Posted on 03/14/2014 at 2:05pm


Saw this phrase twice recently, on two different blogs. “Trying to self publish.”

Those words irritate me like fingernails on a chalk board, fork tines on china, grinding teeth. You get the point. But probably not in the manner I mean . . . the manner I want to hammer home. And I love to hammer home points.

People are entitled to self-publish. Of course they are. I’ve self-published. I’m a hybrid with my nonfiction being self-published (The Shy Writer Reborn) and my fiction traditionally published (The Carolina Slade Mystery Series), and if Carolina Slade ever gets dropped by my publisher, I’ll self-publish her. It’s nice to know I have that option.

But I’ll tell you one thing . . . I won’t TRY to self-publish her. I’ll go out there, jump in with both feet and damn well DO it. What’s with this trying business?

I grasp TRYING to traditionally publish, because there are so many gatekeepers who have to give you that magical nod for it to happen. You TRY because someone else opens the door for you. If they don’t open the door, you don’t publish, at least with them. Okay, makes sense.

But you don’t TRY to self publish. I didn’t TRY squat when I self-published. I made up my mind to self-pub and did it. It’s like being pregnant. You are or you aren’t. You self-pub or you don’t.

I think because we have options with self-publishing, you know, without all the gatekeepers telling us what we can do, we call it trying. But when I looked up TRYING in the dictionary, the crankier I got at those who say they TRY to self-publish.


1) to make an effort to do something : to attempt to accomplish or complete something.

2) to do or use (something) in order to see if it works or will be successful.

3) to do or use (something) in order to find out if you like it.

That’s straight out of Merriam-Webster, honey.

In The Shy Writer Reborn, I harp on removing words like BUT, ONLY, NOT, NEVER and JUST from your vocabulary when speaking of your writing abilities and efforts. It’s self-deprecating.

From The Shy Writer Reborn, page 41:

Ever catch yourself studying someone successful, not necessarily rich and powerful, but someone maybe only a few notches above your common quest. In seconds, you allow a sense of discouragement to drape over your shoulders, oppressing you with the idea you can’t be that good. 

You see a family’s portrait, love their captured laughter, then hate the fact you are no longer close to your sister. You bite into a cake made in heaven and kick yourself for stopping at the bakery instead of making your pie from scratch. You read a published book in your genre, in a setting you’ve used, possibly centered around a character not too far distant from your own, and you curse about being too inept a writer to do as well as that author. 

We hobble ourselves so that others can’t point fingers first. If we know we are less than stellar, nobody can surprise us with accusations. It’s a way of protecting ourselves from rejection.”

I’d like to add the word TRY to that list of words that hold us back. Avoid disclaimer words.

People gravitate to confident people. They don’t want to be around people who are TRYING to be good. They want to be around good people. They don’t want to read books from people who TRIED self-publishing. They want to be around those who confidently published their book.

A favorite saying of mine is simply this: OWN WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO. Pick your path then strike out without looking back. Stomp that trail. March to your drummer. Sling your writing into the bright sunshine using all the power and talent you have. Sling it hard. You want the world to read every word. This work is your legacy.

You don’t try to publish…you publish.

You don’t try to write well…you write well.

You don’t try to promote your work…you promote your work.

If you think you’ve written and edited something worth publishing . . .

If you think you’re ready to see your work in print . . .

If you think you’re ready to sell your work with confidence, then do it.

Do it loud, hard, with passion. Be not afraid to let the human race know what you’ve done.

The minute you say you are TRYING to do something, I hear hesitation and self-doubt as do agents, readers, publishers, editors, and more. I’m telling you, owning who you are and what you do is powerful, and more than a few people will look twice at you, wanting a taste of that you’re drinking, because whatever it is, it makes you appear more alive than they are.

You can TRY or you can DO. Readers can tell the difference.

Posted on 12/08/2013 at 4:14pm

Or go to



What do you deserve? What are your rights? What is your guaranteed return on your investment when you write a book . . . when you read a book . . . when you live?

Absolutely nothing . . . nilch . . . zero.

And the ones who embrace life understanding this fact, are usually the ones who succeed.

As a child, I decided that the harder I worked, the more likely I would succeed. Most of my life that concept worked well for me. But there came a time when I thought I did right, gave it my all, made proper decisions based upon ample research, and followed through as instructed . . . yet still fell short of success. A few events could be interpreted as abject failure.

