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Don’t Quit Your Day Job

I am frequently asked how much I make at writing. It’s astounding and peculiar if you think about it. No one has ever publicly asked my husband, “So, I.T., yeah? You make pretty good money at that? About how much?” Never. Who would do that? But, writers are asked all the time. ALL the time.

Everyone is super secretive about it too. But, I don’t mind telling you, I have one book in print. I anticipate making less than I spend buying books and attending conferences. There you have it, folks. The only thing that’s changed since my debut arrived in print last month is that I can write off my books and conferences at the end of the year now. In that way, I’m making out. I would have bought the books and attended the conferences with or without being published, so there a HUGE score for me. But, do I/ will “make money” at it? No. Probably not in the way you’re hoping.

At every conference with aspiring authors, I’m asked how much I make. I’m also asked at church, bookstores, kids’ birthday parties. It’s early for me, I’m only getting started and who knows what will come, but based on my experience and research, this is not a career. Compared to my favorite big publishing house authors? Not even close. I’m not even on the same planet as them.

Here are some things to consider: Will you get an advance? Did I? No. I didn’t. I work with small presses right now and they don’t offer advances. Some medium sized presses will. Larger presses vary in their advance. *Which I want to add is becoming more and more common. Average advances are shrinking for new authors across the board as the industry continues to change. Don’t be offended if you aren’t offered one or if it’s smaller than you expected, be thankful for the opportunity. Be thankful for every opportunity. OK, so who pays for my marketing? Me. Who does outreach/publicity leg work? Contacts libraries, bookstores, newspapers, local television, creates organizes and executes blog tours, book trailers, orders book marks, magnets, business cards, raffle baskets, pays for conferences, gas, travel, lodging, writes, edits, plots, tweets, tirelessly? Me. Me. Me. Me. You get it. Me. Per hour I make about…..well in truth I’m making a colossal negative income – but I enjoy this life and would do it regardless, plus I’m not finished yet. I have plan to move up the ladder. AND I have an income supporting my family already. *Thank you patient/supportive/awesomepants Husband of mine* I could not do this otherwise.

A couple points to ponder:

1. I think the biggest mistake authors make is thinking they’ll get rich or join the handful of career authors in this country. It’s good to hope. Hey, I have that hope too, but it’s like making the Olympic team, so don’t quit your day job until you know you made the team.

2. Even if you get a fat advance, don’t spend it. Don’t put half down on a dream house and buy a new car and take a vacation. There’s no guarantee you’ll EVER get another advance, or not one that size. Think about that a minute. What if you get a $10,000 advance? WOW. How about $25,000 or $100,000? So what? I live in the most affordable place in the country I think, rural Ohio is light on taxes, low cost of living and my needs are few. But, let me tell you $100 grand wouldn’t get me super-far. Really think about that number. How long can you or your family live on that? Be truthful to yourself. Not the rest of your life. Not ten years. Not five.

3. One advance does not a career author make.

4. *IF* you’re lucky enough to land any advance, save it. Stash it and hold on to it until you need it. Consider it a whopping benefit of your writing, but until your income is steady, predictable and reliable, don’t pin your hopes on the writing bubble. You do know what happens to a bubble with a pin in it, right?

5. SO, my advice: Writing is a calling. If you know this is the life for you, GO FOR IT! CLAIM IT! Not everyone can do this. Grab a hold and don’t let go. But, don’t squander your current career, risk your savings, your home, your family to chase your dream. That’s just silly and in the end you’ll likely have nothing to show for the stoopid move.

Final thought? Jerry Springer style: Do writers make a lot of money??? No. Not usually. Can you make a living at it? Maybe, but until you can count on it, don’t.

Hudson’s 2nd Annual Ohio Author Day

Two days ago, I had the opportunity to attend my very first author day. Last month I spoke at a writers conference, but this was the first time I was invited to sit and sign books. I was a wreck. I spent days preparing the items to take, worrying over my little display and wondering if I was bringing my A-game. At the conference I attended, it never occurred to me anyone would want to buy my book, so I had no display to speak of, and I wrote the price in pen on a scrap of paper then leaned it against my books. FAIL. lol. Ah, well, that’s life, right? We live in learn and grow. This time around I was complimented by other authors on my marketing :) So, Score. I figured that part out. But…I packaged up my books with pretty bows, which I couldn’t open to sign LOL. I figured out I needed better marketing and people might buy my book, but hadn’t realized someone would want it signed!

