The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
Margo
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Margo » October 16th, 2012, 1:51 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Sommer.

As to questions...

I do almost exclusively novella-length. That's why I can do "regular" releases over the course of a year with 400,000 words. Still, had I written four 100,000-word novels, I think that still would have counted as regular releases. Readers would probably start to question my commitment to quality if I was releasing a novel-length title every month. Really, with novels, I'd say you'd want to think hard before releasing more than 6 a year, unless you're making it clear you're releasing your backlist all at once.

I'd rather not say how many titles I have out, but I've charted in six countries. I had to do a lot of experimenting at first and sometimes completely missed the mark. My least successful title has probably only sold 150-200 copies over a year. My bestselling title has sold more like...8,000 copies, I'll guess, over about 6 months.

Sommer is correct in saying that my line on promo is that the only effective promotion is your next release. Keep yourself visible on the new release lists, build your backlist by writing writing writing, hone your craft, and you're golden.

Yes, it is also correct that when I started this a year ago the pen name had no history at all. I didn't blog. I tweeted a couple of times a month. I put up a FB author page and a barebones (but pretty) website that I updated once or twice a month. I only just started a mailing list a couple of weeks ago. By keeping track of clicks, I can tell you that the social media stuff has sold very few books for me, like maybe 100 out of the 60,000 sales I've had. You time is MUCH better spent writing, experimenting with different lengths to see what your readers like, and ALWAYS improving craft.

If you want to do this for a living, I also suggest getting over the writer-as-artist mentality. Write what people want to read, and write it well, and once you've earned their trust and respect, you can experiment a little more with your artistic boundaries. But no self-indulgent flights of fancy or an expectation that readers will automatically be in awe of your "vision" because they usually won't. Best to get treatment now for that Special Little Snowflake Syndrome (TM to Sommer) we probably all start out with.

There's a LOT more I could say, but... I recommend earning your way into a genre-specific trade forum, which is usually by invitation only. That requires face-to-face networking. Conferences are fairly good for that. Genre-specific workshops, especially the ones you have to apply to get into, are MUCH better.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Sanderling
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Sanderling » October 16th, 2012, 10:15 pm

Margo wrote:Readers would probably start to question my commitment to quality if I was releasing a novel-length title every month. Really, with novels, I'd say you'd want to think hard before releasing more than 6 a year, unless you're making it clear you're releasing your backlist all at once.
Six novels a year? O.o I can't even imagine drafting that many, nevermind also revising and polishing the things. I think, if writing was my full-time job and I got quick feedback from my readers, I could probably manage three novels a year at most. Although maybe I'd surprise myself if I actually tried.

I understand now how you could get the strong promotion without the online presence, though, if you're releasing regularly enough to keep yourself in the public eye and with a predictable regularity that allows your readers to anticipate your next one. Definitely a lot easier to do when writing novella-length works.

Even still, now that I really think about it, your 400k in a year is pretty outstanding itself. That works out to drafting 33k a month, plus the equivalent in editing/revisions... at a sustained pace. Not to mention all the other little things like covers involved in self-publishing. (And you want to bump it up to a million a year. I can't even...) I'm totally amazed and impressed, Margo! You've definitely earned your success, and here's wishing you more in the future!
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wilderness
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by wilderness » October 23rd, 2012, 2:03 pm

Just curious, what do you guys think the next big trend in YA is? It seems dystopia is over, and so are vampires etc. I am seeing a decent amount of fairies and fairy tale retellings.

Sommer Leigh
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 23rd, 2012, 2:28 pm

wilderness wrote:Just curious, what do you guys think the next big trend in YA is? It seems dystopia is over, and so are vampires etc. I am seeing a decent amount of fairies and fairy tale retellings.
I actually think we're going to see YA veer away from trends for a while and support unique storytelling (I'm thinking The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater) and the new Maureen Johnson series, the name of which is escaping me at the moment) and stand alone stories (non-series). I also think we'll see a lot more general supernatural and sci-fi heavy stories. I think trilogies have oversaturated the market and everyone is kind of tired of them. That's just my opinion and I'm extremely biased since as a reader I'm tired of seeing trilogies.
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wilderness
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by wilderness » October 23rd, 2012, 2:31 pm

I hope there will be a trend away from trends :) It makes it easier to just write without worrying that you're on the tail end of a dead fad. And I'm kind of sick of series too. I haven't even been finishing the ones I've started because I just want to try more new authors instead.

