Sunday, 18 May 2014

Persevere, follow your dream and don't ever give up

Life events for me over the past month have led to some deep self reflection about what I want from life and why I write. How I came to writing, in some ways before I was truly ready to be published. Certainly, before I had a wide knowledge of the publishing business, and I did not  appreciate the opportunity of being contracted on my first submission.

My first book which began my journey remains two and a bit years later, my top selling book.
Holiday Affair changed my life, although my sweet romance...Tangling with the CEO is fast catching up.
 Romance Abroad three Affairs books in one
Romance Abroad three Affairs books in one

Over the past three years I have learned much about this business while I have continued to write. Fifteen books later... (Some are in edits and will be published in 2015, you can see them all on the widget on the right of this page)

  •  I have been published by three different publishers. 
  •  I have also self published.
  •  I have had several books on Amazon best seller lists.
  •  I now have the pleasure of hearing from readers every day.
  •  I have edited for three different e-publishers.
  • I have worked as a publicist for a boutique publisher, .
  •  I have edited for many authors as a freelance editor...and over ninety-five percent of those authors have since been published after I have edited their manuscript and advised them on structure.

Over the past few days I have been touched by  Facebook posts from some aspiring authors who have shown their frustration at remaining unpublished and I wanted to share some words  of encouragement. No matter how hard they have tried, no matter how close they have been to getting picked up after winning competitions, entering pitch sessions on blogs and submitting to a variety of publishers, they have not had that 'call'.

Persevere, follow your dream and don't ever give up, no matter how dispirited you become.

Success in the publishing arena is still defined by many as seeing their print book on a shelf or by gaining the attention of an agent and the 'Big Five'. Some authors aspire to physically 'hold' their book and we still see many photos on social media  where someone has spied their book on a shelf and shared it.

But has digital publishing  redefined success? 

How do we define success in terms of digital publishing and with the huge growth of self publishing? Is it just to be able to say you have been offered a contract?
Is it being picked up by a publisher, not matter how small they are, as long as you are offered a contract? Is success selling just one book to a reader...or getting a five star review? Is it the numbers of copies you sell? Is it having a recognizable name?

From personal experience and the experience of some of my editing clients who have received a contract offer, there are many pitfalls of which to be wary, on this publication journey. Authors who have waited for a long time may grab at a contract offered when they get the 'call'.

I have seen a number of small e-publishers disappear over the three years since I have been a part of this publishing business, and I have seen much despair by authors who have had their rights tied up for years and their books unpublished, and in limbo. Some of my editing clients have managed to get their rights back for books that have been published but not promoted by the very small e-publishers who held the rights in exchange for giving up royalties owed to them.

So for those of you who are still trying to get the call... as long as you are aware of the pitfalls...persevere and...

Keep your passion for writing alive.

The essential ingredient for success is motivation and passion, and belief in yourself.

Hone your craft

Know your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Use style guides.  Learn the basics of good writing. Know the different points of view. Know the difference between show and tell. Polish your work till it shines before you submit it or self publish. Think long and hard about getting your work professionally edited. There are different levels of editing. You can read about them on my editing page.

Be a risk taker

Be creative. There are only so many stories to be told...but depending on the characterization and setting, the same trope can be revisited and tell a very different story each time.

Make your stories character driven and not plot driven

Give your reader something unexpected! Do you remember a story or do your remember the characters? Do you hate leaving your character's lives when you finish your story?

Learn about tropes and ensure you are following the formula for contemporary romance.

As strange as it may sound, the trope must be recognizable by readers even if they don't even know what a trope is. Do you know your tropes and do you know the formula for contemporary romances?

Even before you are published, establish your author brand

The publishing landscape today is dynamic and you must be an interactive participant in the digital world. The new trend of developing personal digital brands is  through blogs and social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn  and others. Publishers will 'Google' you, and look for you on Facebook and Twitter as they consider your manuscript.

Don't give up, believe in yourself and keep submitting. 

Research your publishers before you submit and after you are offered a contract.
Remember it is hard work, a quality manuscript and submission to the right publisher that gets the 'call'.

Any other words of encouragement or questions, please feel free to comment below!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

I'm live over at Bitten By Books today, chatting to readers about Hot Rock. Come on over and talk to me.


You can join in to the giveaway at the raffle copter below for a $35 Amazon gift card.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Time management ... is there any easy way?

So my dear blog followers... for those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed I have been a lot quieter over the past week or two, with just the occasional post to report in on my activities.

My blog has also been sadly neglected.

Why? I must implement some better time management skills. The last two weeks have been crazy...deadlines looming for contracted books, edits coming in and book proposals due to my editor.
I also have a lovely reading list waiting for me to prepare for the writing workshop I am going to in Italy in the northern summer, including the latest Eloisa James book.

So there has been little time for the joy of chatting and browsing social media.

I made a list today of all the tasks I have lined up for the next two months and guess what I wanted to do... But never being one to give up I decided to procrastinate just a wee while longer and research some time management tips and I will share the top three tips below!

#1. Focus on importance. Prioritise.

So the first tip I found...The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.  As one author friend said to me recently focus on the task that will have the most impact on your writing career. 

#2. Say no

The second one...learn to say no... 
Life hacker's Jedi time tricks says...Most of us follow an implicit social contract: when someone asks you to do something you almost always say yes. It may feel very noble, but don't forget there's a dying princess you need to save, and you just agreed to slow yourself down because you were asked nicely.

#3. Turn off the router...and the phone...and the iPad

The evils of social media....shiver. So why do we love social media? An author's life can be a very lonely one. We spend a lot of time alone talking to our characters and solving their problems. We love to know what's going on. We love to see what other people are reading/writing/sating/joking about/looking at etc etc etc.
I can remember a well known Australian romance author, Marion Lennox, speaking at a conference and giving advice on quality writing time. She has a separate computer for writing which has no internet connection. A great idea!

And if all else fails... turn to the one least have a love before you dive beneath the covers
1. It is astonishing how long it takes to finish something you are not working on.

2. W.C Fields said If at first you don't succeed try, try again. Then quit. There's no point being a damn fool about it.

My solution would be to indulge in some time travel...a nice little set of standing stones n the back garden where I could slip back and forward in time to meet my deadlines, like my heroines.
Megan in Hot Rock  and Indigo in Winter of the Passion Flower  and Sofia in Summer of the Moon Flower 

all had it figured out and they won their sexy heroes to boot!

Okay, okay, I know. So time travel probably won't work.

 I need some more ideas... leave me a comment below. The best and funniest time management tip will each win a copy of one of my time travel books.
Now I'm off to check on Facebook...oops I mean...I'm off to write. I do have a deadline... or two...or three.