Any writer knows that characters not getting what they deserved is a rich well for storytelling.

I see undeserved repercussions happening to people everywhere, in all professions, in family situations, in personal choices, in the smallest of issues, in the most major of decisions.

Sometimes it’s as simple as reading a book blurb, laying down your hard-earned $15 or $20 for the book, then realizing the characters are two-dimensional, the protagonist curses too much for your liking, or the story never fulfills your desire for an entertaining read. Did you deserve to be entertained? 

Maybe you hired a turnkey press to self-publish your book for you, paying for the promotional plan, the top tier cover design, the broader distribution to a dozen ebook resources. But the book sells forty-seven copies in six months. Did you deserve to sell thousands of books?

You were lucky enough to acquire a traditional publisher. Congratulations. But they start deciding the cover, the release date, the places where it will be reviewed, and they do not listen to all your suggestions. Do you deserve to be heard?

depressed photo: Depressed depression1_zps10947200.jpeg

You married your high school sweetheart. You knew each other for a decade before tying the knot. A decade later, you realize the mistake and go your separate ways. Did you deserve to be happy?

You had two children. You financially, emotionally, physically and socially supported them. Yet one never calls, and another contacts you only for money. Or they move cross-country for you to see them only every two or three years. Or they drop out of school, not listening to your lessons learned, to your advice on how to avoid your mistakes. Did you deserve to have a better family?

Success is not a guarantee. Nor is happiness. To say you deserve something intangible is just not so. Of course if you pay for a tasty, well-served dinner in a nice restaurant, and the fork is dirty, the meat undercooked, or a fly lies belly-up in your salad, you deserve a refund. But if you expect the best dinner in the world, better than anything your palate has experienced, then no, you do not deserve it.

When it comes to the intangible, understand that there are no guarantees.

The most successful do NOT fuss about what they deserve. They do not fret on Facebook about what they didn’t get out of something. The successful study what happened, why they did not win, did not get entertained, did not make a buck, or did not achieve number one, and they change their path accordingly. They learn from what they did or didn’t do, they choose what not to do again, and they decide what else to try.

The successful do not waste their time discussing failure. 

Of course you want to identify why failure occurred. You need to understand failure to know how to change course. If you read a sci-fi book by Author Jane Doe and couldn’t read past Chapter Five, what do you do?

1. Leave a  horrible one-star review on Amazon?

2. Rant on Facebook about that horrible author?

3. Decide not to read Jane Doe’s work again?

4. Decide not to read sci-fi again?

5. Decide not to read again?

6. Hate books?

Jane Doe wrote the best book she could write. She doesn’t know you, but she sincerely hoped you would enjoy her story. She did not publish a book to alienate anyone (sci-fi pun there). She did not point at you and say, “I’m writing and publishing this just to  irritate you. I want to suck your $15 away from your pocket, sell you a bad book, and walk away sneering at how I scammed you.”

So, I suggest that to best capitalize on your time and energies, you choose to not read Jane Doe again, or decide to look harder at Jane’s work before buying it next time. Why do anything more than that? Why waste your energy?
Many of my readers are struggling, mid-list and successful scribes themselves. They have the right to attempt to create and sell their work. It doesn’t always happen. In fact, the odds are against them being successful. Those who try harder have a higher success rate. There’s no doubting that. Those who study failure and construct new ways around it, have a higher success rate. Those who spend more time moving forward, and less time wallowing in anger and depression about not getting what they deserve, have a higher success rate.

You do not deserve a one hundred percent chance for happiness, entertainment and success. Don’t you feel great knowing that? You should!
Going into any choice knowing that you have a likelihood of not being happy on the other end, removes the burden of achieving perfection, which nobody needs to bear anyway. Once you embrace that knowledge, you can fail with dignity . . . and waste less time feeling shortchanged!

For my writing friends, view these controversies from the angle of NOT deserving them.

1. You pitch an agent and don’t receive a reply. That agent is swamped with keeping her current clients happy. Acquiring new clients is not a major part of her duties. She might have to choose between hiring someone to answering query letters or saving the cost of that employee and using it instead to aid her clients. It’s just a quick answer, you may argue. Well, five hundred quick answers per week takes hours. Would you like to read and reply to five hundred emails when it helps you in no way achieve your goals?

