Writers Be Wary

Although I’ve posted on doing due diligence, I felt a need to do a little something re “Writer Beware”.

. . . Which is also the name of a website dedicated to, yes, writers being wary.  There’s a wealth of information re deceptive publishers, agents, presses, and scams.  Also provided: legal recourse suggestions and resources.

A few years ago I signed up with an agent who I—foolish me—did not thoroughly investigate.  I’d always done my due diligence.  Maybe I’d been too eager re actually having one that I forgot to take it further and explore her accomplishments and standing.  Or maybe I’d been so excited (she’d sounded so professionally sincere), I’d simply chosen to close my eyes.

Very long story short, an overwhelming “gut instinct” finally [thankfully] kicked in and propelled me into action.  I contacted Victoria Strauss, co-founder of Writer Beware (she’s also a prolific author by the way).  Pleasant and patient, she provided background on the agent; it wasn’t favorable.  Too bad I’d not immediately clued in when Ms. Agent congratulated me on making a deal with a publisher I’d never heard of (and soon learned was of questionable repute).

But this post isn’t about me; it’s about us, writers looking for decent deals, be it via a publisher or an agent—how to recognize (ascertain) it’s the real deal.

Just Publishing Advice is worth a gander.  Read Derek Haines’ recent article entitled “Publishing Companies to Avoid and Nasty New Author Scams”.

“Because Indie authors are active on social media, it is easy for a predatory publisher to get your contact details.  Then come the offers for their publishing services.”  (That explains the regular email queries in my Inbox.)  He also states, “When publishing businesses make you an offer that includes the word free, it is a signal that you should be very suspicious.”  (Simple, significant advice.)

Besides browsing websites and articles, do as marketing guru Marcia Yudkin suggests on her site (www.yudkin.com):

“It’s easy to get fast feedback on questionable literary outfits.  Post a notice asking about the specific agent or publisher you’re investigating on message boards or discussion lists frequented by writers.”

In this day and age, it’s far from difficult to “get the goods” on people and businesses.  It’s merely a question of applying yourself . . . not getting caught up in the excitement of the moment (note to self) . . . and using logic.  Think before acting.  Take heed.  Know what you’re getting into; it will save heartache and potential loss of [lots of] money. box123A

Sign on the dotted line?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  . . . Writers, be wary.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

When Gomer Pyle uttered those words—with a toothy (goofy) smile—it always meant something good.  From his perspective.  From his sergeant’s, maybe not so much. (With fondness, Mom has taken to re-watching Gomer Pyle; as such, I get to view the 60s show, too.  You know, it does have its moments.)

Recently, I decided I’d send out a few queries to traditional publishers and posted about that.  I also provided a link to Emily Harstone’s list of publishers accepting manuscripts sans agent.  Only four were relevant to me.  Haven’t yet heard back from the other two and that’s fine.  Though some may disagree, I can be very patient.

But, lo and behold, I found 19 more publishers, courtesy of a link sent by the same author/blogger/friend who’d sent the first one.  This second list by Ms. Harstone provides publishers specifically interested in mysteries.  Woo-bleeping-hoo!  How lucky can a mystery writer be?

If you’ve finished your own magnum opus and have decided to try the traditional publishing route, do some due diligence before submitting.  Don’t simply check out publishers on their site to see what submission guidelines are: find out if they have a decent reputation.

As an FYI, per Wikipedia:  “Due diligence is the investigation or exercise of care that a reasonable business or person is expected to take before entering into an agreement or contract with another party, or an act with a certain standard of care.  It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations.”

It’s all good when the surprise is a welcome one, but so not good when it’s an unwelcome one—like signing up with a publisher who’s not on the up-and-up.  Research thoroughly, my friends.  (More on “writer beware” in another post.)  WPsurprise1A

https://www.authorspublish.com/19-mystery-publishers-open-to-submissions/

 

Living in Limbo Land

When in limbo, do the lindy hop!  Trip the light fantastic!  Clog dance!  . . . Do something!

