As a Writer, Where and How Are You Dropping Your Pebbles?

My guest blogger today is marketing consultant Sia McKye. McKye writes:

I’m a reflective person by nature.  I think about many things in life.  Look for lessons and ways to make things better for me and mine.  To me, life is like a giant puzzle made of pebbles.  Sometimes it’s comprised of hard labor.  Other times, the fun is in seeing how to work all the pieces tossed at us, and make a picture of it.  Don’t like those particular pieces? Rearrange them.   I’m also an optimist but with my feet firmly planted in reality.  I know if I work at it hard enough, think it through, I’ll find a way.  And so it is with my writing.

To be a writer is rather solitary.  We pour our hearts and souls into our writing–our characters, our created world.  They’re part of us, aren’t they?  When someone rejects that, of course we feel it AND feel they’re rejecting us. On one level that’s true, but we have to learn to compartmentalize, or we’re dead in the water.  We have to have tough Rhino skin or we’re not going to survive.  And yah, it sucks.

As with most of the entertainment/arts groups, publishing is a tough playing field to break into.  A key element to be a success in any field is to be focused, working at perfecting your skills, and believing in yourself and your abilities.

I think about authors like Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Catherine Coulter.  They all started out with Harlequin and or Silhouette.  Many curled their lips at books from Harlequin.   Whether it’s a lightweight romance publisher, or POD and E-book publishers-who cares where you start, so long as you start? I believe these authors honed their story telling skills and learned what readers like and didn’t like, and built a readership base in these forums. And who are we to curl our lips, or diminish the worth of an author that makes those choices? Now, these authors are now regularly on the Best Sellers lists.

Singers start out playing local, market themselves aggressively, and get their names out there.  How?  Singers play for anyone that lets them sing.  Bars, lounges, you name it.  Actors do the same with local theatre, and work their way up. They network like crazy.  Are you doing that as a writer? 

Pebble in the pool effect.   Think about American idol.  These singers are looking for shortcuts and there isn’t anything wrong with that, but even the shortcuts come with fierce competition.  As authors, we do contests too, so we can relate.

What’s important here is: if the pebble isn’t first dropped into a pool of water, no ripples happen.  The pebble has to be dropped more than once. It’s the same with writing.  Every time you write a story, you drop a pebble and every time you query, or enter a contest, you drop another one.  Every blog, writer’s conference, and joining a writing group is another pebble.

 Maybe only a few of us will make it big.  The truth of the matter is; it’s not solely dependent upon talent.   There are lots of talented people.  Sometimes chance or fate or whatever you want to call it, steps in.  But, if we’re not putting forth the effort, and getting our writing, our name out there, it can’t be offered.

There’s a quote I like and I’ll share it with you.  Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.”

 …or dropping the pebbles.

It’s something I think about frequently-what am I doing with my pebbles?

Stacking them in a pile with no work or thought given them?

Am I hoarding them in a drawer where no one can see them?   

Am I allowing fear of success or failure, hold me back?  

 

By putting our work out there, we’re on the dance floor or to continue the metaphor, dropping our pebbles.

 As a writer, where and how are you dropping your pebbles? Are your pebbles used to the best effect?

E-publishing , Print on Demand (POD), and Kindle Markets–Are They The Wave Of The Future?

Ms. Danzo writes fiction and has twenty years experience working in Sales and Marketing and has published various articles on a variety of subjects, including articles on professional/fictional writing and marketing. 

E-publishing , Print on Demand (POD), and Kindle Markets–Are They The Wave Of The Future?
by Sia McKye Danzo

For most of us, writing is a driving force within us. A passion. I’ve written and told stories all my life, but have only gotten serious about it the last couple of years. Some of you have been writing for many years.

Our goal, of course, is getting published. Getting noticed by an agent or publisher. We write to entertain others, to take them on a journey. To do that we have to have an audience, which means being published. We’ve worked hard towards that goal. We’ve entered contests, are trying short-stories and articles to build up our credits to get noticed. We’ve used other writers to read our stories and give us back constructive feedback all with the goal of getting published. We’ve queried. We’ve gotten back rejection letters and we sigh. We keep going, yet sometimes it’s discouraging. We get excited about an agent who requests more of our manuscript–almost afraid to hope because haven’t we all been there? Waiting on pins and needles for them to get back to us, hoping that maybe THIS time, it will be the one who gets our story published.

I get discouraged. I know some of you have as well. How many of you have really considered publishing to Print on Demand (POD) publishers or places like Kindle? It’s the wave of the future, I’m sure. One good indication of that is the hoopla with Amazon and e-books. Most major publishing houses have an e-publishing section because of reading the trends. Granted some of the e-books they offer are a bit out there. I know Harlequin has had down loadable stories, for a small price, for some time. I rather think they saw the handwriting on the wall and were testing out the market for e-publishing. They now offer some of their authors through e-publishing and some authors are strictly e-published.

A benefit of e-publishing and POD, is a bigger share of royalties, than with a traditional publisher–but not advances–as a rule. Your work is out there, but not necessarily on the local book store shelves like you pictured in your mind. Unless you are willing to promote yourself and your writing to get it there. You have to market, via blogs, websites, and social networks. Authors have to do that regardless of the medium, but the marketing is pretty much on you rather than assistance from a publisher.

Self-publishing/Vanity Press is where the author paid someone to print their book and not always a good quality of book either in writing style or subject matter. Unfortunately, some negative stigma of Vanity Press books still color people’s perception of e-publishing or Print on Demand publications.

Is e-publishing, not self-publishing, a good thing? Or do you think it’s harmful for an author in the long-run? Some of you have gone that route. What are your experiences now that you’ve done it? Have any of you been approached by an agent or publisher? Have any of you heard of anyone getting picked up by a publisher going this route? Does it count as being published when doing our queries?

Any thoughts?