Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Act Like a Professional on Twitter

I've written about the benefits of Twitter before. It's free. It's fun. It has the potential for a lot of organic growth. It helps with sales when used correctly. In short, it's an integral part of a solid platform. However, using it the wrong can be detrimental to your career. I have recently witnessed a lot of behavior on Twitter that has landed writers on my "never read this asshole" list. And I'm not even talking about racists! You see, at the end of 2018/start of 2019, my latest novel landed on a few best of 2018 lists. That is always an honor. Most reactions, both from readers and writers alike, were supportive. However, there were a few that broke with that behavior. One author complained that his book wasn't on the list. The kicker? The book he was talking about had been published in 2013. Another writer "corrected" one of the lists and told the woman who had shared it that she was missing Stephen King. As recently as yesterday I saw a reaction to a tweet about a famous author's book that was on sale on Kindle. An author decided to correct the author's tweet. Yeah. In any case, here is a list of things you shouldn't do on Twitter if you want to look like a professional.

1. Never say a list is missing your book/a book on your list  

Hustle as hard as you can to sell you book and win new readers. That's it. If someone didn't read your book and made a list of their favorite books, shut the hell up and congratulate those that made the list. Also, never tell anyone who is missing from their list. Lists are based on taste, and taste is a subjective thing. Maybe you think Stephen King is the best horror author in the history of literature. Maybe you think his best work is behind him. Hell, maybe you think he sucks. All of those opinions are fine. However, when you decide your opinions are better than someone else's, you start looking like an ass.

2. Stop correcting obvious typos

When someone is trying to sell a book and accidentally send out a tweet with a typo, try to remember they're human. "Hey, my bok is $1.99 for the next 24 hours!" Yeah, we all know it's book and not bok. Ignore the tweet or retweet it. Move on or but the book. All of those are solid option. Taking the time to tweet at them "I think you meant "book"?" makes you look like the rear end of a donkey. Don't do that.

3. Don't engage with assholes unless you simply have to

Listen, I've been called a spic and a beaner more than once on Twitter. I usually move on. Let racists yell nonsense to their fifty followers. Stay calm, block them, and move on. You have things to do. You have books to sell. You have entertaining tweets to write. Insulting someone who doesn't deserve your time is a waste of your words and your time. If it gets too bad or they threaten you or your friends, then get on it and destroy them like all bullies deserve to be destroyed, but an asshole with thirty followers sending out misspelled tweets about you doesn't deserve a second of your time, especially when they wouldn't say that if you were in front of them. Trolls only thrive if you feed them. Don't feed them and they'll die in oblivion.

4. Be thankful and approachable

I know you're busy, but if you want to make Twitter work for you, show how grateful you are. I have two jobs, a life, and a writing career, and I work my ass off to make sure I reply to everything I see. I show my readers I'd be nothing without them. I let them know I appreciate what they do. I let them know that word of mouth is a very powerful thing and I'm truly grateful for their time and kind words. It's not even about being a professional; it's about being a decent human.

5. Let people enjoy things 

This one also goes out to everyone, but especially to those who want to, in one way or another, be public figures. And listen, there is a fine line between letting people enjoy things and not having an opinion. I think X is awful. That is my opinion. If you love X, good for you. I won't "explain" to you why you're wrong. I won't tell you that you suck for liking X so much. I hate liver and eggplant. Maybe those are your two favorite dishes. That's fine. When it comes to things like books and movies, opinions vary. Learn to deal with that.

There are more, but these tips should be enough to give you a general idea of how to act. Or not. It's your career, so feel free to do whatever you please. ;-)


Gabino Iglesias is a writer, professor, book reviewer, and journalist living in Austin, TX. He is the author of ZERO SAINTS and COYOTE SONGS. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Writing a Book with 10 Other Authors

Load the confetti canons - I have a new release this week!

HAPPY NEW YOU is out in the world and readers are LOVING it. If you like a smart rom com, I daresay you'll like it, too. I'll post the blurb at the end, but first let's talk about the fact that this book was written by 11 authors.

Yep. You read that right. 11 authors. 1 book. It's not an anthology, but one cohesive story, told in alternating POVs between the hero and the heroine.

" the heck did you do that?" you ask?

