The Publishing Type

I don’t know if this is true for your business, but in medicine, there are definitely types. Recently, I was sitting at the nurse’s station with several of my co-workers when this discussion came up. It is easy to tell if a nurse is going to make it in the ER within the first few shifts of their orientation. There is a certain attitude, work ethic, and demeanor that are likely consistent among ER nurses across the country.

Several experiences have led me to believe that there may also be a publishing type and I’m curious to know what others think. I’ve been quite surprised at some authorly discussions of late and wondered how there could even be controversy… yet, there is. What follows are qualities I think a writer needs to possess in order to seek publication. Notice, I didn’t say write. Anyone, literally, can put pen to paper and write. This is taking your hope, your dream, to the next level.

  1. Must love to read. This discussion has been raging over at a marketing loop of authors I follow. Several have complained that there are actual people who think they can craft a novel but hate reading. I find this problematic on several levels. First, I think writing is born from an enjoyment of reading. Your pulse has pounded at an author’s musings and you wonder if you could pull off such a feat. You’ll need to read extensively in the genre you hope to publish in if for no other reason than to know what’s being published. Reading in other genres will help your writing grow. Next, will be reading agent/editor’s submission guidelines. Really, the reading list is extensive.
  2. Must be able to multitask. Consider the following if you’re blessed enough to get a multi-book contract. Researching your next series, writing one book, and editing one (or more) novels at one time. Add to that blogging at several sites and developing your marketing strategy for your novel when it is released. Oh, and then there is likely your family, church and full-time job to add into the mix. What else should be on this list?
  3. Be able to organize. See #2.
  4. Must be able to follow direction. Agents and editors lament often about getting material they just don’t need or didn’t request. This is a waste of their time and you don’t want to be the thorn in their heel. If they ask for a one page synopsis—that’s what they actually mean and it’s not open for your interpretation. It’s not a challenge from them to you to get them to change their mind. The ability to do this will aid a lot in your developing a well-respected, professional reputation.
  5. You know how much more you need to learn. A continual love for learning is definitely a must if pursuing publication. I know I had a minor heart attack when my agent asked me for a book proposal. What is that?!? Recently, I was having coffee with a good friend of mine who is also a writer and we were talking about the current state of our relative manuscripts. Needless to say, we both wanted to shred them at the time. I said to her, “You know, the more I write, the more I know how much more I need to learn.” Do you feel this way? Did you feel that way after your first book was published? I think I buy more books now on the writing craft than ever before.

What are your thoughts? What qualities do you see in those who have successfully navigated the publishing road? Which would you take off my list?

What’s Your Klout Score?

I have to admit, I’m a numbers girl, which may strike you as funny because math is certainly not my talent. Likely, it comes from my nursing background and my need for instant gratification. My “real-life” job concerns fixing my patient’s numbers—moving them in the right direction. Lowering temperature, easing difficulty breathing, or bringing back a heart rate when there isn’t one. It’s all about trending in the right direction. Wrong patient trends need intervention.

Recently, I was reading Rachelle Gardner’s blog and came across her discussion on “numbers” and how you could use certain statistics, like blog hits, in your book proposal to help a publisher make a decision to go forward with your novel. Of course, a strong book is paramount but it is foolish to think that a potential employer, your publisher, isn’t looking at your on-line presence as a way to help their decision.

Rachelle mentioned a Klout score and I hadn’t heard of this so off to the website I go.

Klout, in one place, analyzes the effectiveness of your on-line presence. Once you allow it access from your social networking sites—and they do have a lot of them—it performs some genius unknown mathematical calculation so you can get a glimpse of your on-line life in a couple of areas.

First score measures your influence. It’s based on a scale of 1-100. One hundred being the best score you can have. Currently, I’m at 42.23 which places me as a “Dabbler”. Under Klout style, it will show other people you likely know, what their score is and where they land style-wise. That was a fun comparison because I knew several of the people and their on-line presence. Most I admire as something to aim toward.

Then is your true reach score. This measures how many people you influence. My score is currently 404. The site allows you to see other people’s scores as well. I compared myself to a known author and her reach was 877. I didn’t necessarily feel bad about that. She has three novels currently published and a savvy internet presence.

Next score is amplification which is how much you influence people. My score currently sits at 19. Not great but I’m just starting out so a definite growth opportunity—not weakness, right?

Last score is for network. This scores the impact of your network. The more people that comment, share and respond to your content, the higher your score will be. My score here is 51.

Klout also looks at topics you’re influential about. Mine are medical (yeah!), technology (really?), authors (excellent), blogging (surprised!) and childbirth (yikes—don’t ask me how.)

Also, it will list who you influence and whom your influenced by. Fun information.

Overall, I think Klout will be a good way to measure your on-line presence and whether or not it is growing. Sometimes, when I look at my Blogger statistics, I think the information is limited. I can see my stats are increasing but for me, that just may be more people are perusing by. That’s not bad but I like how Klout looks at your influence and overall reach. These are good numbers to gauge. If they are steadily climbing, my efforts are working versus a downturn would lead me to consider changing up what I’m doing.

