Tag Archives: publishing

What To Do When All Else Fails? Succeed!

Most of my LCRW friends know how hard I’ve struggled to become a published author. I made it through all the hoops…went to writer’s conferences, had my work critiqued by professionals in the biz and by my peers, pursued agents and managed to hook one with a strong reputation, grabbed the interest of editors from “big” publishing houses. And then…things went downhill from there and my books never got published.

What went wrong? I ask myself that countless times. Was it bad timing? A difficult marketplace? Editors busy looking for that “best seller” and not seeing that possibility in my work?

In the end, I have no answers. But if there is anything we writers do in this business…it’s persevere. Because the truth is, the first person that needs to believe in me is…well…ME. And I do. I have to admit, every step up the mountain of success has surprised me. I dream big, but wait for that familiar moment of disappointment. That step onto crumbly stone that sends me going backwards instead of forwards. The climb is difficult. Painful. But the view every time I look back? Beautiful.

My next step, which feels like a step back but is really a huge leap forward, is to self-publish my book SEVEN LITTLE SECRETS. It’s a young adult novel about a high school cheerleading squad and the co-captain who takes her own life. I wrote it many years ago, and it had some close calls with publishers, but ended up a no-go. But with 13 REASONS WHY making headlines these days, this is a great time to market it (thanks, Lisa Scott, for pointing that out for me). So I intend to do so. And do it well. Because in the end, I haven’t failed. I’m just doing it different than how I envisioned ten years ago. I’m using different strategies, finding a way around rushing rivers and mudslides. But still moving forward.

That alone, makes me a success.





Filed under writing

Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?

I know people who have signed with large publishing houses, small presses, and vanity presses. I also know people who have self-published their work. With all these different venues, it’s difficult to know which way to go with your novel.

First off, let me say that I have self-published a middle grade novel as well as an anthology written by my writer’s group. I also have an agent who has brought three different novels I’ve written to various major publishing houses. I have never worked with a vanity press or a small press. There. Full disclosure out of the way.

Here is what needs to be considered when deciding which way to go with your book.

Large Publishing House:

* They take a cut of your profits, and your agent takes a cut of what the publishing house pays out to you.

* They professionally edit your work without you paying any of the costs out of pocket.

* They give you a top-notch professional cover for your work.

* Your book is likely to be on bookshelves across the country and possibly overseas, and also in libraries.

* The publishing house may help with marketing and book signing opportunities.

* Your work will be offered both in hard copy and as an eBook.

* Can take up to two years for your book to become available

Vanity Press:

* You will possibly pay thousands of dollars in upfront costs.

* You can pay to have one of their editors work on your book, or use one of your own (or choose to edit the book yourself).

* Your book will be offered at on-line retailers, but most likely not in bookstores or libraries unless you do the work to get it in there.

* The company will print bound books for you, but you will pay a fee for those books.

* You will do the marketing of your book yourself.

* Your book will most likely be available to the public within a year.

Small Press:

* They will take a cut of your profits.

* They use their own editors, but don’t charge you an editing fee.

* Some small press houses can get your book into bookstores. Your book will be offered at on-line retailers.

* Some small presses are nothing more than a print-on-demand factory. They make profits on your books that you could be keeping for yourself.

* Depending on the press, your book may be available for purchase between a month to two years.


* There are many venues to use including Amazon.com, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt.

* You decide the price, therefore decide the profit you will receive from each book.

* You have complete control over your work, including overseeing the cover and the edits.

* It will not likely be sold in bookstores unless you can convince local retailers to carry them.

* You either have to pay someone to format and upload your work to a self-publishing site, or figure it out for yourself. This includes producing a cover.

* You can have your work ready for sale within 48 hours.


