Monday, 22 December 2014

The Saturated Supernatural Market // Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Oh My!

Hey! I've changed the image layout, something I was going to put in place after the New Year, but what the hell, the future is now! What do you think of the new look?

So, I was thinking, since I've decided to stop self-publishing and try to find myself an agent, a little doubt set in -- "Is this the right choice?" "Isn't the market saturated with fantasy stories as it is?" "Are publishers even looking for fantasy lit?" yeah, it's plagued my mind a little, however, I stay firm in the fact that I will be querying agents, and hopefully (after submission one-hundred and one) I will find someone who believes in me and likes my writing enough so that they dedicate some time to shop the book(s).

That's the dream, but it's also a goal that I have every faith in myself of achieving, probably not in a month, but a year, tops. Right? Haha! Well, I hope you believe in me. I've had a bit of a difficult year, and it's actually on the up, so I'm hoping that means I've got a little bit of luck on my side, and let's hope that the literary agents I submit to are having a good day when they read NIGHT FALLS.

Every so often my mind goes back to the whole the market is saturated and what are you doing pulling your books -- from this comes a new perspective, if the market for supernatural stories was so saturated, then how come people are still selling the fantasy novels to publishers? Vampires have been around in literature since the 18th Century (Google said), and is still going strong today.

I should probably get out of my head, and since self-publishing is now absolutely huge, there are no gatekeepers stopping people from being published, so there's even more supernatural literature for sale in Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Amazon.

It's all about adding twists and edges to make your fiction stand out above the rest. It's about the concept and ideas, what makes your books special, I have my answers, and I like those answers.

The market might well and truly be saturated, but there will always be readers of fantasy novels, there will always be people who've finished a series of books; Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, House of Night, and those are only among the traditionally published books.

You don't ask for room to be made for you book(s),
You MAKE the room by writing.

Sorry for rambling!
Have a great day!

Friday, 19 December 2014

10 Tips for Teen Writers!

I originally wrote this post when I was 18 -- I'm now 21, so I'm definitely more knowledgeable now. Don't worry if you're not a teenager, they're not teen exclusive, you can still read and take from them.

1 // You're Crap!
When I was young, I thought I was great -- one lesson I had to learn was, I am crap, and if you're wanting to pursue a career in writing, then you have to first realise that you're not amazing, you might have quips of brilliance, but trust me, you've got a lot of room for improvement, we all do, and we all will, constantly have room for improvements. Everyone's writing is crap when they first start out. Remember not to let that bog you down and keep on writing.

2 // Don't Define Yourself!
You're too young to say that you only write poetry or fantasy or romances, similarly with your reading, you're not allowed to only read fantasy or romances etc. read the things you hate as well. It's great practice to try writing in different styles and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. If you can't write romance, then challenge yourself, grab a flash fiction prompt and shut the world out. Write for yourself. Write because you want to get better.

3 // WRITE!
Write every day! Keep writing. Work from writing prompts or images; get your juices flowing. Try not to procrastinate over which prompts or images you use, I do this a lot, so I guess it's hypocritical to tell you not to, but if you can keep your procrastination muse at bay, you'll do just fine. Unless you have a project, I would stick to prompts, writing smaller pieces of fiction allows you to better capture an emotion or feeling, and then build from that, go on to writing short stories, novellas, and then novels. Or disregard that and write a novel off that bat (like I did) again, sorry to be hypocrite, but I've learnt that writing flash fiction and short fiction helps you massively. So just write. Maybe set yourself a daily goal.

4 // Chores!
Cue the sighing. I absolutely hate chores, until I made the whole process into a game that would benefit me. Whenever I had to do one of the absolutely mundane tasks like, cleaning up, washing the pots, food shopping (I find that quite fun though), walking your pet dog, iguana, cat, etc. it's actually one of the best times where you can think about writing, think up plot twists, have inside conversations with characters. Be creative. Chores don't have to be boring, and who knows, it could become a form of procrastination!

5 // Experience
You have to go outside sometime, and you have to live a little bit. You can't write realistic text because there's no realism in you. I'm not saying that you should give up writing or dreams of publishing while you're young, I'm just saying that having a good time with friends and exploring different places once in a while isn't going to hinder you. People often say write what you know, although this isn't really true to fantasy authors, you can go out on walks and adventures, and then write about that. It could be somewhat like keeping a diary, but don't put too much pressure on writing while you're young. Just write.

