Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Importance of Records

Creative writing is art, but there are some pesky business aspects to it as well. Probably the most important business thing is to keep a record of where you submit your stories and novels. It makes you a more efficient, more likely-to-be-published writer if you submit to probable markets in a timely fashion. Let's look at both parts of this statement, because they're both important.

A probable market is a market that accepts your type of work. This means you must do your background research. For short stories, a great speculative fiction resource is www.ralan.com. (Does anyone have a great general short fiction resource?) For literary agents, a great resource is www.agentquery.com. I've blogged about market before.

A timely fashion is a bit trickier. The industry convention for novels is you may query agents simultaneously for the same work. However, if you get asked for a partial or full manuscript, generally, the agent prefers an exclusive. The industry convention for short stories is NOT to submit the same story simultaneously. This means you can only submit to one market at a time. If you are submitting to a SFWA-approved professional market, for example, I would definitely abide by this rule. If you don't follow industry conventions, you run the risk of offending an editor or agent. That can have a negative impact on your career. Yikes!

Another fly in the ointment is publication. What exactly constitutes publication? If you post part or all of your story on your webpage, is this publication? What about a novel excerpt? What if it's posted on someone else's website or ezine? What if you get compensated? What if you don't? What about rewrites? How much do you have change to make a 'new' story? Regarding this stuff, just be honest and don't try to mislead anyone.
Of course, when the money starts rolling in you have to keep records of it for the tax man. :) I hope you have that problem!

I've tried quite a few things in pursuit of writing records including spreadsheets and databases and, I must admit, none of them work great. Do you have any good tips? If so, please let us know!

The bottom line is: it is important for writers to keep records. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Conference Season

Ah, springtime! Leaves are budding, flowers blooming, birds singing, and writers conference season is starting. If you're a writer, consider rubbing elbows with other writers in person. Conferences have a lot to offer: you can meet and get to know other authors, you can go to craft workshops. Some even have writing contests and pitch opportunities with agents and editors. Before you sign up, think carefully about what you might want to get out of a conference. Do you need inspiration to give your writing a new shot in the arm? Do you want to meet a particular agent or editor? Do you want to connect with other local authors? Do you want to find some new critique partners? How much does the conference cost, including travel expenses? Do your research.

Some conferencs coming up include: Clarksville Writers Conference (June 6-7, 2013), the Carnegie Center’s “Books in Progress” Conference (June 7-8, 2013). Personally, one of my favorites is Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers annual conference (Sept. 20-22, 2013). I go every year. The deadline for their prestigious commercial novel contest "Colorado Gold" is approaching: June 1, 2013.

In general, a great place to find out about writers conferences is Poets & Writers: Writers Conferences, Colonies, and Workshops. Another excellent resource is the Shaw Guide to Writers Conferences & Writing Workshops. Does anyone have a favorite resource to share? Or a favorite conference to recommend?

Maybe I'll see you at a conference this summer!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

one word at a time

I don't know about you, but this time of year starts getting very busy for me. We all have those times when it would just be easier to let our writing slide. Maybe we let one or more deadlines slide. Maybe we skip a critique group meeting or two. Of course, we have good reasons--at least that's what we tell ourselves.
I'm here to tell you: don't do it. Slacking off can be a slippery slope. One missed deadline can lead to two. One missed critique group meeting can lead to two, can lead to three, etc. I have a lot of 'writer' friends who don't write much anymore, because they fell down this slope.

It is precisely when it's inconvenient to write that one needs to write. This is your passion, after all, isn't it?
As long as you put one word at a time down on the screen or paper followed by the next word, and so on, you'll be okay. Keep on going!

Good luck!