The event was wonderful. The authors were witty and fun. I met new friends and some old ones from the Internet. I was invited to attend a local Sisters in Crime meeting. I met some ladies involved in the upcoming world mystery convention. I was approached by a reporter for the local paper about a book review, and all the authors in attendance spoke with the city’s local cable television channel. The day was wonderful. Grandparents kept the offspring and Hubsy and I had a day alone together.

I left the event so excited for this week it’s ridiculous. You see, on Friday Hubsy and I are traveling to Huntington, WV for an event to kick off their Library Week. This event happens in conjunction with their 42nd annual craft expo, and I anticipate tons of people (ie new friends) and crafts! I love crafts. Don’t put it past me to try to barter my books for other things I want there LOL. Once again, time alone with Mr. Lindsey and memories to be made. I say it all the time, but to me, the best thing about the writer life is the people. I love people, and going new places, time with Hubsy, it’s all wonderfulness. If I never make a living at writing, I will continue to write so I can continue to justify all these trips to see libraries and readers and writers :) I’ve definitely found my place in life…in line buying books and meeting readers. It’s a bonus I have a book to bring along with :)

A HUGE HUGE HUGE Thank you to the Hudson, OH Library and Historical Society for allowing a brand-new-learning-as-I-go author like me to participate in such a lovely event. This isn’t a business where authors are often pulled in for a figurative hug, in fact authors who self publish or work with small presses, like I do, are often treated as sub-par. In Hudson, word-lovers are equally embraced and I felt like a superstar to be included with so many wonderful writers. It was both humbling and exhilarating. Thank you so much Kathy Jones and staff for reaching out to me and the other authors that day, for having a ready smile to share and for all the obvious time and effort you spent making the event so special. *hugs for you* from me!

My Week in Review: Death by Chocolate Blog Tour!

I’m winding my way through the Web this month – again LOL. This time, I’m promoting my newest release,Death by Chocolate. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting six other blogs this week, so blogging here was a double bloggy-opportunity for me. Time for a recap:

Monday: CL Raven’s Blog

Tuesday: Dan DeWitt’s blog

Wednesday: Aubrie Dionne’s Blog

Thursday: Joshua Unruh’s blog

Friday: Miriam Kobras Blog

And if you just don’t have that many clicks left in you, here’s the deets about the story :)

Death by Chocolate by Julie Anne Lindsey

Ruby Russell has reached her limit.  When she discovers her hipster husband has a dirty little secret, she whips him up a Viagra-infused-chocolate mousse punishment, but in the morning, her husband’s a stiff.  Armed with a lifetime of crime show reruns and Arsenic and Old Lace on DVD, Ruby and her best friend Charlotte try to lay low until after Ruby’s son’s wedding, but a nosy therapist, meddling minister and local news reporter are making it very difficult to get away with murder.

Despite the growing chaos, bristling conflicts, and a mounting body count, these delightfully unstable girlfriends are determined to get away with murder come what may.

Find it on Amazon

Find it on Barnes & Noble

 

It’s Good to be a Reject

To be a writer is to be rejected. You can quote me on that. I need it on a T-shirt.

My name is Julie and I am a REJECT.

Rejection only stings the first few dozen times. Think of it like bikini waxes. Eventually, you get numb to it. Build a tolerance. Take it in stride. You will understand rejection is part of the process. Today I want to make you feel hopeful, warm, fuzzy and in good company. Here are a few reasons why rejections is nothing to stress about.

1. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E gets rejected. EVERYONE. EVERYONE. EVERYONE. From the creator of Twilight to Stephen King. Rejection is a fact of our lives as writers.

2. Think of rejections as war wounds. Battle scars. Evidence you weren’t afraid to try. You FINISHED a NOVEL. I mean OMG but finishing is *SERIOUS* stuff. DO you have any clue how many people are “going to write a novel“…someday..TONS! You didn’t talk about it. You got busy and you DID it! Good grief, please pat yourself on the back people! If that wasn’t awesome enough, you stood tall, chin up, shoulders squared AND sent it out! Go You! Go You! How about some celebrations?

