Alone in the Publishing Wilderness

Alone in the Publishing Wilderness

All the advice for writers on the Interwebs has been making my head spin the past year or so, and lately that advice is really getting on my nerves. Advice such as the following:

Blog 3 times a week or more.  The more you blog, the more people will come to your website.  Twitter twice daily, for at least fifteen minutes each time, but be a real person. Facebook is the way to make friends and informally chat. Become a book bloggers’ best buddy, and they’ll be happy to push your book for you.  And don’t forget to comment on every blog you can, every day. Give, give, give your time and energy to your fellow bloggers/authors and they’ll give back. Push your brand!

Self publish, but do it the right way. You don’t want to be a publisher, you just want to write? Grow up, be a big girl, pull up your panties and get over it. With the internet revolution regarding the written word, writers have to do it all now in order to be successful.

Some more tidbits of the revolutionary “truth”: Don’t bother with New York Publishing anymore, they’re the Titanic and they don’t see the iceberg in front of them. Agents? Who needs agents? Please, agents are so Twentieth Century.

All that advice gives me a headache.  Plus it makes me feel very alone. I long for the years when it was simpler; when a writer’s job was to write a damn good book, then get an agent, and the agent found you a publisher, and you were half way to a career. Note that I said simpler, not easier.

Is it wrong for me to still want a contract with a big New York publisher? Is it wrong for me to want an agent, someone who will help me, guide me in this new and confusing world? Is it wrong for me to want to work with those professionals who have so much to offer? That’s the message I’m getting from bloggers that I like, trust, and care about, that what I want is wrong – and that makes my stomach hurt.

I’m not denying there’s a revolution. I just want to have tea with the Queen, just once, before her crown is crushed underfoot by the internet.

I feel there is no way I can measure up to the “new” way of publishing and the social media expectations. Thinking about all the things I “should” be doing (other than writing) is draining, especially since I have a full time job and a family (and no assistant, no trust fund, no financial safety net, and most importantly, no backlist).  Doing all the social media stuff has become a chore, where it used to be fun. (I miss my 1k1hr buddies on Twitter!)

 Even writing became a bit of a grind for awhile. In a fit of desperation, I talked to

“…a fierce, take-charge Aluna is the kind of heroine who is easy to get behind.” Publisher’s Weekly

Jenn Reese, a lovely writer who was one of the very first to encourage me, all those years ago. I had a story that I liked that I was working on, but the plot seemed to be missing (maybe because I was trying to squeeze writing in between bouts of Facebook and Twitter).

She asked me why I was drawn to write in that world. And she gave me a homework assignment, to write a list of everything about that world that I was passionate about, that I wanted to write about.

The list flowed. Writing became exciting again. After Tai Chi on Saturday, and over yummy sandwiches at Bun Me, she pressed the point home to me. Write what you’re passionate about, she said. Don’t write to the market. Don’t force a genre on the book. If you know the book’s ending, you’re half way to a solid plot (so many books don’t follow through on their opening). Most of all, keep going!

In thinking about her advice, I realized it could also be applied to social media for the writer. So here’s my personal Writer’s Manifesto, that I’m sure will get tweaked as I go along:

Be passionate about your work, and that includes social media. Don’t do what you’re not comfortable with. If you get in too deep, excuse yourself and get back out (this includes participating in group blogs, volunteering for your writer’s group, or anything else that doesn’t focus you on your own writing).

Follow your dreams, whether that is a contract with a New York publisher, getting an agent, or self-publishing a book every other month.  Make sure those ARE your dreams though, and not dreams thrust upon you by well-meaning bloggers that you  know, like, and trust. (Because their dreams ARE NOT your dreams, though they may look similar.)  Above all? Focus on writing that you are passionate about, and then send it out into the world.

I realize I’m probably in the minority, wishing the publishing world wasn’t changing so rapidly. Like so many other big businesses, it’s an effed-up industry and has been for a long time; but it was effed up in a way I understood. This new world is one I don’t fully trust, and while I’ve learned a lot in the past 18 months, I am still going to reach for my personal brass ring.