Are you on Klout? What’s your score? Have you used your scores to change what you’re doing on-line?

For an alternate opinion on how valuable this score is, check out this post entitled: Why Your Klout Score is Meaningless.

 

Flubs are not Fatal

Approximately 650 Christian writers have just returned from the ACFW conference in St. Louis. Some are celebrating agent/editor requests for manuscripts and are on an emotional high at the apex of the roller coaster we call the writing life.

Others may be feeling like they just slid over the edge and are plummeting down the steep hill into an abysmal, dark cavern. This feeling may be perpetuated by some flub on your part and you’re wondering if you and your career will recover.

Whatever fatal flaw you may be experiencing emotional distress over; it will likely not end your writing career. Unless you actually murdered someone… well, that might cause the ultimate demise of your writing dream through traditional publishing at least.

I’m here to share two “golden lessons”. Flubs are not fatal and the world of publishing is comprised of a small group of editors and agents.

My goal at one of my first writer’s conferences was to do several paid critiques. This was at a smaller, local gathering and I was just dipping my toes into the pool like a first time swimmer. I asked the conference director what I should submit. I still think he said “your best three chapters.”

I should have submitted my first three chapters.

Now, by the time I met with this particular agent over that critique, I had realized my mistake and apologized profusely. Surely, there was no saving my reputation.

It gets better.

Three years later I had an appointment with that same editor. I had polished the manuscript in those many months and felt confident that I had something worthy for her to consider. Just before our appointment, I attended her talk on writing edgy fiction and she made a point to say, “I really dislike when writers use rape as a plot device. Can’t you come up with something better?” My stomach twisted into a glorious mariner’s knot.

That’s right, my manuscript was about a serial rapist and our appointment was minutes after that talk.

I still went.

How do you handle these situations? Here are some of my suggestions.

  • Confess your mistake. Editors and agents are human just as we are and have probably made a few flubs themselves. Be open and honest about the mistake and move on.
  • Learn from your mistake. Don’t do the same thing twice. It’s not the fact that you made a mistake but your ability to fix and learn from it that is the mark of a professional.
  • Stay positive. If you think the agent/editor flubbed and it affected you negatively, don’t disparage them on social media. That same editor I met with twice is still working as an editor and was at the conference sitting one table away from me at the banquet. That would likely be a career ender.
  • Laugh about it. The writing life is hard enough. Self deprecating humor goes a long way in helping keep you sane.

Despite these gross errors in my writing journey, I still managed to acquire an agent and a publishing contract. And yes, it was that same novel.

What “fatal” flub have you had and how did you handle it?

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Brand Basics

If you’re interested in delving into this business of publishing, then you’ve likely heard a lot of talk about branding. Simply put, branding clearly identifies you with a product. For the author, it might be their brand of fiction or their platform. Your brand is strong if someone hears either your book or your name and can identify the other. For instance, if I said “Stephen King”, certain things would pop into your mind even if you’ve never picked up one of his novels. If I said, “The Shining”, you could likely name the author. Stephen King has a strong brand.

Your brand needs to be supported by your internet presence such as your blog or web site. Think about the images you want to portray. Are you a contemporary women’s author? Then, your site should have a different “feel” compared to someone who writes suspense.

I worked with Tekeme Studios for my blog design. First hurdle to overcome was the content of the blog. How can I be different from the other thousands of blogs that are out there? What I noticed myself doing was answering a lot of medical questions for fellow writers. I couldn’t find anyone else with this type of blog. That was good because perhaps I could provide a service for other authors that was thus far unfulfilled.

Second was to think of the feelings I wanted to invoke when people first visited my site. For me, these were intrigue, medical, with a slight suspense feel.

Here was the first design:

Here comes the third part. You have to be willing to speak up if you don’t like the design. After all, this is your brand and your investment. You should have strong feelings about it. For me, the design read historical. The man was dressed in period garb and the cabin looked like one you’d find on the frontier. This image didn’t support my brand as a suspense novelist. Plus, I‘m a woman and why did it need to be a man answering those calls for help? Also, too bright and orange (not a huge fan of that color). Not an ominous feel at all.

You’ll know you’re with the right design team when they understand your concerns about the design and are not offended about making changes. After discussing my concerns, it became as follows. You can check out the full implemented design at http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/.

My challenge to you:  Are you thinking about what your brand is? How are you evoking that brand image with your internet presence? Ask people to visit your site and give you thoughts about what they feel. If you’re a suspense writer, people should feel ominous… maybe a little worried, like they will when they read your novels.

These are some examples of authors who I think have portrayed this well. Visit their sites for a little homework. Do they have a strong brand? Do they evoke certain feelings when you see their imagery? I think what they’re doing supports their brand of novels.

  1. Brandilyn Collins
  2. Tosca Lee
  3. Robert Liparulo

What are some things you’re doing to support your brand?