We have a few odds and ends to pick up before we move to our next topic (which I’m still mulling in my mind). I’m looking at the comments that my loyal readers left today, and some of them need answering:
Thanks again for your tireless work with your blog and your newsletter!
And a special hug (yeah, guys can hug guys and still be straight) for recommending Margie Lawson’s lecture packets. I ordered “Empowering Characters’ Emotions” immediately and although I’ve only read the Welcome so far, I’m hooked, psyched, excited. I’ve known that showing/conveying emotions has been difficult for me and I expect Margie’s insights to be tremendously helpful. As soon as I’ve worked my way through this I’ll order her “EDITS” packet.
As an added bonus, Margie, like yourself, seems to really reach out in her efforts to help. And, in her email says that although she didn’t really meet you, you are her new best friend.
Randy sez: I worked through Margie’s “Empowering Character Emotions” carefully the first time. Now I’m working through it again to pick all the meat off the bones. As I mentioned in my e-zine the other day, I’ve not learned so much from one teacher since I read Dwight Swain’s book, TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER, many years ago. Like Parker, I’ll be working through Margie’s EDITS packet next. For those of you who didn’t see my mention of Margie in my e-zine, her web site is at www.MargieLawson.com and she is a psychologist with incredible insights into fictional characters. She teaches how to edit your fiction to make your characters stronger.
Ok, now I had a chance to read the newsletter and I’m back with a gripe. Ok, maybe not a gripe, let’s say an appeal.
I have to face the fact that until I make megabucks or have saved for a number of years attending one of the type of conferences you mention is just a pipe dream. I love conferences and I would love to go. An if I could drive there I’d sleep in the foyer to make it happen.
But I would need a Visa, a passport, a return plain ticket, a guaranteed amount in my account or my wallet (which is a lotta money taking the exchange rate into account) and that is before I even arrive at the conference and start paying fees there.
So, if a conference is the best thing you can do to market your writing career, while also hobnobbing with other literati and taking workshops on craft, what is the SECOND best thing you can suggest for us poor smucks that can’t get to a conference?
Randy sez: You are absolutely right. The deck is stacked against you, so you’re going to need to find ways to level the playing field. (What a terrible mixed metaphor that was!)
First, remember that nothing sells like excellent writing. If you have excellent writing, then you will probably break in to publishing somehow, some way, eventually. It’ll be harder for you in South Africa and it will take longer, but you CAN do it. So your #1 priority should always be to improve your craft. By the way, I know there are a number of novelists in South Africa. I’ve met a number online over the years, and several hang out on this very blog. As Carrie said, there are publishers in every country. They might not pay the size of advances that a US publisher would pay, but let’s face it, US publishers don’t pay that big of advances either, unless your name is Clancy or King or Brown.
Second, the internet is a great leveler. Look at this blog and some of those who comment frequently. We have ML Eqatin in California; Daan in South Africa; Nessie in New Zealand; Christophe in Belgium; Mary in Texas; and a great many others scattered all over. The web makes it possible for me to reach these people far more easily than most of the neighbors who live within half a mile of my house! You can do an amazing amount to make yourself known by using the internet, and you can do it long before your book is published. We can all think of bloggers who’ve become famous, especially in politics, but also in other realms.
The internet is a powerful way to create a platform for yourself, if you have something unique to say and have the skill to say it well. My favorite resources for learning about internet promotion are (in the order that I first came across their sites): Tom Antion, Alexandria Brown, James Brausch, Perry Marshall, and Mark Joyner, but there are many others. One of my goals in life is to teach novelists how to use the methods that these marketers have created for selling NONFICTION so that we can all do better at selling our FICTION. Novelists have a great advantage in marketing, because a big part of marketing is creating a compelling story. I want to see a better distribution of income for novelists in coming years.
You mentioned in your e-zine that you’ve been working on a proposal. One question I have is if your proposal is for a series of books or just a single book? And if it is for a series, how does that kind of proposal differ from one for a single book?
What kind of things would a publisher want to know about the “future” books in order to commit to a series?
Randy sez: The proposal I’m writing is for a series. 99% of the proposal talks about Book 1 in the series. There are a couple of paragraphs describing more books in the series. (By its nature, this series could go on for many books. Note that a series will continue only as long as it is selling well; if it is, publishers will want it to go forever.) Most publishers want to know that an author is more than a one-trick pony. If you can show that you can write a series of books, that’s good. It tells the publisher that they can invest more resources in you because you’ll be around for awhile and your name recognition will have a chance to grow. In general, you really don’t need to give a huge amount of details about succeeding books in the series. The exception would be a tightly bound series like Harry Potter, where it’s really one big story. An example of a loosely bound series would a typical mystery series, where every story stand totally alone, and the detective’s story arc may change very little over a long series of books.
That’s all for today! Tune in again tomorrow when I hope to have decided on the direction we’ll take for the next week or so.