Tag Archives: writing

Having My Bike Stolen Renewed My Hope

Can you spot my missing bike?
Can you spot my missing bike?

My bike got stolen last night in a bike yard next to Ushikubo Station. It’s my fault for not locking it in place, but I honestly didn’t believe it would ever get stolen. I live in Japan, a place known for returned lost wallets and purses. My trust in such a stereotype cost me my bike, and now I have to buy a new one.

I searched through the bike yard exactly three times because I refused to believe someone took and rode it away. I thought maybe I had forgotten where I had left it. While going through every single bicycle, I noticed about 90% were unlocked just like mine. 90% of other bikers believed their bikes were safe from thieves because why would anyone take what wasn’t theirs here? It’s almost inconceivable.

Maybe life wanted to teach me a lesson that no matter where I go, I need to be careful and not lower my guard so much. It’s tiring sometimes to always be on alert and cautious. I wanted to trust everything would be all right, but that’s not how reality works.

Walking home to my apartment, I asked why me out of all those bikes in the yard?

I found myself taking a positive angle to answer the question. Maybe I would’ve been hit by a car or truck if I rode my bike that night. I’m still a bit skittish on the road, so maybe I would’ve made a wrong move and bye bye life. Maybe the universe was answering a wish of mine to get a new bike soon, but why take the bike out of my life in such an inconvenient time? I really didn’t want to spend money right now with a tight budget hovering over my head. However, a bike fulfills my basic transportation needs, so I have to get a new one.

I wanted to get angry, but I didn’t have the energy or room in my heart for it. I simply let out a frustrated sigh that night and forced my tired legs to walk home. It wasn’t so bad. Just a thirty-minute walk that I’d complete in ten if I had my bike.

On the way home, in addition to taking a positive angle, I thought about how my situation here is pretty good. I live in a peaceful town with a lovely river bank for running; people are friendly; I get more writing done than ever before; I don’t work more than five hours a day; and my pace is chill.

This one negative incident couldn’t dare match up to the positives of my life here. Sometimes I forget the loud noises in life: flashy tech, hip clothes, stress over other people’s opinions, unhealthy comparisons, chasing the golden goose, and so on.

I live with more attention to each present action I make. Taking a shower, chopping vegetables, making coffee, feeling the pavement hit the soles of my feet as I walk, acknowledging strangers with a smile and a nod, savoring each bite of good food and desserts, and even something simple as locking my door before I leave.

Every action has taken a life of its own, amplifying living in ways I didn’t know was possible. Instead of looking for the big, amazing events to happen, I appreciate the million little activities and take delight in being able to do such things, take delight in living with full awareness.

A long time ago, I would’ve lost my temper at having my bike stolen. I would’ve probably huffed and puffed about it all the way home instead of experiencing a cool night stroll. I would’ve felt sorry for myself for being so unlucky. (This is the second time I’ve had a bike stolen.) I would’ve been a bomb of negative energy waiting to explode, putting life on pause for one bad incident out of a million awesome events.

But life kept going. My mind focused and fingers typing, I pumped out six hundred words in my new novel that night in addition to 1200 words earlier in the day. An 1800 WC for the day is a great accomplishment for this writer.

I don’t need to let the bad poison my life and cripple me. I can choose to keep going, believing everything will work out in the end. And even if more negatives pop up one after the other, I’ll handle them, looking at each through a positive perspective, and help lift myself up to keep going, to keep experiencing the million little gifts given to me each day.

I guess this how I know I’m where I need to be right now. I’ve made a decision to help my growth by moving here, and I can see the real effects of doing so. I’m truly at peace. For a misfit soul as mine who shrivels up from not being able to pursue her dreams, I’ve found a place where I can achieve the creative heights I’ve set for myself, something I strangely couldn’t do back home.

I enjoy good runs here.
I enjoy good runs here.

I’m not saying we should move halfway around the world to find what we need. Simply, we should take time to know ourselves as much as possible and be brave enough to give ourselves what we need whether it be peace or the fuel to keep a passion or dream going.

Why waste time doing anything else? We might just find that elusive blessing in whatever has been lost.

