bad advice

Kickstarter Cookbook; Address and Writing Success

Kisckstarter Cookbook

This is an interesting project that’s now looking for funding through Kickstarter. An author named Tara Alan is trying to reach an $11,500 goal in order to produce a cookbook she’s been working on where she’s travels Europe, called Bike, Camp, Cook. I bike, but don’t cook much. Camp to me is a drag show with Miss Richfield at the Crown and Anchor in P’town. But I supposed there are others would be interested in something like this, and Kickstarter is now funding projects like this that trad publishers would never have touched in the past.

If you’re not a wizard in the kitchen, don’t worry—I’ve poured loads of cooking know-how into these pages. After years as a head chef for a two-person cycling team, I’ve made a lot of mistakes you can learn from! The first half of the book is filled with everything you’ll need to know to start making delicious meals on a one burner stove.

For me the key word here is one-burner stove. Not going to happen any time soon. But even though this isn’t for me, I actually do think there’s a market for it, and that there will be a bigger market in the future. I recently read about these mini condos popping up in cities all over the US where people are scaling back to a room that’s only a few hundred square feet.

You can read more here, where there’s even a video about the project.

Address and Writing Success

When it comes to a physical address I have always believed in the old saying, location, location, location when it comes to real estate values and for business reasons. However, this next piece by Lev Raphael has left me wondering why anyone would give him a column anywhere. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that way about Raphael’s columns, and I’m certain it won’t be the last, but in the article he makes a broad assumption that’s not based on any viable facts, and he draws no conclusion whatsoever…other than the suggestion that writers are more successful if they live in places like NY.

And if you’re in a media nexus like New York, you’re more able to make face-to-face connections with other writers, with reviewers, with editors and agents at parties, book signings and readings. These are precious contacts that writers living in East Podunk just can’t make happen for themselves. Random contacts at summer writing workshops and yearly conferences aren’t the same thing.

Words like “media nexus” don’t impress me, not even if you’re driving a Lexus. I actually do agree this address deal used to be true up until a few years ago. I also think that where you go to college makes a huge difference, too, with regard to the kinds of lifelong contacts you’ll make. But right now I know as many struggling writers living in New York as I do in East Podunk. In fact, there’s never been a more wonderful time in the history of publishing for writers because this old rule that we all need to live in places like New York is getting weaker and weaker. And writers from places like this East Podunk aren’t facing the address challenge as much as they did in the past. Now the best address for most writers is their web address.

You can read more here if you are so inclined to read pieces that are mainly written to do nothing more than fill a page with words.

I don’t review books often, but I do review bloggers and when I see bad advice like this that might discourage the next great author from East Podunk I’m not afraid to offer my own opinion.

 


Questionable Advice Literary Agents Gave to New Adult Author Colleen Hoover

In a post I wrote yesterday about New Adult fiction, I linked to an article where they mentioned self-published New Adult author, Colleen Hoover, where literary agents gave her questionable advice even after her book had come out and hit the NYT bestseller list.

I found it interesting that Colleen Hoover was told by literary agents that she had to change the novel from the first person to the third person…for my own personal reasons.

“I did try to query agents and I got a lot of rejection letters and about how I should change it to third person and take out the poetry,” Hoover said. “The book had already come out and I was getting rejection letters after it hit the New York Times.”

That’s right. The New York Times. Hoover bypassed publishers and literary agents and made it onto the acclaimed bestseller list five months after it was a Christmas present to her mother. Hoover cleverly gave away free copies of “Slammed” to key influencers and word of mouth ricocheted around the Internet.

I can back this up from my own personal experiences. Although I don’t have any published novels out in the first person, I did once try to query agents with a novel written in the first person and I received the same exact advice from them. That novel is in my files and hasn’t seen light in years. In fact, one of the reasons why I don’t have any published novels out in the first person to date is because of that advice. I eventually plan to change this.