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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 23rd, 2012, 3:31 pm

wilderness wrote:I hope there will be a trend away from trends :) It makes it easier to just write without worrying that you're on the tail end of a dead fad. And I'm kind of sick of series too. I haven't even been finishing the ones I've started because I just want to try more new authors instead.
I think way too many stories could have been condensed into one story but are falsly inflated to be three. This has been especially true in dystopian tales. I think these are the ones I'm tired of the most. I need 3 separate stories, even if they fall under an umbrella arc, and far too often these stories don't stand alone. Especially the second story. I would kind of like to see some of these epic tales broken into 2 parts instead of 3. I think that would be interesting. No idea how marketable it is, but *I* would buy it. It allows for a more meatier world but not a falsly inflated one.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

Claudie
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Claudie » October 23rd, 2012, 9:16 pm

I kind of hope they stop doing trilogies too. It might be petty, but it grates on my nerves that when I want to read that book everybody's talking to me about, it's never one book, always three. I'm afraid I don't have that much time anymore and apart from Leviathan, I haven't read a trilogy in years.

I do hope the dystopia / post-apocalyptic trend isn't quite dead yet, at least not in Frenchland. My current project falls into that category and it'd be nice to get that additional boost to my chances of publication. :)
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

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CharleeVale
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by CharleeVale » October 24th, 2012, 1:16 pm

I'm afraid Dystopian is almost certainly dead. In this last query run for me, I had 4 agents -- FOUR -- who loved my writing, and loved my story, but wouldn't sign me because the book was dystopian and they wanted me to write someone else. :(

CV

Claudie
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Claudie » October 24th, 2012, 7:43 pm

Yeah, I do admit it might be dead in the states, but trends tend to take longer to start and die here in Quebec. The market is its own beast and though it's influenced by what's big in the US, it's not entirely dependant on it. Half the well-known titles that come up all the times in YA discussions here aren't even translated yet (it always takes about a year to translate. Sometimes it never happens at all, too).
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla

JustSarah
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 1:40 am

My goal for this year is complete roughly 20 pages of world development, about 85,000 words of character outlines, and character writing exercises to get into character. In the mean time I'm taking baby steps by jotting down character traits on colored post it notes, and lining them up by timeline: Nuclear Winter, Nuclear Equilibrium, and Nuclear Summer.

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wilderness
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by wilderness » October 25th, 2012, 1:57 pm

Charlee - That's too bad! At least they liked your writing though. Does this mean that you weren't able to convince them that your book is not dystopian? You'd previously mentioned that you didn't think it was.

Claudie -- Interesting that trends are different in Canada. It's great to know if someone is querying that they might try internationally.

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dios4vida
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by dios4vida » October 25th, 2012, 7:30 pm

Guys!! GUYS!!

I just broke my personal record for most words written in one day. I'm a slow writer, normally writing between 500-1500 words a day. Today I sat down, once again so close to the end of this story that I'm utterly, completely passionate about, that I've been trying to write for three years. I've been going over and over these last scenes in my head for two weeks. So this morning I asked myself "what is holding me back from a marathon finish of this book?" and my only answer was "myself."

So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. My heart hammered and my fingers shook with excitement but I kept writing. And writing.

And this slow writer, who's thrilled when she writes 1500 words a day, wrote SIX THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED WORDS!!! I have ONE SCENE that I need to figure out and write and then I will have finished this first draft of a story I've been dying to get finished for years!!!

More exclamation marks!!! MORE ALL CAPS!!! More cupcakes for everyone!!!

SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Beethovenfan
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by Beethovenfan » October 26th, 2012, 2:26 am

Brenda! I'm so proud! Perhaps taking a few days away to do projects around the house and spend time with family friends was what you needed. Whatever the reason, I am happy for you!
*throws confetti and hands out chocolate chip cookies*
:D
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

trixie
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Re: The Coffee Shop - OCTOBER

Post by trixie » October 27th, 2012, 1:26 pm

Holy buckets, Brenda! WAY TO GO!!

I remember how awesome I felt when I hit my biggest word day last year during NaNo (just over 8K, thanks to the #1k1h sprints!). I hope you gave your brain some time to rest after that marathon!

My Oct is shaping up quite nicely. I have a new outline for my MG story rewrite and being a NaNo purist and all, I'm hoping to not use any pre-written text in November. My goal is 55-60K words and a complete story. I'm ready. I want this story to live outside of my brain.

I'm getting excited for November!

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