What have you lost that has unexpectedly given something to you?

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part II

Why is nothing going right? Sigh…

In my first post, I shared four things I do to keep writing and motivated in the midst of deep discouragement. We don’t choose the challenges that come our way, sometimes we do, but oftentimes we don’t. I learned a long time ago how letting the darkness weigh me down served no purpose other than to stop me from creating, and thus, living. Creating is my life; it’s how I interact with the world, make sense of it, navigate it, and survive, and ultimately thrive in it. Without the process of creation, I have nothing. I feel I am nothing. I am blind, deaf, mute, and brain dead. In other words, no better than a corpse. So whenever discouragement rears its ugly head to stop me from creating, I need to get over it ASAP. I need to keep going and I do so this way:

5. Come up with a plan that addresses my mistakes and creates solutions to be better

As I said before in my last post, sometimes I fall short of attaining my goals, and when I do, I try not to beat myself up over it. I reduce the whole guilt factor to prevent me from giving up on making goals altogether. Aside from not being too hard on myself, I create a plan to address the reasons why I failed to achieve specific goals. I’m basically learning from my mistakes in order to not repeat them the next time around. I attack my mistakes head on and create an appropriate fix for each of them. Whenever I feel myself sliding back into those same mistakes, I take a look at my solutions list, and it keeps me on track to getting things accomplished. Again, I use Evernote to get all of this done.

I can do anything I set my mind to! What? What’re you looking at?

6. Speak power to my life every day and repeat how I will achieve my goals and vision for my life

It’s time to get spiritual right now. The right actions are important, but without the right mindset, those actions won’t manifest. Every day I make sure to remind myself of the power I have in changing my life and making my dreams come true. I have a saying written on a board in my room. It says, “Whatever I can conceive in my mind, I will achieve. I am powerful. My mind is chaos.”

Conceive it; achieve it.
Conceive it; achieve it.

You’re probably getting all the lines except the last one about my mind being chaos. The thing is I need to have my mind untethered to the cold logical thinking part of my brain that says I can’t do this or that because I don’t have this or that. Saying my mind is chaos disconnects me from that restrictive, logical thinking that usually keeps people in mediocrity or in safe, unimaginative spaces. I want my mind to inhabit dangerous, wildly creative spaces.

7. Actively forget the past and the pain it carries.

Like every other human on this planet, I have past hurts, mistakes, failures, and disappointments. I used to dwell on all these low points in my past, and I kept trying to figure out how different my life would turn if I did this or that. Bad move. Thinking on past regrets is probably the most useless activity you could ever do. Seriously. It wastes time, depresses you, and keeps you away from the present. Anything that keeps you away from living in the present moment is worth abandoning. The present is all we’ve got before we say our adieus. My worth isn’t tied to who I was or what I did in the past. I recreate myself today and with each new day that follows.

8. Enjoy the process.

At the end of the day, when all is quiet in the dead of the night, the worlds I create with my writing all come down to this one feeling: joy. In the deepest caverns in my heart, I truly enjoy writing, and I sometimes need to actively remind myself of this fact. I enjoy beginnings and ends, but the middle is where it’s all at, where the magic is at its strongest. I can’t forget it even when I feel like crying all day or want to keep walking past my apartment building to someplace far away. Shutting out my external environment, I find beauty and joy in the creative process. This is where I live. In the process of creation.

How about you? How do stay motivated to do what you love in the midst of discouragement. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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Check out:  How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part I

The Secret to Making Your Dreams Come True Revealed!

When I was in the third grade, my teacher gave us an assignment in which we had to use the week’s spelling words to create a story. I wrote about a detective bunny rabbit that solved a very difficult case. I enjoyed the assignment tremendously and had a fun time making up the story.

I’ve got a mystery to solve!

The next day, while I was chatting with my friend during our snack break, my teacher, Ms. Bess, a very kind petite woman with long blond hair, called for everyone’s attention. Her next words would change my life forever. She said, “Everyone, listen to Carla’s story!”

