Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writing Wednesday: 20 Questions

This morning I’m supposed to awe you all with my writing knowledge, to put together a blog that will (hopefully) have writers coming from all over the cyberverse to read and be informed by my practical writing tips.

Today, I’m a blank.

So instead, I’m going to offer up the blog to questions and see what I can answer during the course of the day.

Ask me about anything writing related:

Want to know how much money you can make and where?

Want to know what you should be writing?

Want to know how to get unstuck?

Want to know what an editor really does?

Want to know what to expect after you sign a contract?

Want to know if self-publishing will really kill your career?

Want to know who is still accepting unagented submissions?

Want to know about landing an agent?

Got a question? Ask and I’ll answer to the best of my ability—and if I don’t have the answer, I’ll bring someone over who does :)



Christy said...
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Christy said...

Those questions are great! I like those questions. I hope you get to answer them!

Here's mine:

Do you have an agent? How hard is it to get an agent? (Is an agent required?)

Do editors/publisher prefer the author to have a college degree for work to be considered for publication?

Thanks in advance for any of these questions you choose to answer! :)

- Christy

J.R. Turner said...

On Agents:

Personal experience: they are a LOT less likely to respond with anything other than a form rejection letter than editors. They are notorious for being harder to get than a pubishing contract.

While I don't have an agent yet (my publsiher is keeping me too busy) I don't believe that one can reach the level of successs necessary to live solely on their writing without an agent.

Gaining an agent should definitely be a priority for a career fiction atuhor. One can build a great resume to try and gain one (my plan) or one can work at gaining an agent through personal interaction at conferences, writing great books and submitting--then repeating the process until they get one.

Do what's best for you :)

Agents are not required for certain publishers (most indie pubs. Tor/Forge, Dorchester, Kensington and Harequin/Silhouette I believe still accept unagented works.)

College Degree: They care FAR less about your education than they do about your writing and your book. All the education in the world won't make a bad book great.

However, knowledge of the profession is a must and if you can afford to gain some of that knowledge through extra schooling, go for it! I'm self taught, but probably would have learned a lot faster if I'd had a more structured (and demanding) setting to apply myself.

Or, even just to have that time spent at and on class work respected more by others :)

Hope that helps answer your questions and thanks so much for posting them, Christy! :)


Christy said...

Thanks Jenny! I appreciate that.


June said...

What and where are the places one can make money from writing?

Thanks Jenny!

Take care,

Nick Valentino said...
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Nick Valentino said...

My 2 part question is:
What is the most creative promotional thing you have done? And what is the most creative promtional thing you have seen another author do to promote their book?


J.R. Turner said...


There is only one way writer's can make money from writing: and that's to sell their writing :)

Start with targeting those places you are most in tune with. You write with an eye for fantasy. Make a list of say 20 writing fantasy publishers, read their guidlelines, and then prepare 20 submissions.

Short stories, fillers, excerpts, whatever you can pull together.

Don't forget those things you're really good at either--like arts and crafts, boating, fishing, cooking, anything outside of wriiting.

Write 500-1000 words on the subject and just send it out. Strive to have one item a day going out. If those items come back to you (rejected) pop them off elsewhere right away.

Remember too, you can write off your postage costs :)

More fiction oriented--e-stories and books are a quick way to get your name out there and make a little cash. You get a lot more % of the sale than you do with print (because the production costs are so low.) And, they're much easier to place.

The real money in publishing though, is in romance first, mystery/thriller second. Erotica pays very well in e-formats and sells exceptionally well.

A tip: Pick a market then at night, when you're relaxing/watching television, etc. put together a short work in draft form. Write it up the next day--edit, and send it out :)

I hope that helps, if you have more questions about this, let me know. It's a wide subject :)


J.R. Turner said...

Hi Nick :)

Let's cover each part separately:

"What is the most creative promotional thing you have done?"

My book thongs are the most creative and most productive promotional item. I make them by hand and write off the cost of the materials. They're very simple (a google image search brought up this picture: I'm making ones now with skulls on them for DFF: Dead Friends Forever.

In the past, the two most successful events I did combined the local businesses with the signing event. I contacted the stores nearby the bookstore and asked if they'd like some free promotion in exchange for a gift item to put in a basket for a drawing. Something small, sometimes just an add or a coupon, but something--because in return, they hung up the flyer I sent them and promoted me as well.

"And what is the most creative promtional thing you have seen another author do to promote their book?

At large events, people who dress up like a character in their book often get a TON of attention--especially from any media that's there to cover the event. For instance, at the LA Book Festival, The Knot Fairy author wore wings and her husband wore a magician's hat--a BIG draw.

In smaller venues, I've seen a woman offer a free palm reading--though I don't know how that panned out for her because I was there as a customer in the store and not signing that day.

Rob Walker had fun tossing around water bottles labeled with his book cover title (Deja Blue--I think, if I'm remembering correctly.)

Mostly what I've seen work at events is this:

1) Never sit down.
2) Always greet everyone.
3) Hand them your book--they almost always take it to read the back cover.
4) Smile.

My best advice to you is to combine forces with others in your genre, collaborate and do out of the box sort of stuff.

I've seen great success with people working together to create graphic novels and serializaions (where I got the idea to do one here on my blog!:)) and singly as well.

Think less about selling books and more about branding your name. It's the "Nick Valentino" style you want readers clamoring for--magazines, ezines, blogs, radio shows, stores--they'll eventually want everything related to your name, whether it's a novel, a short story in Glimmer Train, part of an anthology, or a serialized graphic novel.

I hope that helps :)