Tag Archives: advice

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life | This Page is About WORDS!!!

Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life | This Page is About WORDS!!!.

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Writers on Writing: Plays Mad with his Soul

“The true artist plays mad with his soul, labors at the very lip of the volcano, but remembers and clings to his purpose, which is as strong as the dream. He is not someone possessed, like Cassandra, but a passionate, easily tempted explorer who fully intends to get home again, like Odysseus.”

–John Gardner

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Writers on Writing

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
–Stephen King

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Writers on Writings

Thoughts about ideas….

“I have never felt like I was creating anything. For me, writing is like walking through a desert and all at once, poking up through the hardpan, I see the top of a chimney. I know there’s a house under there, and I’m pretty sure that I can dig it up if I want. That’s how I feel. It’s like the stories are already there. What they pay me for is the leap of faith that says: ‘If I sit down and do this, everything will come out OK.’”
—Stephen King

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Writers on Writing

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
–Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

So, go and create a new view with your writing. Show the world something it has not sen before.
–Editor

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Writers on Writing

You can’t try to do things; you simply must do them.
–Ray Bradbury

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Writers on writing

“I do not rewrite unless I am absolutely sure that I can express the material better if I do rewrite it.”
—William Faulkner

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13 Things You May Not Know About Agents

By Rachelle Gardner

Source: http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/06/13-things-you-may-not-know-about-agents/

1. We really hate getting bad news and we hate sharing it with you, but we trust you’re adult enough to handle it.

2. If we say we don’t want to submit a particular project to editors, we’re probably trying to protect both of our reputations (the writer’s and the agent’s).

3. While many of us do a great deal of editing and polishing of your manuscripts and/or proposals, the bottom line is that it’s the writer’s job to provide a marketable book. Agents shouldn’t be counted on to make it sales-ready.

4. We are very invested in your book and often feel like it’s “our baby” too (even though we KNOW it’s yours!)

5. If it seems like we’re too busy, it’s because the economics of this industry demand we carry a certain amount of volume to make a living wage.

6. We prioritize taking care of current clients above the search for new clients. So typically, queries and writer’s conferences take a back seat.

7. We really are interested in your long-term career, not just the size of the next advance.

8. We hate the slowness of publishing just as much as you do!

9. We want to set you up with the publisher and editor who will be best for you, not just the one who’s offering the most money.

10. When we’ve tried to sell your book but we’re not successful, we’re probably almost as disappointed as you. Not only are we often emotionally invested, we’ve put in a lot of time for no paycheck.

11. When you send us a manuscript to read, we don’t do it during the work day. We read in the evenings (our “free time”) and on the weekends. With Kindles and iPads, we may even be reading your manuscript on the treadmill at the gym.

12. We’re aware of all the new options for writers these days, and we’re doing our best to help steer each client in the right direction.

13. If your writing career keeps you awake at night, there’s a good chance it has kept us awake on occasion, too.

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Writing tip Wednesday: knock-off anyone?

[Editor's commentary: "It was a dark and stormy night." How many times have you as a writer been told not to copy. Don't copy somebody's homework. Don't copy the way somebody looks. Seems somewhere along the line may have changed. Or, at least, knock-offs of something may be okay. Or at least what publishers are looking for. That's what this article suggests. So, maybe what you need to do is find some best selling novel and "spice" it up in some way, and see if an agent or publisher will buy it. I say it with a bit of tongue-in-cheek. Therefore, I don't know that I so much say this is a writing tip and maybe a way to get started writing if you feel stuck. Take something out there, a classic maybe, and bend it some, change it in some way. Many of the stories of King Arthur's knights of the round table were retold in just such a fashion. Each new writer taking what had been written before about a certain knight and adding his own inflections to it. In some ways, we may not be quite as far beyond the Middle Ages as we would like to think.]

“Fifty shades” of knock-offs?

Source: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/05/14/fifty-shades-grey-knock-offs?hpt=hp_c2

By Matthew Carey

updated 11:31 AM EDT, Mon May 14, 2012

An erotic bestseller has publishers fantasizing… about how to repeat its runaway success.

The “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy by author E. L. James has sold an amazing three million copies in just a few weeks, seducing readers with its sadomasochistic tale of virginal college student Anastasia Steele and her troubled billionaire lover Christian Grey. Universal snapped up the film rights for a reported $5 million.

The “Fifty Shades” boom “is a very big deal,” says Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly. “I think it’s safe to say it’s a mini-phenomenon.” Milliot says publishing houses are pouring over ideas hoping to duplicate “Shades’” achievement.

“This is a notoriously copycat industry… This industry jumps on whatever big thing comes along,” Millot explains.

But it’s tricky to imitate what you don’t quite understand — and many industry pros are baffled by the trilogy’s success.

“A lot of people are kind of scratching their heads about what has made this thing pop,” Milliot says. “It’s not just the sex thing that’s selling. There’s way more explicit stuff out there if you want it. It’s more than that.”

Milliot credits word of mouth, plus “Shades’” distinctive cover art (a silver necktie) and what he calls a “secret sauce” — that mystery ingredient that can turn something ordinary into a big hit.