I jumped at the mention of my name and my heart kept beating faster and faster as Ms. Bess read my story to the whole class. My classmates all clapped for me at the end and told me how much they liked it. I was elated and couldn’t wait to get home to tell my parents. My older cousin was visiting that day and she, along with my folks, complimented me.

It was one of the happiest days of my childhood.

child-laughing
OMG, you loved my story! Waaaah, so cool!

From then on, I set out to write more stories and read more books. I devoured the written word, allowing myself to be transported to different worlds while envying the power of these authors to share their stories and stir up so many different emotions inside of me. I wanted to be a writer. An author. A creator of worlds. It was my dream to share my stories with as many people as possible.

There is power in the pages of books.

At thirteen, hungry for powerful female characters, I embarked on the journey of writing my first novel. I called the book The Fusion Girls, a tale of three remarkable sisters who possessed a dangerous power capable of saving the world from an intergalactic threat. The title of my book changed from the Fusion Girls to the Elementals to The Daughters of Destiny to Truth and Destiny and then finally to Children of Tokua.

The story followed me throughout the rest of my adolescence and onwards to college to graduate school and now to my late twenties. It has changed so much since its conception that I’m not even sure how many times I’ve rewritten it while keeping the same core theme. The book has grown with me, reflecting my changes in attitudes, philosophies, and perspectives in life. What began as the dream of a thirteen-year-old tomboy had become one of the defining features of my life.

I call it passion, but I wouldn’t judge others who would call it insanity.

Set your imagination free.

I am in the final stages of closing this incredible chapter in my life. Although the characters are creations of my imagination, they have become something more, taking on lives of their own a long time ago.

They are my children, my siblings, and my friends—tenants forever taking up space in my head.

So, what is the secret to making dreams come true?

2 Things: Tenacity and a willingness to change.

These two cannot be underestimated nor ignored. If you really want to see your dreams come true, you must persevere against all odds, frustrations, negativity, rejections, and failures. Most of all you must face yourself, which is oftentimes your biggest enemy.

But none of that means anything if you aren’t willing to be flexible and change to find out what works and what doesn’t. It pays to be humble and acknowledge your mistakes, to learn from your failures and listen to wise counsel. With that you can move forward intelligently while believing that victory is yours. Because if you have tenacity and a willingness to adapt, you can accomplish anything. Anything.

Keep going, but keep going intelligently.

It’s been almost fifteen years since I first started writing with the hopes of becoming published. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned so much and know how to move forward now. It’s only a matter of time before my dream is a reality. And when it is, you’ll be the first to know.

What about you? What do you think is the secret to making dreams come true? I’d love to hear your response!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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A Question of Healing

Where do you go for healing when what you once used to heal yourself no longer exists? This question has been harassing my mind since I lost my faith, my main source of self-healing. I’m trying to figure out whether I can still keep the parts that helped and let go of the parts that didn’t. I don’t know what that would look like, but I think I have an idea. Maybe I can run with it and find some answers. I’m considering Buddhism. I just need an outlet for all the negativity and hopelessness that life piles on day after day. A conduit or vacuum that can suck it all out and refresh my soul for a time before the next boost.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t lost my faith. I could just let go all of my problems and leave them at God’s doorstep and let Him take care of it. The Psalms would give me solace in the darkest of times. However, despite it all, I feel and believe it was necessary for me to lose my faith to grow as a person. I’ve become more aware of who I am such as identifying my deepest fears and weaknesses. I see things in my character that faith use to keep me from noticing and understanding. And what’s the benefit of knowing thyself? Better interactions with people. Better decision-making for the future overall in many of the important aspects of life—career paths, relationships, and general attitude.

I think in some way I’m letting the bad things that happen just be sometimes. For instance, my bike was stolen at the hostel where I live and although I’m angry at myself for not locking it because I didn’t think anyone staying at a hostel would steal a bike, I told myself worrying and being sad about it wouldn’t bring it back. I’ve taken the necessary steps of alerting the front desk. If it comes back, it comes back. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ll get a new bike in the future and learn from this mistake to prevent it from happening again. Be a better person. I want to take each bad thing that happens and turn it into something that can improve my life in the future. I don’t want to let any event cripple me in anger, sadness, or self blame. Life already sucks without me adding more negatives to it.

