The On Writing Blog can be found at www.vickihinze.com/blog
Hubby and I leave notes to each other all the time. We always have. I so enjoyed this post. A daughter leaving love notes for her mom. (sniff)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
My new website is now up and running and the following blogs will be posted on it:
On Writing Thinking Aloud My Kitchen Table My Faith Zone
The new url is: http://vickihinze.com/blog
This is a no-edit zone…
In the race for topping the list in rankings, many authors are reporting dirty tricks being played against them. These tricks are purportedly playing out in a variety of ways and authors naturally are concerned about them.
Here are a few hard and fast facts:
- Reviews are subjective and everyone is entitled to an opinion and to express it, whether or not it’s an informed opinion and whether or not their opinion is expressed in honest assessment or in nefarious activity. Since opinions are opinions and not facts, there are few tools for determining the true basis of said opinion.
- It’s always wise to be slow to accuse and err on the side of benefit of doubt.
- Not everyone will like any given book. (This is a plus. If they did, we’d need one book and one writer.)
- There are those who consider it legitimate to negatively review a book to kick it down a few notches on a list so that a book they want to move up will move up. Morally and ethically it is not legitimate, of course. But we all know that works-in-progress are not limited to books, they extend to people too. And some just haven’t yet learned the lesson that when you set out to harm another, you harm yourself. Take heart. They’ll learn, and you’re strong enough to withstand the onslaught or it wouldn’t be happening to you.
- It’s pretty evident to readers who read the reviews that these destructive types are at work. Some will blow off their negative reviews. Some will be angered by them. Some will pray for people who feel it’s okay to do something so underhanded, corrupt and destructive. And some will be repulsed and will take on a negative opinion of the reviewer that will stick like glue for a long time to come.
When reports started coming in on this taking place, I did some research. It became pretty evident who was panning a book because it just wasn’t their kind of book, and who was panning a book because they had an ulterior motive. So the bottom line advice I have on this is to trust your readers.
Readers are bright. Some just won’t like a book. But they’re slow to post really awful reviews on books much less free books, particularly if they’re authors. Maybe it’s because they know the work it takes to write a book, or maybe they refrain because they know being destructive on subjective opinions is, well, subjective and destructive. Or maybe they’re smart enough to know that a book not suited to their tastes might just be someone else’s dream read.
The opportunity for errors abound in life, and of course, that extends to your career. How well you identify and define them, when you identify and define them, has a direct relationship on your ability to resolve the potential problem areas–before they become errors or mistakes that you must live with forevermore.
Unfortunately, we too often zing along, ignoring warning bells (or doing our part to resolve them and then relying on the next person in our personal chain to do their part without verifying that they have) and the window of opportunity to nip a potential challenge in the bud before it becomes a problem is missed.
A couple of examples: You submit your work to an agent, who supposedly is submitting your work. You don’t have anything verifying that, and later learn the agent hasn’t submitted at all. Whose mistake is that?
Well, the agent’s word that the submission is done should be (and often is) sufficient, but it happens too often that it isn’t to assume it. Reputable agents know their word is their bond. But if a formerly reputable agent fails to be honest with you, or fails to do his or her part, who pays the penalty?
The author. And the author loses the time and can’t reclaim it. Considering that the time can be a year or even more, that lost potential is nothing at which to sneeze. In the past year, I’ve been approached by five authors who have been in the center of this challenge.
The moral of this example: Verification is part of your job. Never work with someone you can’t trust. But even the most trustworthy person in the world is capable of human error. Verify. It’s your work, your career and part of your job to monitor the process closely enough that you know what is happening with your work.
Another example is one I’ve seen too often to count. And that is, an author is with a publisher, loses an editor and is struggling with an ill-fitting new editor. The author doesn’t want to leave the publisher but everything s/he is doing is being rejected. S/he can’t please the new editor.
