Self-Published v.s. Waiting for the Traditional Press

 Literature Blogs

I had lunch today with a self-published children’s book author who has written and published three picture books, three middle school books, and will have his first young adult book published this December. He already has orders for 1,000 copies of the YA book. He travels throughout the USA, presenting a highly energetic, entertaining, and musically talented school visit.

Anytime we get together (he is a local author), and he happens to read parts of my WIP (whichever I may be working on or wish to share), he is impressed with how well I write. He says I am a much better writer than he. I humbly tend to agree, since I am associated with SCBWI, been in several critique groups through the years, have had numerous critiques with agents and editors, and am constantly improving my craft. Whereas, he tends to write for himself and doesn’t take a critique very well, although he may tend to disagree with that statement.  This author keeps trying to talk me into self-publishing. I keep telling him, “No, thanks.” So what is my hold-up?

1) Fortitude. I want what I write to last beyond my lifetime. I want my stories to be published by others who will continue the story long after I’m dead. Only a traditional publishing house would do that. My friend not only self-publishes, he self-promotes, self-markets, arranges his travel and hotel and meals for school visits, and carts all his books in his van on his tours. Who will do all that for his books when he dies?

2) Editors. I want a professional who is trained in literacy and experienced in what is excellent to look over my writings, to make them the best I (we) can make them.

3) Money. Time and money have always been deciding factors in things which I do. I haven’t got the money to put forth for a self-publishing adventure.

I am glad for my friend. He is happy with what he is doing. As I mentioned, he is highly entertaining, and kids love his visits, and he does encourage children to read and to write. Plus, many literary authors are rather dull speakers. (Rats! I know I’ve just offended thousands of friends. Double-dog-rats!)

Even though he is making a rather good living at what he does, and I am making nothing, I am not willing to follow his path, even if I were given a chunk of start-up money to do so — all for the reasons listed above.  He’d love to see me published. Hello! Me, too. But I’ll remain a hold-out for the traditional press, recession or not, e-books or not, wading through the ever-evolving world of publication.

Here’s to me — to my high hopes of every week becoming a better writer, and of someday becoming a book-published author with an editor in a traditional house.

Today’s Writing Market and the Economy

 Literature Blogs

Accepted: Stories which only a few years ago would be published, are getting rejected today? Why? The economy and ever-changing writer’s market (i.e., depending on what will sell by public demand).

Accepted: Publishing houses are businesses, not non-profit organizations. An editor at a recent writers conference said this is one of the reasons celebrity-authored books are contracted. They are sure money-makers. They draw in business, and make it possible to fund fledging, not-so-famous writers.

Accepted: Public demand is a hungry beast.

After a time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to move on from his famous character — a character based on one of his professors. The public demand for his detective stories at the time was so great, that Doyle thought to rid himself of Holmes by killing him off, and proclaiming that anyone could use the character and do with him whatever they wanted. But the beast demanded more, so Doyle resurrected Sherlock and wrote several more stories with his best-selling character.

Acknowledged: I am a writer. I read. I write. I have studied the craft. I continue to improve my craft. I write, research, or plot every day. As a writer, should I pay attention to the economy, the market, making money for me or others? Or should I pursue my passion without concern? I’m not sure I have a solution. At this writing, I believe that if I want to be published, I must be willing to feed the beast. However, as soon as  state that, I find myself climbing right back up on the castle wall. For whom do I write? For the beast? For me? For someone else entirely?

Manuscript Rejections — The Bottom Line

 Literature Blogs

I’m friends with Jane Yolen. Gosh. Well, me and a zillion others, on her FaceBook page. Jane commented today about receiving 7 rejections  (yesterday?), with editors commenting on her gorgeous writing, but….

I’m not really being sadistic, but I found this tid-bit of news quite encouraging to pre-book-published me.

She later wrote:
“The people who have been on my site (and my journal) before are not surprised by my rejections. Nor am I. I get them all the time. Got 5 rejections for OWL MOON, 13 for SLEEPING UGLY, both of which have now been in print for well over 20 years. I had 113 rejections for my poetry before I ever sold my first poem.

Dr. Seuss had over 30 rejections for TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET, his first book; Madeleine L’Engle, when she was already published, got 29 rejections on A WRINKLE IN TIME.

No one is saying you are ugly and smell, your mother dresses you funny, better give up writing (though all those things may be true.) A rejection letter is about the mss. and the perceived market. That’s all. As the don’s men said to the Mafia foot soldier they are about to execute in THE GODFATHER, “it’s just business.”

So (Sandy here, again), the bottom line for writers is:

1) Keep on writing (and, to finish your mss and revise them are givens);

2) Keep developing your craft (style, voice, plotting, etc) to produce page-turning, gorgeous writing;

3) Keep submitting your gorgeous works;

4) Rejections are not always about bad writing. In this present economy, it’s more about marketing. So, when you receive those rejections, eat some chocolate, cry if it feels good, run a marathon or two, and then get right back to #1 — Keep on writing.