Love my title?  Hey-ho, it’s Rey, taking over for The Boss today.  The poor thing’s super stressed these days.  Ya gotta feel for her.  (To be honest, I’m kinda surprised she isn’t chomping countless chunks of chocolate or sucking sweet sherry or something.)

She’s in limbo, trying to find a cover designer that isn’t going to add to the debt pile.  Sure, if she wins the lottery, the sky’s the limit, but at the moment she’s earning a skimpy salary that doesn’t allow for over-the-top expenses.  Lucking in with a formatter ain’t happening, either.

On a positive note, “HA-HA-HA-HA” is moving along—at a snail’s pace, yeah, but the point is, it’s moving.  And she’s sent out some queries.  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  . . . Hold on a sec; Linda’s wanting my attention.

. . . My BFF—soon-to-be former—says I’m “hackneyed expession heavy”.  Like really?  Ex-cuse moi.

Anyway, from my perspective, The Boss isn’t really in limbo.  She’s just taking baby steps.  Nothing wrong with that.

The point of this post is that when you’re in limbo—experiencing writer’s block, struggling with overwhelming responsibilities, or are just feeling “ech”—go with it.  It’s a phase, sort of like a cocooning.  And we know when something’s cocooned, it does eventually open and something amazing emerges!

In the interim, while that limbo thingy lingers, here are my suggestions:

♦  Do something.  Waiting, groaning and/or moaning don’t do much (the woe-is-me gets pretty tiresome pretty fast).  Dance, sing, watch a movie, take a walk, call a friend, call an enemy.  Just . . . do . . . something.

♦  Don’t chastise yourself.  We all have bad/sad moments and that’s okay.  They pass.  Really, they do.

♦  Write, read, draw or doodle.  Focus on something other than yourself.  See what your favorite hero/heroine are up to.  Sketch the view from the front window.

♦  Get something interesting for take-out.  Have a nice glass of wine with it.

♦  Take on an “assignment” like cleaning the closet, getting rid of the dust cows (mine are bigger than bunnies, I tell ya), painting a wall or room.

♦  Watch a good movie—like one of mine.

♦  Listen to music (that’s always uplifting).

♦  Clear up your Junk/Spam folder; get rid of all those “saley” emails that clog up the Inbox.  Set up new folders and reorganize.

♦  Be grateful for what you have—as in, count your blessings.  Not always easy, this I do know.  But make a list of all the good things you have going for you.  They’re there!

Now, what are you going to do when you’re living in limbo?  That’s right!  You’re gonna do something.  . . . Like kick up those heels and do the lindy hop!WPlimbo123RFcom

 

When Those Cards are Stacked Against You . . . Re-Shuffle!

Let me put my cards on the table—for me, it’s not about writer’s block (fortunately, I don’t experience it too often).  It’s quite the opposite.  Not having enough time to write or blog, both of which are near and dear to my heart, is the “block”, that blasted barrier.  The having-minimal-time factor is a valid reason, and an exasperating one.  Hence, the sense that the cards are stacked against me.

There are moments when many of us feel the cards are stacked against us.  It could be something beyond our control—an external element or force (like time)—or something we’ve brought upon ourselves, inadvertently or otherwise.

When that happens, we can let it get us down . . . drag us down . . . give up completely . . . or say [scream!] “to hell with it, enough already”.  And then do something about it.  Or, at the very least, not allow it to become a discouraging or demoralizing influence.

Maybe we can’t leave a job to pursue a dream or goal—not yet anyway.  Maybe we can’t turn a blind eye to someone who needs us.  But maybe we can declare, “This is the way it has to be right now, but this isn’t how it has to be forever.”

It’s been nearly two years since I started this blog.  The plans to develop and expand for 2018 didn’t happen.  Those same plans for 2019 may not transpire, either.  I can look at it as a glass-half-empty kind of gal (as I have been) or view it from a glass-half-full perspective.  I prefer the latter.