There you have it, the pros and cons of four ways to go regarding publishing. As an aside, in order to find a large publishing house to purchase your book, unless you write picture books or have a way to get your foot in the door on your own, you will need a literary agent. And even if you have a literary agent, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll sell your book. Also, some people have no trouble marketing and selling their self-published books while others struggle and are fortunate to sell ten copies. You probably won’t get rich selling your book no matter what, which is why so many authors have day jobs. But hopefully this will give you an idea about which way you’d like to proceed. Feel free to add to this post if you know of other pros and cons.





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How To Make Sure You Will Never Become Published

10. Send out your first draft to an agent or editor. Without reading it over first.

9. Disagree with everyone’s opinion about how to make your work stronger. Extra points for rolling your eyes and muttering, “Whatever.”

8. Submit your tale of horror, gratuitous sex, and gore to Highlights Magazine for Children.

7. Mock out and insult editors and agents on other peoples’ blogs. Sign your real name.

6. Write a meandering story with no plot, one-dimensional characters, and make people guess what your underlying message might be, smugly knowing they’ll be wrong.

5. State on your query letters that you are God’s gift to writing. Let the receiver know that if they don’t publish you, they’ll blow their chance forever. Next month send a new query and let them know you’ve decided to give them a second chance.

4. Plagiarize famous writers such as Agatha Christie, Lewis Carroll, or Danielle Steel. Change only the names of the characters. Hope no one notices.

3. Attend writers’ conferences and stalk the editors and agents. They love to be pitched to while using the urinal or stall. If you can hand them a soiled manuscript on the way out, all the better.

2. Have editors’ home phone numbers on speed dial. Question every red mark they’ve made on your manuscript. Disagree with their comments, especially at 2 a.m. when you’ve consumed an entire bottle of wine by yourself.

And the number one way to make sure you will never be published:

Don’t send out your work. Ever. Because it may not be good enough. Or you might receive a curt no. As long as you don’t try, you can never fail.

Or, even scarier, succeed.


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Keep on Writing

I haven’t seen much activity on our group’s blog page, so I’m going to start a new leaf. Another group I belong to has a very active message loop. Yes, they have many more members than we do, but I think all of us would find it beneficial to have more connection between meetings.

I’ve just received a response back from Entangled Publishing for my manuscript. Two weeks for a turn-around. Better than the first publisher I’ve dealt with. As for the first publisher, I’m back to square one because my original editor left the company and a new editor is taking the manuscript from the beginning. And here I was with a second revision completed. Oh well, it’s a learning process and I do have much to learn.

Looking forward to next week’s presentation by Scott P. Several of my stories include some sort of fight scene in them, so it will be very helpful to learn from his expertise.

Okay, I’m passing the baton! Who’ll step up next to blog? It only took me five minutes to type and post this one.




Filed under Prompting

How To Deal with Rejection without Losing Your Mind

I’ve been writing and submitting work for a long time. I have rejections slips dating from 1996. This year…2012…marks the year I have officially broken the barrier and now my work is published in a national teen magazine. Let’s see…how many years have I been trying? Let’s do the math. Ah. 16 years.

If I count how many rejection letters I’ve had since then, it totals over 100. Therefore I believe I’m the right person to write about rejection and what to do in order to overcome that voice in the head that whispers, “Give up, you pathetic excuse for a writer. You’d be a millionaire by now if you’d spent those hours behind the McDonald’s counter instead of wasting them in front of the computer.”

First of all I want to mention that like most writers I would write even if I never found an audience. I love the challenge of completing a story. I also get a bang out of creating characters and giving them each a unique voice. I never used to like equations in high school, but now I can’t get enough of “if x happens, then y happens, what is the outcome?” Sound familiar? So giving up writing altogether isn’t in my DNA.

When I first started out, editors only used snail mail, so it would take months to get that rejections slip back. It was often on a small slip of paper, the dreaded impersonal form letter. I started out by submitting a play that had been performed on the college stage–my introduction to seriously considering writing as a career instead of a hobby. I entered contests and submitted work to playhouses, more or less to test the waters.

