<data:blog.pageTitle/>

This Page

has moved to a new address:

http://annerallen.com

Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
----------------------------------------------------- Blogger Template Style Sheet Name: Scribe Designer: Todd Dominey URL: domineydesign.com / whatdoiknow.org Date: 27 Feb 2004 ------------------------------------------------------ */ /* Defaults ----------------------------------------------- */ body { margin:0; padding:0; font-family: Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, sans-serif; font-size: small; text-align:center; color:#29303B; line-height:1.3; background:#483521 url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg.gif") repeat; } blockquote { font-style:italic; padding:0 32px; line-height:1.6; margin:0 0 .6em 0; } p {margin:0;padding:0}; abbr, acronym { cursor:help; font-style:normal; } code {font:12px monospace;white-space:normal;color:#666;} hr {display:none;} img {border:0;} /* Link styles */ a:link {color:#473624;text-decoration:underline;} a:visited {color:#716E6C;text-decoration:underline;} a:hover {color:#956839;text-decoration:underline;} a:active {color:#956839;} /* Layout ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #wrap { background-color:#473624; border-left:1px solid #332A24; border-right:1px solid #332A24; width:700px; margin:0 auto; padding:8px; text-align:center; } #main-top { width:700px; height:49px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_top.jpg") no-repeat top left; margin:0;padding:0; display:block; } #main-bot { width:700px; height:81px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_bot.jpg") no-repeat top left; margin:0; padding:0; display:block; } #main-content { width:700px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_mid.jpg") repeat-y; margin:0; text-align:left; display:block; } } @media handheld { #wrap { width:90%; } #main-top { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } #main-bot { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } #main-content { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } } #inner-wrap { padding:0 50px; } #blog-header { margin-bottom:12px; } #blog-header h1 { margin:0; padding:0 0 6px 0; font-size:225%; font-weight:normal; color:#612E00; } #blog-header h1 a:link { text-decoration:none; } #blog-header h1 a:visited { text-decoration:none; } #blog-header h1 a:hover { border:0; text-decoration:none; } #blog-header p { margin:0; padding:0; font-style:italic; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } div.clearer { clear:left; line-height:0; height:10px; margin-bottom:12px; _margin-top:-4px; /* IE Windows target */ background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat bottom left; } @media all { #main { width:430px; float:right; padding:8px 0; margin:0; } #sidebar { width:150px; float:left; padding:8px 0; margin:0; } } @media handheld { #main { width:100%; float:none; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } #footer { clear:both; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat top left; padding-top:10px; _padding-top:6px; /* IE Windows target */ } #footer p { line-height:1.5em; font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:75%; } /* Typography :: Main entry ----------------------------------------------- */ h2.date-header { font-weight:normal; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; font-size:90%; margin:0; padding:0; } .post { margin:8px 0 24px 0; line-height:1.5em; } h3.post-title { font-weight:normal; font-size:140%; color:#1B0431; margin:0; padding:0; } .post-body p { margin:0 0 .6em 0; } .post-footer { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; color:#211104; font-size:74%; border-top:1px solid #BFB186; padding-top:6px; } .post ul { margin:0; padding:0; } .post li { line-height:1.5em; list-style:none; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/list_icon.gif") no-repeat 0px .3em; vertical-align:top; padding: 0 0 .6em 17px; margin:0; } /* Typography :: Sidebar ----------------------------------------------- */ h2.sidebar-title { font-weight:normal; font-size:120%; margin:0; padding:0; color:#211104; } h2.sidebar-title img { margin-bottom:-4px; } #sidebar ul { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:86%; margin:6px 0 12px 0; padding:0; } #sidebar ul li { list-style: none; padding-bottom:6px; margin:0; } #sidebar p { font-family:Verdana,sans-serif; font-size:86%; margin:0 0 .6em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments {} #comments h4 { font-weight:normal; font-size:120%; color:#29303B; margin:0; padding:0; } #comments-block { line-height:1.5em; } .comment-poster { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/list_icon.gif") no-repeat 2px .35em; margin:.5em 0 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { font-size:100%; margin:0 0 .2em 0; } .comment-timestamp { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; color:#29303B; font-size:74%; margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#473624; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:visited { color:#716E6C; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:hover { color:#956839; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:active { color:#956839; text-decoration:none; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ #profile-container { margin-top:12px; padding-top:12px; height:auto; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat top left; } .profile-datablock { margin:0 0 4px 0; } .profile-data { display:inline; margin:0; padding:0 8px 0 0; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; font-size:90%; color:#211104; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 8px 0 0; border:1px solid #A2907D; padding:2px; } .profile-textblock { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:86%;margin:0;padding:0; } .profile-link { margin-top:5px; font-family:Verdana,sans-serif; font-size:86%; } /* Post photos ----------------------------------------------- */ img.post-photo { border:1px solid #A2907D; padding:4px; } /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { padding:0 0 12px 20px; }

Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

My Photo
Name:

Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, November 29, 2015

25 Gift Ideas For The Writer In Your Life

by Ruth Harris


It is a truth universally acknowledged that no writer ever knows when or where his/her next great idea will strike.

Because of that inconvenient fact, notebooks are essential. Although the back of a grocery receipt or a dry cleaner's ticket will do in an emergency, a notebook will help create order out of the chaos and provides an easily accessible, highly portable record.

Because I have learned to be prepared for the unexpected brainstorm or genius idea, I surround myself with notebooks. On my desk, in the kitchen, on the dining room table, on my night table, in my bag, in pockets, purses and the glove compartment. There is even a notebook in the bathroom for those nights I wake with a "brilliant" idea I absolutely have to write down. By flashlight. So as not to disturb my DH who already knows all too much about what it's like to live with a writer. ;-)

Whether made in the U.S., France, Germany, or Japan, a notebook is a writer's don't-leave-home-without-it essential. Here are some of my faves. Most cost about $10.

Notable notebooks:




"I'm not writing it down to remember it later. I'm writing it down to remember it now." Made in the USA. Field Notes. Also Amazon.



German and superb quality, come in basic black + lipstick red, emerald, dark and light blue and beyond. Acid-free paper, numbered pages, blank toc, 5-star ratings. Find them at Amazon.



I've used Rhodia notebooks for years. Highest quality paper, makes writing a pleasure, come in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. Widely available, I get them at my local stationery store but available from Amazon.



Letts Noteletts Edge have soft, flexible covers, lay-flat binding, and ivory pages with grey rules. Here in dark green, also available in a range of candy colors including yellow, purple, and red.



Kokuyo makes beautifully designed notebooks in a wide range of colors and styles. I found them in a Japanese stationery store in NYC but Amazon has them as does Jetpens.



The great and classic Moleskine usually seen in traditional black but here, in snappy Hermès orange. Amazon



If I were French, I probably would have used these cheerful Clairfontaine notebooks in school. Most decent-quality stationery stores have them as does Amazon



High-quality sketchbooks—Stillman & Birn—also count as essential because sometimes I have to draw a scene before I can write it. I bet I'm not the only one!

If nothing here is exactly what you're looking for, Notebook Stories blog might help you find the perfect solution. Office Supply Geek is another reliable source that might suggest the perfect gift.

Digital notebooks 


They aren't exactly festive but they are necessities—they live in the cloud, synch to all your devices, and they're free! Evernote and Microsoft's One Note are indispensable. My new favorite is Google Keep, perfect for keeping to-do lists and the fleeing ideas you want to jot down quickly in a few words. If the writer in your life doesn't already have these, a few minutes downloading them to his/her computer is a thoughtful—and useful—holiday offering.

For pens to go with notebooks:


Try JetPens and Amazon. From ball points to gel pens, from calligraphy pens to fountain pens, the vast range of colors and point styles from ultra fine to broad, is an obsessive's paradise.

My current faves include the Zebra Sarasa in Forest Green ($1.30 + a wide range of colors) and the UniBall Signo ($2.50 & a choice of 20 irresistible colors) with an ultra fine 0.38 point which makes a 3x5 card seem as big as a football stadium.

The Lamy Safari fountain pen and rollerball (both about $20) are classics and have been long-time personal favorites. They are plastic, therefore lightweight, and the contoured grip is super comfortable for long stretches of writing. They are refillable and come in a range of bright colors + black. I bought mine in yellow! :-)

Writing software makes a thoughtful gift: 


I'm assuming everyone has Word but there are other excellent and well-thought-out alternatives/add-ons.

