Monday, September 26, 2022

A Brand New Venture for A Brand New Press

 amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!

Hey, everybody!  If you've been paying attention to my posts this year, you've probably gathered that I am making some big strides with what was formerly just my personal imprint, French Press, including publishing YOU'RE MINE by extreme horror icon Somer Canon.

One of the reasons I wanted to take French Press from a logo I stick on the side of my books to a meaningful publishing concern is that for a while now I've wanted to publish an anthology.  THE PERFECTLY FINE NEIGHBORHOOD, as it's currently known, is an anthology which takes place in the universe of THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE originally conceived of by myself and Wile E. Young.  We had such fun in this universe that we thought others might enjoy playing in the sandbox as well.

However, as an author, I'm always concerned about authors' rights, particularly their right to eat something tonight.  So I always knew that any anthology I oversaw would be a somewhat expensive concern.  After crunching the numbers, between paying our invited contributors, a cover, marketing, the French Press employees (yes, they are real people), and paying a decent fee to the over-the-transom contributors, I figure THE PERFECTLY FINE NEIGHBORHOOD will cost us around $3,000.

When I was initially tossing this idea around with Wile E. we tried to secure funding from a number of other publishers.  Unfortunately, they all fell through.  But now that I've got my own company up and running I'm giving it another shot via crowdfunding.  French Press's marketing team did some research, and we finally settled on Kickstarter, which sounds like we didn't actually do any research at all, but fuck you, we actually dug deep into all of the crowdsourcing platforms before choosing this one.  It's not ideal for our purposes, but there is no ideal source for our purposes, so, we're going with the enemy of perfect: good enough.

And let me tell you, I have been floored with the support we've gotten so far.  Only two days after going live the Kickstarter reached its first goal of $500, which is enough for me to promise that THE PERFECTLY FINE NEIGHBORHOOD will actually be happening.  But, for the next month, I'm hoping we can make it all the way to our farthest stretch goal of $3,000, which will secure tons of super goodies, including additional uninvited slots and a whole bevy of awesome contributors.

So, if you're interested in making this thrilling reverse haunted house anthology happen, or just to hear a little more about it, click here or on the image below.  Won't you be our neighbor?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Interview: Clay McLeod Chapman on Writing, Horror, Ghost Eaters, and Wendell and Wilde



Halloween and the month of October is upon us! So, for ATB Writers, I figured, why not try to bring on a spooky-themed guest to talk about writing along with their work.

 

And wow, did I find someone pretty epic to interview… 

 

Author Clay McLeod Chapman has been writing some of the most terrifying stories for the past two decades. A horror aficionado by every measurable standard you can literarily (yes, that’s a word) think of, Clay’s longstanding career writing shorts, plays, comics, and novels, has made for one hell of a writing resume.

 

His live-action The Pumpkin Pie Show was once called a brilliant hypderliterary thriller by Timeout NY. He’s also been published at Marvel comics, with his most recent run in Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire, having released just earlier this year. 

 

In October, Clay has a movie coming out on Netflix called Wendell and Wilde, an adaptation of an unreleased novel co-written by both Clay and legendary filmmaker, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline). Early reviews of the movie rave about the reuniting of comedy duo Key and Peele, With Variety magazine, even calling the film a forerunner for best-animated picture

 

Just days ago, Clay also released his long-anticipated book Ghost Eaters. A story about loss, drugs, and… well, check out our interview below to learn more.

 

 

First, you have a tremendous body of work that you’ve released but the one thing I see that almost always resonates is horror. Can you tell us what it is you love about the horror genre and why it resonates so well in your writing?

Clay: Horror has always been there for me, you know? Ever since I was a frightened little child… I’ve always been afraid of the world and that has translated itself into the stories that I want to tell.



You’ve had an illustrious career having written screenplays, books, comics, short films,

and stage plays. How do you healthily balance so many writing projects?

“Healthy” is a bit subjective… I’d almost posit my writing habit is nearly the opposite.