It’s interesting to note that in these cases, the author is well aware of the challenge but so fears being at loose ends when changing houses that s/he willingly bangs his/her head against the proverbial wall, trying to please the new editor (which simply does not happen). Often this attempt to please goes on for an extended time–a year, two years, and sometimes longer. Time during which the writer’s doubt that s/he can produce a publishable manuscript grows and his/her confidence in her writing abilities dwindles.
The moral of this example: do not write to please an editor. Write the stories you must write. The ones that nag you, that wake you up in the middle of the night. The stories that haunt you if you do not write them. Those stories contain the magical element of enthusiasm and interest that permeates a work and infuses it with strength. It can’t be faked, and without it, publishing potential is crippled.
Look at it this way. You’re being rejected anyway. Why not be rejected on a project you’re crazy about versus one you’re writing to please someone else? At least if your beloved project is rejected, you’ve loved it. That can’t be said for the one written to another’s specifications.
There are two things we really need to look at closely in these problem area situations.
1. Warning Bells.
Regardless of by what name you call those warning bells–intuitive nudges, hunches, gut instincts, divine shoulder taps–they are early-warning indication systems. Ones that sound the alarm when something has tripped it, and to spare ourselves challenges that become mistakes, we need to perk up and pay attention, and then act on them. Even the best alarm system in the world only notifies. It’s up to the person notified to act to prevent loss and/or damage.
Bottom-line advice: Heed your hunches.
Fear is a mean taskmaster. It can cripple, debilitate, destroy. It has as much power as we give it–no more, but no less–and there is but one way to overcome it: courage.
You can run or hide, but fear will find you. You can play ostrich and bury your head in the sand, but when you do, your backside is exposed and up in the air, just a perfect target for getting kicked–and it will.
You’re going to face that fear whether or not you want to do it, so why not face it on your own terms?
It’s impossible to outrun, outwit or otherwise avoid fear (or any other merciless demon) when it’s in your own mind. Accept it. Unless you deal with fear constructively, it remains in you, it grows, and you’ll never be free of it. Enslaved is no way to live.
Bottom-line advice: Recognize fear but embrace courage.
It’s a special day. The day that I have the privilege of seeing my 30th project published (articles aside because I quit counting those after I hit 100).
Before the White Rose is a general market short story I wrote for the love of it. I didn’t write it intending to publish it. But I am thrilled Belle Bridge Books has. In it, three people who are at wit’s end and despairing all take action–and discover something they wished they’d discovered sooner.
For long-time readers, I wrote it as one of my Sunday book projects. Those I write for me, ignoring everything except the story itself. This one I wrote and it continued to nag at me. I wasn’t sure why, and I ignored it as long as I could. But it didn’t stop. So I pulled it out, read it again, and saw something of value in it. That’s when Belle Books got involved.
They’rereissuing many of my earlier works, and added a sampler of the three Seascape novels in Before the White Rose.
It’s a Kindle 99 cent exclusive. I’ve never done one of those in fiction, so I’m eager to see how it does.
Someone asked me this morning on Facebook when you stop getting the adrenaline rush on the day a new project is released. “You’d think it gets old after you’ve done so many,” she said. My response was this.
“If and when it does, and if and when I ever stop being thrilled to pieces about a new release, I’ll let you know. But I have the feeling doing so might frighten you.”
She asked, “Why?”
I responded. “Because as tickled as I still am, I have a feeling that won’t happen until I’m dead.”
Have to chuckle here because I am tickled. I do still feel that same rush I did on holding my first book in my hands. And I hope and pray I never stop feeling it!
The moral of the story (you, of course, knew there’d be one) is that if you’re not thrilled by pleasing aspects of your job, you’re in the wrong job. Look for that in which you find joy. Life is too short to settle for less.
An original, general market short story. Kindle 99 cent exclusive.
Includes bonus material: Seascape Series Sampler.
That’s the first three chapters on:
Beyond the Misty Shore (10/1/2011)
Upon A Mystic Tide (11/1/2011)
Beside a Dreamswept Sea (12/1/2011)