Yes, it’s hard to put on a new hat, but not impossible.  If you can’t afford to buy a new one, rummage through the closet.  Dollars to donuts you’ll find one there.  Put it on.  View yourself from different angles; at least one will prove fetching.

When it feels as if those cards are stacked against you, reshuffle the deck.  Play that last card.  Play a new hand.  Nothing is ever as impossible, or unattainable, as you think.  It’s always within scope . . . within grasp . . . within hand.  The winning hand.WPcards4DribbleUSE

It truly is in the cards, my friends.

Publishing with a Publisher

I’ve posted about traditional publishers the odd time—the difference between them and e-book publishers, whether to go with one, and so forth.  I’d likely mentioned that I was thinking about sending out some queries.  Confession (I’m becoming adept at these): I never did.

. . . Not until this past week.  I felt an overwhelming urge to [finally] give it ago.  See what transpires.  Maybe I’ll luck in, maybe I won’t.  What’s a rejection or three?  I’m tough.  I can handle it.   <LOL>

Of course, that meant preparing three-chapter / two-chapter attachments and penning a synopsis.  The former took less than five minutes; the latter took like four hours.  (I’d forgotten how time-consuming those could be.)

Fortunately, I had a list of publishers to begin with thanks to a fellow blogger/author/ friend who’d sent a link to an article by Emily Harstone (thank you, Jina).  “The Top 35 Publishers for New Authors” by Ms. Harstone (pen name, by the by) provides a list of publishers that have published debut books and don’t require you to have an agent.

For my genre, the list contained four publishers to approach.  SourceBooks, upon checking their site, no longer accepts unsolicited (un-agented) requests.  One down, three to go.  Fortunately, the next three were accepting submissions and off went the emails with the extra documentation, as outlined in the guidelines.

I blinked and there was my first reply.  The publisher was booked until 2022, nor did they deal with books in the middle of a series.  Fair enough.  Two down, two to go.

Sure, it’s discouraging.  Who doesn’t want a positive “let’s sign you up” response?  But it’s part of the process.  As writers, we have to sport thick skins, not let our frail egos be shattered, recognize that there may be multiple rejections.  (Just research how many big-name authors received rebuffs and snubs.)

Will I send out more queries?  You betcha.  I just need to research more publishers and off those eager inquiries will go.  And I’ll keep you posted [literally].

In case you’re looking to do the same, here’s a link to that article/list:

https://www.authorspublish.com/the-top-35-publishers-for-new-authors/

Good luck!

 

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Pitching the Quintessential Elevator Pitch

Confession: I’d never heard the term “elevator pitch” until this week.  I must have been living in a cave (at least metaphorically).  But it’s what I suspected it might be: a sales pitch.  Another confession: it also had me thinking Muzak, that “homogenized” stuff they used to play many moons ago in, yup, elevators.  (Apparently, Muzak is still piped into retail outlets and the like.  If that’s the case, from what I’ve heard the odd time—I’m not much of a shopper—it’s not nearly as ear-wincing as it was back when.)

Think of your elevator pitch like a blurb for your book or blog (or whatever business you might be in).  In essence, you’re sharing your know-how, your talent.  It should be short and sweet, and persuasive.

persuasive = convincing = compelling = winning

You want to create interest—be that spark . . . flicker . . . trigger that prompts the listener/reader into action.  So what’s the first thing you want to do?  Right.  Focus on the goal; determine your objective.

Given many of us are writers/bloggers, our goal would be to entice readers and, subsequently, generate sales.  What is it about our books or blogs—“products”—that we’d like people to remember?

♦   Something like this might work nicely:  “I’m XYZ, a successful food blogger with 310,500 followers and three books with 45 five-star reviews.”  (If this is you, hat’s off!)

If we can write a two-paragraph blurb, we can write an elevator pitch.  No question.  However, instead of being objective (impartial), like detailing a novel plot or blog theme, we have to be subjective (personal) and provide facts.

♦   Have we sold numerous copies?  Received positive reviews and accolades?  Do we have an abundance of followers?  What makes us stand out (be memorable)?  Why are we unique?