I’m kidding, but still. The way that I maintain any sense of stability—mentally, physically, emotionally, or otherwise—is to rotate my writing. I work on something, obsess over it for a draft, then volley it out to the powers-that-be, whether that’s an editor or beta reader or whomever. From there, I rotate to the next project, obsess over it, then volley that one out.

Usually, by the time I’ve volleyed one project out, I’m ready to receive feedback on the previous project and the cycle continues anew.


Oh! No sleep… That’s another part of the process.



What were your major influences in your youth? Was there a specific moment that

pushed you to pursue writing? 

So many, but right off the top of my head…

I found Stephen King’s short stories in middle school. Night Shift and Skeleton Crew were pretty fundamental texts. The poet Ai. Her work was absolutely essential. Poe. Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love. The Tin Drum. Eric Bogosian and Spalding Gray. The Story of the Eye. David Cronenberg. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.


What are your beliefs on the notion of having heroes versus being your own? Do you think your writing appeals to a specific reader of sorts, and if they could take away a message from your art, what do you think that would be? 

Ooof. That’s a toughie because I think I’m still struggling to seek out my readers. I may end up dead before I ever find out what might be appealing to my work for others… I wish I knew, because then perhaps I could focus on it. Harness it.

I used to be enamored with the idea of eliciting sympathy for the devil. That one could create empathy for monsters or monstrous people. I’m not certain I do that with my writing anymore, but that was a guiding principle in the beginning.

Now it’s just… I don’t know. Can I tell a story that resonates? That lingers? What’s the kind of story that I can write that someone will want to tell someone else?


Ghost stories often contain elements about something left behind. A past forgotten. An abandoned geography. Can you talk about how important locations, and specifically, history are to your work?


Well, I’m a southern boy. Born in the Blue Ridge and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Growing up, I was always intensely aware of the fact that I was always walking on history.


Somebody was buried below my feet at nearly every step. The South defines itself by its past and yet can’t seem to rectify it. Come to grips with itself. It’s a haunted corner of the country, you know?


That really sank into my psyche as a child and I think it still resonates. Ghost have always been the metaphor—the spoonful of sugar—to address those lingering faults in an engaging way.



You’ve been in the game for a long time. What do you think has changed over the years in the industry and do you have any words of wisdom for anyone starting out today? 


Survive. Survive any way you can. Protect yourself and your work. Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, no matter how out there it may be, and learn how to do it as quickly as you can. The only real success I’ve had is longevity. I’m not a bestseller or an award-winner, but I get to tell the stories I want to tell.


The long haul is a hell of a lot different than what we constitute as success. You just put in the time. Your work might not be a million people’s favorite thing… but what if it’s a thousand people’s favorite thing? A hundred? Ten? Is it still worth it to you?


You’ve got to be honest with yourself in regards to what’s your personal definition of success because it might be different than what the industry dictates.



Alright, specific work questions! You’ve worked on Carnage, Edge of Spider-Verse, and Venomverse. These are some very beloved comic book titles. What’s it like working with Marvel and how’d you break into writing comics?


It’s absurd, but my origin story is this: I taught a playwriting workshop eons ago for high school students and Ellie Pyle was one of the writers in the class. She eventually when to college, graduated, got an internship at Marvel Comics, worked her way up the ranks until she herself became an editor… and then, like, ten years later, she reached out to me and asked if I wanted to write for Spider-Man.


It was an absolute dream come true. You just never know who you’re going to meet and at what point in your life you’re going to meet them, so just be nice to Everybody. Working with Marvel is wonderful because they invite you to play in their sandbox with all their toys. They have the coolest action figures. You wanna play with Deadpool? Here’s Deadpool… Scream? Here’s Scream.



It’s scary. It’s indie. And the New York horror scene really seems to love it. Can you describe what the “Pumpkin Pie Show” is to someone who has never seen it? How are you so good at these creepy live-reading performances?!


