Work smart and think
Having finished the latest work in progress, I’m at that phase where my brain is still thinking about the project and the inner me — that very insecure and scared writer — is worrying as I wait to hear back from The Boss about whether or not she likes what I did. Other plots are trying to push forward because they want to be written, but they’re having trouble pushing through the sludge that is my brain right now. The business side of me knows I need to at least consider which one to do, but it’s not easy. After all, do I want to finish the space opera or go back and do the next title in the Nocturnal Lives series or do I go ahead and do the follow-up to the novel I just finished? Or what about any of the other novels that I’ve made notes on or started but put aside to finish something else? Oh the joys of being a writer with a mush brain and not enough coffee.
So, knowing I’m not ready to start on a new project yet, or even pick up the strings of one I put aside in order to write the last two novels, I started searching the interwebs for some inspiration for today’s post. A couple of things popped up and, well, started me thinking. The first was an exchange on Baen’s Bar yesterday. For those of you not familiar with the Bar, it’s an online community where fans can interact with other fans, Baen authors and editors. It was social media before social media existed.
Baen is also one of the few major publishers that still has a slush pile. Authors can submit to Baen through its online slush pile without first querying and without having an agent. Baen has always been upfront that the chances of being selected from the slush pile is very slim. It also takes time, time to make the first cut where a slush reader recommends your manuscript be reviewed by someone up the chain of command and more time if your manuscript gets passed on to one of the editors. It isn’t a quick process but Baen has never said it would be.
So imagine my surprise yesterday to see a post on the Bar from someone accusing Baen of lying about never accepting manuscripts from “new” writers. His proof of this was that there were no “new” authors listed on the schedule for the last year or then next few months. When some responders pointed out that there were new authors on the list, he came back and basically moved the goal posts. He said these authors weren’t “new” because they were known to be writers in other areas: gaming, non-fiction, etc. What he was talking about were authors who had never been published before, ever. He went on to basically say the slush pile was just a ploy by Baen to build brand loyalty.
Now, this poster did admit that he’d tried going through the slush process but had been turned down. He complained about how long it took (but when someone checked the time involved, it was within the time frame Baen tries to stick to). What got me about his comments were that he was there to rant and each time someone responded with proof that his premise was wrong, he basically said, “but that’s not what I meant. This is what I meant.”
But what really got me was this guy’s whole attitude. I wouldn’t blame the powers that be at Baen for never wanting to see anything from him again. You don’t go onto a forum, private or public, and accuse the forum owners of lying and using ploys. At least not if you want to do business with them again. While this might not rate up there with the author who went on a public rant about his editor a few years ago — a very public and profanity laced rant — this was anything but smart. So the lesson is, always think about what you’ve just said and what the ramifications can be before you hit the enter button. Then, if you do hit enter, don’t keep digging the hole deeper unless you’re into being piled on.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only WTF moment I had yesterday as I went looking for topics for today’s post. Cedar Sanderson — hi, Cedar! — linked to a Facebook page claiming to be the next best thing for helping authors market their work. Now, she’d linked to it with the comment that something about it didn’t feel right to her. I had the exact same reaction — and, no, I’m not going to link to it and give these guys any more publicity than they have already gotten. Why? Because I don’t have a good feeling about them and here’s why:
This is a Facebook page only. I couldn’t find a website for them. One the FB page, they say that if they get to so many likes, they will open up for a beta test. As I said, I couldn’t find a website for this so-called company to check out what they are going to offer, who is behind the company, etc. All I know is that if they reach beta and if you sign up, for a fee of $15/month, you get to reach”thousands” of connections. Again, no idea who the connections are or how they are chosen. There are other red flags, but I think you get the point about why it isn’t something I’m going to run out and sign up for.
I don’t mind paying to promote any of my books. But I have to do it smart and simply signing up for something that says it’s going to be great without seeing anything about how they are going to work, who they are putting my book in front of, etc., isn’t going to get me to pry open my wallet. The problem is, I’m seeing more and more of these types of sites popping up. They promise a lot for a little bit of money so authors sign up. After all, we’re writers, not marketing execs. But we have to be smart with our money. Throwing it out there just because someone says they will get your name out there doesn’t guarantee it. So look for easily identifiable websites for the company wanting your money. Read their contract and see who their contacts are. Find out what role you have to play in all this. If you have to promote someone else’s work in order for your work to be promoted somewhere, ask yourself if it is worth it. This is especially true if the person or persons whose work you have to promote is not familiar to you. Do you have time to look at their book or short story before deciding if you want to recommend it to your readers? In other words, is this wonderful opportunity to promote going to become a time sink that will adversely affect your writing time?
Finally, I have to say something about crowd sourcing your work. What brought this to mind was the announcement that Wattpad is now offering what they call Fan Funding. I’m not against crowd sourcing in general. But I do have reservations. As a writer, I know what a hit my confidence would take if I posted a project and it didn’t get funded. It’s that same hit I take with royalty statements when my sales are down. I know sales are cyclical and there are times of the year when my stuff sells better than others. I also know that the more often I put things up, the better my sales. But that doesn’t ease the hit to my ego when I see the actual figures on paper. So imagine the ego hit I’d take if I posted a project for funding and it didn’t fund. And, let’s face it, that’s not an unusual reaction for most writers. We are an insecure lot, on the whole.
But I have another concern with crowd funding, especially with the Wattpad version. Now, going in here, I’ll admit I’m not familiar with the ins-and-outs of Wattpad. So some of my assumptions may be wrong. But if I read the initial information about the Fan Funding, the book you are trying to crowd source would be available on Wattpad. My questions are if this means everyone who belongs to Wattpad would be able to read it for free. While I have no problem giving away my work for free, I want to be able to choose when and for how long that happens. A new work that I’m trying to get sales for needs to be a for sale title and not one that thousands upon thousands of folks can access for free. I get no money then and I like to eat and my animals like their kibble.
From a consumer point of view, I have another concern with this sort of funding of projects. Most of these crowd funding sites do have a set period of time for a project to meet its funding goal. Thirty days seems to be the standard. Your credit card won’t be charged until the funding goal is met — or a hold is put on your pledged funds and then the hold is released. That’s a good thing. But what happens if the goal is met, your credit card is charged and then the project never comes to fruition? There are a lot of reasons for this to happen but if you’ve pledged money to see a project happen and it never does, or it takes so long to happen that you figure it will never take place, you will think twice before ever funding another suck project and you sure as hell will think twice before ever buying anything else from that author.
I guess the common thread through all of this is that we, as writers, have to think about the ramifications of what we do. Is it worth the time, effort and possible heartache — not to mention money — it will require? In other words, what is the return on investment? If it kills the creative process, even for a day or two, or if it means spending more time promoting someone else’s work instead of your own, it’s probably not worth it.
Write, promote smart and don’t pay for things you don’t have to unless you are sure that doing so will save you money or, better yet, make you money in the long run.
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Since I have been talking promotion, here are three of my titles with links to Amazon. They are available elsewhere.
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.
Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.
Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.
Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.
In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.
Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.
Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.