2. You ask readers to read your story, and nobody seems to care. A fast reader covers a book a week. He has millions of books to choose from, thousands bombarding him daily. He has to balance his work and family as well as read books. So when your book is thrown into that maelstrom that is Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the indie revolution, he might not find it, might not like the cover, might not like the genre, might not like the blurb, might not like reading new authors.

3. You query twenty magazines and receive five rejections, while fifteen do not respond. The magazine has one person who reviews queries. Yours comes in. It doesn’t jump off the page to him or he knows another writer who  can write this same subject and be trusted to meet deadline. Or he just bought a similar subject. Or he knows the readership isn’t fond of this subject. Or your credentials don’t excite him. What’s to get mad about on your end?

4. You start a blog to create a platform, and nobody comments. Do you know how many blogs are out there? I go through blogs like candy, and when I tire of one, I unsubscribe and seek new ones. I have no sense of loyalty to one that does not enlighten me. That’s the blogging world. Its readers are fickle. Serious bloggers work darn hard at staying fresh.

You can grump about what didn’t work, fussing about what level of success you deserved because of the work you put into it. Or you can remain calm, even attempt to be happy, and realize whatever you chose did not work. That would mean that now you have a better idea of what will work. Right?

Quit worrying about what you deserve.

Instead, study what did NOT happen per your expectations, and take off in another direction, with a fresh, crisp plan in mind. All that energy wasted complaining, fighting depression, or debasing yourself, could be spent achieving the success you now know more about achieving.

Be happy. 

I want you to realize that life is trial and error, with a lot of that error not always avoidable. We don’t deserve anything, except satisfaction in how we live our lives and achieve our goals. And even with dozens of failures in your past, you can be the happiest person on the block, because you love the journey of living.

Rather than holding back, regretting what you’ve done or what’s been done to you, love moving forward, finding new ways to enjoy life. Spending your days trying to constantly improve is much more fun than hollering about what you deserve.


Posted on 11/19/2013 at 1:03am
Guest Post By Lyn Fairchild Hawks

It’s an honor to visit Hope Clark’s blog, a resource I’ve sought many times for inspiration and advice. Today I’m here to talk book trailers. Last Saturday, the trailer for my YA novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought, premiered at Flyleaf Books of Chapel Hill, NC.

Check it out.


This mini-film deserved a live event because it was the fruit of much labor and many hands. It didn’t have to include great teen and adult actors, an original soundtrack, or a dream-team director, crew, and cinematographer. (Thanks you, Beery Media!) It could have been 30 seconds instead of 2:40 and a DIY project on my computer.

Some could argue my efforts are better spent writing books. But when you self-publish, your books don’t have legs like a trailer. How do you get your name out there?

A trailer is nimble. Mine now travels inboxes, blogs, and social media-the animated version of a business card passed hand to hand, generating energy-not my adrenaline needed for face-to-face networking. (Take note, introverts!) When Wendy Redbird Dancing foes on tour, her handler doesn’t need a gas fund or a good night’s sleep. She can keep things humming from a comfortable seat at home.

How_Wendy_Redbird_Dancing 300x200A trailer link is an easy forward or share. It’s not insistent like a message with links asking someone to buy, so it’s easier to tell two friends who then tell two friends. . . You’re asking they watch just a few images for a few moments-all the while consuming your book, your name, your brand. And if the trailer gets popular enough on YouTube, it will play like a billboard from outer space.

Still, couldn’t I have met my goals with something simpler? Absolutely. Many authors make magic with a flip cam, Animoto, or iMovie. I’ve always been a theater person so a mini-film made more sense, not to mention I reference Twelfth Night and A Raisin in the Sun in my novel. I thrive off the community energy to create something new and the crowd’s energy when the show goes up. Now I’m connected to other artists who helped me make a work of art; they’ve invested. It pays for us writers to think beyond the box of our lone office and quiet heads.

Let’s say you’re up for a DIY trailer. TV writer and novelist Lee Goldberg cautions you’d do better flushing money down the toilet than make an amateurish one. He cringes at “bad stock photos, too much text, and creepy music.” He chose a clever and inexpensive alternative: get his daughter filming, write some witty captions, and sell his identity as oddball, OCD writer—not unlike Monk, his famous character. Author Lauren Kate opted for simple shots of people holding posters, set to moving music—and voilà, a compelling trailer. Meanwhile, author Maggie Stiefvater created her own stop-motion trailer with a soundtrack of original music. Watch her animation of wolves and leaves dance along a shelf full of her books. What makes you unique, that might become a good home movie?