Ha! Oh, man… That’s my band. I was always that guy who wanted to be a musician but could never play an instrument or carry a tune to save his life, so I took the elements of a live punk rock concert and insinuated them into a theatrical-performance-storytelling-thingy and that became the Pumpkin Pie Show. It’s just a set list of Poe-infused diatribes. 


Imagine a roster of monologues where the performers directly address the audience and things get a little sweaty.



You just released a book called ‘Ghost Eaters’. Can you tell us what it’s about, its psychedelic angle, and most importantly, where people can find a copy? 


Ghost Eaters is about a haunted drug. Pop a pill, see the dead. It’s about grief and addiction and the past not being entirely through with us. It’s about losing someone we loved and not being able to let go of them. It’s about ghosts. Lots and lots of ghosts. So many ghosts.


If you’re going to write a book about a hallucinogenic that allows you to see spirits, you damn well better bring your psychedelic A-game… Things get pretty trippy. And gloopy. It’s a doozy. You can find Ghost Eaters wherever you buy your books from… Support your local bookstore!



Finally, early reviews from Toronto were absolutely raving this month. Can you tell us about the upcoming Netflix movie Wendell and Wilde? What was it like writing with Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline stop-motion savant, Henry Selick?


Henry’s a visionary. People are going to love this story. It’s bonkers. He really throws the kitchen sink into the mix. There’s going to be a limited theatrical release on October 21st , then it’ll hit Netflix for everyone on October 28th. A perfect way to usher in Halloween with the fam.



Seriously, it’s a project with both Henry Selick and comedy masterminds, Key and Peele. How are you not letting all of this get to your head? Have any advice on staying humble and working hard for any of us that’s awestruck, such as myself?


Work comes and goes. You just got to keep focusing on the next story, the next project.



You’re attending NYCC as well. Can you do a shout-out promoting the panel you’re participating in?


Yes! I’m so excited… I’ll be on the Spooks, Shivers and Shrieks horror panel alongside Princess Weekes (The MarySue), Rachel Harrison (Such Sharp Teeth), Eric LaRocca (Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke), Katrina Monroe (They Drown our Daughters), and Vincent Tirado (Burn Down, Rise Up)… Saturday, October 8 th at 2 PM. Hall 1B02. See you there!

------

Thanks again to Clay McLeod Chapman for doing this! You can get a copy of Ghost Eaters wherever books are sold or check him out at NYCC.


Monday, September 19, 2022

Google Search

Greetings from the UK - it's me again, Kayleigh, here with another Google Search. Truth be told, I wasn't sure what to google this time around, so I idly looked around my house for inspiration until my Pinhead Funko Pop jumped out at me (not literally, of course. Pinhead would never do something as undignified as jumping).

Here's what I got - 

Why is Pinhead...


...so op

...evil

...dangerous

...so strong

...so powerful

...like that



"Why is Pinhead like that?" has to be my favourite auto-fill here! And I had to use Google once again to make sure I understood the first one - "why is Pinhead so op?" because my gamer brain assumed that "op" meant "overpowered". Which it does.

The first post took me to a reddit thread in which people were debating Pinhead's power, and whether or not he is indeed overpowered, in some Hellraiser game, I think? I'm unsure. I'm still playing the PS2 Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, so I am most definitely behind when it comes to games these days. I didn't even know there was such thing as Pinhead in gaming form. Google teaches you something new every day, apparently.

I simply had to know why Pinhead is "like that", so I followed Google down that rabbit hole. The answer is disappointing - he's like that because that's how he was designed, apparently. However, searching for the answer to that question also brought up these questions:

Why does Hellraiser look like that?

Is Pinhead really a villain?

What is Pinhead's stomach?

Is Pinhead the strongest Cenobite?

I wanted to know exactly what was meant by, "what is Pinhead's stomach", so of course I looked into it. I was directed to a tangent about Pinhead's supposed genital piercings, which I'm not sure answers the question at all, and opens up other questions that I've no desire to explore.

Google is wild.