Until I can figure out what I need to do to address the spirituality hole left from my losing my faith, I can take comfort in one true thing: writing heals me too. Writing heals. Something about pouring out all my troubling thoughts in writing cleanses the pain and emotional gunk stuck in the gears of my heart. Once I write it down, I feel like I’m restarting again, capable of moving forward. It’s an understatement to say that writing saves my life everyday. It does in ways that I have yet to understand. Maybe that’s what makes me me.

How about you? How do you reboot your soul?

Stay amazing,

Sammy

Getting over the BLOCK; When Life Chokes My Writing

I’m the kind of person who stops her environment from soaking up every ounce of creative will out of her, especially when a personal writing deadline is up and about and looming. It’s more important to focus on the process and be blind to all the major and minor annoyances threatening to turn me into a zombie. Or a ghost floating through life and waiting for that big spark of inspiration to resurrect me from the dead and get me back on the grind. Fifty percent of the time, I’m able to breeze past the noise of my environment, block it out, and get stuff done. The other fifty percent is when I let the problems fall on my head and shoulders and back one after the other that I’m left gasping for air. Basically holding on to a super thin thread. I can’t think. I can’t write. I can’t create. My words tumble out as boring clichés, uninspiring and worthy of deletion. Delete. Delete. Delete.

I’m working on my new YA manuscript, THE PISTOL STARS, and I had awesome momentum for it last week. Getting 1500 words down every day. Then life comes in and hits the brakes, essentially ramming my ride into a brick wall. I need a whole new car to get riding again and I don’t know where to start looking. That’s why I’m writing this blog post instead of writing the next 1500 words. I’m hoping to find whatever it is that got me through last week’s writing frenzy. I won’t find it. I have to create a different machine to get my brain working again.

In the middle of all this, I’m worried about the other areas of my life that aren’t stellar. Probably suffering. Friendships: I’m losing old friends. A practically non-existent love life: apparently, I have issues connecting with people. Professional life: I’ve been admitted to grad school but have little to no desire to go and will not be going. I’ve been focusing most of my mental energy on writing because it’s the only thing that makes sense to me right now. Only thing I find real.

However, I must admit that I worry about my fixation toward writing and how it affects other areas of my life wanting attention. I feel like I’m not present. That I’m trapped in the storytelling world and see life through a storyteller’s eyes. Life is a story, but it’s still quite different from fiction. My problem doesn’t have to do with differentiating between reality and the imaginary. It’s more like seeing life through an imaginary lens. Thus, I distance myself from everyone more than I intend to probably. Or maybe I believe once I achieve some level of success I can go back and mend all those relationships I’m leaving in tatters. I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure things out.

All this being said, it’s not the end of the world. Of course not. I have food, shelter, my health, my family and so on. Compared to other people suffering out there, I’m living in a dream. But like most humans, I’m not satisfied with where I am. I want to improve and get to that ideal place in my mind. To that ideal life I dream for every day. It’s living in a place where beauty sings to me through the sounds of the ocean, waves hitting the sand…

Anyway, updating my blog with this post worked. I’ve created a wagon and found a horse willing to pull me along. Maybe tomorrow I can upgrade to a car, then a train, an airplane, oh, and maybe a rocket ship (that’s 5,000 words in one day by the way).

How about you? How do get over the BLOCK?

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

Why be anywhere else?
Why be anywhere else?

Keep the Momentum Going

I have a new story idea, and it has set my imagination rolling again in so many directions. The world is building itself in my mind in no coherent fashion, but still marvelous, impatient, and aching to be complete and functional. It wants to split my head open so it can be born and capture the world’s attention with its intensity. The characters’ personalities are unique pieces of clay, molding into who they need to be with bumps, flaws, and eccentricities galore. The scenes play rapidly before my eyes and run into each other. The ending plays the dominant reel. I always have the ending first. It tells me where to go.