The waters were choppy, my friends. One of the contests had a form for the judges to fill out that rated the plays from poor to fair. My judge marked my play as being somewhere between poor and fair for character, plot, originality, dialogue and style. Ouch! Her ending comment? “There is no conflict or drama. Characters are very superficial. Get some plays from the library to see the proper format.” Blub.

I reformatted the play, reworked portions of it, and sent it to another contest where I ended up a finalist. What did I learn from the experience? First of all, art is subjective. While one person might think it’s not worth the paper it was conceived on, another might find value in it. Second, that giving up would have prevented me from learning and growing as a writer.

I continued to write, bought books on the craft, took classes on the subject. I continued to submit work that I thought was wonderful, but didn’t move anyone to tears or laughter as I had hoped. The waters remained choppy. I continued to doggy paddle my way through.

Here’s what I discovered as I navigated my way through unfamiliar murky sea: my first attempts were not not publishing-quality even though they were fairly well-written and had interesting characters.  I took a job teaching creative writing and became a stronger writer because I could see more clearly what I was doing wrong by studying the work of others who were making the same mistakes I was making. This has to be the single-most important thing I ever did to get me to where I am now. It was the lifesaver ring that kept me afloat while the rejection letters trickled in. There was so much more to learn about writing. And I was learning it in the best way possible…through observation, study, and application.

The rejection letters took a more personal turn. Editors began to hand-write notes of encouragement. A couple of times I came close to having work placed, only to have an editor leave before my work was accepted or an editor decide to use another writer’s work in place of mine. I was close…so very close. I could see land up ahead. An oasis in the middle of the sea.

And then I entered a contest for a magazine and won third place…and a whopping $50! I then placed first for my novel excerpt in another contest. Yes, by now I was writing novels. I’d written three for practice, and was now submitting my fourth to agents (this is in 2003) via a query letter. They all turned it down. I brought the first ten pages to a conference and paid to have an agent critique it. He listed all the problems he had with my storyline and characters…and I was buoyed because now I knew how to improve it! I wrote another novel and submitted my query letter to numerous agents. I received manuscript requests and was ultimately turned down. But I came close, and that made all the difference. (See my post: http://blog.klgore.com/2011/12/10/i%E2%80%99m-not-proud-all-the-wrong-ways-to-deal-with-an-agent/)

In 2009, I found my agent. Two, actually. I chose who I felt was a better fit for me, finally reaching the shore of my oasis. If I had given up after that judge from the play contest told me my play had no plot and dull, one-dimensional characters, I would never have come this far.

So here is my advice:

1) Keep submitting your best work.

2) Keep track of your rejections. Note when they become more personal. This is your turning point! It means you have become a better writer.

3) Read blogs about other people’s rejections. It helps to know you’re not alone.

4) Enter contests. Even if there is not a monetary reward. It could bolster your ego. Plus, it helps you feel productive.

5) Write even as you continue to submit.

6) Join a critique group. Not only will others help you find places to improve your work, by reading other people’s work, you will see where there are problems in your own work. Plus, you can all relate rejection tales of woe and have support for both the bad times and the good.

7) Quit when you’re depressed…but only for a little while. Don’t plod through the depression. I took month long breaks when I became discouraged. When I was rejuvenated I felt ready to continue. Trying to write when you feel like a failure is like going on a diet when the fridge is full of cookie dough.

8) Read really badly written work. It will make you feel much better about your own writing.

9) Remember that all writers are rejected. Kathryn Stockett (who wrote The Help) was rejected by 60 agents. If she had quit, she wouldn’t be doing her happy dance now.

10) Eat ice cream.

Remember, you can have an amazing book that still won’t find a traditional publisher. If you believe in your work there’s always the self-publishing option. Don’t let rejection define you. Sure, you may still have a lot to learn (I do), but you have to keep swimming if you want to get to the other side.

So jump in. The water’s fine.

To read more on rejection letters see my blog post: http://blog.klgore.com/2011/08/02/rejections-is-it-them-or-you/


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