Monday, September 12, 2022

Publishing Newbie FAQs

Hi everyone! Mary here, and a few weeks back, I got an email from a writer friend who'd been working on his manuscript for a while but didn't really know how to go about publishing it. He asked a bunch of questions, and I wrote a huge long answer. Realizing that these were pretty common newbie questions, I figured I could adapt them for this blog.

These days, there are more publishing options than ever before, and it can be overwhelming for writers to figure out which path to take. As someone who's tried most of them, here are my thoughts on a few FAQs:

Do you need an agent?
If you want to gun for the big publishers, then yes, as these publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from authors. However, many smaller publishers do take direct submissions, in which case an agent is unnecessary.

How do you get an agent?
There are databases of agents online (here's a popular one https://querytracker.net/). Search for agents who represent your type of book (e.g. thriller, or romance, or memoir), and send your submission according to their guidelines. All will require a query letter - essentially, a letter introducing your book with the title, genre, word count, and a short pitch. Some may also request additional materials like a synopsis or the first few pages of your book. Read each agent's submission guidelines closely before querying.

Pros and cons of an agent
Pros: Your agent finds and submits to publishers on your behalf, negotiates the contract, and generally handles the business stuff for 15% of what the publisher is willing to pay for the book.

Cons: Long wait time to even hear back from agents you're querying, let alone find one who's a good match. Rejection rates are extremely high these days, just because of the volume of writers submitting. And if you're lucky enough to snag an agent (as I was), there's still more waiting... waiting for the agent to read your book, comment on your book, decide it's ready to submit. And after all that, publishers might still reject your book. An agent is not a guarantee of a publishing deal.

What about small / POD presses?
Small / POD presses come in many shapes and sizes, so be sure to carefully vet whoever you're submitting to. Some are small traditional operations who print books in bulk and send them to brick-and-mortar bookstores. Others are individuals who publish books as a passion and utilize Amazon's print-on-demand abilities. And there are shades of gray in between.

Pros: The right small press can be a great partner. You'll get lots more attention from the editor than you would at a big press, and probably more say in things like cover art as well. Generally, a small press will edit your book, provide cover art and formatting, and distribute your book. In short, by the end, you'll have a book in your hands

Cons: Small presses don't have much, if any, marketing reach, so you probably won't sell many more books than you would self publishing (this will vary widely by press). Also, there are some shady operations out there. Some small presses will take any book, slap a low-quality cover on, chuck it on Amazon with no editing, and leave the rest to you. Some will be well-intentioned but clueless (I fell prey to one of these)... they'll have big ideas and make big promises but be unable to deliver. My book was stuck in limbo for 4 years because of a well-intentioned but clueless small press. And some will just be sketchy... there might be issues with payment, for instance. Your book could get snarled in contracts that prevent you from getting your rights back while they fail to pay you.

With any kind of publisher, big or small, working with them means giving up some control of your book. For instance, my editor for Stronger than a Bronze Dragon made me shuffle around some chapters and add a few new ones. My agent for Starswept made me rewrite half the book before she would even submit it to publishers. Not all editors / agents will do this - some will be happy to take your book as it is with a few light suggestions. You have to decide how much control of your book you're willing to give up, and then, as you're vetting potential agents or publishers, see whether they're going to be a good fit based on that (I've known of instances where a book was accepted by a publisher but the author wasn't willing to make edits requested, and so the book was canceled).

Self-Publishing
This is where you turn yourself into a publisher. You hire an editor, cover artist, and formatter, and upload the book to Amazon (or another self-publishing service) yourself. 100% of control is yours.

Pros: Your book, your way, your own timeline. You could upload your book to Amazon tomorrow and it'll be in your hands in a week. Or you could take your sweet time finding the perfect cover artist and making revisions, with no one hurrying you. You are the boss.

Cons: Expense - you'll be paying for everything that goes into producing the book. You'll also keep whatever money you make off of sales, but it can be very hard to recoup the costs. You'll also have to do your own marketing and outreach, so the chances of your book reaching a wide audience are slim given how crowded the market is. Also, some people can be snooty about publishing and look down their noses at self publishers, though there've been enough high-profile self-publishing successes that this attitude is starting to change.