I’m writing a young adult novel about bands, music, dreams, lost, failure, success, love, drugs, death, and everything in between. And pain. It hurts but it’s the most important ingredient of life. The music never stops playing and the characters never stop singing, hoping, and dreaming for something better, bigger, and brighter. Bright eyes, all of them. The light of their optimism shines bright enough to blind adults and make them remember for one moment that dreams can indeed come true when encouraged by the right spirit. Oh, and what spirit do these young folks have.

I’m using a two person POV because both stories are relevant and the way they intertwine enhances the poignancy of the other. The voices are fast, musical, and filled with the impatience of their youth. I have a feeling I’m going to fall in love with these characters as I did with my previous book.

I just need to keep the momentum going. I’m shooting for 55,000 words and hope to be done in 36 days. Let’s see if I can make this come true.

How about you? Have any projects that you’re doing that you hope to get done soon? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay amazing,

Sammy

one of the main characters dresses in gothic lolita inspired clothes
one of the main characters dresses up in gothic lolita inspired clothes

How Bad Do You Really Want This?

It was November 2013 when I began taking my writing career to the next level by querying agents and late December of that same year when I began working with my CP. Today is about nine months later. Where am I? Am I any closer to reaching my goals? Although I believe my writing has improved, I don’t think I’ve done everything I could to get myself closer to getting an agent. I’ve been letting the mundane activities and upsets of life drag me down, almost to the point where I’ve hit a road block. All I do is peek over the wall and see my bright future ahead, waiting and beckoning, angry and impatient at my lack of urgency. Urgency. I used to have urgency but I’ve allowed it to evaporate from my heart. I need to soak it all in again and move forward like I’ve got only one year left to live. If I knew I had only one year left to live, how would I live my life? With urgency. Hunger. While cutting away at all the bullshit stirred up by fear and insecurity and countless reports on the benefits of sleep. Fuck sleep. I can get all the sleep I want when I’ve made it. I want to change. The desire to be different and readjust my pace from languid to unbridled enthusiasm sits at the edge of my brain, ready to make the leap, but I’m holding back. Holding back to everything while living half a life. And maybe that’s where I’ve realized something: the storms in my personal life are choking my writing, creativity, and passion.

If I’m not willing to risk it all, then why choose to live at all? I’m not getting any younger. The more time I let go by, the angrier and more insecure I become. I just want to scream into the universe and say, “Fuck it, I’m gay and I don’t give a fuck what any of you think about it!” Who would have known that staying in the closet could be so toxic to not just my life and relationships, but also to my creativity? That fear of people knowing spilled over to my creative life and stopped it from blooming completely. Stopped me from pushing myself to the lengths that I knew I needed to go, lengths that I knew I could reach but never attempted to reach.

Fear suffocates. Shrivels the soul into dust. And that’s what my heart has become: dust. All because of the fear of everyone knowing. It was time to stop being afraid. Time to stop walking on my tiptoes, always fearful to offend. Time to stop living half a life, for goodness sake. It was time to stop giving the world just a portion of myself when what the world really needed was all of me. And I needed the world, people from my everyday life, to have it all. I desperately needed to stop hiding.

I’ve decided to stop hiding. Because you know what? I really, really want this: to live.

walking to eternity
walking to eternity

Stay amazing,

Sammy

Reset to Zero

I’m not exactly sure how I ended up here. I had imagined my life to be different, to be elsewhere right now. But life has a way of surprising you with detours when you least expect them, and you find yourself living in a hostel in downtown Boston instead of somewhere in Southern California. I’ve been madly craving the west coast for a while now, but I can’t seem to get myself there. And now I’ve decided to go to grad school here in Boston. As if I needed any more reason to endure another New England winter. My life is in a total flux, and only I can save myself from whatever impending doom awaits me before the fall semester. I’ve got only one hope now. My writing. I’ve written a book, and I think it’s good. I just hope I can get some agents to bite, just one person to give me a chance. That’s all I need, I believe, to propel myself forward to the future my heart desires. It won’t be easy, and I never for one second thought it would be…okay, I did once. When I had faith.