The honest answer? Via Facebook and Google Docs. The 11 of us "met" in Alessandra Torre's Inker's Facebook Group (which is an amazing author info group if you're not already part of it). Cassie-Ann L. Miller posted something along the lines of, "Hey, would anyone be interested in doing a collaboration to release around the New Year about New Year's Resolutions?" I've always wanted to do a collaboration so I jumped at the opportunity, as did the other nine authors. We had a long discussion thread going for awhile before taking it to our own private FB group.

Where we then moved pretty quickly. Working from the Romancing the Beat" outline, we had 2 planning calls (I'm still envious that Marika Ray could take her call on the beach!) and then we got down to it. Everyone volunteered for parts of the story they felt drawn to, with the aim that each author would write about 6K total. Some of us wrote a little more, some a little less, but I think it ended up pretty even. Each of us would post in the private FB group when our chapters were live, indicating they were ready for comment and critique - and the next person could start writing.

It meant that we essentially had 11 developmental editors per chapter, although it was up to the author of that chapter what to accept and/or reject. We had an early December deadline for the first draft to be done and then the real work began - cleaning up all of our chapters so we had a story to send to the copyeditor a week later. 

If I had to point to a difficult part for me, this was probably it. It's hard enough to go back and correct the inconsistencies in my manuscripts when I'VE written them, but remembering what someone else has written meant A LOT of back and forth for all of us. But, silver lining, there were 10 other authors there to say, "Hey, didn't we say the hero had blue eyes? You've made them brown here." As co-author Marika Ray said, "Having a handful of beta readers is one thing. Having 10 authors in your genre collaborate with you throughout the entire process of writing a book is amazing!" 

Fast forward to release day. I confess, I approach my release days with trepidation. Kind of like watching a movie with your hands over your eyes because you're not sure how it's going to go. But for yesterday's release, I was so excited! Our private Facebook page was buzzing all day and we had a group party in The Do Not Disturb Facebook group to top it all off.

Now we're coming down off the high that always comes with the final push in getting a book fit for publication, getting stuck into Facebook and Bookbub ads and going back to focusing on our solo books. It feels...weird. But, as Cassie-Ann said when I asked her if she had a quotable quote I could use, "This was a crazy project and I'm so proud that we poured our all into it and saw it through to the end. And that's the moral of the story, too. In life and in love, pour your all into it and stick it through to the end."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Get Thee A Hobby

A post by Mary Fan
Happy 2019, everyone! Mary here, and I hope you're having a more productive start to the year than I am. Because goodness knows, I haven't gotten much of anything done lately. Maybe it's the winter blues. Maybe it's a writing funk. Who knows. Whatever the cause, the fact is, I just haven't felt like writing lately. And while I know I could beat the words out of me if I had to, what emerged wouldn't be all that great (I've been through this particular cycle before).

It's easy for writing to swallow up one's life. When you're really, really into a project, it's easy to let it swallow you completely... in fact, in that moment, it's all you want to do. You live and breathe your stories, feel as if you are your characters and you live in your world, and itch for the keyboard or pen every moment you're way from it. It's an amazing feeling, it's so, so easy to embrace it at the cost of everything else. Things you were once into suddenly seem like a waste of time because The Book is all that matters.

And then comes the work that goes with The Book. The revising, the querying/submitting, the marketing... Being an author really is a full-time job, and for most of us, we're trying to do that on top of a day job (not to mention family and social commitments, for those who have them). Again, anything else seems like a waste of time.

But the problem is, when The Book becomes everything and all things, it's easy to start feeling like one's worth is tied to The Book and how it does. And unfortunately, that's not something we can control. Oh, we can write beautiful words and even pay professionals to make them beautiful-er. But that doesn't mean The Powers That Be will want to buy the beautiful-ness. And even if they do, that doesn't mean the readers will appreciate and spend money on the thing-of-true-beauty. Even if you spend all your time and energy (and maybe money) on getting it front of your faces. Publishing often feels like a lottery, one in which more time/effort/money/talent/connections can buy you extra entries, but can't guarantee a win.

So it's important to be able to step back now and then and enjoy things that have nothing whatsoever to do with The Book. Things that are utterly unproductive in a professional sense, and that ideally have nothing whatsoever to do with your sense of self worth. In other words, hobbies.