The short stories I have out written in the first person have always been bestsellers in their genre. In most cases they’ve sold more copies than stories I’ve written in the third person. And I’ve received more reader feedback from them. To be honest, I prefer writing in the third person because it’s a comfort zone for me, and I think I get more freedom with my characters. But I do plan to write a novel in the first person very soon just to see how it works for me. When I tell you that I truly feared writing anything in the first person for years because of this advice I’d received from agents I’m not exaggerating. Unfortunately, writers take this seriously.

To take this to another level, I’ve seen and read other recent books written in the first person that have surprised everyone and become huge bestsellers. And one of the reasons I was so surprised these books became bestsellers is because of that old advice I’d received from Literary Agents about not writing in the first person. I literally read excerpts thinking, “Wow. How could this be? He wrote this in the first person.”

I don’t have a huge point with this post other than this: take all advice you get from anyone and then listen to your heart. Colleen Hoover did that and she proved that all the advice she received was questionable advice.

Although I’m pro-agent, and I believe authors need good agents, I’m not a fan of many of the things associated with the query system as we’ve always known it. And agents handing out this kind of advice to new writers is one of them. This may have worked ten years ago when we depended on the specific tastes of literary agents for our published books, but it’s becoming more evident each day (with proof) this same advice isn’t working anymore.

And this isn’t the only example of where you’re going to get bad advice as an author. I’m not singling out agents in this post by any means. I have a future post about something that happened to me with an editor that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. It deals with how one single editor can rip the emotion from the most intense scene in a book. And how I let the editor do it because I wanted to avoid confrontation. I still regret this. The reason I’ve waited to post about this is because I wanted to be far removed enough from the topic to keep my own emotions separate.

Do what you think is best for you, and for your readers. They are the only ones that matter.

A Little Inspiration for Writers Who Are Tired of Bad Advice

In world where everything changes so fast these days, trying to work in an industry like publishing can be daunting sometimes. I received a long e-mail from a new writer over the weekend that prompted this post. She’s been rejected enough times to know that getting a book deal isn’t easy. But she’s also confused and frustrated because of all the conflicted publishing advice she’s seeing these days.

The best I could do was offer advice from what I’ve gathered along the way through my personal experiences in publishing. But we all have different experiences and what works for one author may or may not work for another. So there are no simple answers, and there never were and it’s more complicated now. You just have to know how to figure out the good advice from the bad, and sometimes you need a little encouragement along the way.

You read crap like this and wonder, “What did I do now? My career is over.” And then you realize this is only one small literary agent’s opinion and she’s basically putting a spin on publishing in order to keep herself relevant so she can survive all the changes that are happening.

Then you read this hyped up crap and you think, “I’m going to be rich and famous.” And then you realize it’s not as easy, and that this blogger is also putting a spin on publishing in order to keep himself relevant in an industry where no one can seem to predict anything solid.

This, of course, just boggles your mind. “How on earth could SHE do THAT and get away with it?” It takes longer to realize this one. But sometimes things just can’t be explained. It’s as plain and simple as that, so don’t even bother. Wish her well and focus on what you’re doing, not what someone else is doing.

Once in a while you read a publishing blogger who seems to give the right information and always sounds encouraging. Even these put a spin on things sometimes, but for the most part they help writers. And that’s about as good as it gets.

But you’re not alone. Most writers go through all of this and more, whether they are just starting out or just winding down. And sometimes the best way to figure it all out is to read a few words of wisdom from others who have been where you are right now.

I could list 100 inspirational quotes and one would be as good as the other. But sometimes it’s best to just focus on one that seems to cover it all.

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

And here’s a link to a book titled “The Magic of Believing,” by Claude M. Bristol,  I read a long time ago that I’ve never forgotten. I’ve recommended it to people for years, and I’ve given it as a gift more than once. Though it’s not about publishing, it can be applied to publishing…or any other career. It’s old, it was released long before self-help was even considered a viable genre, but it works.

Read it more than once. Read certain chapters until you actually “get” it and it finally sinks in. It might change your life in a huge way; it might not change it at all right away. But it won’t hurt. And that’s the only advice that’s worth while.