When I had faith, I thought the world would fall at my feet. I must have been delusional or something. I was delusional. Illogical. Naïve. And with eyes so bright that I was too blind to see myself stumbling down a dark hole of stupidity and failure. That’s one of the main reasons why I gave up my faith. I believed too much. I had limitless faith that God would help me as long as I did my part. Wrong. There’s no one there to do the extra 50% to my 100%. I had to do it all. 150% and then some.

I can understand why people would cling to their faith, however. It’s scary to accept that there’s no one out there beyond the sky looking out for you. That you’re all alone and that your life is left to chaos. Sometimes even random events. Nothing is for sure. And the only eternity you experience is death. But I’m not afraid of death. I know I’m made up of the stuff of the stars; that I’m made up of this earth. When I die, I simply return to where I began. And that’s okay. All I can do now while I’m alive is make the best of this life by loving my family, friends, others, and myself. And making a lasting change that benefits society in some way. That’s the meaning I have in life. The meaning I make.

The road stretches before me, beckoning, asking, “Where will you go?” I answer, forefinger pointing toward the horizon, “To where beauty lives.”

How about you? Where will you go?

san diego mountains
Mt. Woodson Trail, San Diego, CA

 

 

 

Stay amazing,

Sammy

 

“Getting to Know You” Blog Hop

Hello Hello and Happy Friday,

A few weeks ago I entered the Like a Virgin Contest hosted by Kristina Perez and Rhiann Wynn-Nolet. Cute name, I know. It’s a contest where new writers can pitch their virgin manuscripts and get noticed. I made it to the first round! Yay! Now it’s time for them and everyone else to know me a little better. So here I go!

1. How do you remember your first kiss?

Hmm, my first real kiss was at a girls’ movie night that I hosted at my place. Everyone left, but one guest stayed behind. And then the magic happened.

2. What was your first favorite love song?

As a kindergartner, I loved the song Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh. Reason I knew this song was because my parents always had the car radio on this soft rock station. Anyway, I really wanted to dance with this woman. I’d always say “Chu chu chu” in place of the words “Cheek to cheek.”

3.) What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

I listen to instrumental or classical music for about fifteen minutes and continue to do so as I write. Music is a big part of my writing. I really enjoy contemporary artists and composers such as Mono, Rhian Sheehan, Hans Zimmer, or E.S. Posthumus. For classics, I usually listen to Tchaikovsky or Mozart’s Requiem.

4.) Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Toni Morrison. Her work always leaves me in awe. Although I’ve been writing stories since third grade, it wasn’t until I read her books that I wanted to make writing my life.

5.) Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Definitely not. I think it’s gone through five major changes because I’m a strong believer of getting that first chapter right.

6.) For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

I had the major characters in mind first and then hurled them into a story.

7.) What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

Intense.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about me! Be sure to check out the answers of other bloggers.

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Stay amazing,

Sammy

 

For Writers: Traditional Publishing vs. E-Publishing vs. Self-Publishing! A Pro and Cons List Plus General Advice

Just cracking a door into this topic makes my head want to explode. With so many options out there for writers to publish their work, it takes research and good judgment to choose the path that fits best. I compiled a list of pros and cons for traditional publishing, self-publishing, and e-publishing. I add some general advice after each section.

Let’s take a look:

Traditional Publishing: The Literary Agent 

PROs:

  • Most publishers will not accept manuscripts without an agent. Agents filter submissions and reduce the workload for publishers.
  • Agents have access to editors of large and small publishing houses and are thus better able to put the right story and writer with the right editor.
  • Agents know what editors want, and the writer’s manuscripts receive priority.
  • Agents handle contracts and negotiations so writers can focus on writing.
  • Agents help writers polish and lead proposals in the right direction to help editors sell them to superiors.
  • A good relationship with a literary agent provides an outlet to help generate ideas for the next book concept before time is invested in a concept that needs tweaking or eliminating.
  • Experienced agents know and understand the publishing industry and can get the right contract for a writer.
  • Experience agents understand editor’s needs, know what’s current and what’s not, and are on top of corporate policies.