Which publishing route you take really depends on what you want to get out of it. Do you want your book, your way, in a timely manner? A book you can be proud of and share with family and friends, that you're happy is out there even if it never reaches bestseller status? And are you willing to pay for it yourself? If so, then self publishing is for you.

Do you want a shot at the New York Times bestseller list, even if it means years and years of work and rejection with no guarantee of any reward by the end? Is the reward worth the gamble, even if it might mean you'll have to rewrite significant parts of your book? Then try to find an agent, who can later submit to large presses.

Do you want your book in your hands, but you want someone else to take care of the production, even if it means giving up some control? Do you not care too much about what kind of reach they have? Then go for a small press.

BEWARE OF SCAM PRESSES AND AGENTS
There are some "publishers" and "agents" out there who prey on new writers' dreams. The red flag is if they ask you for money to publish your book. Common tactics are saying they'll publish your book for a fee (usually thousands of dollars), requiring that you buy hundreds or thousands of copies of your own book, or requiring you to hire an expensive editor that they select.

Paying a freelancer for a specific service - such as editing, or artwork - is different from paying to publish. There are also self-publishing consultants out there who can help with the process for a fee; these are also different from the scammers in that they'll be very upfront about the fact that they are NOT a publisher.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

F*CK YOU, MOVIE!

 One of the great pleasures of movies, television, theatre, and books is how they manipulate you. Truly, is there a better feeling as a skilled writer takes you on a roller coaster from the depths of despair to joyful release?  

I know that I have been brought to tears many times in the theatre by a beautiful song or a heart wrenching monologue. I remember watching Les Miserables for the first time, and sobbing as all of the spirits of those who died in the show greet Jean Valjean as he dies. I still tear up at The Sixth Sense every time Cole tells his Mom that he can see dead people, and that Grandma is proud of her.





I’m getting more and more sentimental as I get older, so just about anything can make me tear up these days. (Stupid ad about German grandad doing kettlebells so he can lift up his granddaughter to put the star on the Christmas tree!) But in recent years, I’ve been a lot more sensitive to the movie that is just so blatant about the heartstrings it yanks on, like the hunchback of Notre Dame swinging on the bell. Some movies don’t even try to hide it inside a story anymore, they just clamp a pair of pliers to your nostril hairs and tug. 


My wife and I first noticed this about two years ago, when we were watching A Dog’s Purpose on TV one afternoon. In case you missed it, the premise of the film is that Dennis Quaid has a dog as child, who loves him so much he keeps getting reincarnated so he can get back to him. Note the word “reincarnated,” because in order to be reincarnated the dog has to die first. So, you get to watch this dog, with an inner monologue by Josh Gad, die repeatedly before finally getting to its sappy reunion. 





At this point, my wife and I were both weeping. She turned to me and said “I know what you’re doing, movie, and I do not care for it.”


I simply said “Fuck you, movie!” 


She’s always been the more eloquent one. 


Since then, I have found myself tearily shouting that at the television about once a week. The coming out ballad in the terrible Netflix musical, Prom? Fuck you, movie!





Bjork getting killed at the end of Dancer in the Dark for absolutely no good reason? Fuck you, movie!




Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty ads? FUCK YOU, TINY MOVIE!




Again, I have NO PROBLEM with crying or expressing emotion during a movie or show, but EARN IT! Sure, you can make me cry by having a grandparent hug a baby or by murdering a dog, but that’s the emotional equivalent of Gallagher smashing a watermelon. It’s the lowest form of manipulation.


I'm sure I'm not alone in this. What are some of the maudlin clips that bring you to tears against your will? Share them in comments! I'm sure we could all do with a good yank on the nosehairs.


Monday, September 5, 2022

Book Review: Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha

One of my favorite movies in the ENTIRE world releases their upcoming and MEGA anticipated sequel this month on Disney+. I've been saving this review specifically for September, so here we gooooo! 

🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 

"Hocus Pocus & The All New Sequel" by A.W. Jantha 

Growing up in the 90's "Hocus Pocus" was the staple Halloween movie. It was my go to besides the amazing "Halloweentown" and it really set the tone for the month of October. I won't say I never wanted a sequel but I did have real reservations that it could be as spooktacular as the first.

The beginning of this book is the novelization version of the original movie. The second half, which is the larger half of the book, is the all new sequel where we learn about Poppy Dennison (Max and Allison's daughter) and the night she brings the Sanderson sisters back from Hell. 

I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel. It was cool to basically read the movie. The second half was an interesting experience. You follow Poppy and her friends Travis and Isabella who are later joined by Katie in search of the moonstone. The moonstone will break any spell previously cast by the Sanderson sisters if broken in two and the last owner of the moonstone was the unbelievable Elizabeth Sanderson - the fourth Sanderson sister! Oh, and did I mention the kids are doing this all on their own because Poppy's parents and Aunt Dani are stuck in Hell? Overall, for a YA novel, this read was pretty nostalgic and I enjoyed most of my experience. The ending left me shocked and eager to find out if there will be a third installment to the series. Only time will tell. Until then, 3.5 🌟 's for me! 

#TheWitchIsBack

#WitchPlease

#Amok

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Things Writers WISH People Understood: The ATB Edition

https://twitter.com/Authoralexp
Today's post is brought to you by this tweet.  I pretty much agree with everything this author has to say, and today I'd like to expound on his list a little while adding a few things of my own and also some insight from other ATB contributors.

Let's get into it!

"You don't get magically published after one draft."

You sit down at your computer and crank out a manuscript, type "the end", and then email it to a publisher who immediately accepts it, sends you money for your manuscript, and then publishes it a month later with some brilliant cover art. Right? 
Not only do you not get published after one draft, you might not even get published after one manuscript. Maybe two. Maybe more!  But finishing the first draft is only the beginning of a very long journey that should involve critique, editing, feedback, changes, and many more improvements before you even consider showing that puppy to anyone even remotely associated with the publishing industry.

"We're not Experts at Writing"

I think this one might elicit a little pushback from some writers who have been at their game for a while, but I doubt you'll ever hear this from me. I think writing is a never ending process of evolution. I think a good writer is never satisfied with the level of their craft and always strives to improve.  At some point your quality may become more consistent, and you might have a lot of well-earned experience on method and technique and other elements. Hell, you might even be knowledgeable enough to teach a writing class. But would even Shakespeare himself ever think he's reached a pinnacle from beyond which there is nothing more to be gained or learned? I can't speak for him, but for me I doubt there could ever come a day when I thought there was no more room for improvement. Maybe that's not the same thing as being an "expert" but a lot of us writers will always question our expertise or lack thereof.

"No, writing is not easy"

I cannot put myself in an even *imaginary* mindset where I could think of writing as ever being easy. From concept to execution, there has never been a moment when I thought any of it was easy. Even as a student with strong writing skills and prompts from teachers and professors, writing was hard. All these years later after publishing many short stories and books, writing, and particularly finishing, a project is still one of the hardest things to do. This belief about writing being easy always seems to come from people who never actually sat down and tried to write anything from beginning to end. Perhaps they know deep down that it would be tremendously difficult, so they decide to be dismissive rather than honest and have to potentially face their own failure.

The very first manuscript I ever wrote was simply an exercise in proving to myself that I could begin and end a book-length story. I knew if I couldn't do that, then there was no sense in putting serious energy into even thinking about being a writer. The resulting novel was terrible, and cheesy, and will never see the light of day, but even then I suspected that one of the greatest challenges to being an author wasn't necessarily skill or the publishing industry itself, but rather the simple (simple, ha!) act of writing a complete story from beginning to end.

Now my biggest problem is getting over my own imposter syndrome. See Christian's thoughts on that, below.

