Today we have a special treat.
Alexandra Christian is here to talk to you about questions writers ask.
Thanks for having me! Here we go…
I’m a lurker. You caught me. I confess — I’m a lurker. I lurk in Facebook groups reading questions and comments quite frequently. I may not say anything, but I’m there seeing what other people are up to. Some might call it nosy, but I call it research. I’m particularly interested in questions that new authors are asking in these writer groups, but sadly they often get crummy answers (IMHO). So I thought a short post with my answers to common writer questions might be interesting…
How much time do you devote to writing?
This question comes up a lot with new writers who are either working day jobs (like me) or have lots of kids and other responsibilities in your life. Some authors give snotty answers like, “to be a professional you need to devote eight hours to your craft like it’s your regular job.” Or my personal favorite, “if you don’t get up at 5am and immediately write for a few hours before work then you aren’t dedicated.” Both of those answers assume that the writer has a predictable schedule and large blocks of uninterrupted time. But not everyone has that.
The answer to this question is: Everyone is different. Do what you can, when you can.
When I was school teacher, I carried my notebook to lunch and wrote by hand while my students were eating. The best advice is this: carry your notebook with you and write whenever you have a free moment. Those little bursts add up. It may take you a bit longer than those that have 8 hours a day to devote to writing, but you’ll get there.
How long will it take for me to be able to quit my day job and live on my writing?
Ah, the naivety of youth. I see this question over and over and it makes me want to reach through the internet and slap people. Not the people that ask the question, but the people who answer it. “Well I’ve been writing for three years publishing travelogues from BFE and I’m able to make 10K a month! Buy my book to find out how!” That’s the answer I see most often.
The real answer: Nobody knows, kiddo. It may never happen or you might be an overnight success with your werebadger m/m BDSM romance. The market is fickle and there’s just no way to predict.
The only thing I can tell you is, write the stories you want to read and persevere. I’ve been writing professionally for 7 years and as of yet I haven’t broken $200/ month in royalties. My sister (author Lucy Blue) has been writing professionally for 20+ years and still has a dayjob. I have a couple of writer friends who have been at this about as long as I have who are already supporting themselves with their writing. It’s luck. There is no formula. If you’re writing because you think you’re going to get rich and famous, STOP NOW and quit saturating the market.
How do you get published?
Yet another question that doesn’t have an easy answer. With the dawn of eBooks and self-publishing, there are so many paths to publication now that everyone has a different story. The traditional route is: write a great, polished novel; query agents FOREVER and become an expert in navigating the slush pile; finally get an agent who then gives you MORE advice on editing; agent submits your book to big publishing houses and possibly sells it after months or years of submitting; you finally get the book contract and proceed to mark time for at least a year until your book FINALLY comes out (large presses are enormous machines that take ages to put out your product).
That traditional model works for some people and that’s fantastic. But the truth is, big 5 publishing is floundering right now. They are trying to keep up with the market and keep it an exclusive club. Agents are not into taking gambles these days. They want sure things and they watch the market extremely closely. And who can blame them? They have to represent authors whose work they KNOW they can sell. So the traditional publishing model is difficult to break into.
A lot of authors are going through small, independent presses (like me) or doing the self-publishing thing. Indie presses have a smaller-scale model of the traditional path, but don’t usually require an agent and they move your book faster through the machine simply because they don’t have so many books to produce. But, they often don’t have the exposure that a large press does or the capital to promote your book through really big channels (Publishers’ Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, RT Book Reviews, etc.). They also have a tendency to go out of business because just like everyone thinks they can write a book, everyone thinks they can run a small press. Trust me, they can’t. So investigate your small press prospects before you sign that contract.
Self-publishing is great because you’re in charge of every aspect. The bad thing about self-publishing is that you’re in charge of every aspect. In order to be successful at self-pubbing, you have to know about everything — writing, editing, marketing, book covers, promotional channels, formatting, getting reviews, social media, etc. etc. etc… It’s also, if you’re going to do it right, expensive. You have to pay an editor. No, repeat after me — you have to pay an editor. No you can’t do it yourself. No you can’t ask your cousin who’s a schoolteacher to look it over for you. No that is not what spellcheck on Word is for. You need to pay a professional editor ($300-500), pay for original cover art (you can fudge it a little with pre-made covers, but they better be awesome premade covers — $50- $300), pay for good formatting to make the book readable on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.), and then all the promotional costs (advertising, convention appearances, print books for signings/ events, etc.). So self-publishing is great, but it is by no means cheap and easy.
So I hope I answered a few questions anyway. This is by no means a complete list, but I’ve already written two pages and there’s a manuscript over there waiting on me. But just remember this — if writing is in your soul, your soul will find a way. Don’t give up and do it every single day. If it’s what you love, you’re already successful.
Thank you, Lexxxi!
Alexandra also has a new release from Boroughs Publishing. Take a minute to check out NAKED!
Following a brutal act of vengeance, MI:6 agent Macijah St. John is left grieving for his slaughtered family and agrees to participate in a secret government experiment that gives him a magnificent and terrible power. Now he’s a mercenary spy that solves problems for the right price. His latest job puts him in the path of the greatest catastrophe yet—a librarian.
Phoebe Addison’s life is a disaster. Crippling debt, a non-existent social life, and being the town librarian is hardly the glamorous existence she’d always dreamed of. But when her sister Jessica, an interplanetary archeologist, gets herself involved with a psychotic billionaire bent on world domination, Phoe is about to get more excitement than she bargained for.
Boroughs Publishing for Pre-Order: http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/books/naked