Tag Archive | publishing

Making Peace With Unfinished Stories

How many unfinished stories does the average author have?

I recently took inventory of all the stories I’ve written, and was surprised to find how many I had started and not finished. I have published three novels so far, so finishing a draft in general is not a problem for me. Some stories seem take hold of me and I can’t rest until they are done, and others, not so much. But that pile of unfinished manuscripts has been staring at me almost as hard as my TBR (to be read) pile, and it made me wonder if there was a common thread, a particular reason why those stories didn’t get finished. Was there something wrong, or is it normal to have a backlog of unfinished work?

The Consensus
I polled several authors, both traditionally and indie published, and their answers surprised me. Just as every author’s writing process is different, so is their approach to finishing drafts. Here’s what I found:

Some or none? A few authors said they always finish what they started, but the majority did have at least some unfinished drafts, with the average being around 4-5. One prolific author had twenty-four drafts set aside.

Plotter or pantser? Some voiced the thought that having unfinished stories may have to do with being a “plotter” or “pantser” style of writer, but I saw no discernable trends in that regard.

Will they go back and finish? Most planned to finish their stories at some point, but some chalked it up to learning their craft. Only one person reported they had deleted their old drafts. Several authors mentioned having gone back to old manuscripts and rewriting them into successful books. Personally, I agree with keeping everything─you never know what might work in the future and there could be gold in those old manuscripts.

Does it bother them? Having unfinished stories has been bothering me, so I asked if others felt the same. Again, it depended on the author’s perspective. A few said it bothered them to have the unfinished stories, but others said they kept their main focus on what they were currently working on and had no time or energy to worry about anything else.

Why didn’t you finish? Many reported they loved their unfinished stories but set them aside for more saleable projects. For example, they got a contract on an earlier work, or had to keep working on a series, got an idea for a currently popular genre, etc. You have to go where the money is! But some authors said that certain stories just won’t come together, no matter how much you love the premise or the characters. It doesn’t mean the story is hopeless, though. Ideas for the stalled story could still come at any time.

 

The Conclusion
This exercise did tell me a few things about myself as a writer. First, I’m not alone or abnormal. Not finishing a draft or not using a completed draft is a natural part of the business. As long as you keep working, keep moving forward, it’s all just your body of work.
Taking time to examine my unfinished stories helped me in other ways, too. I was able to discern the common themes running through my work, and see the development of my voice. I can see how I’ve progressed with plotting and character development.

So I’m not as worried now about those languishing drafts, but sometimes the characters of those unfinished works start prompting me to get back to “their” story. I feel so guilty─I have let them down! But I guess I’ll just have to make peace with the fact I may never finish them all, and that’s okay.

How many unfinished stories do you have? Does it bother you?

 

Author Growing Pains

attractive woman with laptop having neck pain

Building your Author platform is an essential part of an author’s career these days, and I’m beginning to believe that it will always be a work in progress. It’s not something you “set and forget”, is it?  Social media accounts must be tended, followers cultivated, and your website must be managed. And don’t forget to blog regularly, promote your next book, and then send out a dazzling newsletter! No one tells you when you are starting out how many tasks you’ll have to juggle on a regular basis, and it’s always evolving.

Building Your Platform

There are many websites, blogs, and online courses with helpful instruction on how to perform many of these tasks, but there is no one way or perfect method to handle the various duties that come with being an author in today’s world. We each have to find our own path. I have found networking with other authors to be the best source of information on how to find the right vendors and to learn what the best practices are for building and managing an author platform. If you see something that’s working for someone else, you can ask questions before you try it.

But even with all that advice available, it sometimes comes down to trial and error, and that’s where the growing pains may be. You may find, as I did, there are trade-offs, times when you have to compromise in order to make things work the way you want them to.

Making All It Work…Somehow

I recently set up my author website, and I’m happy with it.  But my trade off was having to move my blog, and in the process I lost a few followers. So if you followed Renee Regent’s Blog on WordPress, you can still see my posts at http://reneeregent.com. Click the Blog tab, then the Archived Blog Posts tab to see my previous posts. Or get to them directly by https://reneeregent.wordpress.com. The Current Blog tab will take you to my most recent post, and there is a place to sign up so you can get my posts by email, if you like. I have some exciting posts coming up, even a guest poster or two, so stay tuned!