Atlantis (PC only, about $40) is try-before-you buy, fully-featured word processor. It has a helpful user forum, useful sample documents and templates, will edit existing MSWord docs and turn your documents into epubs. Add-on spellcheck comes in languages from Serbian, Estonian, Turkish and beyond.

Jutoh (Mac and PC, about $40) is fast and flexible and outputs a wide range of file formats. As far as I know, Jutoh is the only one that opens epub files. If the writer in your life has existing epubs and wants to revise, make corrections, or simply update back matter, Jutoh makes the job easy. Join ALLI and get 25% off Jutoh.

Scrivener (Mac and PC, about $45 but discount coupons available) is widely beloved, extremely flexible and customizable, and outputs uploadable files in a range of formats when the book is finished. Gwen Hernandez' Dummies Guide to Scrivener is a great go-along gift. And Scrivener has a Black Friday Sale this weekend only. Grab it today and it's only $25!!

Ulysses (Mac only including iOS) is the new(ish) kid on the block. Elegant, minimal in appearance but fully featured, Ulysses lives in the cloud and is always available on your desktop, tablet, or phone. A try-before-you-buy demo.

Vellum (Mac only with a range of options ranging from $10 to $200) takes the pain out of HTML and CSS and makes formatting easy. Vellum creates beautiful ebooks and mobis, ARCs, box sets, and supports basic word processing.

Anne and I wish all our readers Happy Holidays, Happy Giving—and Happy Receiving! ;-)

by Ruth Harris (@RuthHarrisBooks)

What about you, Scriveners? What's on your list for Santa? What do you buy for the writers in your life? Do you have a favorite notebook or pen? Or do you jot down everything electronically? 

As for ourselves, what we want most for the holidays is a new, more secure, self-hosted blog. We hope (fingers crossed) to see you on our own WordPress site next Sunday! I'll be writing about some of the new scams I see targeting writers right now. I'll tell you how to spot them and stay safe. Some of these scammers have even taken in the pros, including veteran agents...Anne


BOOK OF THE WEEK



A Kiss at Kihali: sweet romance set against the backdrop of African animal rescue

A must-read for animal lovers.


Available at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA, FREE in Kindle Unlimited






Beautiful and inspirational, A KISS AT KIHALI draws on the power of human-animal relationships, the heroic accomplishments of African animal orphanages, and the people, foreign and Kenyan, drawn to careers involving the care and conservation of wild animals. Filled with drama and danger that lead to a happy ending, A KISS AT KIHALI will appeal to readers who love tender romance and who have personally experienced the intense, mystical bond between humans and animals.

"A must-read for anyone who cares about animals and the environment, because what we do to them, we do to ourselves"... bestselling author Sibel Hodge

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


Platypus Press. A new UK small press is looking for literary novels and poetry collections. No agent required. Though your manuscript must be complete, the first three chapters of a novel will suffice when submitting. It must be previously unpublished, but work posted on a blog or personal website is acceptable. Accepts simultaneous submissions

TARTTS SHORT FICTION COLLECTION AWARD $20 ENTRY FEE. Winning short story collection will be published by Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama, in simultaneous library binding and trade paper editions. Winning entry will receive $1,000, plus our standard royalty contract, which includes 100 copies of the book. Author must not have a book of short fiction published at time of entry, though novels are okay. Manuscript length 160-275 pages. Deadline December 31.

Amazon's Little A Poetry Contest.
 This is a brand new thing. NO FEE The contest will be judged by poets Cornelius Eady, Jericho Brown and Kimiko Hahn. The winner will receive $5,000 in prize money and a publishing contract featuring a $2,000 advance with Little A, Amazon Publishing's literary imprint. Poets who have published no more than one book of poetry can submit their full-length collections for consideration to LittleAPoetry@amazon.com. Deadline Dec 20th 2015

The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016.

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Disappearing Amazon Reviews: The Facts Behind Amazon's Review Purges

by Anne R. Allen


So yeah. We're still here on Blogger. Our tech guy's computer died a tragic death with all our new stuff on it. It even happens to the pros. Sigh.

So it looks as if our date for moving to WordPress has to be pushed up to December. Until then, you can still find us right here. 


If you're getting this in your inbox, we will soon have some changes to our mail program as well, so commenting and navigating to the blog will be easier. But right now you can comment by clicking on this link. That will take you here to the actual blog. (You'll know you're in the right place because the background here is green.) Hit the word "comments" at the bottom where it lists the number of comments, and a window will open where you can read the comments and leave one of your own...Anne 


So what's this about missing reviews?


Go to any author forum or social media group for writers and you'll see the plaintive posts:

  • "Help! My Amazon reviews are disappearing."
  • "Amazon rejected my review because they say I 'know' the author. I don't. All I did was friend her on Facebook!"
  • "Amazon has banned my favorite reviewer because they say he got paid for his reviews. He didn't. His blog is on a book blog tour. But they don't pay him a penny."
  • "I offered to give people a free book if they wrote me a review and now all my reviews are gone!"
  • "I got a nasty note from Amazon accusing me of 'manipulating reviews'. I've never done any such thing. I gave reviewers a gift card to buy the book, but they disclosed that."

These sad cries from the Amazon jungle can sound pretty over the top. Is this stuff really happening?

In a word, yes. Amazon has been conducting a review purge.

All review sites remove reviews. According to Forbes, Yelp removes 25% of its reviews. But Amazon has been stepping up the review removal lately and it has been freaking out a lot of authors.

Amazon has a history of periodic review purges, starting with the huge one in 2012 that came after a massive paid review scandal hit the New York Times. 

Another purge happened last May. I wrote a post about it, Why Authors Should Never Pay for Amazon Reader Reviews. Amazon had just sued a number of paid review companies and was in the process of removing all their reviews. In October, the Amazon review police went farther: they sued 1000 individuals who were selling reviews on Fivrr.

"But," sez you, "That has nothing to do with me because I would never pay for a review!"

Thing is, you may have "paid" without knowing it, according to Amazon's complicated interpretation of its review rules.

What is Considered a "Paid Review"?


The following are considered paid reviews according to people I've spoken to who have contacted Amazon on the subject. You can read more at Bookworks from marketing guru Penny Sansevieri, who got her info from an Amazon spokesperson:

1) A review by a book blogger whose blog is part of a paid blog tour, even if the book blogger is not paid. Often only the organizer of the tour gets paid, but the blog review is considered a "paid review," so it can't be posted on Amazon. (Although you can post a quote from it in the "editorial review" section.)

2) A review written in exchange for a gift card.
Even if that card is only in the amount of the price of the book. A reviewer could possibly use the card for purchasing something else.

3) A review written in exchange for another review. Review trading is 100% verboten.

4) A review written in expectation of a free book. A review copy must be given before the review is written or the book will be seen as payment for the review.

5) A review by a person you "know" online. Yes, you read that right. This can be someone who has friended you on Facebook, followed you on Twitter, or has done business with you in a way that's detectable to the Amazon review police.

Wha-a-a-t? Have the Rules Changed?


The "know the author" rule is a new interpretation of Amazon's rules, although the wording of the TOS hasn't actually changed.

Amazon spokespeople say that anybody who knows the author might "benefit financially" from the book's sales, and financial beneficiaries have always been forbidden to review. (I wish I knew how to benefit financially when one of my 873 Facebook friends has a bestseller, but I'm obviously not working this right.)

So how do they determine if you "know" an author, anyway?

They're not telling.

This is the message reviewers are getting from the Zon.

"Hello,

We removed your Customer Reviews because you know the author personally.

Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we do not provide information on how we determine that the accounts are related."


Book marketing  guru Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts explains it this way:

"According to Amazon, family and friends write biased reviews…It may seem unfair but, to be honest, I get where Amazon is coming from here. They want authentic, unbiased reviews. And so do we – the readers. Well-intentioned friends and family might post glowing five-star reviews that merely say: "I loved this book!" While their goals are noble (supporting you!), vague reviews don't help consumers deciding whether to buy your book. As authors, we don’t like getting 2-star reviews, but remember that readers will likely regard a book page with all 5-star reviews as suspicious."

But this doesn't keep authors from being pretty upset, since most publishers require that we have social media accounts exactly so that we can become "friends" with our readers and fans.

There's a petition going around at Change.org asking Amazon to change this new "know the author" policy, but it doesn't seem to have gone very far. I think most authors are afraid to sign for fear of retaliation from the review police.