Readers love to know the author behind the book. Writers are good for great captions to walk readers through powerful imagery. Note how C. Hope Clark’s trailers guide us with sharp sentences and deliver a short, gripping synopsis. Author and publicist Arielle Ford recommends your trailer be short with a soft-sell call to action. Keep a quick pace, add endorsements if you have them, and close with a strong finish. Though authors don’t have the iconic brand imagery like the Nike swoosh, you can find and finish with a compelling image and sound to play background to your website URL and contact information. The final image of my trailer is my writer’s dream—the cinematic version of Chapter Two where bullied Wendy tries to survive her high school hallways. Anyone who’s made it through school can relate to this image.

Ford also recommends that you connect through humor or emotion and avoid a sales pitch. If your trailer has the right emotional appeal, it won’t feel like a sales pitch. Director Nic Beery, indie filmmaker who premieres at film festivals and also makes commercials for big companies, knows how to establish mood and evoke emotion. He captured the soul of Wendy. He also understood that my trailer is the classic elevator speech: a logline with its cliffhanger premise, leaving the viewer curious. My trailer makes you ask, Why is Michael Jackson fan Wendy Redbird Dancing on the run?

Caity Brewer, Hannah Chapman, Hannah-Kathryn Wall, Susan Palm Siplon, Carol Palm, and Greg Wait are slam dunk actors, delivering what I’d imagined. When I posted pictures from the shoot, readers said it was eerie.

After the trailer takes a month-long blog tour, here’s what I hope to see:

==Increased sales—new readers willing to take a risk on my book, and old readers buying again

==Increased interest—a spike in visits to my website and uptick in subscriptions to my newsletter

==Increased buzz—new blog comments and new reviews

==Increased opportunity—such as optioning the book for a film

The numbers I gain from this promotional venture could be small but potent—a few true fans. You may have already heard the concept of 1000 true fans: a group of people who will purchase whatever you produce and can’t wait till your next book releases. Hope Clark’s work has my true fandom.

As Wendy Redbird Dancing makes her rounds of the web, I believe she’ll meet the right fans meant to know her. Art’s a risk, as is putting yourself out there is a risk, but what artist doesn’t walk the rails of risk every single day? It’s all part of the adventure.


Buy How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords.


Join the Giveaway for a free copy of How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought


Lyn Fairchild Hawks is the author of a YA novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought, and a collection of short stories, The Flat and Weightless Tang-Filled Future. She is also author of several works for educators. In the last few years, she has won a James Jones First Novel Fellowship prize and an Elizabeth George Foundation grant. As Lyn is married to a musician, Greg Hawks, and stepmom to Henry, an aspiring filmmaker, their North Carolina home hums with the soundtracks of clawhammer banjo, classic films, and chattering computer keys.

Find Lyn on: Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
Posted on 07/25/2013 at 2:55pm

(NOTE: “I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because my right brain can’t communicate with my left brain when I’m writing magic. Give it a test drive.)

I got my hair cut today. My hairdresser Nicole is a sweet lady, and prettier than she thinks. Like a great bartender, she knows how to carry on with her clients. We chatter while she attempts to make my mane even, which isn’t often easy. She thinks I need short, short hair. I love feeling the weight. Anyway, the visit is enjoyable.

This time, she said THE words: If I had time, I’d write this book I’ve had in my mind for a long time.”

I smile and listen. She elaborates. It’s a children’s tale about Bomber Island in our local Lake Murray (my lake) where Purple Martins migrate each  year. You can still find ammo shells on that island, that was used by the Doolittle Raiders in WWII. We have boat cruises as well as personal pontoon ventures each night during the month-long event, loaded with birdwatchers and locals who watch hundreds of thousands of these birds swoop and dance in sync as they settle for each night. It’s gorgeous. I won’t give her story away, but it’s very smart. Also:

  • My friend at Edisto Beach has a story to tell about marital trials, and they are definitely unique.
  • My high school English teacher has a true crime story to tell that would chill your bones.
  • A saleslady in Dillards went on about her legal battle, so anxious to tell others about loopholes in the system.
  • My neighbor is 80, a self-made man who’s quite accomplished. His biography is intriguing, and he’s trying to find a way to write it.