"Yes, you can make money as a writer"

Have I received payment for things I have written? Yes. Have I spent more in marketing and opportunity costs than I have made? Also yes. I have friends who are both traditionally published and independently or self published who have managed to survive financially off their book royalties. I know it's possible, but it takes either a certain amount of luck, or a certain hustle mind-set that I simply do not have. For me, writing will probably always be an expensive hobby rather than a profitable occupation, but I know for a fact that it can provide reliable income. However, I think it's unlikely that the majority of authors make "Big Bucks" like King and Gaiman. The caveat I would add to "yes, you can make money as a writer" is to keep reasonable expectations.

"Just because you've been working on a draft a long time DOESN'T mean you're bad at writing."

Here are some big numbers from some big names for context:

  •         Margaret Mitchell took ten years to write Gone With the Wind (1936).
  •         Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz also took ten years to write his debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007).
  •          Maya Angelou took fifteen years to write the final volume of her autobiography, A Song Flung up to Heaven (2002).
  •          J.K. Rowling took five years to plan the story of Harry Potter before she even started writing the first book.
  •           J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit took seven years in itself), then he took sixteen years to write the sequel.


Imposter Syndrome strikes again!

“From fellow ATB contributor, Christian Angeles: "Even if you’re famous/successful/read by buttloads of people/ have all the accolades… imposter syndrome will always be something you deal with."

Christian says: "You can sell a million copies of a book and still worry that anything you make
afterwards will never be good enough, despite proving otherwise, time and time again. Writing is one of those rare jobs where it feels like you have to prove yourself every time."

"From fellow ATB contributor, Victor Catano: "Telling people that yes, you are a writer. Yes, for real."

I asked Victor for clarification.

Me: Is that because you think people don't believe that you're a writer or because you have a hard time believing it yourself. i.e., imposter syndrome

Victor: Most people are very supportive, but there are always a couple who are surprised, despite my talking about it all the time

So, one side of this is having some confidence in your material and wanting to share and talk about it, and then having people not take you seriously, be dismissive, or downright not believe you. The other side of this is one I feel very close to my heart. In virtual spaces (like blogs and social media), I can talk about the writing experience in great and open detail. But in "real life" I am very uncomfortable talking about writing and being a writer. I think it, again, harkens back to that imposter syndrome thing. I find it hard to accept my own catalogue as sufficient evidence that I am indeed an actual and bona fide writer.  In fact, when people easy accept or acknowledge me as a writer, it can often strengthen my feelings of imposer syndrome.

From fellow ATB contributor, Mary Fan: "Marketing departments, not editors, decide what gets published".

This perspective comes from someone who has had a little more experience with the traditional publishing industry than I have. But if you really want to see evidence of this, just read up on what's been happening with the hearings on the potential Penguin Random House's merger with Simon & Shuster: https://www.vox.com/culture/23316541/publishing-antitrust-lawsuit-merger-department-justice-penguin-random-house-simon-schuster.

I think other evidence of this being true is when you tend to see trends in book releases.  When one new book does really well in a certain genre or niche genre, suddenly you'll see dozens of other new books that seem to follow in very similar footsteps, for good or for bad. Publishers want to sell books and if readers seem to like a thing, Publishers want to give them more and more of that thing ad nauseum. Hollywood is guilty of this too, of course, but that's another blog post for another day.

And finally, my own addition to this list: "There are many things that go into being a writer beyond putting words on a page and you can be writing even when you actively aren't."

Research, plotting, learning, going out and having life experiences that can later turn into book fodder, day dreaming, discussions with other writers, reading other books, editing, slush reading, and a myriad other things go into being a writer. Typing on a keyboard is just one of the many tasks a "real" writer undertakes. I also don't believe you have to actively add words to a manuscript every day to be a "real" writer. Sometimes giving yourself a break and letting yourself rest is important too. I've solved some of my biggest plot conundrums while doing other tasks, or even sleeping! My mom was a computer programmer and she solved a lot of her programming problems in her sleep. I remember her sometimes telling me in the mornings that she had left work the day before with a problem but woke up in the middle of the night with the solution. Our subconscious is a great place for solving problems.

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