Where does this New Rule Interpretation Come From?


Did Amazon hire a bunch of new employees to sit around all day policing reviews?

That seems unlikely, but they do respond to customer complaints. (And remember that as an author you are not a customer. You are a vendor.)

Unfortunately, some of their most loudly complaining customers are the anti-author vigilantes who haunt the Amazon fora, BookLikes and Goodreads. I wrote about them in my 2013 post, The Laws of the Amazon Jungle. You do NOT want to get on the wrong side of these folks.

A few badly behaving authors gaming the system have ruined things for everybody. And these vigilantes can be seriously scary. They've sent me death threats just because they didn't like one of my blogposts.

To me, Amazon's use of unhinged vigilantes to police their site is up there with the Rolling Stones' decision to ask the Hell's Angels to provide security at Altamont. But hey, they didn't ask my opinion, and Amazon is a private company. It's their circus and their monkeys and they can do whatever the heck they want.

So What Should Authors Do?


1) Do not trade or buy reviews.

Just don't. No matter how many authors do it. Or how many of them say you "owe" them a review because they reviewed you. Or how much they spam you with whiny newsletters.

While I'm on the subject: STOP SENDING FELLOW AUTHORS NEWSLETTERS THEY DID NOT SUBSCRIBE TO!!! I am beginning to sympathize with the vigilantes on this. The fact that you've read a blog or book does not mean the bloggers or authors owe you anything.  Ruth and I love all our readers and subscribers, but we have 24-hour days just like other people. We get up to 100,000 hits per month. We cannot read and review the deathless prose of all those people. We need to work and sleep and have lives just the way you do.

Unfortunately some newbie authors have been told there's a rule that says reviews, sales, and newsletters should always involve a quid pro quo. This is simply not true—and it can put you in serious trouble with the Zon.

The problem is compounded by the writers who don't happen to have been hit by a review purge and refuse to believe any of this is happening.

I still get Tweets and Facebook DMs from authors asking to trade reviews. I've been invited to join groups that are formed for the sole purpose of trading reviews. I tell them politely they're violating Amazon's rules. They ignore me.

When I warned the editor of an anthology about the new policy, a fellow contributor called me a liar in a nasty group email. She said she and her fellow contributors review each other all the time and nobody has ever caught her so nobody ever will. (Change apparently does not happen on her planet.)

People like this are the reason we have vigilantes.

NOTE: If another author happens to like your work, instead of a review trade, ask them for a quote you can put in the "editorial reviews" section of your buy page. Editorial reviews usually carry more weight with readers, anyway.

2) Accept that nothing entitles you to a review. 


Sending a reader or blogger a copy of your book—even a hard copy—does not entitle you to a review. This is a sore spot with a lot of reviewers. Even if they agree to review your book, the fact you sent them a copy does not mean they HAVE to review. They may hate your book. Or they lost interest. Do you really want that on your buy page?

If somebody you have given a book does not write a review, they are probably doing you a favor. Hounding them or demanding a review will very likely backfire. And getting your peeps to gang up on a reviewer who doesn't like your book is always going to make YOU look bad.

Reviewers who have been hounded or bullied by authors sometimes turn into vigilantes. See how that works?

3)  Expect more purges

Smart authors will pay attention: there's a new marshal in Amazon territory and he's going after the varmints who pay for reviews.

Just because you've been getting away with something doesn't mean you always will. Unfortunately, ignorance of the rules is not an excuse in the Amazon justice system.

According to uber-reviewer Big Al, there's more to come after the Fivrr lawsuits. Writing at Indies Unlimited in October Big Al said:

"Amazon isn't just looking to shut down these reviewers, but also identify their clients. The repercussions for that may go beyond just removal of the reviews. Conceivably they could go as far as to remove the seller and his or her products from Amazon."

With this new lawsuit, there will be more removals. Maybe the biggest review purge of all. The problem is, as Al points out, that a lot of legit reviews get thrown out with the bathwater. If you lose reviews, it's almost impossible to have them put back.

4) Save copies of Amazon reviews and post them to more than one site.

Sometimes, reviews evaporate for no discernable reason. Penny Sansevieri says sometimes they will come back just as mysteriously, but usually they don't.

This has certainly happened to me. When a book gets republished by a new publisher, often reviews fall away, never to return. So it's a good idea to always save copies of your reviews. I wish I had.

Another thing we can all do is post reviews we write to iTunes, Smashwords, Google Play, B & N or Kobo. You can also use review sites like Goodreads and Shelfari

That way reviews won't be lost forever if they disappear due to algorithm changes or review purges—and Amazon won't have the only review game in town.

Maybe someday somebody will start up a BookBub type newsletter that says. "50 five-star reviews on iTunes" instead of Amazon. BookBub itself says it prefers books that are available on multiple platforms, so maybe they'll pay attention to other platform reviews.

But we have to post them first!

5) Don't stop asking for reviews, but be ethical.


Penny Sansevieri thinks there's nothing wrong with asking online friends and fans to write a review but we need to keep in mind that Amazon may pull it.

That's kind of my feeling too. I don't see anything unethical in asking people who know you—especially people who get to "know" you on social media because they like your work—to review your book. Fans don't always offer mindless praise. They often say "this isn't up to her usual standard" or "I liked book one better" or whatever. At least mine do.

Unfortunately, it's human nature to be more vocal with complaints than praise, so if we have to depend entirely on first-time readers who have never heard of us, reviews will be skewed on the negative side—if we get any reviews at all.

Authors have always reviewed other authors. It's a tradition as old as publishing. They are not always kind to each other. In fact many have been remarkably snarky. I'll be talking about that in future post.

For a good rundown of what is considered ethical reviewing, see the code of ethics for reviewers at Novel Finds.

6) Report abuse when you see it. 


When you see a misleading, unethical, or inappropriate review on a retail site, click the button for reporting abuse. It's easy. Every review on Amazon has a line below that says "was this review helpful to you?" followed by "yes" and "no" buttons and another saying "report abuse."

Amazon listens to its customers. But the complaints have to reach critical mass.

But What about Amazon's OTHER Review Problem?


The plaintive cries from authors aren't just about missing reviews. You also see a lot of stuff like this:

  • "I have 30 one-star reviews on my barbeque cookbook. They're all from PETA activists who say meat is murder…and Amazon won't remove them."
  • "My stalker ex-boyfriend had his friends leave a bunch of one-star reviews on my buy page saying my book is terrible. It's obvious none of them has read it. Amazon says the 'reviews' don't break any of their rules."
  • "I got a one-star review from a guy who left the same one-star review on 52 different books: 'I didn't read this book. I bought it for my wife'. I complained to Amazon, but it's still there."

Epic Fantasy author William L. Hahn pondered Amazon's review issues at The Independent Bookworm recently. He acknowledges, "Amazon appears to be cracking down on paid reviews and I think most of us would cheer that idea."

But he brings up the other BIG problem with Amazon reviews: 

"ignorant, hateful, racist/sexist/ageist trolls can come crashing through an author page and wreck the place with no penalty whatsoever. Just scratch up $3 of sourdough money to buy the first title: download, write a one-star/one-line review, then return the book. Get all your money back, while your review stays up naming you as a 'Qualified Reviewer' forever! Use the same money to lather-rinse-repeat through every title, just because the author’s a woman, or dared to praise Reagan, or said something nice on Facebook about the football team you hate."

Amazon is plagued by review trolls, revenge reviews and "reviews" by people with political and personal agendas that have nothing to do with the book.

There was a particularly nasty example of this recently:

A book by the mother of a child murdered in a school shooting was attacked by a group of conspiracy-theory loonies who claim there's no such thing as a school shooting.

Their "reviews" claim all those gun rampages are hoaxes and phony "drills" staged by mean (and remarkably clever) people who want to make the "happiness is a warm gun" community feel bad.

Yeah, I didn't know these guys existed either. The delusions of conspiracy theorists get more amazing every day.

But what makes this stuff even worse is that these people are free to torment a bereaved mother with impunity—and they use Amazon to perpetuate the cray-cray. The last time I checked, the toxic reviews libeling the mother were still there.

It doesn't make sense to me that Amazon would want its store to be used as a vehicle for spreading the propaganda of violent extremists. Amazon is a private company so the Constitutional right of "free speech" does not apply.

So I assume not enough customers are complaining.