The list is endless. So many people have remarkable stories, stories that stay in their heads and aren’t getting on the paper. Some ask me to write them, the line normally: When you finish your current book, I have the next one you need to write.”

I do not discount their stories. Most are phenomenal, and to those people these stories are important. However, somewhere in their enthusiasm, when they’ve paused to take a breath, I say: That’s your story to tell, not mine.”

That makes them pause. I’ve respected their story. They’ve respected my writing ability by asking me to take up their torch. We’ve made each other happy. The truth is, however, they hold the passion, not me.

A high percentage of these tales (I’d even venture to guess ninety-plus percent) will never be recorded. That saddens me. These stories don’t have to be bestsellers. They don’t even have to land on bookstore shelves, but these ideas and experiences evaporate as time creeps on, locked in one mind and gone as that life joins others past. Those ideas and experiences vanished for all time.

If you have a story, write it. Leave your mark.

Make copies and pass them around at Christmas. Post them on your blog. Self-publish if this is a story you want remembered as part your legacy. There’s the traditional publishing path via agents and publishers if you’re game to understanding the business.

You can be a storyteller without becoming a professional writer. Sure, you can try to publish it for sales, and how glorious if you can sell it and earn a living, but do not lose the opportunity to record your story. Take the effort. Weave the words. Tell the tale.

Frankly, only then will you be able to tell whether writing is your passion, or if this story just needed exorcizing from your mind. Either way, you’ll have told the story.

Posted on 11/06/2012 at 8:42pm

I voted today. I’ve voted for every election, local, state or national, since I was 18. No matter where I lived, no matter what the office, no matter what the weather . . . I voted. I grew up in a military family, with several family members in civilian service as well. I worked for Civil Service for 25 years. My husband is now a retired federal agent. Son is US Coast Guard. The flag flies high in my backyard, on view for everyone on the lake. Hubby reminds us of Pearl Harbor Day, D-Day, and various other memorable dates that have meaning to free Americans. Yes, we are very patriotic, and no . . . if my candidate does not win, I would never consider moving to Canada.

I live in the country by choice. 

I am an author by choice.

Nothing in the publishing industry seems to come easy, and I don’t agree with all its diverse decisions. About the time we adapt to one change, along comes another. So many styles of self-publishing. So many forms of e-book. Agent or no agent. Big Six or small press. Nook or Kindle. Public appearances or online promotion. Paper or electronic, or both. In actuality, the public decides what works and what doesn’t. And because you don’t like some faction of the industry, or dislike a hurdle that pops in your way to achieve publication, doesn’t mean you turn mean and ugly about it, vowing to scream to the masses how you disagree, pointing an ugly finger at those who dare go against your line of thought. Plus, do your readers, people just seeking an enlightening and entertaining book, need to hear about the dirty laundry of your profession?

Who hasn’t read a myriad of complaints on Facebook and Twitter about this year’s politics? 

People force nasty remarks on their social media followers, which spawns a zillion caustic retorts, to include complaining about nasty retorts! They forget that they’d make a lot more headway speaking about the positives of their supported candidate than bashing the opposing one. Since when do we convince someone to change sides by belittling them? Such wasted energy that could be used elsewhere.

Maybe we can learn from this election year as we continue our publishing journey. 

Instead of hating Amazon, criticizing the self-published, or hating the New York publishers, try focusing on the positives of the route you DID choose.

There’s a lot of truth to “learning by example.” Nobody likes to have an opinion forced down his throat. But there’s a subtle power in marching on with a smile on your face, knowing you made the right choice for you. People adore confidence and personal satisfaction, and if your choices in life make you happy, chances are someone else is going to want to be like you . . . using your choices to make themselves happy, too.


Posted on 06/15/2012 at 1:40am


Traditional publishing sometimes publishes bad books.
Self-publishing sometimes publishes good books.

Take a look at that statement. You can write a good book either way.

The odds of getting accepted traditionally are low.
The odds of self-publishing a successful book are low.

The odds are against you either way. Just decide the company you want and the path you’d prefer. then own it and don’t discount those who choose the other side.

