Friday, July 17, 2009

Career-Minded: What does it really mean?, Part 2

If you haven't read the first part of this post, you can find it below.

I left off asking an ambigious question(s). That was my point. Success is in the eye of the beholder. Some qualities of a successful author is universal. Some are not. Each journey is different.

Yet these are the five things I saw when I sat back to look at the successful authors around me:

1. Most, if not all, had a fan base.

2. That fan base came from them writing several books.

3. Those books tended to fall into the same genre for a while.

4. They knew about the industry. If they didn't know they knew where to look.

5. They talked about writing as if it had split personalities--writing and Publishing.

There's more to this list, but I think these are the important ones. At least in my journey at the moment. Some of these may be instinctive for you. Like writing in the same genre. You love paranormal, so you write it and only that. You love historicals, so you write it and only that. *please refer to my last blog post to see how many different books I've written.*

The importance of separating writing (the creative act) and publishing(the business side of writing) cannot be stressed enough. I’ve found it easier to write when the door (the business, editors, agents, what my readers will like/dislike) is closed. I’m not alone in this. Matter of fact, Stephen King said in his On Writing how to- the first reader you have to please is you.

But, once you open that door, all bets are off. You need to open that door and think of your book as a product. That’s the purpose of the query and the synopsis. These are the tools you use to say, “Hey, this is why this book is great and you CAN sell it.” It becomes instinctive to think of your book in genre, word count, and the hook when you switch off the creative side. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this isn’t the business side.

Anyway, this revelation made me sit back and re-think what I was doing and how I was acting. I want to be the author in example number one. I want to have a career as a writer. That's going to take work, but I'm already half-way there. I have whimsy goals that need to be ironed-out and made into an actual plan. I need to stop being a slave to my muse. She can be all flighty only because she doesn't pay rent. And, I'm egotistical. Yes, I said it out loud. I want a fan base. One that doesn't consist of just my parents.

I was writing whatever came to me and submitting it. It never crossed my mind that once I sold *insert genre* that my publisher would expect more *insert genre* My mind jumped straight to the romantic suspense I wrote. I barely made it through that story and then I would have to write more than one? *Cue heart palpations* Now *insert whatever you aren't being business-minded about* and let it settle over you for a moment. Did you just have a few palpatations of your own?

Welcome to the club!

What type of author are you? What type of author do you want to be? If you want to tell me where I can put this post that's ok. The line is on the left, and the comment section is on the bottom.

*You can find more snark from me on my website:*

~Melissa Blue and I'm out~

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Career-Minded: What Does it really mean?

I might ruffle a few feathers, but that's okay. I'm a rebel at heart. "Career-minded" If you haven't been under a rock for the past eight months you've read this term in the RWR's Letter from the President. You've seen or heard a few authors head explode when it's mentioned. The President has her own definition for this that I won't get into. I'd rather give it my own spin, because I need to watch my blood pressure.

Overall, the meaning, for me, is that there are two kinds of authors:

1. An author who wants to make writing a career. They make a goal each year to complete a certain number of manuscripts. (Could just be one. Could be 18 months to finish one, but the goal is there.) They study the market. They study the craft. They network. They are in this business for the long-run. They know that once they are published none of the above stops. It only gets harder. It only makes the next level more important. Be it, writing more books a year. Teaching classes. Enrolling in more workshops dedicated to the industry or craft. Getting a support group to help through those tough times.

2. An author who enjoys writing just because it allows them to express themselves creatively.

Note: One type of author isn't better than the other.

The important point is to know which one you are. If you are not falling under the one you prefer then you need to re-evaluate what you can change. I have to admit even after my first book sold, I was still number two. I didn't think past the first sell. I'm a craft junkie so signing up for workshops or being a part of a craft-based forum wasn't a hardship.

But, you had to put a gun to my head to read about the industry. For me, writing was a creative activity and I didn't want to dirty the experience by learning too much about the industry. But then I started to look at the successful authors around me. I came up with five things...

I'm going to break this post up into two parts. I'll be back tomorrow. Tell me what you think so far. What are five things you believe every successful authors has? Do you think of qualities? Do you think it's a mindset? Or do you think it's something they do?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Your Tagline?

I just updated our website with information for our newest published member, C.C. Wiley, and I really like her tagline. Passion and adventure worth fighting for. That got me to thinking about what our other authors' taglines are and if any of our pre-published members have thought about taglines. How important is a tagline to an author?