6 // Other Interests
Having other interests is always good... like stamp collecting! No, but seriously, you can't just have an interest in writing. But having an interest in reading probably goes without saying. I have a lot of interests, such as vampires, werewolves and all of that fantasy stuff, I also have an interest in spiders (even though I hate them SO much) it's somewhat a sadistic interest, and I have an interest in people, more importantly, people watching! I'm also interested in palm reading and yoga -- more so, failing at yoga.

7 // Industry
Before you even think about self-publishing or going down the traditional route you first need to do A LOT of research on the subject. Recently there has been a lot of movement on the self-publishing front, there are new means of publishing, there are new companies popping up onto the scene, some very shady companies and some that do what they say. YOU need to do research, if you go into it blind then you're going to bang into all of the walls, and just like the maze that publishing is, you'll get stuck and frustrated at yourself for not waiting and perhaps letting some of the haze and mist settle. There are forums, and Google is your best friend for this.

8 // Publish?
When I say "publish" I don't mean start formatting your 70,000 word manuscript and upload it to Kindle Direct, I mean start small, start publishing in a school newspaper or newsletter, maybe even submit to magazines for teenage writers... there is so much out there for teenagers who want to get on the writing scene, you just have to look for it. Maybe even submit your poems for anthologies etc. perhaps start a blog, that's publishing, at the right hand side there's a button with publish for this post. Publish your writing on sites like Wattpad.

9 // Rejection
Every writer will experience rejection, because face it, your book is not going to be for everyone... a lot of people hate Twilight, a lot of people love it... and that can be said about every book! You just have to find ONE person to love your book, hopefully they're a literary agency or a publishing company. Just remember that rejection is one step closer to acceptance. And every writer should experience rejection, it shows them that they're not amazing and that they could be better. I can be better, and so can you, so don't let rejection bog you down, accept it as a right of passage, especially if you're submitting to agents and publishers.

10 // Critique
Actively seek feedback on your work. As I signposted above, join Wattpad, it's awesome there. Try not to rely on friends, they might not have constructive criticism for you, it could perhaps be "this is good" or "you're doing a good job, keep it up". Perhaps try and find yourself a critique partner, they will give constructive critique, and ask you to do the same to them, the first few times it might hurt because your writing is your baby, you don't want anyone to tell you anything is wrong with it, but in time, you'll learn to appreciate critiques as you develop a thick skin.

BONUS // How To's
Read how-to guides -- there are books, blog posts, speeches, conferences; videos, out there that you can read, watch, listen to. They're amazing and they're helpful, and don't be afraid to ask for help. We all ask for help. If you don't know how to do something, ask someone, ask me, Google it! You're not alone, and you're definitely not alone with your struggles.

Write a lot,
Read a lot.

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

PSA: Don't Demand Reviews!

I was asked to do a post about authors who demand that people review their books, and it's something that I'd witnessed earlier on today when I saw that someone was holding a giveaway, and beneath the rules that went a little like this: you had to like this page, comment here, share it on your profile, and tag ONE MILLION people to enter, there was a little section, and one of the clauses were, you must read the book and give it a review within an appropriate time frame.

I almost spat my coffee out and wrote a post -- but instead, I rolled my eyes, and decided that I wouldn't give it my time. And now we're here...

Source: Pinterest
As a reader, we can't read every book, least of all, we can't read every indie book.

"I was born with a reading list I will never finish."
— Maud Casey

I was told that there are street teams out there that require someone to have read the author's book(s) and to have reviewed them favourable, i.e. anything above 3 stars (apparently). I don't belong to any street teams other than my own, which isn't active, and when it is, it's not some strict, you better do this group -- I'll probably cover street teams in a separate post.

I understand that reviews are crucial to an author's success, if you have a lot of reviews, more people will be inclined to buy your books. But at no point should you demand someone to review your book, it doesn't matter if they won the book or you gave them the book as an ARC.

The latter point has stressed out numerous authors, ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies, they are given out weeks in advance of the release of the book, and the expectation is that it will give the reader enough time to read and review the book. So there is obvious frustrations when release day comes and there's a rate of 10% that are posting their reviews. Example: 10 out of 100 people who received the ARC.

