Rejection Never Felt So Satisfying

Like all authors seeking validation by gaining acceptance to an exclusive publishing house, I submitted “Unlikely Venture” in hopes of scoring a lucrative contract and promises of making the bestseller lists.  Fortunately, like a Band-Aid being yanked from a wound, two out of the three I submitted to rejected it right away, for a variety of reasons that were kind of evasive and basically not very constructive.  Part of this was my error, as I submitted to the wrong imprints with the publishers.  Oh well.  That’s when my Type A alter ago stepped in and convinced me to self-publish.

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

But what about the third publisher?

Well, the third one was a little behind the 8-ball. The editors requested the first three chapters after FINALLY approving my query. That was a couple of months ago, when I was on the path toward self-publishng.  I sent them anyway…couldn’t hurt, right?

Fast forward to this morning.  I scrolled through my emails to find a reply from the publisher. Here’s what I read:

Kristen,
Thanks for letting us take a look. Unfortunately, we have to pass. There’s something in the tone of the heroine that’s just a little to gritty for our contemporary line. We do wish you the best in placing this work.
Gritty?  According to Dictionary.com, “gritty” means “resolute and courageous; plucky.”
Hell, that kind of rejection is AWESOME!  I hate pathetic, damsel in distress heroines.  If that’s the kind of girl they want, yeah they’d be barking up the wrong tree with Jessica Latham.  It wasn’t meant to be.
But shame on me for not doing the correct research.  You see, I was embarking on a new business venture, seeking an investor without knowing if our end goals were in sync.  I assumed an established publisher would be able to reach my target demographic, just because they have deeper pockets and a larger distribution network.  But that’s not necessarily the case.  We don’t share the same vision and strategy.  They are looking for something I don’t offer.  Their response is very clear on that fact.  And the submission turned out to be a wasted effort on my part.  We wouldn’t be compatible business partners because we aren’t aligned in our objectives.
Lesson learned…resources alone do not guarantee an effective business relationship and researching potential business partners will ensure your product or idea gets a fair shot at evaluation.
And as for me, I continue along my path…as a sole proprietor. =)

Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

Yet Another Teaser & Giveaway…YAY!!!!!

Hubby was just on Facebook and pointed to a picture of a girl named Gina who just had a Scrabble piece of the letter “G” tattooed to her ankle.  He said, “Would you ever do that?”  And I shook my head vehemently.  “No, absolutely not.  My name doesn’t begin with a ‘G’.”

LOL.  But seriously….

I’m so excited to plan for the launch of “Unlikely Venture!”  It’s been a long time preparing for this and I can’t believe the launch is almost here!

So I had to release yet another fabulous teaser…accompanied by a giveaway!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card but clicking here:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f30243524/

All you need to do is: sign up for my mailing list, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or friend me on Booktropolous Social.  You can enter once or up to four times!  It’s super easy!!

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Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If I Was A Developer Who Could Program My Own Freaking Ideas??

I’ve been extremely occupied with edits for my second novel, “Nothing Ventured,” this week.  And I thought there was no creativity left in my overworked brain to pour into the old entrepreneurial arsenal.  Thoughts of Mia and Chris incessantly swarm my mind and my sole focus is to finesse their love story to the satisfaction of my editor.  In fact, I think I’ve dreamed in italicized subtitles for the past few nights.

I didn’t think I had anything left.

But then I came up with..ta-da!!!!  An idea.

In my past life, like a waaaaay long time ago, I was responsible for putting together business requirements for system development projects.  Of course there were endless Microsoft Word doc templates available for this exercise, with tables of contents so long they’d rival the length of the actual document.

I’m exaggerating. Kind of.  =)

But then software packages were developed to simplify the process and analysts could input their requirements into a program and answer a whole slew of questions that would translate into a section of the overall deliverable.  The software package would tie all the components together and take the work out of building the narrative.  Analysts input the pertinent information, the software does the rest.

Not that I’m suggesting authors write books with this type of software but think about applying this concept to the editing process.  Developmental edits are a huge pain.  If an author needs to move chunks of a manuscript around, it becomes very tedious to track all the downstream changes.  Plus, sometimes an author may want to “test” a scene out in a different location but wants to see how it might impact the overall story WITHOUT messing everything up.

A software package that could help with this process would be super useful.  Instead, authors (read: ME) end up saving multiple versions of the manuscript, trying to test out various scenarios and often forgetting which one is the gold copy.  To mitigate the risk of THAT, my titles are normally something like this…

NothingVentured v1.12.3.4 ChrisGetsDrunkMiaGoesOverboard.docx

Not confusing at all, right?

