A gold mine!

November 3, 2015 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Jesse--I think a lot of people have tried erotica and found it is very difficult to write well. Ditto romance. Those genres need to follow a fairly rigid structure and have a lot of rules. Pacing is key. I tried writing Romance and failed miserably

For nonfiction opportunities, some of our "alerts" include essays and creative nonfiction contests. And I've recently found a goldmine at a site called Beyond Your Blog. It has paying writing opportunities for all kinds of essays. Just today they have a list of "places to publish stories about your divorce" ,"18 places for expat bloggers to submit their writing", and a piece on how to get lifestyle pieces into the Washington Post. You can get daily updates in their newsletter as well.

November 3, 2015 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Claude Forthomme said...

As always, excellent and uplifting advice, thanks Anne! Regarding marketing and the changes in digital marketing since the heyday of the Kindle when it was new (I'm speaking of 2009) your observations are both spot on and devastating.

You write: "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." How true.

But that raises the question: how long (or how well) can you expect any self-published author to "fight the tide" given the miserable toy shovels we have when publishers have bulldozers? I know, some do - like Hugh Howey et al. But that "et al." is damn few people! If it weren't for bloggers like you, most newbies would feel lost! But when you too acknowledge that the only way to sell a book is to do it through gaining readers "one-by-one", well I cringe! Surely there must be a better way? Because the "one-by-one" strategy is eating up all my writing time (and energy). Any advice?

November 5, 2015 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Claude--I wish I had an easy answer, but I don't. I spend way too much time on social media, but it seems to be the only way to get my name in front of people.

I'm not sure Hugh Howey or Bella Andre starting today would make it big in the same way they did three years ago. What Hugh did has been copied by so many people that it's just noise now.

Right now everybody's putting all their hopes and money into Bookbub ads, but I'm not sure even those are working for everybody. And of course only a tiny percentage of applicants get in.

I think now as always, it's something of a crapshoot for both indie and trad-pupped "midlisters". We have to be in it for the long haul and keep putting out a quality product, spread a wide net, and keep putting our name out there and hope for some massive good luck.

November 5, 2015 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Dr John Yeoman said...

'Those "Kindle Millionaire" books are as out of date as a 1970s book tour.' True, Anne. I paid $2000 recently to an Amazon marketing guru - we all know his name, so let's dignify it here - who claimed to have cracked the Amazon algorithms. Yea, he'd written a book about it! So I took his advice. I revamped my metatagss, Amazon categories and book description - with font enhancements and keywords embedded in every line. Two months later, that voodoo hasn't raised my sales one inch.

And I can relate to your acerbic point: 'bloggers who already work 18 hours a day, LOVE to give up their few hours of sleep to promote newbie writers' work for free.' You get that problem too? Rarely a day passes when I don't get a newbie begging me for a review, a promotion or a free critique of their work. Like... top copy doctors have the skills of a corporate lawyer (and we do) yet we're happy to work for $5 an hour or for nothing. Right?

Wrong.

I love your final advice: 'Write what you love. Because you love to write it. There is no other reason to write.' It's up to the market to catch up with us, not the other way round! Or so J K Rowling found. And if it takes a while? So what? At least, we'll have something great to read in our dotage...

November 5, 2015 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Dr. John. You sure prove my point. I'm sad to hear you had such disappointing results, though. The problem with those people who game the algos is...algorithms change. As soon as some "guru" has them sussed, the Amazon elves change them.

Since you work as a writing instructor, I suppose you get those requests for free work even more than I do. But it's so frustrating. I do want to help, but there are only so many hours our days. And most of the people who expect the most of me are the ones who don't bother to read my blog or books. They want me to give them $200 worth of work, but they're "too poor" to buy a $3 book.

We've gotta keep writing what we write. I'm convinced of it. We never know what's around the corner. A few years ago, Westerns were dead. Now cowboys are the hottest thing in the market. Trends change. Family sagas may make a comeback. The waning vampire market may get a re-charge. Hey, people may even start reading literary fiction again!

November 5, 2015 at 2:44 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Here's a comment that came via email from Anita Rodgers (Blogger is definitely blocking people with WordPress IDs.)

Sorry about your hacking woes. It's a scary thing that somebody can swoop in and disappear your blog. I'm glad you had a techie bud who could retrieve it for you.

I think you'll enjoy the WordPress platform - it's quite easy to use and there are tons of bells and whistles you can add on, including security. And I'll be happy because i'll be able to comment without having to beg your blog to accept my comments.

Another delusion - perhaps it's a mini delusion. That tweeting 'buy my book' 125 times a day will result in sales. Ditto for all other social media venues.

Personally, I think if you want a career as a writer, you have to go in it, realizing it is a long slog and even then you might not make it. I have four book published now, so maybe book five will do the trick for me. LOL. Still, not counting on that. My goal is to just keep writing books and then writing more.

More is better, right?

Good luck with the new blog. I'll follow you wherever you go.

November 11, 2015 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Anita--Thanks for taking the trouble to email.

You're so right about the robo-Tweeters! So obnoxious. And pointless.

You're right that we have to be in it for the long haul. I know desperate indies who keep Tweeting their book constantly and then say they have to "because I really need the money". As if Tweeting pointlessly was going to affect the bottom line. But they thought they were going to make easy money and didn't have a back up plan Unfortunately, we all need to do that.

Best of luck with book five!

November 11, 2015 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger GEORGIA HUBLEY said...

Didn't receive your newsletter in my email box today. First time ever. I missed it! (I know there was to be a big change in the works..) However, I have found your blog and am up to date. Yay! Decided to sign-up again with a new email address. Perhaps this will work? Thanks for all you do!

November 23, 2015 at 3:52 AM  

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