I mentioned ARCs because the person who asked me to write about this had said that they received an ARC and the author/PA/publicist that was handing out the books had then requested that they make sure their review was at least 3 stars.

No. Oh hell no. Noooooo!

That's a huge no-no, no matter if you're indie, traditional, or a business person, if you're asking for reviews that look favourably on your work, that's called dishonesty, and it's more or less a lie. If the review comes about on its own from the reader/client and it's a favourable review, then that's great, but don't demand good reviews.

Ask for people to review!
By all means ASK!

I know that this is probably a minority of people doing it, but I thought I was address it anyway. I remember a year or so back when it came about that a successful author who had been traditionally published was buying reviews! I've seen this a lot on Fiverr, a marketplace where people offer their services at $5 and then they can add additional fees for additional content etc.

I guess this should also read DON'T BUY REVIEWS either!

Bottom line:
Readers are readers, and if you ask them nicely, they might read your book. They might also review it. They might love it. They might hate it. That reviewer is one person -- and if you (an author) is being a complete **** to them, they're going to relay that information, like I was, and nobody will want to read or review your book(s).

Be nice and professional.
It doesn't hurt.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Put Your FIRST DRAFT to Rest!

A first draft is a bit like making a cake -- without instructions, and you're blindfolded. That being said, sometimes first drafts can have their notions of greatness i.e. within pieces of speech or text, but not throughout the entire 200+ page manuscript. Just like the cake might have those small nibbles that taste well, but then when you bite into it, you realise that it doesn't all go together as you'd have liked. That isn't some metaphor to say "if you plan, your MS will be amazing" because it isn't and it won't, not right off the bat.

"The first draft of anything is shit.
— Ernest Hemingway

This post came about from an earlier post where I said that I felt a lot of writers rushing to get their writing out; there is no grace period of time where it's all yours, but we--as writers--are in a culture where we can put our words on the internet in a matter of seconds, and that's both scary and amazing. Well, it scares me.

Popperfoto/Getty Images
I love that people can self-publish, but you have to think, what did people do before self-publishing and vanity publishing? They wrote their hearts out, and then went back to better their novels, novellas, short stories, etc.

Agatha Christie belonged to the time of the typewriter, there was no laptops or backspaces, there was correction fluid and ink, and I don't think I would have the patience for that, I make a lot of errors; adding extra letters to words, extra words to sentences... basically, I make a lot of errors. We all make mistakes and errors.

The point that Agatha Christie's picture to the right of me is trying to make is that just because you can write a book in a week, it doesn't mean that you should spend the next four preparing it for publication. I mean, she wrote a hell of a lot. There is no rush to publish. Just finish the finish draft, that way you have someone to work with.

Your book needs to rest. Think of this like the cooling time you give to cake when you've taken it out of the oven. Don't touch it yet! *ouch*

I once read a book that said something about storing your manuscript once finished into an old shoebox and putting it in the back of your closet for a few months while you work on something different. I loved this when I read it -- and I regret not listening to it.

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.
— Terry Pratchett

Just because you're independent or indie, it doesn't mean you have to be amateur, it doesn't mean that what you do has to be half-assed or sloppy. This isn't aimed at anyone. My thoughts could well have formed from a minority of the indie community, and I'm not applying them to anyone, all I'm saying is that just because you're indie, it doesn't mean you have to be amateur.

If you rush yourself, if you rush the drafting process, and editing, you will not only be doing yourself a huge disservice, but you'll also be doing it to your readers as well. I've seen it happen in the past where an author will have just finished the first draft, and then a week later it's for sale on Amazon -- followed by the subsequent I'm sorry, I'm updating the file, I've been there. I've been one of those with the updates.

I'm a Work in Progress!
I'm not perfect, and neither are you, but we're working on it.

The writers for TV shows have to go through several rounds of drafting, musicians draft their music several times, there's little room for error in the community of written word. Traditionally published authors go through numerous rounds of drafts and edits before their work is put into publication.

It's important to get that first draft written, I find that to be the easiest part. Letting it sit untouched is hard, and then comes the drafting. Drafting is a unique type of hell, but to get to the good stuff at the end, we must first walk through the fire pit.