People may not be reporting abuse because the mother's book is selling well and she has a 5-star rating. The nutjobs have probably done a lot to draw attention to her book and boost her sales and draw sympathetic reviews.

But at what cost?

If this stuff bothers you, you need to keep complaining until Amazon is as eager to remove phony "reviews" by people with personal and political agendas—who have obviously not read a book—as they are to block an author's social media contacts.

Unfortunately, Amazon spokespeople have stated that they do NOT require a reviewer to have read any of the books they review. That's how famously prolific Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner (RIP) managed to "review" up to ten books a day, year after year.

Personally, I think if a retail site wants their reviews to be helpful to customers, they would be smart to weed out ALL misleading reviews, not just the positive ones.

But as I said, the Mighty Zon doesn't come to me for advice.

Note: Squeaky wheels get the grease. If you want Amazon to change their policies, pro-author voices have to be as loud as the anti-author ones. (But report abuse as a customer, not as an author.)

If—as a reader—you feel misled by reviewers who don't read the books they review, say so. If enough people complain, they may change their policy. Amazon really does believe the customer is always right and will go out of their way to please customers. (I had a great experience with Amazon customer service just this week when a cancellation by a vendor meant I wasn't eligible for free shipping and they gave it to me anyway.)

Amazon's Upcoming Review Changes


Amazon has reported there will be more changes to the review algorithms in 2016. They are introducing a new policy where verified purchase reviews will have more weight, as will more recent reviews.

Unfortunately, this doesn't solve the problem of the system gamers Mr. Hahn mentions, who buy a book, get "verified" then return it without reading.

But as I said, it's the Zon's circus.

I say we should go ahead and review according to our own ethics. (I personally believe in reading a book before reviewing it, and I'm going to continue to follow that rule.) 

But be aware that if you write a review of a book by somebody you "know" on social media, some vigilante may report you to the Zon police and the review will go away.

So post reviews on more than one platform and ALWAYS report abuse when you see it.

What about you, Scriveners? Have you lost any reviews recently? Have your reviews been rejected with one of these "you know the author" messages? Have you ever had an author demand a review from you because they reviewed your book? Do you think it's ethical to review somebody you "know" online? How do you react when you see a review that's obviously written by somebody who never opened the book? 


BOOK OF THE WEEK


THE BEST REVENGE: Only 99c this week!

30 weeks on Amazon's Humor Bestseller list!

Read how it all began!

The prequel to the Camilla Randall Mysteries.

We meet Camilla and Plantagenet in the big-hair, pastel-suited 1980s. In this satirical romp, a spoiled 1980s debutante comes of ageand discovers strengths nobody knew she hadwhen she loses everything. The story takes her from the doors of Studio 54 to the coke-fueled parties of Southern California to a cell in the L.A. County Jail accused of murder. We know she didn't do it, but who did?




The Best Revenge is 99c at Amazon and Nook. (Also available at Smashwords, Apple, Kobo at $2.99.)

This book has been with four different publishers, and each time it gets re-published, most of its reviews disappear (and somehow never the trollish ones.) I don't think this is punishment for anything. Just tech glitches. I see today that the UK site has a new tech glitch: metadata from the 2005 edition has been substituted for the current metadata. I hope Author Central UK will be able to help. Anyway, if you happen to read it and like it, a review would be much appreciated. I don't think simply reading an author's blog labels you as "friends and family" so you can review without fear of being deleted. 


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS



Amazon's Little A Poetry Contest. This is a brand new thing. NO FEE The contest will be judged by poets Cornelius Eady, Jericho Brown and Kimiko Hahn. The winner will receive $5,000 in prize money and a publishing contract featuring a $2,000 advance with Little A, Amazon Publishing's literary imprint. Poets who have published no more than one book of poetry can submit their full-length collections for consideration to LittleAPoetry@amazon.com. Deadline Dec 20th 2015

Platypus Press. A new UK small press is looking for literary novels and poetry collections. No agent required. Your book must be previously unpublished, but work posted on a blog or personal website is acceptable. They want to see your first three chapters (but the book must be complete). Simultaneous submissions accepted.

The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016.

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Catherine Ryan Hyde on Rejection: Does Your Rejected Work Need a Rewrite?


Rejections. We all get them. In fact, there are only two things we can absolutely count on in the writing business: rejections and bad reviews.

There's no doubt rejections make us feel terrible. As Brian Doyle wrote in Portland Magazine and was quoted in Letters of Note, "To receive one is to instantly and all at once have one's hopes dashed, confidence thinned, and mood dampened."

They devastate us all, no matter where we are in our career. But we have to be careful not to let them derail our careers, or mess with a perfectly good manuscript.

We have to remember a rejection usually reflects only one person's opinion, which doesn't mean anything about its quality.

Agent Pam Howell once told me, "I hate white chocolate, so if you send me white chocolate, I'll reject it. But that doesn't mean it's bad white chocolate."

Think of it this way: if your work is strong enough to get a positive emotional response from one reader, it will trigger a negative response in another. People are different. No artist can please all of the people all of the time.

The truth is, any writer who hasn't received a rejection or a bad review is simply a beginner who hasn't tried to publish anything.

At the Central Coast Writers Conference in September, we all got a big wake-up call from a panel of highly successful screenwriters: it turns out novelists have it EASY. We only get rejected by agents and editors and the occasional reviewer. Screenwriters get rejected hourly—by the actors, the director, the producer, even the gaffer...and of course, the writer who's been brought in to "fix" your script. Everybody working on a picture is always asking for rewrites.

That helped us put things in perspective.

And the truth is the more successful authors are, the more rejections and bad reviews they'll have racked up. Superstar author Catherine Ryan Hyde has a ton. She's the author of  28 (and a half) books. She's had one made into a major motion picture, and she's hit the bestseller lists at the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon. She's a true "hybrid" author who was published by the Big 5 for decades (S & S, Knopf, and Doubleday), then went indie, then landed in what might be the sweet spot in publishing today, Amazon imprints (Lake Union, Encore and Crossing.) 

She's even been the #1 author on Amazon—knocking J.K. Rowling off her perch at #1 in the Cuckoo's Calling summer of 2013.

So when you want to find out what rejection really means, Catherine can give us the skinny. And it turns out it doesn't mean all that much.

I know so many good writers who decide they need to entirely rewrite their books after a few rejections, or they dump a story in a drawer and never look at it again because it failed to find a home or hook an agent after a few tries. 

Some writers even keep their work buried in their files forever, saying they need to give it "one more polish" because they are so fearful of rejection. 

But if you accept that rejection is part of the process, that it's totally subjective, and that you need to collect a whole lot of them before you'll get a "yes", you're much more likely to succeed

...Anne

When Pay It Forward Was Rejected

by Catherine Ryan Hyde


This is one of my better rejection stories.

I'm not patting myself on the back here. I'm not suggesting that I just love the way I tell this story. It's more that I have a rating system for rejection stories. The more they completely redefine rejection, the better I like them.

So this is a good one, in my opinion.

This is the one about the agent—not just any agent but my agent at the time—who rejected Pay It Forward.

I was already under contract with her for Walter's Purple Heart, which she had sent out many times, to many rejections. I had already shown her Funerals for Horses (to which she responded, "I love this, but it doesn't work." I'd shed light on that comment if I had any). And now, contractually, I had to show her Pay It Forward when I finished writing it.

But I should mention that I had another agent at the time. Yes, another one. You see, technically, if my agent passes on a novel, I have a right to seek representation for it elsewhere. And I had been approached by a younger, newer, hungrier agent who had read one of my stories in a small literary magazine. (Take notice of this scriveners! You know how I'm always telling you to keep writing short stories? This might happen...Anne.)

Agent #2 was enthusiastic about representing me. Enough so to be willing to take on Funerals for Horses without first right of refusal on any of my other works. And Agent #1 confirmed, with only the slightest prickle in her tone, that so long as I was doing so with full disclosure, I did have that right.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ever heard it said that an author's relationship with an agent is something like a marriage? I always took it to mean that you plunge in thinking life will be beautiful from here on out and in less than a year you've deteriorated into arguing over who has to take out the trash. 

To the extent that having an agent is something like having a spouse, having two agents is a bit like bigamy. You spend a lot of time telling one or the other that she is the only one you truly love, that the other agent means nothing to you. (It was one book. It meant nothing.) As my relationship with Agent #1 began to fray, I could always make Agent #2 laugh by saying, "My other agent doesn't understand me."