The good news is my new website has much better Search Engine Optimization, and I’m gaining new followers as a result.

My point is this─you have to be flexible sometimes. My new website has a newsletter, my blog, and a place to advertise my upcoming books. For me, the price was right and it came with assistance I needed to set up and maintain it. I was reluctant to change from the blogging platform I had, but was unable to find a way to make it work the way I wanted it to.

Juggling Act

As I progress toward my first book launch, I’m learning other things, too. Like how to use Canva for promotional material; how to set up an author page and put my books on Goodreads; and what happens on promotional blog tours. I’ve set up my Author page on Facebook, and even started using Instagram.

So. Many. Things!

And likely it will never end. That’s a lot to juggle, and I hear it gets worse (busier) after you’re published. Yikes! But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  How about you?

How are you getting it all done?

New Author Website Launch and Blog Moving Soon!

blog, blog, blog - blogging concept on a napkin with cup of espr

Part of the fun of being an author is the many milestones you get to celebrate throughout your career.  Whether Indie published or traditionally published, launching your first Author Website is right up there among the proud moments to celebrate.

After months of struggle and work, I am finally ready to launch my very own Author Website, hosted by Zibster.com. My blog will be hosted there as well, and my first post on the new site will explain how I came to choose them.  I am very excited to see my vision finally coming together, and I learned so much during this process, even with all the mistakes and false starts I had to endure.

If you have been a regular follower of my blog, I thank you. I will try to make the transition seamless, but you may have to sign up again after the new site is launched so that you won’t miss any posts. There will also be a separate sign-up for my newsletter, which will be more focused on my books (publishing soon) and geared toward readers. There will be news about my publishing schedule and appearances, inside info on my stories and characters, and promotional events.

I plan to continue writing this blog, and exploring the business side of writing, as well as fun topics such as fiction trends, new age subjects (which are featured in my books), Outlander, and hot guys in general.  It’s a bit eclectic, I know… but that’s how I roll!  I hope you’ll find something to interest you whether you are a writer, a reader, or both.

I’ll be posting an announcement on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus) once the new website launches, so please stop by and take a look. I’d love to know what you think!

Note:  the new website will still be under reneeregent.com.

Thanks again for joining me on this crazy, wonderful journey called being an author.

 

Documentary on Romance, Love Between The Covers, Goes Wide!

Opened Book And Heart Shape

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the Romance Novel Industry?

If so, you’ll want to see the well-done documentary film Love Between the Covers, which goes into wide release on July 12, 2016.  Director/Producer Laurie Kahn gives us a funny and inspiring look into the billion-dollar romance fiction industry and its powerhouse of female writers and readers, a sisterhood that’s pioneering the digital revolution while finding fortune, fulfillment, and a global community.

What’s It About?

Now available for pre-order on iTunes and Amazon, the film will be available on DirecTv, AT &T Uverse, and many other cable or online sources. The film has only shown during private screenings the past few years, but has garnered acclaim for its honest, funny, and touching look at how romance novels are created.  For three years, Ms. Kahn and her crew followed the lives of five published romance authors (including Eloisa James and Beverly Jenkins), and one unpublished newbie as they built their businesses, found and lost loved ones, and coped with a tsunami of change in publishing. The film also has a segment on readers, and why they are among the most loyal of any publishing genre.

This Time, It’s Personal…

I saw the film a few years ago, and it made me proud to be associated with the Romance Novel industry.  As I mentioned in a recent blog post, My Fifteen Seconds of Fame in a Film About Romance, an author friend of mine and I ended up in the film for only a few seconds. It was a thrill to be included and I was happy to help spread the word when Ms. Kahn informed me personally of the wide release.