Your brain is rested and your eyes aren't adjusted  that's what you need when your approach a manuscript.

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Five Facts about Ghostwriting!

This is a post from June 2013, but given the recent Zoella book controversy I figured that it would make for an interesting re-post.

The world of literature is growing and now anyone can be published, as long as they have access to a computer, they can upload and distribute material. This means that a writer can post written work anywhere that there's a platform for it. 

Who? What? Why?

Ghostwriting is where a writer writes but for somebody else, and then that person takes all of the credit for the work. The ghostwriter is often paid in advance and does not take a cut of any sales.

The person who is in want of a ghostwriter is usually someone who cannot properly verbalize their thoughts into one cohesive piece with a narrative structure, however they have the ideas, the characters, and all the other information needed.

There are a lot of people who have their work ghostwritten, often because the book market has boomed and this is seen as some money making scheme, and to some that's exactly what it is. To others, it's for the reasons above, as well as having that burning desire to have their story told.

Pros & Cons

Well, this is how a ghostwriter makes their living, so through the demand of people wanting their ideas written for them, a job has been created to cater that. (I wouldn't say that there was something sinister about a ghostwriter, it just so happens that people are willing to pay for their ideas to be put down on paper.) From the point of view of the ghostwriter it is also great practice because they're writing and getting better at their craft. 

Now, as for the person commissioning the ghostwriter, they are getting a piece of work which they will be putting up for sale as the author of the piece, which through a legally binding contract (probably), they are. And their job is to sell the books as the author -- they will most likely already have a large platform and so sales are inevitable.

For the ghostwriter, the con is that they won't get credit for the writing, but that might be how they like it, perhaps they have no creative ideas of their own, or because they are so unknown that their work won't be picked up by a publishing company etc.

As for the author, a con would be how people saw that author after finding out they had a ghostwriter write their book for them, and unless the author could stand their ground, they would end up feeling like less of an author. And I don't feel like it should be a writers job to try and discredit the author from their work -- it technically belongs to them, and for all purposes, they are the author of the piece.

James Patterson's Work

James Patterson is on many bestseller lists, and his author rank on Amazon is holding the #1 spot. With Forbes Magazine stating that he earned in excess of £62 million last year (2012-2013) putting him as the richest living author. Which brings in the question: is this a case of writing for greed? 

He is currently publishing a lot, an amount that seems ridiculous, the kind of volume of writing and activity that makes me sort of snort and roll my eyes. I'll be the first to say that I somewhat envy his success, but it's where he is trying to monopolize each of the genres and age groups that I find myself just asking "why?".

In an interview with Express newspaper[1], he has said that he doesn't need the money and that he donates a lot of it, and that all he is doing is trying to get everyone reading, which is amazing. I just can't understand why he isn't writing his own books.

In that same interview he does state that he drafts up to eighty pages that involve the book outline, characters etc. and from there he pays a ghostwriter to write it for him. Which must be an amazing opportunity for the writer, but I still don't understand why he needs one. The only time I would allow someone to ghostwrite for me, would be when I was dying, or dead, and I'd left a series incomplete. This also begs the question, did Zoella have a really good idea, but she's just not that good at writing?

He leaves me feeling a little off. Surely he's not doing all of this for the children, or to help those unknown writers (ghostwriters). Or maybe that's just me being cynical. What do you think?

Do you need a ghostwriter?

Maybe you've come to my blog in hopes of looking for a sign about ghostwriting, and whether it's the way forward for you.

I will not sway, or push you in any direction, but if you can write it, you should write it. If not, ask a writer friend to help you write it, or tips on writing, because YOU will feel so much better knowing that the story you are putting out into the world is yours, and nobody has written it for you. The gratification will be that much more sweeter.

However, if you are adamant that you want your work ghostwritten, there are numerous places online where you can go and place a pitch and writers will bid and tell you how much they will charge you alongside giving you a time frame of how long it will take. One place that I know of is called Elance.

I really hope that you enjoyed this post. If you have ANY opinions on ghostwriting and ghostwriters, or maybe you want to share a piece of work that has been ghostwritten, please share them ALL in the comments below! I love to know what you guys think!

There's five-ish facts about ghostwriting!