Of course, I wanted to give Pay It Forward to my agent who understood me. But I couldn't. She didn't have the "first right of refusal" contract.

I mailed the manuscript to Agent #1 and waited. She called me and left a message. It said, "We need to talk."

Have you ever noticed that after people say, "We need to talk," they never go on to share any good news? Ever? I've noticed that. And I thought maybe you had, too.

I wish she had sent me this in a letter. I would have saved it. And we'd have a merry little laugh over it now.

Short version: she hated it.

She asked me why all the people in it had to be "so awful." I told her I didn’t think Trevor, Reuben and Arlene were awful. She admitted that perhaps awful was the wrong word, but noted that everybody had something wrong with them. They all had problems. (Unlike life, I was thinking, where nobody ever has any issues.) She asked me why nice people couldn't pay it forward to other nice people. (Should I even comment? No. Too easy.)

She got angry because she said I wasn't listening to her suggestions on taking it apart and putting it back together. She was right. I wasn't. Because I knew I wasn't going to take it apart and put it back together. Because I didn't think it was broken.

I asked her to send it, and Walter's Purple Heart, back home to me. And I gave them to Agent #2, who had never sold anybody's first fiction. She went on to make me her first. She and her partner-husband sold my first five novels and three movie deals—including selling Pay It Forward to Simon & Schuster and Warner Brothers films—without revision.

Maybe you think the point of the story is that Agent #1 was wrong. But the point of the story is that there really is no right and wrong in fiction. She didn't like it. That's her prerogative. But I'm awfully glad I didn't believe her, get discouraged, and slide it into a drawer.

Next time you get a rejection, picture the manuscript of Pay It Forward gathering dust in one of my desk drawers. And assume that the next person you ask may offer a wildly different opinion.

...Catherine Ryan Hyde


What about you, scriveners? Have you let rejection get you down? Do you rush to revise your book every time somebody rejects it or tells you it needs to be "fixed"? Are you hiding work in your files because it got rejected a few times? How do you deal with rejection?

Many thanks to Catherine for holding down the fort while I recover from dental implant surgery. For more on rejection from an editor's point of view, see Ruth Harris's post 10 REAL Reasons Your Book Was Rejected.

You can find me on Louise Wise's Wise Words this week.
You can read an excerpt from So Much for Buckingham. It's Camilla Mystery #5, in which the Manners Doctor forgets her manners and responds to an Amazon review of her etiquette guide. Mayhem and murder (and hilarity) ensue.

And don't forget that by next week we should be moved to our new WordPress blog
. Keep your fingers crossed. If you subscribe, the blog you get in your inbox should be from the new site. If you follow by rss feed, you may have to click through from this one...Anne


BOOK OF THE WEEK


It goes up to $3.99 on November 20th
It's only on sale in the US and the UK, alas. 
(The Zon's policy, not ours.) 

HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE
by Anne R. Allen and #1 bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde



Not just for indies, and not just for authors going the traditional route. This is the book that helps you choose what path is right for YOU.
Plus there's lots of insider information on using social media and dealing with critiques, bullies, trolls, and rejection.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS



Amazon's Little A Poetry Contest.
 This is a brand new thing. NO FEE The contest will be judged by poets Cornelius Eady, Jericho Brown and Kimiko Hahn. The winner will receive $5,000 in prize money and a publishing contract featuring a $2,000 advance with Little A, Amazon Publishing's literary imprint. Poets who have published no more than one book of poetry can submit their full-length collections for consideration to LittleAPoetry@amazon.com. Deadline Dec 20th 2015

The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016.

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.


Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 8, 2015

5 More Delusions That Can Block a Writer's Success


We have some big changes coming to the blog

As a lot of you know, I like Blogger. It's user-friendly and it works just fine for most author-bloggers. (Although sometimes the Blogger elves make commenting tough for readers with blogs on other platforms. Tech wars can be brutal.)

But a freebie Blogspot blog isn't very safe when  you have a lot of traffic. And we have had as many as 105,000 hits a month this year. And this has made us a target for a major number of hackers and pirates. Google Alerts finds content from this site on dozens of blogs every week.

Then last month, I logged in and found our content gone. 

When I went to the "home" page, it was empty. A message said "this content is no longer available".

I went numb. I had no idea what to do. I went on Facebook and had a meltdown.

Serendipitously, a tech expert who has guested for us here saw my lament. Johnny Base of SEO Evolution, who wrote one of our most popular guest posts of 2013, left a comment on my desperate Facebook post telling me to phone him.

I did and he restored the blog within hours. Yeah. He's that good.

But he told me the content wasn't safe on a freebie Blogger blog now we were on the radar of pirates. He said I needed to move to WordPress and a self-hosted site.

Then I found all the content on a weird Portuguese site where the only content was this blog and the Bible, both in English. Yeah. I may seem to play God on this blog sometimes but I really never saw myself up there with the Almighty in the book department. After all, the Bible is the bestselling book of all time. Ha!

So I figured it was time to make the move. With Johnny's help we hope to launch the new blog on our new site with WordPress on November 22. There are bound to be glitches, but most of you should be able to find it with the old urls.

If you subscribe with MailChimp, you should get the blog in your inbox as usual. If you want to comment on the blog, just click on the header and it should take you to the new blog just the way it takes you to this one now..

But for our Blogger "followers" you may have to click through from the Blogger blog to the new one. Just one more step. I hope it will all go smoothly. We'll leave this blog up with a message and a link to click through to the new blog.

So next week you'll still find us herewith a great guest post from literary superstar Catherine Ryan Hyde, who's going to be talking about rejections and how we ALL get them. Yes. Even her iconic novel Pay it Forward was rejected...by her own agent.

But the following week, November 22nd, you should find the blog transformed into a WordPress blog on our own self-hosted site. I'll be talking about some of the biggest scams that are targeting new authors these daysand how to stay safe...Anne


5 More Delusions that can Block Writing Success

by Anne R. Allen


Last week I wrote about five delusions that can keep a new writer from professional success. I admit to succumbing to most of them myself at one time or another.

Writers need to be a little delusional to embark on a road that we know is fraught with obstacles. It's the only way we can keep our spirits up for the long haul. We shouldn't think of them as mistakes, but rather stages we need to go through. But the time comes when we have to let the delusions go or our careers will come to a dead halt.

The first five delusions I discussed in last week's post are:
  1. Expecting Instant Success
  2. Getting Stuck on the Query-go-Round
  3. Obsessing about Marketing
  4. Signing the First Contract You're Offered
  5. Chasing Trends
Here are five more:

6) Expecting Success to Find You


Lots of brilliant writers settle into a comfort zone after their first few successes and never try to climb to the next rung of the ladder. Often they secretly believe someone is going to "discover" them through a local writing contest or a small literary magazine. And yes, that has happened in a tiny percentage of careers, but it's not all that likely

If you enter and place in the same small contests every year and publish stories in the same handful of little magazines, you can feel pretty comfy. You don't get any of those depressing rejections and hey, you're a winner!

Unfortunately, nobody but the three judges of the contest and the twelve subscribers to the litzine are likely to see your work. The chances of Oprah coming through town the day your heart-rending vignette about the death of your pet gerbil gets published on the local paper are really kind of slim. (It's okay. We all have those fantasies.)

Other writers expect success even though they never quite manage to send their work anywhere. They'll read the same manuscript to a critique group for a decade or keep rewriting first chapters of books they never finish.

I've met people at writers' conferences who always bring the same chapter of the same book to the workshops, year after year, as if they expect some publisher to sit in the workshop, recognize greatness, and swoop them off and offer a contract. They pitch the book to every agent they meet, but never send them the manuscript because they can't figure out an ending.

Reality Check: Face your fears and accept that getting rejected is part of the process. You'll never get to "yes" until you've had a lot of "no's".

Look at the "opportunity alerts" at the bottom of this column. Submit to a new magazine. Enter a contest with higher stakes. Finish that novel!

7) Imagining that Writing Narrative Requires No Training


We've all met newbie writers who say stuff like: "Why should I have to study writing? I read all the time and I edit our One Direction fan club newsletter. I'm a great speller. So I can write a novel, no prob."

They don't understand that writing narrative is an intricate, specialized craft that needs to be learned though lots of study, trial and error. Very few people can "just write" and produce a readable manuscript without feedback.