Now, I don't mean those X-TREME hobbies that seem to have taken over the world lately. Where it's not enough to just like running; you have to be training for a marathon. Or where it's not enough to be good at make-up; you have to run a beauty blog with an accompanying YouTube account. No, I mean hobbies you engage in just for the hell of it. That you know you'll never be "good" at, that you don't want to be "good" at. Baking because you like making sweet treats, not because you want to go on the Great British Baking Show. Doing yoga because it relaxes you, not because you want to become famous on Instagram because of how fabulous you look.

In other words, hobbies you're totally mediocre at, and that you're okay with being mediocre at.

Me? I've had a lot of hobbies over the years, and I dropped them all for a period of time because I wanted to live and breathe books all day. Now, I'm back into it, and it's much easier to accept a writing funk when you've got other things to fill your time (I still spend way too much time watching TV and napping, but at least it isn't *all* the time). Currently, my hobbies of choice are choir (I'm an ensemble singer through and through and have zero desire for a solo), kickboxing (for workout purposes only right now; don't care about being competitive), and aerial silks (I really, really suck, and it's not like I was ever going to join Cirque du Soleil or anything). The nice thing about all of these is that they all force my brain way from whatever worries I have--about writing or otherwise (it's really hard to let your mind wander when you're dangling by your arms trying to loop a piece of fabric around your foot so you can stand up mid-air).

(I'm that tiny blur in the back row about six from the left)

What about you? What do you do to get away from the world of writing?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

It's 2019: set your expectations optimistically low

Happy New Year, folks!

How are you feeling? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Ready for your bunker?

2018 was rough. So was 2017, and 2016 (that end bit there). But I'm cautiously optimistic about 2019. I'm turning 4-0 this year. That's right. True middle age. My favorite genre of music is now considered classic alternative rock. When I was a teen, it was just called alternative. Anyway, I can't say I'm going to turn 40 with dignity and grace, more like with margaritas and self-loathing, but it will be fun. I never feel my age until I talk to a 23-year-old and realize I sound just like my parents.

Anyhoo, I've started off this new year feeling mentally strong (thank science for anti-anxiety meds). I've been able to focus. My brain doesn't feel like the television is constantly on in the background, and my memory is sharper than it was before kids. Now that's something to toast.

Also, I'm putting the finishing revisions on a brand new adult hardboiled suspense that I plan to....yup, query in 2019.

I hate querying. In my defense, I don't think any writer likes it. It's a form of masochism. You write and write and write. Your brain is swarming with characters and plot and theme and tension. Is this book tense? Is it boring? You bleed on that laptop. You make others read your mess. You try to make it better. After 90,000 words, you then struggle to write a one-page query letter and synopsis. You freak out. What the hell is my book about?! Then you send it to a bunch of agents, hoping one of them will want to read it. Then you wait, refresh your email every ten seconds. Maybe you get some full requests. You definitely get a ton of rejections. You send it off. You wait and wait some more. It just sucks.

This isn't my first rodeo. I queried Grunge Gods and Graveyards in 2012 and 2013. It got picked up by a small press. In 2016, I queried School Lies. It was agented, went on a brief submission until that partnership fizzled. In the meantime, I've self-published. That typically alleviates the querying blues.

With each book, I become less naive. And more realistic. Just like with hitting a milestone birthday, one becomes more seasoned. With querying and rejection, comes wisdom.

Whenever I query a novel, I am hopeful because I believe in my work. I know I am a strong writer.  However this business is hard, and there are variables I cannot control. An agent's taste. The trends. The economy. So while I try to remain optimistic, I also try to keep my expectations real low.

When sitting on the ground, one can only go up.

Anyway, wish me luck.

What's on your agenda for 2019?

Monday, December 31, 2018

Writer’s Resolutions {with Loopholes}

It’s New Year’s Eve and you all know what that means — it’s time for our last minute New Year’s Resolutions! My personal opinion on New Year’s Resolutions is that they’re not really designed to help you reach your goals. Mostly they are put in place to make you feel bad about what you didn’t do this past year and give you things to beat yourself up for not doing next year. As a result, I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions. I know not everyone is like me {gasp} and will insist on setting at least one resolution. Being the helpful gal that I am, I decided to give you four popular New Year’s Resolutions for writers AND corresponding loopholes to help ensure you don’t fall into that trap of just making yourself feel bad for not accomplishing your resolutions for yet another year.

Resolution 1: I will write every day!
Loophole 1: Every day, open your WIP and write one word. If you know you can’t open it tomorrow, work ahead and write two words. That’s it. You’re done. 