Sticking Out Tongues and Pigtail Pulling

Literature Blogs 

The other day I was thinking about the naughty things kids used to do just a few decades ago– like, when they got mad at each other, they’d stick out their tongues while “making a face.” Or, if a boy wanted to tease a girl, he’d pull on her pigtail.  The victims tattled, and the offenders got disciplined, usually by staying after school for a certain amount of time.

Flash forward to today — and I know this from recently teaching and subbing in elementary schools in three states. When today’s elementary aged kids get mad, they can threaten lives (“I’m going to kill you.”), they say words one would need to watch R rated movies to hear, or they grab the opposite sex in “the privates,” with the boldness to lie about it to the adults who witnessed it, and then threaten to sue the teacher and the district if there is any discipline done. And no one can stay after school because most students are bussed.

I have taken razor blades away from a fifth grader, and broken up many fist fights. One parent tried to run me over with her car after school on the day she found out the principal gave her son a three-day in-school suspension. Her son was one of my students. Another parent yelled at me for several minutes in the hallway, defending her first grade daughter for  angrily throwing markers at my back. I know teachers and counselors who will not place their desks near windows for fear of being shot at.

Times are a’changing. No more tongues sticking out nor pigtails getting pulled. Is childhood innocence really a thing of the past? If so, what’s a writer to do?

One could write fantasy, mysteries, or historical fiction. Or best yet, no matter what the genre or age of your reader, write truthfully, and give your readers hope.

Happy, safe writing.

Library Rejection and Writers Block

Literature Blogs

It’s sad enough when we writers get rejections from editors and agents, but what a big ouchie when we get it from our own public library.
 
I loved Hope Vestergaard’s FaceBook library write-in post — she is an Ann Arbor, Michigan, children’s author. She was very excited about the event.
 
I’ve volunteered to do things (programs for kids) in libraries in three states where I’ve lived. The programs have not only been well attended, the librarians have been enthusiastically grateful. I liked this write-in idea so much that I called and suggested we do it here at OUR library in town. I’ve met the children’s librarian here, and thought that her contact would be a great starting place. After all, we writers know it’s all about networking.
 
She called me back, after talking to other staff, and said no, because “kids would think it’s too much like school, and it wouldn’t work because of funding (needing a library staff member present).” I said I’d be there, volunteering and leading, and as a former elementary teacher, I know that kids love to write. She said, no, again.
 
I love to write, and love to encourage others to write, too. I simply didn’t want to leave it at that, which is quite against my personality. I’d consider myself more whimpy than pushy, but when it comes to writing, call me passionate.
 
I asked her to keep open-minded about it for some future date.
 
Knowing there are a couple hundred NaNoWriMo participants in our area, both in schools and otherwise (she hadn’t heard of NaNoWriMo), I tried a different approach. I suggested that November might be a great time for adults to gather. She said the person in charge of adult programing said no, too. I guess no from this library means “no; go away; don’t bother us any more.”
 
(Flashback to six years ago when we moved here. I asked the librarian at the desk if there was a place where a writers group could meet, and was told “no” then, too. Back in SD, our Black Hills Writers Group met monthly at the public library. It was a helpful and meaningful time. I wanted to share the goodness. So far, here in my town, I’ve failed.)
 
Well… there. Done Steaming off.
 
Sad Sandy
 
P.S. I wonder if I am burning library bridges by writing this here. On the other hand, is there even a bridge to be burned?
P.P.S. Maybe I should add here that I’m not yet my normal self right now –> Stupid medication for poison ivy!
P.P.P.S. Back to writing.

Fat v.s. Overweight and Obese Characters

 Literature Blogs

Being a writer out of my home leaves both eating and exercising at both the top and the bottom of my list of things to do when I’m not writing. HOWEVER, good news: I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past 2 weeks, and hope to continue on this downhill trend. For the first time in my life, I’m counting calories and am disciplined with my exercise. Yeah, me.

Times are changing.

This week I heard some disturbing news. It has to do with the amusement park ride, “It’s a Small World” in California. Seems the ride kept breaking down. They finally discovered the reason: the average weight of the visitors has… er… grown over the years since it was first built. This general increase in weight by the riders has caused the bottom of the boats to scrape against the machinery moving it along, causing the ride to malfunction. What a sad, sad, sad state of American affairs we live in these days.

I’ve also noticed a change in vocabulary. Doctors aren’t allowed to say “fat” any more, or they can get sued. We are either “healthy, overweight, or obese.”

This week I watched a show from the 1970’s about a military school, and each of the young men looked about the weight of a fifth grader of today.

So what does all this mean? Can we or should we write about children or adults who are… um… abundant in figure? If we don’t write about children or adults who have “more” to them, then are we writing about the real world today? Or should we remain in our fictional dream of thin? Now-a-days, actors and actresses who want to maintain a “healthy” look must go to the gym for 2-4 hours a day. Whatever did we do back then, when we were thin and didn’t go to the gym all those hours?

I hate worrying and wondering about this. But what about the characters in my stories?

Hmmm…