Don't be embarrassed if you recognize yourself here. I had this delusion, big time. I worked on a novel for years without showing a word to anybody. I thought I should finish it first, so I just kept going. I knew I could write fiction because I spent all my spare time reading it.

What I didn't realize is that simply reading a lot of novels doesn't teach you to write them any more than eating a lot of sandwiches teaches you to bake bread.

I didn't expect to be able to crochet a scarf or play the piano without some kind of instruction. So why did I think I could write a novel in a total vacuum?

At least I wised up after a few years. Some people spend decades flailing around writing badly rather than pay a few bucks for a workshop or a book on plotting or structure or joining a critique group.

Then there are the newbie writers who think they can hire an editor to magically turn a bunch of random pages into a coherent novel. Anybody who's worked as a freelance editor has had to deal with a few of these. It's amazing when you see the horror on their faces when it dawns on them that learning to write a novel or memoir involves more than just spilling your thoughts on a page.

Reality Check: Take a writing class or workshop and buy a few books on writing. Nathan Bransford has a good one called How to Write a Novel for only $4.99 and James Scott Bell's popular SuperStructure is only $2.99. Or try Dr. John Yeoman's How Did the Author Do That, also $4.99, which takes a novel and analyzes how all the parts work. (It's a fun novel to read, too!)  Or try classics like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder or How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey.

8) Living in the Last Millennium


Some writers' minds are so filled with images of Jacqueline Susann-style book-signing tours that they don't learn to do the things that successful authors do in the Internet age.

I know writers who treat online marketing as a fad to be ignored, so every year they launch a new paper book with a signing party at a local bookstore, announced by an ad in the hometown newspaper, or postcards sent to a local mailing list.

The same ten people come. Every year. Ten people who would have bought the book anyway. Nobody else has heard of these authors, because they don't have websites and consider themselves "above" social media.

You Google them and nothing comes up but the picture from the local paper when they helped raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

If they're with a traditional small or midsized press, they may have an ebook, but they don't know how to get online reviews or set up an Amazon author page, so their ebook ranks at about #7,891,000 in the Kindle store.

Or they self-publish with a vanity press and put tons of money into a hardcover novel that nobody can afford, "because that's how you get reviewed." (That was true 20 years ago. Not so now.)

Reality Check: Join the 21st century. It may seem scary, but if I can do it, anybody can. Take baby steps. Get a friend or relative to help you set up a simple website, fill out your Amazon author page and start commenting on blogs.

You've made a start by reading this. Frances CaballoMolly Greene, Chris Syme, and Kristen Lamb also give top-notch info on how to use social media on their blogs. Pick up Chis Syme's Smart Social Media For Authors, Molly's Blog it!, Kristen Lamb's Rise of the Machines or, umHow to be a Writer in the E-Age by yours truly and Amazon #1 author Catherine Ryan Hyde.

9) Insisting that Literature "Shouldn't" be a Business


I meet a lot of writers who seem to think the writing life is a perpetual high school English class where there are gold stars for everybody. They are offended when publishers and agents are "mercenary" or "only out for money" or won't work with them just because they're belligerent and unpleasant. ("What about free speech?!")

Newsflash: people don't run businesses in order to lose money. Not everybody can live off the Bank of Dad forever.

And the right to "free speech" says you won't be arrested for saying nasty things in public (unless of course it can be proved to be libelous.) What it doesn't say there will be absolutely no consequences for saying those things.

A business partnership is like a marriage. The parties have to be compatible. Nobody has a "right" to an agent or publisher anymore than anybody has a "right" to a spouse.

Do note: I don't want to put down people with private incomes who prefer to write as amateurs. Some of our greatest writers and poets did not write for money (Emily Dickinson comes to mind). Writing can be a fantastic, fulfilling hobby.

But if you want to make a living as a writer, you have to learn how the business works. And act like a grown-up.

You wouldn't try to open a restaurant if you'd never worked in one, but most new writers are as naive as I was about learning about the business they're trying to enter.

Reality check: Give up the magical fairy god-agent fantasy. If you want to go the agent route, read the archives of Jane Friedman's blog, or Nathan Bransford's, subscribe to (free) Publisher's Lunch and follow a few agents on Twitter. BookEnds Literary Agency has revived their blog recently, and Janet Reid still dispenses great information on her blog.

If you'd rather work with a small press, check out Poets and Writers or Authors Publish Magazine, which has a FREE newsletter that lists small presses that don't require agents.

Or pick up a solid book on self-publishing like Jessica Bell's Self-Publish Your Book and go indie. Lots of very successful writers have.

10) Not Reading (especially in your genre)


This is a biggie. I'm amazed at people who claim to want to be writers, but when you ask them what they're reading they go totally blank.

Or they’ll mention a bestseller of a decade ago as the last book they read. Or they say they read nothing but classics—which you strongly suspect they haven't read since college. Or they say they don't read because "there's nothing good out there."

It's awfully hard to write a novel today's readers are going to like if you haven't read anything published since On the Road. And it's impossible to write something contemporary Romance/Mystery/Thriller readers will enjoy if you don't read (and love) those genres.

Stephen King said, "Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write."

Reality Check: Make time for reading every day. Especially new books in your genre. Consider it part of your writing routine. If you'd rather watch "Dancing with the Stars" or play a videogame, ask yourself why you want to be a writer. Are you following some delusion? Or your Mom's? Would you rather be designing videogames or fabulous dance costumes?

Guess what? There's nothing wrong with that.

And it probably pays better.

Writing is the most wonderful profession in the world if it's what you love. But there are no shortcuts and the pay is pretty lousy for all but a handful of superstars. If you'd rather be doing something else, let go of the delusions.

Life's too short to be doing something you don't love. Follow your bliss, wherever it takes you.


What about you, scriveners? Can you think of any more delusions we should warn people about? What delusions held you back when you were starting out? 


BOOK OF THE WEEK


9 Months on Amazon's Humor Bestseller list!
Now only $3.99

The first three books in the hilarious Camilla series for 99c each!

GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY #1 in the series: Camilla meets a bogus agent, a hot cop and a ghostly killer at a California Writer's Conference. SHERWOOD LTD #2 Camilla runs into a gang of outlaws at an unorthodox UK publishing house near the real Sherwood Forest. and THE BEST REVENGE #3, the prequel, which takes Camilla and Plantagenet back to the "greed is good" 1980s, when Camilla is accused of killing a pastel-wearing, coked-up TV star.






The Camilla Randall Mysteries Box set is available at all the AmazonsKoboiTunes,SmashwordsInkteraNOOK, and Scribd.

If you've been thinking of taking a look at my loopy, but oh-so-polite sleuth's misadventures with murder, mayhem and Mr.Wrong, here's a chance to read the first three cheap.

"The Best Revenge, Ghost Writers in the Sky and Sherwood Limited are hysterical. Anne Allen will keep you laughing throughout, but in the meantime she dabbles her fingers in some topics worth some serious thought: sexism, weightism, lechery, murder, duplicity, homelessness & poverty to name a few. If you love to laugh, you'll like these three books. If you love to think, ponder AND laugh, be ready to fall in love"... C.S. Perryess aka the Wordmonger


OPPORTUNITY ALERTS


Amazon's Little A Poetry Contest.  A Biggie. This is a brand new thing. The contest will be judged by poets Cornelius Eady, Jericho Brown and Kimiko Hahn. The winner will receive $5,000 in prize money and a publishing contract featuring a $2,000 advance with Little A, Amazon Publishing’s literary imprint. Poets who have published no more than one book of poetry can submit their full-length collections for consideration to LittleAPoetry@amazon.com. Deadline Dec 20th 2015

The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

Win $$$ and BEER!! SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST  $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016. 

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann
. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin$25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th 2015

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1, 2015.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

The 16th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. $20 Fee. 1500 words. $3,000 prize, plus publication in Writer’s Digest and a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference. Deadline: November 16, 2015

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, November 1, 2015

5 Delusions That Block Writers from Professional Success

by Anne R. Allen


We writers tend to get a tad delusional about our own work. Most of us know the average writer doesn't make great money, but we secretly believe our own efforts will bring us fabulous fame and fortune.

When we start out, we can't help visualizing our books leapfrogging over all the usual obstacles and soaring up the New York Times  bestseller list (perhaps as our faces appear on the cover of Time.)

Don't be embarrassed. The delusions are necessary. If we accepted the reality of how hard it is to make a living as a writer, we'd never get that first sentence on the page.