CONs:

  • Lack of autonomy in terms of handling negotiations and selling of work
  • Sharing the profits of books sold; Most agents earn 15% of author royalties.
  • The trap of new agents out for him/herself and not the author; new agents have little to no previous contacts with publishing industry.
  • Scammers: agents or impostors who make money off the writer by charging reading fees; not members of AAR; other hidden fees: manuscript critique, editing services, additional services, connecting clients to fee charging publishers, etc
  • Writers must do careful, extensive research on agents to ensure they find the right agent.
  • Query letters and Synopses (enough said)
  • And the waiting and rejection letters

General Advice:

  • Author Michelle Buckman: “Getting a bad agent is worse than no agent, but a good agent is precious to your career.”
  • Ask agents smart questions: Material they represent, length of contracts, fees charged, prior representations, willing to represent more than one book, willing to nurture careers, etc.
  • Meet agents at writers’ conferences because connections can be established and an agent might express interest in work unlike in cold contacting.
  • Agents are interested in writers who are familiar with the publishing industry and have been in the field for a time. Get informed.

Non-Traditional: Self-Publishing (Print)

PROs:

  •  Autonomy: control price and cover; control changes, decisions, etc
  •  Autonomy over the creative process
  • Self-publishing writer can receive 40-60% of selling price as opposed to author in traditional route who receives 10% of selling price.
  • Instant publication
  • Writer controls marketing details of book.
  • “The accomplishment of building something from the ground up.” – Sally McGraw

CONs:

  • No free professional editors, people to handle layouts or format book, cover art, printing, sales people, etc: All this must be done alone or seek help, which costs money.
  • Most likely to sell fewer copies than if with a traditional publisher who prints and distributes books
  • Writer must figure out how to negotiate payment and ensure contract matches typical publishing contracts (writer to editor without agent).
  • Writer is responsible for promotional costs.
  • Print route is risky in the midst of popularity surrounding e-books and digital publishing.
  • Money is invested before received and there is no guarantee a return.
  • Writer must find a distributor because most book sellers will not buy directly from an author.
  • Building brand and garnering audience might take some time.
  • Very stressful and time consuming

General Advice:

  • Create meaningful connections with other writers; promote self through bloggers in terms of reviews, giveaways, and promotional incentives.
  • Work with a small press that specializes to the book’s genre.
  • Organize or host local events to promote self and bolster sales.

E-Book Publishing

PROs:

  • Writer controls the rights of his or her work; can choose the cover, the editor, etc.
  • Writer controls pricing and examines novel sales as they’re happening, which offers insight to markets tactics that work and don’t.
  • There’s no need for a middle-person or company who takes portion of proceeds.
  • Speedier process as opposed to the one or two years wait that results in a hunt for an agent and editor and wait-time for book printing and availability in bookstores.
  • Potential for increased readership
  • Market for E-Books is growing.
  • Potential to make a small fortune
  • Easier to produce subsidiary content for your work
  • E-Books can never go out of print so opens up new opportunities for new readers.

CONs:

  • Investing money before making money: paying for custom cover art, professional editor, formatting, etc
  • Lack of standard formats available for readers using a variety of systems; can lead to reader confusion
  • Writer must take sole responsibility of marketing side; invest time in learning marketing strategies.
  • Sales have ups and down. Unpredictability
  • Quality must be high to compete with other E-Books.
  • Amazon’s algorithms for suggesting author’s works to readers does not always work to the favor of the author.

General Advice:

  •  Aggressively, but intelligently market book online. Take time learning about marketing strategies through social media.
  • Invest time in building an audience and targeting readers.

What do you think? Think something I should add something or remove anything? Let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stay amazing,

Sammy

List of Sources:

  • Jennifer Reed: How To Decide If You Need a Literary Agent. And How to Find a Literary Agent (http://bit.ly/QU5Yjv)
  • Ali: Book Writing and Publishing FAQ – Do I Need a Literary Agent? The Pros and Cons of Having Literary Agent Represent You to Publishers
 (http://bit.ly/cpEcoX)
  • Writer’s Nook Club: Creating And Selling E-Books: The Pros & Cons For Creating Electronic Books (http://bit.ly/TTl4Wi)