Posted on 05/10/2012 at 10:02pm

I just returned off a whirlwind tour of three states and 3200 miles in ten days. Whew! I met some great, great readers, fans, writers, and authors . . . some remarkable editors and agents. The larger conferences are always interesting. If you don’t allow yourself to become intimidated by the names and experience, you can actually enjoy watching the pecking order.

All of us had to start somewhere. Everybody debuted at some time or another, but you wouldn’t know it at a conference. Watch the dipping and dodging, the study and measuring. If I were Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse, able to read minds, I’d probably be amazed, embarrassed, and charmed, all at once. When you have hundreds of people interested in writing, collected in one locale, the social strata fall in line.

The self-published often feel indignant at the traditionally published. The traditionally published try not to notice. Watch the dynamics in a room where both are selling their wares. Agents often stick together. Editors as well. Sometimes with each other. Writers in the same writing groups hang tight. The small publishers pal with other small publishers.

Writers are afraid to speak to agents except during pitch sessions, and agents seem to avoid being cornered. I watched self-published look for reasons to be defensive in sessions, as if daring someone to doubt they could make a living as an indie.Traditionally published were almost afraid to say they were.

I don’t understand why people don’t split up, open up, and learn from each other.

When I go to conferences, I love being cornered and questioned. I want to meet people. I want to greet FundsforWriters readers who happen to attend. I crave to hear from someone who loved my book. I want to hear how others have done well, in hopes of learning from them. I’d love to participate in a big round table of assorted industry types, eating lunch, sharing situations, even arguing pros and cons of a current debatable topic like the DOJ lawsuit against Apple and several of the Big Six. Sure, someone won’t understand, but they just might once you explain it to them. Everyone could learn from everyone else.

If you are a new writer, dare to approach the published, the agents, and the editors and ask questions. Don’t feel badly if they are too busy. Try another one. You’ve paid a fee to be in the same rooms with these people.

If you are a seasoned individual at any aspect of the profession, be available. Hang in the lobby, the lounge, the back of the room at the end of a presentation. Be real. Be approachable. Leave your high horse elsewhere.

Conferences can be great places to meet friends, but they can also be fantastic places to make new ones and learn. It shouldn’t matter whether you are from NY City or Muscogee, AL. After all, why go to a conference to begin with if not to broaden horizons?





Posted on 05/04/2012 at 1:06am

I was reading a blog post about publishing options and marveled at how terms morph and paradigms shift over such a very short time. Not two years ago, we fussed over traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and self-publishing. Many whined about SO many choices, worried how to select the “right” one. Well, hold onto your hat. Now you can choose traditional, vanity, self-published, Indie published (why the capitalization??), and hybrid.

If you’re an author trying to decide how to publish, you’re allowed to throw that hat on the ground and stomp on it. I know. It’s frustrating. I’ve self-published and traditionally published, and years and years ago, I once vanity published (trying to forget that experience).

No one way is right for all, but you have definite issues to consider with each one. You just have to weigh the good, the bad, and what fits in your life, your marketing plan, and your pocketbook.


  • Pays royalties based upon sales
  • You pay nothing
  • Highly vetted
  • What you generally see on bookstore shelves
  • The publisher is responsible for formatting, cover, editing, distribution
  • You sign away an agreed upon number of rights
  • Found at Amazon and B&N and in Indie bookstores.
  • ISBN belongs to traditional press

Self-publishing / Indie publishing

  •  You pay everything
  • You own all rights
  • You receive all money
  • You are the publisher, responsible for formatting, cover, editing, distribution
  • You are the distributor
  • Some difficulty placing books in brick and mortar stores
  • Found at Amazon and B&N online and e-book venues like Smashwords
  • Common method used for e-book sales
  • Indie means an author creates the image of an imprint or “publishing house” for his/her books
  • ISBN belongs to you/your imprint

Hybrid Presses

  • You pay part of the cost
  • You negotiate the rights, but are usually able to keep more, if not all, rights
  • You receive royalties, usually at a higher rate than traditional
  • You choose the degree of editing, formatting, cover, and pay for the service
  • Your investment determines the print run, just like self-publishing
  • Sometimes material is vetted, depending on the entity
  • ISBN belongs to hybrid press, but might be negotiated.