But those delusions—and the fear of losing the comfort they bring—can keep a fledgling career stuck in Fantasyland.

They did for me.

I was sure I didn't have to learn the business side of things. I'd have a magical fairy god-agent to deal with all the boring stuff.

I started out with a couple of lucky breaks that unfortunately fed my delusions.

I landed an agent with a prestigious agency with my first query letter. And when he left the agency a few months later, I got another just as fabulous. Easy peasy.

Then, while the book was out on submission, I successfully published a second novel as a serial in an entertainment weekly with a substantial circulation. (I got paid per episode and made more money with that novel than my next two combined.)

But the first novel failed to sell and my second agent dropped me. Instead of capitalizing on my successful serial, I frantically tried to get another agent for the same book that had been shopped around by the first two.

Bad move. No agent wants to take on something that's already been rejected everywhere.

Another bad move: I started working on a huge, ambitious novel that took me five years to write instead of putting out more short stories and building up my publishing portfolio. I also disdained nonfiction. I didn't want to be a magazine feature writer.

I was a NOVELIST, dammit!!

But I didn't know that becoming a professional novelist takes a lot more than good fiction writing skills. You also need to learn to write good advertising copy, personal essays, and solid nonfiction pieces.

Plus you need to learn about the publishing business.

And it is a business. A life of creating art for art's sake is a lovely plan for an amateur with a secure independent income, but if you want to go pro, you have to learn the business side of publishing.

But I failed to study any of it and I let myself get stuck for years on the query-go-round with my old, rejected book, while I wrote and rewrote my magnum opus. I entered a few local writing contests, but didn't start submitting stories in a businesslike way. I got a couple more agents, but they couldn't sell my shopworn book.

People kept telling me to join RWA to find out the ins and outs of the industry (excellent advice, by the way), but I didn't see myself as a romance writer. Instead I signed with a small publisher in the UK that was trying to branch out from erotica into mainstream fiction. It involved getting to travel to England, so I'll never entirely regret my choice, but it didn't lead to financial success.

When I got one of the biggest breaks in my career, I didn't even recognise it as such. It came when a friend found an ad in a literary magazine for columnists for a Canadian writing zine called Inkwell Newswatch. She urged me to submit a writing sample (Thanks, Dorothy Segovia!) I wrote my first nonfiction article ever, got the job, and discovered I was pretty good at this nonfiction stuff.

It didn't feel like a big break at the time because I was deep in delusional fantasies of making it big with my second novel, even though by then my UK publisher was foundering. I put tons of energy into launching the book, but the company was soon to go belly-up.

What kept my career afloat? My little columns and articles in magazines and eventually, when the Newswatch closed its doors, this blog.

Here are some delusion-driven things I did that I still see going on with a lot of beginning writers today.

But hey, I made the mistakes so you don't have to...


1) Taking an Endless Ride on the Query-Go-Round


People who get stuck for years in query hell are often suffering from that "magical fairy god-agent" fantasy that kept me back for so long.

I'm not saying the query process isn't a long, tough slog. Getting an agent takes a lot of querying and not everybody is cut out for self-publishing. (And the most successful self-publishers have agents, too.)

But we need to keep learning and publishing short pieces and writing more books during the query process.

Otherwise we can end up endlessly going nowhere on the query-go-round. That's what happened to me.

I think I developed an addiction to the high you get with that request for a partial...then maybe a full...and then the fantasies you weave while waiting...and waiting...only to have your hopes dashed a year later when you get the form rejection that says nothing. (Agents are very cagy these days. Their rejections are crafted to say nothing but "no thanks." And more and more, they reject with silence. Unfortunately, they've learned that any feedback at all can draw angry retaliation from crazed newbies.)

Other writers get stuck on the query-go-round because they never take the time to learn to write a proper query and synopsis. They're relying on the brilliance of their work to hook the agent. They keep sending out the same letter that calls their work a "fiction novel" and addresses the agent as "To Whom it May Concern" and brags how their book is so much better than "all the crap out there." Their synopsis is ten pages long, but hey, it's okay to disregard agent guidelines when your book is genius.

Or they fall for scams like this one, which charges $700 to write queries for you. (BTW, all query-mill letters are automatically rejected. Agents can tell.)

Or they do what I did and become so obsessed with query writing, they forget to write better books. They send out queries on the same manuscript for years and hone that synopsis to perfection. They take all the workshops on querying at every writers conference they attend.

They become fabulous query writers and masters of the pitch and the synopsis...but they never write any new books and never get any short pieces published.

They don't want to discover what's really wrong:

  • That much-rejected book could be an hidden treasure that might get a contract if the author focused on polishing the book instead of the query. 
  • Or it could be a finished masterpiece that just needs a better query and synopsis. 
  • Or it could be a polished book with a killer query, but the genre/theme is not trending right now. When everybody's looking for zeppelins, you've got zombies. Or the other way around. 

Reality Check: Workshop the book if you haven't, and then write another one. Maybe not so trendy this time.

  • Or look for a small press that specializes in your brand of zombie zeppelins. 
  • Or self-publish (but not until you've written zombie-zeppelin book #2. It's very hard to market a singleton title as an indie.)
  • And if you're querying and have never read the Query Shark or networked with the good people at QueryTracker and Agent Query, do it. They may be your ticket off the query-go-round.

2) Believing Social Media Marketing Schemes will Make you a "Kindle Millionaire"


On the other end of the spectrum from the query addicts are the self-publishers who eat up all those books promising they'll become instant "E-Book Millionaires" by playing clever games with algorithms and social media. Thing is, those "Kindle Millionaire" books are as out of date as a 1970s book tour.

Partying like it's 2009 is not going to get you anywhere today.

There are thousands of online courses and books that promise you instant riches with ebooks and social media. I read some of them and tried some of the tactics after I finally found another publisher. Some of them worked very well. Then.

But nothing is certain in this business (except rejection and bad reviews.) What worked six months ago is probably useless now. And nobody can fulfill a promise that you'll make the bestseller list or become a millionaire.

I know lots of people are still falling for this old advice because I see them all over the place:

  • Writers who tweet their books 24/7—or pay somebody to.
  • Or constantly spam their FB friends with unwanted book ads (Especially erotica. Please, erotica authors, choose your target audience carefully. Not everybody likes their FB feed full of naked people in handcuffs.) 
  • Then there are those blogging authors who are always running contests to give away book swag they've overbought and nobody wants. 
  • Or they give away expensive gift cards to bribe people to "like" their Facebook page—a page those people will never visit again. 
  • Or they make boring book trailers and hammer friends and family to go "like" the videos on YouTube. Friends and family who are too busy, um, reading books. 
  • Or they put a ginormous amount of money into a Kickstarter campaign designed to beg for an even more ginormous amount of money to pay a publicist to do all of the above.
  • And recently I've had a barrage of Direct Messages from newbie authors who think it's the job of established authors to promote their books and blogs for them.
I suppose there's some new bad advice floating around out there saying: "Author-bloggers who already work 18 hours a day, LOVE to give up their few hours of sleep to promote newbie writers' work for free—especially newbie writers who can't bother to read their blogs or books. Make sure you bully them with phrases like 'I'm counting on you' and 'comment on my blog by the end of the day!' "

Um. No, kids. This is not how to sell books. Maybe some of this stuff worked 6 years ago, but it sure doesn't work now.

Reality Check: Look at what actual successful authors are doing. Hugh Howey built his huge audience by connecting with fans on his blog and Kindleboard forums. Catherine Ryan Hyde and Anne Rice have constant interaction with their readers on Facebook. Catherine gives away lots of free books from her blog.

All these bestselling authors are connecting with their fans one-on-one, not "targeting" a faceless "them". Books have to be hand-sold. Marketing schemes don't work unless you're the Big Five and can load every chain bookstore in the world with huge front-of store displays.

And don't tweet your book unless you have news about it. Like that it's free for the next 24 hours, and you just got a rave review from Big Al.

Get great advice on what really works in book marketing from experts like Frances Caballo at Social Media Just For Writers and Penny Sansevieri at Author Marketing Experts.

3) Signing the First Contract You're Offered by an Agent or Publisher. (Especially a Self-Publishing Company.)


In these days of "forever" books and eternal bookshelves, bad contracts are much more dangerous than they were in the pre-ebook days.

You may end up signing away the rights to your book and characters for a lifetime—and even your children's lifetimes.