3. Rejections mean you’re learning, becoming an old pro at this business. You’ll learn about response times, agents who like your voice or hate it, and if you’re lucky and didn’t get a straight-up form letter rejection, you might have some golden input in there. I’ve gotten hundreds of form letters. BUT once in a while agents or editors will add a little note complimenting something you’re doing right or better still, tell you why they’re rejecting. Parlay that into an improved manuscript. So, with that twist, you can stop calling those “rejections” and consider them “free advice from a real live agent/editor etc” Score! Free advice Woot!

4. A rejection grants you entrance into the big girl/big boy club. Welcome aboard! We’re glad you’re here. Thanks to the Internet, there’s literally a world of writers sharing the experience with you. You’re not alone. You’re in amazing, witty, funny, super-smart and creative company. And that’s just me! LOL KIDDING. But so true. No. kidding.

5. Finally, and this is what it’s about….once you’ve been rejected, you’re in a position to give back. You did it. You wrote the novel in your heart, polished it, rewrote it, edited it, sought advice, revised again, learned about query writing and penned one to make your manuscript irresistible….you stalked agents, emailed and waited…..Now, look at all you’ve done. YOU are now ready to tell us about it. Tell aspiring writers about your journey. Share what you learned. Mentor someone. I don’t care how little you think you have to offer….three years ago, I opened Google and typed in “Write a book.” I needed a mentor.

So, celebrate your hard work and perseverance today. Wear your battle scars with pride. You, my friend, are the real deal. CONGRATS! You’re a Reject!

That’s – Just – So…. Unnecessary!

One of the biggest buzz words editors throw out to us writers is succinct. Be succinct. Succinct. Succinct. Succinct.

What the heck does that mean? Somebody Puh-lease slow down, take a minute and TELL ME!

Okay. I’ll get you started.

When I started hearing succinct a few years ago, it drove me nuts. Bonkers. Cray-cray. How succinct could 80,000 words really be? I mean *guffaw* Am I right? Well, I was wrong. Writing is all about the word choices you make. Succinct says: Tell the story without wasting any words.And:  Don’t use one that’s unnecessary. And: Pick good ones. Here’s an example of some MAJOR craptastic word offenders.

1. I just couldn’t wait for someone to ANSWER ME!

Cut the “just” because it adds nothing to the sentence. It’s known as a filler word. Cut it. Run a “Find” in Word and Search for “just” then cut them. <– my advice which you can ignore, scoff at or crush under foot. I’m hard to offend.

2. He knew that she wanted flowers.

What does “that” add to this sentence? Nada. Search your manuscript for “that” and evaluate each. “That” is a wildly overused and abused word by writers. Cut them wherever possible.

3. She was so pretty. He wanted to win so bad. They ran so fast. What does “so” add to these sentences? Meh. Not much. In fact, in these instances, it’s a double offender to me. For one thing it’s a writer’s excuse to rise above the uber pathetic word, “very”. Replacing “very” with “so” is a fail. Both kinda suck. If you’re counting on “so” or “very” to show a reader how much…then rewrite the sentence. I beg you, please. Weak doesn’t begin to describe these words. Boo.

For the pretty one above Try: No starlet could compare to her in grace or stature….blah blah, you get it. Much better than “She was so pretty”. Unless your MC is in gradeschool, then, yeah, she might think like that : so pretty…but I’m trying to be very general.

OR: Winning meant he mattered. — It’s the top of my head, don’t judge me…but it’s better than he wanted to win “so bad” <–Bore snore.

Filler words are not only ugly and weak and annoying to editors and readers alike, they are giant neon signs blinking out “AMATEUR” across your manuscript. You don’t want that.

While I’m on the topic of unnecessary….skip the redundancy. It’s plain silly. Examples?? OK.

She whispered softly. <– No joke? For reals? Whispered softly? Not at the top of her lungs? Der.

He ran quickly. <– Wow. How insightful. Unless he’s injured, I assume he ran quickly or he’d be walking. Also if he is crippled or injured he’s probably hobbling. Struggling not “running quickly.”

Same thing for Yelled loudly, smiled happily. You get it. Redundant = bad.

Also note these offenders I mentioned are -ly words. Ly words annoy people too. And so do dialogue tags other than he or she said, so use those sparingly. I’ll write about those later.

Hope I gave you lots of words to cut! LOL Not really. I just hope that I helped.

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