Our authors write in a variety of genres. C.C. is an historical author, so her tagline does her justice. The title of her first book is Knight Dreams, and I'm sure there will more such titles in her future.
Stacey is an historical author but she focuses on westerns. Take a wild ride is perfect for her and her books. And in her video trailer she uses Unleash the West!, another terrific tagline. Our Melissa's tagline is Romance full of snark, which if you know Melissa, there's not a better fit for her stories.

How difficult was it for you to come up with your tagline? Was it a process that took months? Or did you just get lucky and it came to you out of the blue? Did you come up with several to choose from and that made it hard to pick one? Or was there no question when you found the right one, no further searching was necessary?

For those of you out there still working toward publication and if you have thought about a tagline, have you done research to make sure it's not used by someone else? Did you think it through as far as down the road if you consider writing in a different genre, will it still work for you then? Or is a tagline all that important to you now? Or even later when you are published?

I also noticed that several of our published authors do not have a tagline. Did you choose not have to have one? Or still thinking about it maybe? There's time to find one later? If you've chosen not to have a tagline, what was your reasoning at the time for that decision? Is it something you might rethink down the line? Or you just feel one isn't needed? Are you just undecided, still trying to figure out what the best tagline is for you?

Lastly, what's your opinion about how effective taglines are? Do they work? It's branding. If a reader, agent, editor, whoever sees it enough, will it stick so that they will remember you and buy your book the next time they see one in the bookstore, ask for your full manuscript when a partial or your query letter comes across their desk? Is it worth the headache going to all the trouble to figure one out?

Personally I like taglines. When it's the right tagline for the right author, I think they work. It's just an added extra something that makes up the complete package when it comes to your books. But that's just me. What about you?


Thursday, July 2, 2009

National Conference Time

Will you be attending the Nationals? The national conference for RWA (Romance Writers of America) or just “The Nationals” for short. This year’s event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 15-18, 2009.

I attended the conference for the first time last year in San Francisco. There was nothing small about this conference. Being held in one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world made it the perfect setting for a writer. And as a first timer I learned and experienced more then I ever thought possible. Over five days I learned quite a few things I hope to put to good use on my next conference trip.

· Go with a friend. I originally planed on going alone but my writing buddy (Jackie) was able to go with me. We were able to share all the ups and downs of being the new writers on the block.
· Make and take business cards with you. Check. But you need to remember to pass them out and not forget them in your hotel room.
· Go a day early. We did and it was worth it to be able to check out the host city without the worries of meeting or schedules.
· Take a fold up wheel bag. Thanks go to Sandy for this tip. It wasn’t until the second day that I truly understood how many free books I could conceivably come away with.
· Don’t stress over the workshop list. So many classes to choose from left our minds in a mess for the first two days. Then a wonderful thing happened. You too can buy the Conference C.D. for one amazing low price. This piece of advice brought the realization that we could play hooky, take a nap, or get something to drink (Starbucks was in the lobby of the hotel) or (god forbid), get more books. Six weeks later the C.D. arrives and you can listen to all the classes you missed at your leisure.
· Introduce yourself and say hi. To everyone you meet. This is a difficult thing to do if you are an introvert but this is the best place in the word to practice. Say hi when you sit down in a class, standing in line at a book signing and to the people sharing your table at the luncheons. Many of these people will be first timers also and will be glad someone else said hi first.
· Take your camera with you everywhere you go. A photo opportunity is a terrible thing to waste. Yes I did forget it in the hotel room. Twice. Ask. Most of the authors and presenters are happy to pose for a photo with or without you in it. Most will ask you to email them a copy.
· Have fun. This should be a given. But it can be easy to lose sight of this important goal under all the desire to step up your writing career. So just remember to take a deep breath and let it out slowly and look around you. See the people around you and take in all emotional electricity. Store it all away to be remembered and used another day.

The last best thing about going to the conference for me was five days of no laundry, no dishes, no cleaning, and no 9 to 5. No demands except from myself, no expectations except for myself and no responsibilities except to myself.
I’m looking for more tips to add to the list. Give me your best shot.
I was so energized by the Conference and the City by the Bay that I can hardly wait for the next one. Plans are already being made. Think San Diego.

You can start with a small taste of what a conference is like with a local one day trip. Check out our writing friends at Central Valley Writers and their l day symposium.

June Rodriguez