I don’t want to be my own publisher; I want a knowledgable partner to help me through the publishing business. If that makes me seem like an ostrich with my head in the sand, so be it.

thanks to Peter Hall “Ostrich Dance”

 But I’d much rather believe I’m an ostrich, dancing.

I’m Not In England

Hey folks, don’t worry, I’m not stranded in England (who in their right mind goes there in the summertime?). I’m here in the States with family – no emergency, no funds needed, but not very near internet connectivity, either. I’ve been hacked to the extent that I can’t access Facebook AT ALL, nor do I have ANY email contact list at all, and no messages after August 2nd.

I apologize, and hope whole-heartedly that the folks that hacked me will have Karma biting their butt very soon.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to straighten out Facebook and Yahoo, but so it goes. When I get everything right again, I’ll post here and on Twitter.

Peace out, people, and thanks for your concern! I’d email you individually but – you’re no longer in my email address. SO sorry!

And how’s your Wednesday morning going?

My New Secret Weapon – The Power of #1k1hr

I have a confession to make. My latest book has been intractable. Or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, words aren’t working, plots aren’t cohesive, characters keep slipping their reins and changing their spots. It’s enough to make even the sanest writer wiggy.

I did what I could. For instance, I went over everyone’s motivations and conflicts. I replotted everything from the Big Bad Troublemaker’s point of view. Which gave me all sorts of things to throw at the Hero and the Heroine. All good, right? And I came up with a long list of scenes to write.

I thought I was set until I got to the actual writing. Every action seemed to have to be written. He got into the car. She buckled her seat belt. They breathed. They looked at each other. He started the car. See what I mean? I bored myself to tears.

Two things came to my rescue. First off, Savvy Authors is having their May bootcamp challenge. I’m going to be writing 60k this month, or 2,000 words a day. Okay. I can handle that as I’m not currently working a day job and my children are old enough to take care of themselves. I’m with a fantastic group of authors and we’re all kicking ass on our manuscripts (I’m not about to let them down!).

But I still had that …and then they went to the office, and then they went to kill the demon, and then they… well, you get the idea. I had that problem. Which is where Twitter saved my ass.

Excuse me? Why did you giggle? Oh, you’re not on Twitter. That’s okay. I fought it for a long time, too. But you know what? Right now it’s the single most powerful tool I have for getting words on the page.

Behold – I present to you the power of #1k1hr. The first time I saw that flash by on Twitter, (I believe it was Skylar Kade that I first saw using it), I admit I was intrigued. They were usually talking about how many words they had gotten done during the past hour.

Oh. OH! One thousand words in one hour. I GET it! So when Zoe Archer put out a call last week or so for anyone up for #1k1hr, I hopped in. Why not? It wasn’t a marriage – it was simply someone to hold me accountable for my wordage. Heck, she’s a fabulous writer and I didn’t want to look stupid in front of her, so add that in to the equation, too.

We began at the :15 (since on Twitter, not everyone is in the same time zone, we leave the hour off…it’s either at the top of the hour, the :15, the :30, or – well, you understand) and I wrote like mad. Every time I wanted to stop, I’d look at my word count, check the clock, and keep going.

I’ll admit that first hour I didn’t make 1k. But you know what? I had more words than I would have if I’d been going it alone. And now after getting the hang of it I can usually pull more than 1k in 1hr.

Since then I’ve hooked up with Cid Tyer, Suzan Isik, and Kat Jameson for #1k1hr and of course, I’m still bumping into Zoe Archer and Skylar Kade. Is it working? Well – last week I almost wrote 3000 words.

This week? Sunday in two separate #1k1hr sprints I wrote 2454. Monday I did two and a half #1k1hr sprints and wrote 3297. Yesterday, I made it to 3662 words in another two and a half #1k1hr sprints. So you tell me. Is #1k1hr working, or not?

If you’re not already on Twitter, join up and find me at @CCAshworth. I’m almost always up for a #1k1hr – join me, won’t you?

By the way. These words I’m writing? They’re much more interesting than the “…and then they went to the office, and then they went to kill the demon, and then they…” words I got down last week. Are they perfect? Of course not – this is still a first draft. But they’re getting me closer to “the end” – and that, in the long run, is the only thing that matters.

60K in a month? Bring it on. I am SO there.