Some agents and publishers insist that you give them the right of "first refusal" for every word you will ever write. There are lots of bad contracts out there, even with well-known agents and publishers.

And unfortunately, there are lots of incompetent and disappearing agents, scammers, and vanity or "subsidy" publishers eager to lead you astray and deplete your savings.

If you have fantasies of a magical fairy god-agent, you could easily fall prey.

Ditto if you believe the vanity presses that tell you if you just throw enough money into marketing a book, you'll make millions.

Reality Check: educate yourself about the business before you jump in. Join professional writing organizations like RWA or SCBWI . Keep yourself informed by checking Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors.

If you're thinking of going with a self-publishing company, read this piece from Jane Friedman: 10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Book Service.  And this one by Joel Friedlander: Is Your Book Held Hostage by a Subsidy Publisher?

And if you see any clauses you don't understand, especially if they contain the phrase "in perpetuity"—get thee to a lawyer.

4) Chasing Trends


An awful lot of writers have files filled with half-written Twilight clones, a couple of Dan-Brown artifact-chasers, a YA Dystopian, and 25 ½ Shades of Mommy Porn…with zombies. They never quite finish any of their projects because, well, what they really like is family sagas and women's literary fiction, but everybody says those aren't selling.

Yes, some fast-writing professionals can chase trends successfully. But if you're a newbie, your chances are slim. Most new writers can't produce a marketable book fast enough to cash in on any current trend.

Reality Check: Don't follow trends; set them.

Any subgenre that's on the bestseller list now will be saturated and waning by the time you get a book finished, polished, edited and ready to go.

Write what you love to read, not what's on the bestseller list or a hot TV trend right now. (What's hot on TV was probably trending in publishing a decade ago. Even zombies are stumbling a bit these days.)

Who would have thought that in the 1990s, an English boarding-school story with Halloweeny characters would ever sell? English boarding school stories went out decades before and fantasy wasn't selling. Besides, where would anybody put Harry Potter on a shelf? It wasn't horror like Goosebumps or a standard Enid Blyton boarding school story.

I'm sure there were people who told J.K. Rowling, "Joanne, sweetie, it's cute, but that boy wizard stuff will never sell. You should be writing chick lit like Bridget Jones Diary" or heartfelt women's fiction like Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchley. Or write about dinosaurs. Do something like Jurassic Park. This is the 1990s. You have to write what people are buying now."

And we would all have been the losers.

Write what you love. Because you love to write it. There is no other reason to write.

5) Expecting Instant Financial Success.


There's no such thing as overnight success. Learning to write stuff people want to read takes way longer than we imagine.

Also, it's increasingly tough to get paid to write. Yes, there are lots more opportunities out there for writers in the digital age, but there's also more competition..and lots more writers working for nothing and giving away free books.

I cringe when I meet writers with fantasies of making a living from writing from the get-go.

  • A newbie writer with only a handful of credits vows she'll "never write for free".
  • An author who has just finished her first novel brags that she'll only sign with a famous, established agent (newer agents who are building their lists are a much better bet) and they expect a huge advance. (Extremely unlikely. Advances are shrinking fast. )
  • After publishing four or five short stories, a writer says he'll never sell to anybody but Asimov's, Ellery Queen, or The New Yorker. (Even wildly successful novelists have trouble making the cut there.)
  • Or an author quits her day job after hitting "publish" on her first self-published ebook. 

Writers like this may imagine they're practicing the "law of attraction" by acting "as if" and visualizing the big bux, but what they're actually doing is aiming to fail. 

If you want to visualize yourself making it to the top of the success ladder, you need to see the whole ladder.

Nobody pole-vaults from the slush pile to the bestseller list—any more than a new hire jumps from the mailroom to the boardroom after their first month.

And now, alas, we live in an era when everybody in this business works for free some of the time. Interns apprentice for no pay in literary agencies and publishing houses. Even full-fledged agents often have day jobs.

Reality Check: Accept that everybody has to start on the first rung of the ladder. Put in your 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours. And meanwhile check our weekly Opportunity Alerts and get your short work into the marketplace.

If you write nonfic, write for smaller magazines, anthologies, and blogs and collect your clips.

If you write mostly fiction, send those stories out to the non- and lower-paying litzines. And enter contests! The prestige you get from placing in a well-known contest or a prestigious litzine can be worth more to your career than getting a story into a slick, commercial magazine.

Next week I'll talk about five more delusions that plagued my early career and may be blocking your own success. 

And we'll have a big announcement about major changes happening with the blog.

What about you, scriveners? Do you recognize any of your own delusions here? What gave you your first reality check as a writer? Did you have any delusions I missed here?


BOOK OF THE WEEK


The Gatsby Game is a fictionalized take on a real Hollywood mystery. The mystery of the death of David Whiting, a highly delusional con man, during the filming of a Burt Reynolds' film in 1973 has never been solved. Anne R. Allen knew David, and this is her idea of what might have happened.

David Whiting's death is also the subject of the 2015 LA Critics-Award-winning film The David Whiting Story, directed by Walter Reuben.


ON SALE FOR 99c This Week!

The ebook is available for 99c at all the Amazons and NOOK,

Available in paper for $10.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

It's also available at Scribd and Inktera and Kobo at regular prices.




When Fitzgerald-quoting con man Alistair Milborne is found dead in a movie star's motel room—igniting a worldwide scandal—the small-town police can't decide if it's an accident, suicide, or foul play. As evidence of murder emerges, Nicky Conway, the smart-mouth nanny, becomes the prime suspect. She's the only one who knows what happened. 

But she also knows nobody will ever believe her. 

.

OPPORTUNITY ALERTS



The Poisoned Pencil: New YA publisher open to submissions! The well-known mystery publisher The Poisoned Pen now has a YA imprint. They accept unagented manuscripts and offer an advance of $1000. Submit through their website submissions manager. Response time is 4-6 weeks.

Open call for the Independent Women Anthology: short stories (flash fiction included), poetry, essays, artwork, or any other woman and/or feminist-centered creative work. 10,000 word max. All genres but explicit erotica. $100 per short story, $50 for flash, poetry, and photography/artwork. All profits will be donated to the Pixel Project Charity to end Violence Against Women. Deadline January 31, 2016 with a goal of publication on International Women's Day, March 8, 2016.

Win $$$ and BEER!! SCHLAFLY BEER MICRO-BREW MICRO-FICTION CONTEST  $10-$20 ENTRY FEE. Fee includes a subscription to River Styx literary magazine or one issue depending on amount of entry fee paid. Submit up to three stories of 500 words or less each. All stories will be considered for publication. $1,500 first prize plus one case of micro-brewed Schlafly Beer. Deadline January 1, 2016. 

The Writer Short Story Contest judged by Literary star Colum McCann
. You can have your work read by the acclaimed author of Let the Great World Spin. $25 entry fee. Write a 2,000-word short story responding to one or both of the quotes below by Mr. McCann: "There is always room for at least two truths." or "With all respects to heaven, I like it here." Deadline December 6th 2015

TETHERED BY LETTERS' FALL 2015 LITERARY CONTEST ENTRY FEES: $7-$15 Currently accepting submissions for short stories (1,000 to 7,500 words, open genre), flash fiction (55, 250, or 500 words), and poetry (maximum of three pages per poem). All winners will be published in F(r)iction. All finalists will receive free professional edits and be considered for later publication. The prizes are $500 short story $150 flash fiction, and $150 for poetry. Multiple entries accepted. International submissions welcome. Deadline December 1.

HAMLIN GARLAND AWARD FOR THE SHORT STORY $20 ENTRY FEE. $2,000 and publication to the top unpublished story on any theme. One story per entry, multiple entries acceptable. Maximum 7,000 words. All entrants will be considered for publication. Deadline December 1, 2015.

The Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. $10 fee Unpublished fiction. 1500 words or less. Simultaneous submissions ARE welcome. All entries will be considered for publication in Fiction Southeast. (a prestigious journal that has published people like Joyce Carol Oates) Winner gets $200 and publication. Deadline: Dec. 1st

Writers' Village International Short Fiction Award winter 2015. Cash prizes totaling $3200.Ten further Highly Commended entrants will have their stories acknowledged at the site and gain a free entry in the next round. Entry fee $24 INCLUDES A PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUE. Any genre of prose fiction may be submitted up to 3000 words, except plays and poetry. Entries are welcomed worldwide. Multiple entries are permitted. Deadline: November 30th.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,