Start with a list attributes and accomplishments.  Jot down 10-20 things that people should know.  If you have bona-fide stats, insert those.  Is there a mission statement?  Add it.  Then edit, keeping only the most vital—unforgettable—facts.  What you pitch must be succinct—no more than 30 seconds.

Do you have something to offer at the conclusion?  A free copy of one of your books?  Tips/advice?  Maybe a contest with a prize?  If you’ve got it, give it.

And speaking of giving, give thought to expressing what you’d like to happen: have a meeting, be followed, receive a response/input, make a sale.  Put forward that ultimate goal.

Consider who you’re pitching to.  An elevator pitch for career/business networking might be different than that for social media.  It depends on the audience and what your goal/focus is.  Having two or more elevator pitches won’t hurt.  And never forget: practice makes perfect.

So do practice that pitch, yes, until it’s perfect.  And demonstrates your passion.  If you’re not excited about who you are and what you do, why should anyone else be?  So when you’re riding on that elevator—literally or otherwise—let your [dynamic] pitch woo the person(s) you’re riding with.

wppitch1

The End . . . of a New Beginning . . .

Just finished “Odd Woman Out”, the weekly-installment book on Wattpad.  Yay!  T’is truly the end, the concluding conclusion, the final farewell.

That got me thinking that a worthwhile venture might be a quick post on what to consider re a book’s ending.

Given the end should prove the apex—the highpoint—of your book/story, you want to close with a bang.  Depending on the genre, tension and excitement will vary.  In a romance, you’ll want the heroine and hero to argue, to detest each other, to bicker, and then to—awwwww—kiss and make up forever and ever.  In a mystery, you’ll need a body or five to impel the protagonist along a twisting trail to determine the demented killer, also known as Evil Villain.  Whatever the genre, though, events and incidents should propel the reader toward a grand finale.

A grand finale can be surprising, unusual, even quirky.  Engage readers’ imaginations.  Tease them if the story/plot warrants it.  What that grand finale shouldn’t be is ridiculous, laughable, or implausible.  And, if you’re writing a series, leave some things unsaid—entice your readers to want to pick up the next book.

If you’re writing for the first time, read books in your genre to get a feel for what works.  Research what makes for good endings.  A one-off/standalone may have your main character(s) change . . . grow up . . . mature . . . become informed.  A series can offer the same, but character growth and development could be extended into the next book(s).

Happy endings are wonderful.  I love them.  Life isn’t always that pleasant and things don’t continuously happen in our favor.  But it’s ni-ice to have things work out in a story.  It provides . . . yeah . . . satisfaction.

But, given your story, maybe things don’t end well.  Maybe the heroine drives off into the sunset, leaving the hero at the side of the road.  Or there’s a surprise (but not unbelievable) twist that has the protagonist doing something unexpected (but, again, not unbelievable).

You don’t have to provide a lot of action to build up to the climax, but you do have to keep your readers’ attention.  Provide for tension and/or friction; get readers involved emotionally.  They not only want to know—they need to know—what’s going to be revealed in the subsequent pages.

In “Odd Woman Out” (“OWO” as I fondly call it), Alex, the protagonist, returns to where she started, but she’s a little wiser, informed, mature.  The story follows her physical—mental/emotional—journey, where she’s learned some difficult, painful lessons . . . . as we all [hopefully] do. wptheend1a

That grand finale is about what’s transpired, been gleaned, and realized.  It’s not just “the end” . . . it’s a conclusion to [another] beginning.

Ya Got Me

Ever sat down to write your weekly/biweekly blog post . . . to find yourself gawking at the laptop screen?  Annoying, ain’t it?  That Wednesday post I normally write in advance was so not coming.

At this juncture, I’m awaiting the design of four e-book covers (was in the works but the $ ask is now too high, so they’re in limbo for the moment) plus the formatting of “Forever Poi” (soon to be in the works, but definitely on the table).  A few new looks are on the horizon, not just with said books, but blog, too . . . hopefully.  When those [finally] happen, here’s to a new approach and attitude.