 

Would You Please Sign My Kindle??

Okay, I spend a lot of time covering ideas that others have but here’s one I’ve mulled over…

People love autographed copies of books, especially books they actually enjoyed reading.  But how does that work if your library is in electronic form and all of your books are downloaded to a Kindle or Nook?

No hard copy to treasure and pass on to your kids?  Or to eBay if the author is(gets) really famous?? =)

There are many varieties of autograph apps out there but I haven’t seen something specifically compatible for the e-readers. Wouldn’t it be great to bring your device to a book signing? Or have an author gift you an electronically signed copy of their bestselling book, Unlikely Venture? (Wink, wink).

Sign with your finger and BAM! You’ve got digital swag!!!

Please Don’t Ask Me About The Shower Scene…

My house is crazy-noisy.  Like, ALL THE TIME.

My husband and Lulu constantly break out into song…about anything that comes to their minds and at any given time.  Sometimes, they take turns with piano accompaniment.  Angry Bird telepods are forever sailing through the air.  Super Mario 3D World…UGH…the music alone makes my ears bleed after a while.

So just imagine how challenged I am to craft erotic scenes with this non-stop activity.  Three little kids, climbing on top of me, whining, crying, yelling, tattling…SIGH.  Getting through those scenes is always a major accomplishment, trust me on that.

Quick segue..I don’t know if you have ever heard of Fiverr, but it is the most awesome site EVER!!!  You need something, get it there…for $5!  I just got a kick-ass logo from Sami.  She turned my extremely non-committal requirements into the fabulous logo you see splashed across the top of my site.  Love?!?!

Anyway, I showed the last image to my dad this morning and it prompted some chatter about my book.  It was very basic at first, like the type of romance, the premise of the story and the point of view of the characters, blah, blah, blah.  But then he asked the dreaded question I knew I’d have to answer at some point but didn’t care to really answer EVER.

The hand rises to cover one half of his mouth, just in case the kids are in range.  “Does your book have…um…sex scenes in it?”

Eeek.

“Yes, Daddy, it does.” <CRINGE>

A nod.  Then, “Are they…graphic?”

Ack.

“Yes, Daddy.  They are explicit.”  <ARGH!>  (Please don’t ask me where my inspiration came from though, because THAT would make me uncomfortable.)

He took it in stride, though.  (No Daddy, I don’t really write porn.  Just a few little spicy takes, that’s all.  Almost perfectly innocent.  Except for that shower scene…)

My dad is difficult to read (no pun intended).  He almost never lets you know what he’s thinking.  Great freaking poker face if I ever saw one.  He doesn’t need sunglasses at all.  But even though he’s all calm on the surface, in his head, he’s totally freaked out that his little girl is writing about raucous bedroom romps that our friends and family might read at some point.  I know he’s also thinking about how my mom is going to take that when she finds out.  That’s  conversation for another day, though, preferably after I’ve had several Manhattans.

Sorry guys, little girl’s all grown up now.  =)

The $25 Thumbnail…Pretty Cheap For Soft-Core

I’m OBSESSED with creating images for Unlikely Venture.  Gotta love the digital age!  One of my fabulous author friends (who is on the best-seller list for New Adult Contemporary on Amazon UK!!) sent me something she put together for one of her books and I decided I needed to create one for mine.  So the search began.  Here’s what I found out.  Images are ridiculously PRICEY!!!  I bought what is basically a THUMBNAIL for $25!  

So many sites have cheesy images that I wouldn’t doctor and post if someone paid ME.  Then there are others that are borderline porn…need to steer clear of THAT as it’s not exactly my genre.

I think I struck a happy balance with this one, although Hubby doesn’t understand why I’m so impressed with my efforts.  “You put some text on a PICTURE for crying out loud!”

Yeah, but I did it MYSELF…and it’s for MY BOOK.  =)

Image

If You Want Perfection, You’d Better Be Prepared To Pay For It!

Some authors opt out of having manuscripts professionally edited.  I guess they think it’s an unnecessary expense.  Some authors just don’t know specifically what an editor does so they fail to see the value in hiring one.  And SOME authors may think that their friends and family members can read a manuscript and find any spelling/grammatical/plot issues, for FREE.  Because this is certainly a group that would always deliver an unbiased opinion, right? 

The reality is that a professional editor can bring to light soooo many things that you never considered before, specifically if you are completely new at the writing game (which I AM).  Let me give you an example that always springs to my mind when I am glorifying my own editor.

Head hopping.

Whaaa?

Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. Basically, it means that within one scene, the author delivers the story through multiple characters’ points of view.  The term came about because thoughts are jumping from one perspective to another, making it very confusing for the reader to identify and understand who in the scene is driving the story.

I had no idea that this concept even existed.  And I totally abused it, until my editor pointed it out to me.  I also wouldn’t have known that some publishers will reject you immediately if any hint of head hopping appears in your manuscript.  But she completely opened my eyes to this and subsequently provided so many other little pearls of wisdom she’d collected throughout her career. 

Now, I know that the Internet provides endless volumes of information about a plethora of writing topics and if you know the right people to ask or websites to research, you could probably find out a heck of a lot on your own about the evils of head hopping and the like.  But for me, having that go-to person who is intimately involved in the publishing industry and can teach the tips and tricks required to produce a stellar piece of writing is worth every cent.

Think about it this way.  Perception becomes reality.  If the world sees your work as sub-par, so shall it become.  And how many people will want to buy another one of your masterful creations then?  I’m guessing not many…

Stop Trying To Bypass The Process! It’s There For A Reason!

I’m a very process-oriented gal.  It’s a big part of my day job and I’m good at designing them.  There are very good reasons why processes are developed, implemented and executed.  They guide an initiative to completion.  They lay out a set of logical steps that individuals can follow in order to achieve a specific end.  They account for deviations and exceptions along the way and they include alternate steps to avoid pitfalls and challenges that may crop up.

Generally speaking.

As a newbie author, I didn’t realize that I could apply a process to the development of a novel.  I thought that creativity trumped organization.  I was SOOOOO wrong.  

My wonderful editor Cindy showed me the error of my ways and because of her, I used PROCESS to learn about my subjects.  One of the key steps in the process of developing a compelling novel?  Develop your characters!  Learn everything about them!  Create a robust backstory for each character in your story, so that you know where they came from, what past experiences shape their views, and how they interact with others.  After I followed the process and learned about my characters, I was able to rewrite my story with depth and purpose.  I didn’t realize how shallow my first versions were until I spun out the third.

But yet again, I find myself resisting the process.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I got halfway there.  I know Chris like the back of my hand, but I’m still not sure about Mia.

Cindy gave me a few different scenarios to build out as I developed my character sketches.

1.  Most Embarrassing Moment

2.  Angriest Moment

3.  The Character’s Reaction to a Dog’s Incessant Barking

You’d be surprised how well you get to know someone as you create the events leading up to these scenarios.  My immediate problem is that I’m only halfway through Mia’s character sketch.  I haven’t fully developed her backstory.  Sixty pages into Nothing Ventured, and I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know where I’m going because I don’t know HER.

This madness has to STOP!  I need to embrace the process or the whole story will unravel like a cheap rug.

I Promise I’m Not An Author-Stalker!

Image

I’m a little bleary-eyed as I write this.  It’s been a looooong day for me.  I woke up at 4:00 AM because I couldn’t breathe (damn forced air).  Then I tossed and turned for about half an hour before I gave up on any hope of getting a few more winks. 

By that time, my mind was on high alert and I got the brilliant idea for a high drama scene in my second book (still sans title because I’m only on page 30).  I logged a few notes in my iPhone but it just didn’t suffice.  I needed to get the words out, right then.  So I got a cup of coffee and clacked away on my keyboard for an hour. 

I love it.  It’s rough, but has so much emotion.  I’ll go through it again tonight and make some tweaks.  Only one tiny issue. I’m not exactly sure where it fits into the overall timeline.  I have a million ideas surrounding it on both sides, but I don’t know how to position it in the story quite yet.  That will come.  But the scene can work in so many ways.  I’m so excited to figure out how best to use it.

Today was an ultra-busy day and the next few look just as full.  My energy is all but sapped by now, especially after yelling and screaming about homework.  But I got a bit of a second wind after dinner, so I Googled how to become a bestselling author.  Just to get some ideas.  =)

I came across a blog post by an bestselling author and social media guru named Kristen Lamb with tons of great sound bytes about the trade.  I was hooked.  So I followed her blog, followed her on Twitter, commented on her post, commented on another post, and then she followed me on Twitter!  After some more Tweeting and re-Tweeting, I bought her book on Amazon – Rise of the Machines:  Human Authors in a Digital World.  Awesome cover, Kristen!

Even though I have a Kindle, I bought the paperback.  Yes, I’m one of those people who like to make notes on the pages, fold them down, highlight passages and revisit as needed.  I need the hard copy for all that.  It’s just my thing.

Anyway, I hope she doesn’t think that I’m some wacko author-stalker.  I’m just happy to connect.  =)

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