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First Monday Mentoring Sept 2016 – As a writer, do you have the courage to succeed?

Nearly all writers seem to be born with the storytelling gene.  Most successful writers I know were spinning stories for their own amusement, for siblings, or to entertain classmates from an early age.

I was writing entries for the children’s pages of the Sunday papers before I knew what a writer was. I thought everybody made up stories. Getting an article accepted by the Australian Women’s Weekly at age fourteen felt normal, my kind anyway.

Fast forward to the present and I’m attending the 2016 national conference of Romance Writers of Australia along with four hundred of my closest friends, where they honoured me with Lifetime Membership.

I know now that not everyone can make up stories, far less get them published. Many try again and again for years without success.

Others put themselves through the ordeal of the pitch – when you give an editor or agent a verbal synopsis of your book in a five- to ten-minute time slot. Yes means an invitation to send them the whole manuscript or sample chapters. No means, sorry it’s not for them.

Either way, you fast-track a response, bypass the “slush pile” of unsolicited submissions, and sometimes strike publishing gold as many writers did at the RWA Conference.

All good so far.

Until you discover that fewer than half the writers pitching their stories and being invited to send material to the editor or agent actually do so.

What’s at the root of this curious statistic? IMO fear. Pure and simple cold feet.

funny-pictures-your-cat-rises-but-will-not-shine

I’ve heard of this from editors who suggest changes to a book only to have the author disappear without trace.

The manuscript vanishes into a bottom drawer or a digital cloud; the author obviously unaware that changes are only suggested when the editor sees potential in the work. Even if you plan to self-publish, by not following through, you lose a golden opportunity to have your work professionally appraised for free.

This is where courage comes in. You’ve jumped one hurdle by applying for a pitch appointment. You’ve prepared your material until you know it by heart. You’ve timed yourself so your pitch takes up only two thirds of the available time, allowing the editor or agent to ask questions.

All these steps take courage. At conferences, I’ve seen writers shaking as they awaited their appointments. It may help to know that the editors and agents are often as much on edge as you. They want to help you realize your dreams by finding the Next Big Book for their houses.  They’re pulling for you to succeed.

cat unstoppable

The saying goes that courage is doing what you are afraid to do.

Knowing this, you can expect a last-minute rush of nerves, telling yourself to feel the fear and go ahead in spite of that.

You can resist the temptation to tell the agent or editor how nervous you feel. This will only make you feel worse.

Far better to plunge ahead as if you had all the confidence in the world. Share the story you want them to love as much as you do. Your passion will be infectious.

Before pitching, have the manuscript largely or completely finished If the answer is yes, you can use the time before submission to polish your work, rather than rushing to a finish line.

Often, having the courage to write is only the beginning. The real test comes when you pitch your work and someone says yes.

Minions take over world

Will you be among the writers filing their manuscripts into the digital cloud because you fear taking the next step?

Or will you be among the fifty per cent boldly following your dream, step by step, until you hold your book in your hand or admire it on your ereader.

Then when someone asks what you do, you can confidently say, “I’m an author.”

What does courage mean to you? Is it writing the book, selling it, telling others about it? Share your comments in the box below. They are moderated to avoid spam, but you can have your comment appear immediately by clicking on “sign me up” at left. I don’t share your details with anyone

Happy (and brave) writing.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

Valerie’s Beacon sci-fi series out now!
Beacon Starfound OUT NOW
Beacon Earthbound OUT NOW
Beacon Continuum OUT NOW
Beacon Homeworld OUT JUNE 30

via Amazon.com.au Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk – also via
Barnes and Noble (Nook devices)

Google Play (All devices except Kindle)

iBooks Store (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac)

Kobo (All devices except Kindle)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you growing as a writer?

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If you compare what you’re writing now with some of your earlier work, you should be able to see how far you’ve come. Certainly most writers will have made progress in areas of craft – such as being able to put words together more skilfully, and share story background with less “telling” and more “showing.”

You’ve probably also learned how to motivate your characters so they come across as real human beings with desires and goals we, as readers, can relate to.

But there are other kinds of growing writers can, and should, be doing.

Are you keeping up with trends?

This doesn’t mean slavishly imitating the current best-seller, whether it’s 50 shades of gratuitousness or the latest da vinci whatever. It means being aware of developments in the writing world. We know readers are increasingly reading our books on devices from ereaders to smart phones.

Have you seen how your chapters look on an iPhone? For more on this, check out “What’s Going on with Readers Today?” at http://toc.oreilly.com/2013/02/whats-going-on-with-readers-today.html

Some writers gloat about not understanding the electronic world and social media. Sure, it’s time consuming, occasionally time wasting, but that’s up to the user. When politicians are taking to social media in droves, you can be sure it’s because that’s where the voters are. Do you know where your readers are? Keeping up with them on social media makes perfect sense.

If you’ve been writing for some time, are you breaking new ground with your current work? 

Settling into a writing rut not only risks losing readers, it also bores the writer. Next time you write a scene that’s similar to what you’ve done before, challenge yourself to write it in a completely fresh way.

If you usually write novels, try a novella or a short story. Perhaps even some poetry. If you write in one genre, try reading in a few others to see if your voice would fit in any of them. Recently I ventured into digital-first publishing with my book, Birthright, a long novel that crossed over between romance and science fiction. No guarantees of success, but it’s a lot of fun and taking me in directions I’d almost forgotten I loved.

You can do this too. Try mixing up your romance with a dash of paranormal. Or your romantic suspense with a shot of inspirational. These days there are no limits to what a writer can try, and who knows, your little experiment may just catapult you into best-sellerdom. As a writer, what are you doing to keep your work fresh? Share your comments here.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

189650_437726069621804_1397664210_n

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews already up at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

 

 

 

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