Resolution 2: I will finish my current WIP!
Loophole 2: Most writers refer to their current manuscript as their current WIP. However, WIP is actually a pretty generic term. If you’re struggling to finish that mammoth 100k novel, quickly start a 500 word essay. BOOM — you now have a new WIP that’s feasible. 

Resolution 3: I will win NaNoWrMo this year! 
Loophole 3: This one was a bit tougher to get a loophole in place, but I worked it out. Just tell people that NaNoWrMo stands for National NOT Writing Month. Now winning NaNoWrMo will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Resolution 4: I will set SMART goals!
Loophole 4: For those who might not know, SMART in goal setting stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. So here’s your SMART goal for accomplishing all your 2019 Resolutions: I will write 1.5 words per day in my current WIP, except during the month of November. In November I will write 0 words per day. There — you now have a SMART goal to finish that 500 word essay in 2019! And since you’re guaranteed to achieve all your resolutions for the year, you can cruise through 2019 feeling great about yourself :D

Of course, if you actually want to get any work done then I suppose that last resolution on setting SMART goals is the most important. And remember not to beat yourself up if you fall off track. Just pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, rest those SMART goals, and get back to work.

Anyone have a New Year’s Resolution they’d like to share?

Happy New Year, everybody!

~ Carrie

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Fantasy Round-Up

It's the end of another year and it seems rather obligatory that I use this opportunity to reflect on my 2018 accomplishments:
Some of the projects weren't ones I anticipated but came as sort of a delightful surprise. I'm hoping for more of those next year, but for now,  here's what I'm looking forward to in 2019:
  • The release of  Touch of Smoke a paranormal romance from Red Adept Publishing
  • The release of a Revolutionary War era historical romance short story "The Green Lady and The Rogue" in an upcoming pulp fiction anthology from Crazy 8 Press
  • Finish my current Work in Progress, a contemporary YA fantasy based on Appalachian mountain music
On top of the writing projects I've had the privilege to work on this year, I've also tried to read as much as possible. I read a variety of genres, but Fantasy and its various sub-genres are always my favorite, so I'll end this post by sharing my Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Novels of 2018.

9. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

8. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

7. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

6. Rosemary and Rue (October Daye series) by Seanan McGuire

4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

3. The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

2. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Monday, December 24, 2018

Doomsday and Chill

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Hey everybody!  I hope your holiday seasons are going well.

Publishing, goes into a bit of a hibernation cycle during December.  Like everybody else, this is the time of year when people take vacation time, but it's particularly pronounced in the publishing industry.  I think it's probably a symptom of being an industry centered in New York City, not known for gentle winter weather, and December not being a particularly noteworthy time to put books out, as opposed to, say, the movie industry.  The books you want people to buy for the holidays need to be out and generating buzz by Autumn, and then the next big worry is the books people are going to buy before they head to the beach in the summer.

I can't say how much this is anecdotal or not, but in recent years I think NaNoWriMo has contributed to the shutdown.  Now, someone like you who reads this blog probably knows that you can't submit a manuscript to an agent or publisher until it's been edited to near perfection.  But for the folks who don't take the time to learn the industry, many of them see November as the time to produce a manuscript and December as the time to shop it.  You'll notice a lot of agents at this time of year even close to submissions.  As I said, it may be anecdotal, but I've heard that this is in large part due to NaNo.

So, for a variety of reasons, old and new, geographical and traditional, publishing shuts down in the month of December.  And in recent years I've been doing the same thing.  Year after year, NaNo and all the accompanying pressures burn me out.  So I hate to do it, but usually I end up taking the month of December off, too.  So far this year all I've done this month is:

- help Kimberly with a back jacket copy
- talked to my agent for an end-of-year check-in
- edited a few typos in SKINWRAPPER

And that's it.  I haven't done any traditional writing work in three, going on four, weeks. 

The only difference is, I'm letting myself be okay with it this year.  After the November I had, and, frankly, the ten months before that, I need some time to decompress.  So I guess the moral of this is, if you're like me, let yourself relax now and then.  Admittedly, there's probably a happy middle ground between grind away eleven months, relax one, but I'm sure you'll find it.

In the meantime, enjoy spending time with your families and celebrating the holidays.  I just picked up a copy of my good friend Mike Lombardo's "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday" yesterday, and if you're looking for some seasonal horror fare, you definitely need to grab this as well.  Happy Holidays, everyone!
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