Tonight Twitterverse roared with outrage over Kendall Grey’s post on Authors for Life where she bemoans the fact that sometimes, publishing is hard. Grey spent four years writing and a great deal of money and effort promoting an urban fantasy trilogy; it tanked. She wrote an erotic novel she describes as a “piece of trash” in two months, spent much less in promotion and gave it much less effort, and that book made some decent money.
We’ve been discussing pitching this week on our freelance writing blog. A couple of readers asked me about pitching your book. They’re going to a conference, and want a quick pitch they can make to agents.
Here’s the best advice I can give you for live pitching: rehearse, and demo your pitch. Rehearse until you know your pitch by heart, and can repeat it in your sleep. Then demo it to everyone you know. Say it. Over and over again. Until you hate it and your friends are plotting to do away with you because they’re so sick of it too.
I covered the basics of pitching a book even if you hate it here:
Should you send your pitch to one agent at a time?
I’m often asked whether you should send your pitch out to many agents simultaneously.
You can do whatever you feel is best. However, I suggest one agent at a time. Research the agent online first. Read her/ his blog. Study the agent’s client list.
Personalize your letter/ email message, to ensure that the agent knows that you’re not sending out a mass email. Write something like:
“I enjoyed your blog post on _________ (whatever. Tell her why you enjoyed it.) _____ (Author name) is one of my favorite authors, I loved his ________ (whatever) book.”
Terror is natural when you’re doing something which is new, and important to you. Rehearse until you’re tired of it. I dislike pitching in person too, but rehearsing until you’re bored truly works. You’ll get to the point where you’re no longer self-conscious.
Want to get inspired to write? That’s easy. Write. Inspiration comes when you’re writing:
Like Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”)
Write a word. Then another one.
You prime the writing pump with words.
Sooner or later, inspiration will find you, and the words will flow. Try it.
It never rains but it pours. I suppose I can finally let a badly-contained cat out of the bag now that the press release is out, and tell you all what the BBC told you all a week and a half ago – I have signed a book deal.
To answer some frequently asked questions: Yes, it’s a recipe book. No, it won’t be £1-a-day recipes because of the cost of food prices always changing etc, but it will be based around the same frugal-but-nutritious principles that have driven my cooking and blogging for the past year or more.
Over the weekend, I chatted with a writer who’s written several nonfiction books, and wants to write a novel.
He’s used to doing lots of research, coming up with ideas, testing the ideas, and writing. But he’s procrastinating on his fiction.
My advice? Start writing. Fill the computer screen with words.
As I said in this post on writing what you don’t know:
Please take this to heart: all writing is discovery.
Let’s say you want to write a thriller about a hit man (or a hit woman.) This will be a real challenge for you if you’re anything like me, and are squeamish about using snail bait, or swatting a spider.
Nevertheless, if I had a great idea for a book, and the main character happened to kill people for a living, I could write it. And so could you.
Here’s why. Fiction is all about emotion. You’ve had every emotion everyone else has had. You’ve been angry — and you’ve gone beyond anger to primal rage. Neither feeling is comfortable. You may want to tap into that when you’re writing about your hit person. Not for the killer, but for the person who’s hired him.
I suggested that he tell himself his story first.
Start with “Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time, a man called Chris lived with his wife, Pamela, and their little boy, Jesse. Chris loved his wife, and was shocked when one day, someone at work told him that his wife was having an affair.
At first, Chris didn’t believe it. Then, he decided to…
See how it works?
Just pretend that you’re telling someone a story. I like to record these musings into Dragon Dictate. After ten or 20 minutes, I’ve got the bones of a story.
This is a painless way of getting the kernel of a story. Just start with a couple of characters, and a situation. Once you’ve got that, you can either outline your scenes, or you can start writing. I tend to just start writing; I create an outline once I’ve got around 10,000 words. Do what feels right to you.
Writing is a glamorous occupation - at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.
Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It's a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.
Want to make money writing? These tips will help, whether you’re a seasoned writer, or a complete beginner…
Write stuff people want, and for which they’ll pay TODAY
It’s a thrill to write something, and get dollars in your PayPal account quickly.
A couple of months back, I wrote a series of blog posts on making $500 a day from your writing.
If you read those posts, you’ll see that people pay for many different kinds of writing. Make a list of what YOU could write, for which people pay.
On July 8, 1997, a few days after my thirteenth birthday, I sat down at the big old desktop PC in my family's basement, opened a new Word document and started my first diary. 15 years later, I am still writing in the diary I began back in 1997.
Of course, a few things have changed. 15 years ago, I had a dial-up AOL account, an email address, and Instant Messenger.