Already, some rival publishers are promoting titles with their own recipe for “secret sauce”:

• “Bared to You” by Sylvia Day is described as a compelling combo of “love, lust and secrets.” Heroine: Young Eva Tramell. Troubled, rich boyfriend: Gideon Cross.

• “Big Game”, the latest in the “Vampire Vacation Inn” series by C. J. Ellisson, which could be called a cross between “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Heroine: 580-year-old vampire Vivian. Sexy soulmate: Rafe.

Like “Fifty Shades,” Ellisson’s books contain a “heavy erotic element,” the author told HLN (though she notes the hot action involves a married couple). Ellisson began publishing her series before the “Shades” explosion, but all the media attention on James’ trilogy may benefit her sales too.

“I love that [“Fifty Shades of Grey”] has brought erotic literature into the mainstream. I think that’s terrific,” says Ellisson.

There’s an irony in publishers trying to imitate “Fifty Shades of Grey,” because it basically began as an imitation itself of Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series. E.L. James’ story originated on a Twilight “fan fiction” website, and her main characters were first called Bella and Edward (not Anastasia and Christian).

Milliot says — imitation or not — “Shades” is not in “Twilight”‘s league, despite those impressive sales figures and a movie in the early stages of development.

“I think you see how books two and three (in the series) do and you have to see how the movie gets made and if the books have legs. It’s not there (yet) to be compared to ‘Twilight’ and ‘Harry Potter.’”

But Milliot adds, “It has the foundation to do that.”

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Writing tip: a writer can’t just be a writer

Should You Focus on Your Writing or Your Platform?

by Jane Friedman

April 27, 2012

Source: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/04/27/should-you-focus-on-your-writing-or-your-platform/#more-14057

Craft!

Platform!

Craft!!

Platform!!

It’s a debate that might span eternity: how much time should you devote to writing versus platform building?

I don’t know if there was ever a real beginning to this debate, but if so, it was when editors and agents started telling nonfiction authors that their book was only viable if a platform was in place. Which made sense for technological and cultural reasons. Take the ease of word processing and affordable personal computers, add Baby Boomers with free time to pursue their dreams, and presto! Suddenly there were more people than ever trying to write a book and get it published, with limited skills and experience, and often no credentials.

So what does a well-meaning agent or editor say to one of these people? The easiest thing to say is: You need a platform.

Fast forward a decade or two, and we now live inside an unending media conversation wheel, where anyone can find a niche readership, do solid work on building a platform, and even put writing on the backburner—and still reasonably claim to be a writer.

I think there’s a backlash against some of these people, which I understand. It’s applying the entrepreneurial, get-rich-quick Tim Ferriss mindset to the world of literature, where we tend to believe that blood, sweat, and tears (and rejection) are demanded before you gain recognition.

Plus: Real writers write. (Right?) They don’t tweet, they don’t blog, they don’t connect with readers, at least not joyfully.

I exaggerate, but you know the people I’m talking about.

The horrible catch is—at least for beginning writers without fame and fortune, who are starting their careers in a transitioning industry—focusing on your writing work to the exclusion of all else can hamper you later down the road. If you shut yourself away and don’t learn to navigate the online world (the personalities, the flow of conversations, the tools), you’re terribly disadvantaged when it comes time to get a publisher, market your work, and find readers.

Excellent arguments reside on each side of this debate, which often boil down to: “Writing is all that matters,” and “audience is all that matters.”

But the truth is a little different for each of us, and that’s why it’s next to impossible to give general advice on platform. It necessarily varies based on the author and the work in question.

But it does rip me apart to hear very new writers feel anxious that they can’t figure out their platform, especially when they have not a single book or credit to their name.

Well, it’s not a mystery why platform is so confusing when you don’t know who you are yet as a writer!

This has been a very long preface to what I’d like to offer: a set of general guidelines to help any writer understand how to balance writing with platform building.

Balance is the key word here.

Focusing on your writing probably means spending 10%-25% of your available writing time on platform activities. I never recommend abandoning platform activities entirely, because you want to be open to new possibilities. Being active online—while still focused on your writing—could mean finding a new mentor or the perfect critique partner, connecting with an important influencer, or pursuing a new writing retreat or fellowship opportunity.

Without further ado, the list.

When to focus more on your writing:

If you are within the first five years of seriously attempting to write with the goal of publication
For novelists: If you have not yet completed and revised one or two full-length manuscripts
If you can tell that what you’re writing is falling short of where you want and need to be
If you see a direct correlation between the amount of writing you put out and the amount of money that comes into your bank account (the JA Konrath model)
If you are working on deadline.

When to focus more on your platform:

If you start to realize you’re on the verge of publication
If you have a firm book release date of any kind
If you want to sell a nonfiction book concept (non-narrative)
If you intend to profit from online/digital writing that you are creating, distributing, and selling on your own
If you need to prove to a publisher or agent that your work has an audience.

Brief Bio.: Jane Friedman is a professor of media and writing at the University of Cincinnati, and the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. Visit her at JaneFriedman.com, for regular insights into the future of publishing.

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