In the meanwhile, ya got me.  I was stumped and scratchin’ the ol’ noggin, wondering what the heck to post about.  But then, lo and behold, as if a sturdy coconut tumbled from a palm tree and conked me on the cranium, it came.  Eureka, the next post! wpscratchboxabb

Why not provide one that features a few videos about . . . yup . . . what to blog/post about when . . . yup . . . you’ve got nothing to blog/post about.

So, my friends, I thought we’d start with a quick, straightforward one entitled “4 Mistakes You Make When Posting Video on Your Blog” by Rocky Walls.  At a little over two minutes, Rocky provides some simple and sound pointers.

“How to Overcome Writer’s Block” featuring Jenna Moreci is kind of fun/funny.  Perky and pretty, this woman talks fast . . . and talks a decent game, too.  If you don’t care for “cuss words”, you may not want to tune in (but 3K+ viewers were fine with it).  In fact, she has a few inspiring YouTube vids re writing, so give her a gander.

Diane Callahan’s “17 Cures for Writer’s Block” has a more professional approach, kind of like watching an informative program on the Discovery or History channel.  It’s an easy 14 minutes to watch: the visuals are as crisp and clear as Diane’s soothing, instructive voice.

Cute animation and a wry sense of humor in four-minute “WRITER’S BLOCK – Terrible Writing Advice” makes for a worthy watch.  And that terrible writing advice makes total sense—why not wallow in self-pity?  <LOL>  I’ll be looking for more of J.P. Beaubien’s stuff.  He prompted a [much-needed] enjoyable chuckle.

You know what?  I’m going to add that to the to-do list: make a YouTube vid.  . . . As soon as I watch one on how to make one.

Between a Post and a Page

Today I’ve posted a page—the promised 25 things about myself.  Why a page?  It seemed more fitting, I suppose.

What’s the difference between a page and a post, you ask?  <LOL>  The former is timely, listed in chronological order (new to old) while the latter is a stagnant—yup—page.  It can advise of your privacy policy, provide a legal notice, describe you.  Pages don’t have associated times and dates.  They’re . . . there.

Moreover, posts can be organized into categories and tags, and people can subscribe to them.  They’re “postable” in other social media sites, courtesy of plug-ins, and are great to communicate with others through comments.

Both look similar, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed.  Nothing wrong with that.  Use both as you see fit.

. . . Like sharing 25 facts about yourselfwp2a

Winning / Selling Slogans

Slogan = Motto = Catchphrase = Tagline

Tinkering with the old Triple Threat Investigation Agency logo got me checking out logo-oriented sites.  I found one where you enter words and pick symbols, and—voilà—it speedily designs a few . . . at a cost, of course.

I haven’t attained the right mix/look yet, so no purchase has been made.  Not sure if that will happen, either.  For now, I’m going to continue playing around to see if I can create my own eye-catching and memorable logo.

While on said site, it requested I enter a slogan.  . . . A slogan?  A phrase that expresses the objective(s) or essence of a business.  A marketing—selling—component.  <bleep>  Why didn’t I think of that?!  <LOL>

Regardless of the business, a straightforward (clear) slogan has to capture the mission, commitment/guarantee, and brand.  It should be appealing and unforgettable, and short and sweet (five words tops, it’s been said).  Easy-peasy?  Hell no.

More searching ensued and I came across a blurb about “slogan generators”.  There are a few free ones.  Tried a couple.  Oof.  Maybe one has to go with a paid service, because the free ones weren’t offering anything remotely good (to be fair and kind, I won’t provide names).

Dick, shamus, gumshoe were synonyms for private investigator back when.  I have to admit, I kind of like them (but then I love those old B&W movies with the cheesy dialog).  Do they resonate with today’s readers?  Probably not, but—to use JJ’s favorite phrase—never say never.

Here are some.  Please, do feel free to provide input; I’d very much welcome it.

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Not bad, not great, but a decent start.  . . . Better pull on the ol’ creativity cap and think some more.