Vanity-Subsidy Presses

  • You pay everything
  • You own all rights
  • You receive royalties at a much higher rate than traditional
  • You agree to formatting, cover, editing, distribution, marketing in the price
  • Agreements may be made to restrict rights of author and increase rights of press to harbor the book in its catalog
  • Minimal vetting; some do not vet at all
  • ISBN belongs to press

Somebody may take issue with bits and pieces of each of these, and in real life, there are exceptions within these categories as well as some entities that may feel they don’t fall into any of the above (like Publish America). If you are new, just notice the terms and read the general descriptions. It’s tempting to jump into publishing, but you don’t want to spend months and years on a story to ruin its appearance to the world. Choose wisely, and only after doing your research. It’s well worth the time and investment of your full-attention to know what you are getting into . . . and what you are choosing not to.

Posted on 04/22/2012 at 1:33am

How would you reply if asked this question? Indignant? After all, everybody has to start somewhere, plus you’ve been writing various pieces for years.

Everybody has to write the first manuscript. But few of them need to publish that first manuscript.

If you went to the doctor, needing an operation, you might ask, “Have you done this sort of operation before?” What if the reply is, “No, but I’ve been studying how to do it.” You’d move on to another doctor, because no matter how long he’s read the books and tested on cadavers, he hasn’t proven himself.

To an agent or publisher, saying this is your first book is like saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but trust me, it’s going to be a great book!” Rachelle Gardner, an agent with Books & Such Literary Agency, recently penned a great post about this subject: “4 Reasons to Write Several Books — Before You’re Published.”

You need experience before you publish. So what is experience?

1. Completed manuscripts of other books.

Just the fact you’ve spent years (yes, as in many months) writing says something about your diligence. That doesn’t mean two or three first drafts. It means books you struggled with and might be willing for someone to read and consider in addition to the one you are pitching. Trying to query about the fourth book you’ve written versus the first, tells a professional that you’re fighting in this business until you get it right. That’s enough thought to give someone pause that you might be worth considering.

2. A writing reputation elsewhere.

Published twenty magazine articles? Published numerous columns for your newspaper? Taught creative writing? Written for nonprofits or corporations for a reputation period of time? Received an MFA? Published nonfiction or commercial material and now dabbling in fiction? Show something. Have nothing? Then you know what you need to do.

3. Contest wins.

A zillion contests exist for unpublished writers. Frankly, most contests do not require experience or publishing credits. However, place in several contests, and you gain credibility as well as put your name in the view of important people in the business.

I want experienced people teaching my children, removing my gall bladder, or selling my house, just like agents and publishers want experienced writers. No, you might not have published a book, but show you are fanatically serious about this business by giving them something, anything, to show you are experienced in one way or another.

Posted on 03/09/2012 at 2:24am

I’m not just talking editors here. As writers we face no at every turn, and I dare say most of us cave somewhere in the process. There’s a reason they say that diligence is the most important characteristic of a writer. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you can’t keep your shoulder against the yoke.

“No” can be carefully hidden in comments that may not throw up a wall and stop you cold, but they may covertly plant a seed that does just as much damage. But when you let that obstacle grind your writing to a halt, you do it to yourself.

Look at these no’s and my money’s on the fact you’ve heard one or more:

1. You can’t write a novel in present tense.

2. You use too much passive voice.

3. Your grammar needs major work.

4. You can’t have a platform without a blog.

5. You must traditionally publish to be taken seriously.

6. You  don’t have what it takes to publish yet.

7. You need an agent to traditionally publish.

8. You can’t break into a dollar-a-word magazine with your credentials.

9. You must use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, fill-in-the-blank.

10. You must write short stories before you write a book.

11. Success is the sale of 10,000 books.

Gosh, the shoulds, oughts and can’ts come at you from all directions. However, you err in digging in your heels and dissing the messager. Don’t say, “Nope, you’re wrong.” Instead, study the obstacle. Give it thought. Even sleep on it. Then, once you’ve wrapped your mind around the negative dilemma, compose a cure for it.

1. Earn the skill to remove any doubt.

2. Practice your craft to remove any doubt.

3. Perform the deed that will remove any doubt.

Don’t get in some juvenile argument with the naysayer. Talk is cheap. Action speaks volumes. In this business, a lot of online noise is about confronting the No-people with nothing other than hot air. Serious writers, however, are quietly proving people wrong with their actions, their writing, their eventual success.