 

More info on Love Between The Covers:

USA Today-HEA shared a trailer clip and had an article over this past holiday weekend (July 4th).  You can view it here- http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2016/07/01/love-between-the-covers-trailer-reveal/ 

For a direct link to just the trailer- vimeo.com/167886547

Amazon Link- http://radi.al/LBTC

For more detailed info on the wide release, and a list of where the film will be available: lovebetweenthecovers.com/filmrelease.

On the film’s new web page, you will also find all of the short excerpts from Love Between the Covers that are being posted, one a day, on social media, PLUS info about fun prizes to win!

 

There’s been some great buzz about the film, if you’d like to read some reviews/articles:

NPR’s Radio West, hour-long really thoughtful interview with the director, Laurie Kahn, and Princeton professor Bill Gleason.  Doug Fabrizio was a fabulous interviewer.- http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/love-between-covers

Writers Digest, a Q&A with Ms. Kahn…covering a wide range of topics- http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/love-between-the-covers-inside-the-world-of-romance-writing

AOL Build live studio show, 20 minutes with Ms. Kahn and Mary Bly (Eloisa James) – http://build.aol.com/video/5775583b50954952cc56ae7d/

Refinery 29, a very positive review from a very hip blog- http://www.refinery29.com/2016/06/115294/romantic-novels-love-between-the-covers-documentary

 

I can envision regular showings of the film any time authors or readers gather─conferences, book club meetings, retreats.  It’s sure to spark discussions on the many facets of this billion –dollar industry that brings pleasure to readers and authors alike.  Romance is unlike any other genre in publishing, and this film shows us why.

Have you seen Love Between The Covers?  What are your thoughts?

 

 

My Fifteen Seconds of Fame in a Film About Romance

That's Renee, with two e's....

That’s Renee, with two e’s….

In July 2013, I attended my first Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta Georgia, where I happen to live. I enjoyed every minute of it, but for months afterward, I had no idea my experience had been recorded for posterity.

Love Between the Covers

Apparently, a documentary film about the romance novel industry was being recorded during the conference. Several months later an author friend of mine, acclaimed erotic romance author Annabel Joseph, lent me a copy of the movie to watch.  Imagine my surprise when I came up on screen, in a shot of the audience at a seminar. Another author friend, Lainie S. Flin, was beside me in the front row, and we were laughing at something the speaker had said.  We were both onscreen in the film for about fifteen seconds.

I am honored to be a part of this film, albeit inadvertently. If you haven’t seen Love Between the Covers, it is worth your time. The romance genre is one of the most profitable, and also one of the most maligned genres in the publishing industry.  The film takes an inside look at business of romance, through the eyes of its’ authors, such as Eloisa James and Beverly Jenkins, to name a few. On the website, you can view a trailer or film clips and find out how to attend a screening.

I had forgotten about the film until I came across an article about it in Rewire, an online magazine. Written by Eleanor J. Bader, the article makes the point that romance novels often imagine a “world in which women can win.” This is also a theme that comes through in the film, which I found to be inspirational in the way it portrayed the writers and the fans of romance novels.

No Defense Required

The only thing that bothers me is this:  more often than not, articles, films or shows about the romance novel industry often have a subtext of defensiveness. As though a case must be made for the value of romance novels.  Some are not so subtle and tackle the critics of romance directly, but whether the subject is defending or refusing to defend the industry, it shouldn’t be necessary.

You may have heard the criticisms before— that romance novels are trash, formulaic, or something worse, such as the label of “mommy porn”.  Well, I’ve been reading romance novels most of my life, but I have also read books in many other genres. So I have a well-rounded sampling of literature from which to draw my opinion, and I say the romance genre doesn’t need to be defended.

To me, books are similar to music. There are genres of music I don’t particularly care for, but I can still find the occasional song in that genre that I really like. All music has value to someone, just as books in all genres have value.  I do not understand the judgmental attitude towards an entire genre of stories. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but respect the choice of others who may enjoy it.

To Infinity, and Beyond

Believe it or not, there is room in the universe for an infinite number of songs and an infinite number of books!

