Revision & the Post-Nanowrimo Reality Check

How many of you participated in Nanowrimo 2014? You know, the month of literary abandon where writers of all ilk try to pen at least 50,000 words into some coherent fashion – all during the month of November?

Thousands tried it. Thousands finished. You may be one of them!

And literary agents now cry during the month of December as their email in-boxes explode with submissions. Now, let’s give credit where credit is due: there could be a bestseller in there somewhere. Odds are against it. But it could happen.

And that’s why writers submit their Nano Novels.

Alas, the writer may be ready to be a bestselling author, but the story is not. Many (smarter?) writers use December to revise their draft. Good idea! But now it’s January. The revision must be ready to submit, right?

Here’s some advice from a long time Nano winner, me. I’m the one whose first novel is getting good reviews, but has yet to be traditionally published.

Wait.

Revise.

Wait.

Revise.

Wait some more.

Revise again.

Give your brain a chance to think about other stuff. I wrote a new novel (the sequel) while I was waiting. I put the first book up for critique on the online writer’s peer group, Book Country. I had a few beta readers offer me their opinion. All good feedback, even if not always what I wanted to hear.

The point is – good on you for writing a book in November. Most people could not do it. Ever. But don’t waste that effort. Revise it. Work it. Peer review it. Do something else and then come back and read it with fresh eyes. Trust me. It is worth it.

And eventually, you will find less and less to change. Finally, perhaps a year (or more) later, you will feel confident enough in the work to send it out.

And when you do, I send you my best wishes!

Now put down the draft and go read a book! Make a bucket list and check some things off! Go to the coffee shop and – gasp – talk to someone instead of hiding in the comfy chair typing away. You can do it, you know you can!

Give your book a chance to become as ready for the world as you are!

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The Dreaded Author Photo

The latest mug shot of D.J. Lutz

The latest mug shot of D.J. Lutz

Well, sports fans, the time had come for a new author photo. For those of you who know me, I have never enjoyed having my picture taken. Yet, duty called and I had to submit a new photo, this time in a landscape format. I would have used an old photo, but most were formatted in a square, since that worked best in my social media accounts. That said, I was being interviewed about wellness for writers – and they wanted a photo.

Lemony Snicket had the right idea: never be seen except as a shadow, or perhaps from behind. In a throwback to the iconic Alfred Hitchcock, I could do the same thing? Or maybe pretend I’m Wilson, the neighbor in Tim Allen’s old show Home Improvement, where all you see is Wilson’s eyes and forehead as he peers over the fence.

If you Google Author Photos, you will see that the search engine helps you out by categorizing the photos by quality. Great, Good, Bad, and – Worst. Dare I say it? I hope mine does not end up being placed into the Worst zone. Maybe I can slip Google some cash to bump me up into the “Meh” or even the “It’ll Work” category? No, they probably don’t need the money. And I only have about ten bucks in my pocket right now anyway.

What do you think of your own photo? Any opinions on what constitutes a decent author photo? Anyone want to sub in?

 

Traditional Publishing – the canoes now come with paddles!

 

Okay, you know I try not to delve into politics or business, and surely not the politics of business, but today’s headlines once again regale us with the rehashing of (alleged) price fixing, coercion and generally nasty thoughts amongst the Publishing Elite.

 

I find the whole affair ludicrous.

 

First off, the prosecution wants to use quotes from a dead guy’s autobiography? Who’s going to cross examine the late Steve Jobs? Instead of dead man walking it could be dead man talking? Also, since when does a company as large as Apple need help from the likes of HarperCollins et al? And if Amazon is selling its books for a sawbuck, who’s stopping Apple from selling books for $2.99. It’s a free market economy. As long as costs are covered and a reasonable profit is made, why complain? Disruptive technology at its best, I say. Besides, when Amazon priced its books below cost, the books were being used as loss leaders in order to sell  eReaders. Why lead the horse to water when you can make more money selling the trough? Tells me a lot about what Amazon thought of the authors.

 

Thank goodness traditional publishers NOW have canoes with paddles! Well – yes, but – the newer start-ups and self publishers have the Internet with much less brick and mortar overhead. Paddle or no paddle, your canoe may be sinking, gentlemen!

Ojibwe birchbark canoe, 1910

Ojibwe birchbark canoe, 1910 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The big fuss seems to be over which companies want to use an agency model instead of a wholesale model for pricing and who told who to do what. Anyway, to learn more about those sordid goings on, check out the WSJ article here. The real issue is the fact that traditional publishers did not want to lose the “books made of paper” model. One of the best articles I have read on the subject is from social media expert Kristen Lamb. Read her thoughts on the matter here, and check back in a few years to see how her predictions have fared.

 

As for me, I think  I’ll stick with my highly (un)scientific method of analyzing of publishing trends by people watching at the coffee shop. I spend about an hour and half there every day and so far all of the bibliophiles are using their phones, tablets, Nooks, Kindles and laptops to read the latest and greatest tomes. The only paper left in the joint is the New York Times, delivered every day. And I have yet to see someone pick up a copy. Maybe Starbucks could sell fish?

 

So price fixing? Yeah, illegal and someone should probably pay a fine. But in the long run – does it matter? The free market paired with self publishing and its rock bottom low barrier to entry will take care of pricing. So to step off the soapbox, I’ll end with besh wishes to all involved, and <lifting glass> “Here’s to good men who sip Bombay while practicing their short game in between two minute pitch sessions from equally anachronistic agents. Cheers! And perhaps you should learn how to froth milk…”

 

 

 

Canoes need water…

Have you ever been in a canoe without a paddle? I am thinking figuratively, of course, not literally, but you get the point. Look on the bright side, at least you have a canoe!

How many of us have canoes, but are afraid of putting them in the water because they may discover they have no paddle? More of us than you think. In fact, I bet all of us at one time or another have hesitated testing those waters. Think I am crazy? (I am, but that’s a different story) Let’s take writers as an example.

Have you written a great novel? A poem? A fabulous short story?

Well, that’s your canoe. Have you put it in the water yet?

We (writers) all talk about how we want to get published, go on national book signing tours, and maybe even appear on Ellen’s show or something of that ilk. So, what have we done about it? You will never get published if you don’t send your writing to someone in the industry, an agent or possibly…take a deep breath now, a publisher.

Easier said than done. We all have self doubts about our writing. Many times family and friends seem like they don’t understand our motivation and make comments like “Well, it’s better than some of the stuff I have read…” – that one came from mom.  I find that those close to us usually do understand, but don’t know how to communicate it well to us. It’s okay; they aren’t writers after all. I just appreciate their support, however it comes! I am lucky, I have a great family, but I know many of you are not in a similar situation. So what to do, then?

Take a stand, you!  You like your writing, otherwise you would not have pressed “save.” So what are you waiting for? Share your work with the world. Start slow. Join a writer’s group and read some of your stuff. Participate in online groups such as Writer’s Cafe (writerscafe.org.)

You ready for the big time? Send something to an agent or publisher. There are plenty of places that take unsolicited work. Some need it on paper, some electronically. Other than the cost of a stamp, what do you have to lose?

Okay, I hear you all talking – “Big talk, DJ, but how about you?”

Well, let me tell you. I have already sent in a poem for consideration to be published at a museum (and I am not even a poet, people.)  I am also preparing a short story to be sent to a national magazine.

Will I get published? Who knows how my canoe ride will go…but at least I am in the water!

Join me, won’t you?  What’s stopping you?