And an infinite number of films, but they will probably not feature yours truly…

So check out Love Between the Covers if you get a chance.  It’s worth your time if you have any interest in the business of romance novels. And don’t forget to look for a couple of laughing ladies at about the three-quarter mark!

Do Debut Authors Really Have A Chance In Today’s Market?

bigstock-Winter-Forest-56265137

“The E-Book Goldrush Is Over.” “The Market Is Saturated.” “There Is A Tsunami of Crap on the Internet.”

There’s doom and gloom in the world of publishing lately. Articles and blog posts, forums and feeds all dissecting the state of the industry, and for the most part, it’s not pretty.

What’s Happening

Many authors, Indie and Traditional, report declining sales. The average price of books has dropped as well, which means more units must be sold to make the same income as in prior years. Competition has increased as self-publishing has exploded, and established authors also republish their backlist as e-books online. Even the classics are being republished as e-books, now listed for .99 a pop.

Sure, the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy stands to rake in a bajillion bucks, but that is a phenomenon unto itself. Unless you happen to have the next mega hit (and how would you know in advance? Are you psychic?), is it worth even trying to break into today’s crowded market?

How can a newbie hope to get noticed, as one tiny drop in an ocean of content?

Trends Are Changing Rapidly

There is about as much advice out there as there are authors trying to get noticed. But with everything (new technology, algorithms, buyer’s habits, the next hot social media site, etc.) changing so rapidly, by the time you read an article the advice may be outdated. The volume of books and authors trying to get noticed is so great that as soon as a trend begins, it becomes oversaturated to the point of being ridiculous. A recent case in point- how many box sets are being offered right now? Probably more than any of us could read in a lifetime! 16 books for .99? I understand the strategy behind it, but when the market is flooded with bundles the strategy may soon become ineffective.

Becoming a published author has always been a difficult road. For a short time, it seemed that self-publishing online was the answer to the prayers of unpublished authors everywhere.

And perhaps it still is. But even if you have written the next literary masterpiece or popular mega-hit, you still have to find ways to initially get your work discovered. And traditional publishing isn’t much easier. Often publishers expect the author to do most of the marketing, and the window for discoverability (time on the bookstore shelf) is very short.

There are only so many readers, and they can only read so much, as Guest Host Dario Ciriello deftly explored in this recent Fiction University Blog post.

 

What Seems To Be Working Right Now

From what I have read the debut authors who have a decent chance today, assuming their work is professional quality, and they have a media platform and marketing strategy in place, are those that are incredibly prolific, churning our several books a year. Target numbers vary, but at least 4-12 or more (including novellas and short stories). The consensus is that having a volume of titles available creates more of a following, as binge readers can feast on a constant supply of titles. Turning out a new title every 30-60 days is almost required to get noticed, gain traction and build a fan base. Kristin Lamb wrote an excellent post recently that hones in on why “binge watching” has become so popular, and it seems to happening with readers, as well.

That kind of schedule is simply out of reach for many of us. So what can you do if you are not a high-producing author?

Slowly building a following still works well for some authors, especially if they write for a niche market.   So if you aren’t prolific or a fast producer, you can still have a successful career. Just be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint.

Should A New Writer Even Try?

So if you are new, and it is taking a while to get something ready to launch, can you even hope to have a chance by the time you are ready? Won’t the market be even more crowded by then?

It is entirely possible. But, just like the lottery, if you don’t play, your chance of winning is zero.

If you love writing, take your craft seriously, and spend the time and money to make your work the best it can be, why not take a chance?

You will never know what can happen, unless you try.

Anne R. Allen posted an article recently on this very subject with excellent suggestions on marketing for new writers in today’s turbulent world of publishing. If you get discouraged, as I sometimes do, look around to other authors who have been through the ups and downs, the cycles of the industry. There is always something you can do to move forward.

The upside is– there has never been a better time to be a writer. Even with all the changes, and the gloomy market out there, at least now new authors have options. Today it is easier than ever to get the help you need to succeed, too.

So, yes, despite the Chicken Littles who say the publishing sky is falling, I say give it a shot. As the saying goes, “The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction”.   Make your own truth!