Friday, January 24, 2014


Although I no longer work for Simple N, I have recently picked up work from another great repeat employer. Like Simple, he also is mysterious enough for me to have begun creating an entire fictitious life for him. His story doesn't have much shape right now, but eventually, it should.

DovSky doesn't have a confidentiality agreement with me, but I try to keep his stuff confidential because he is just so mysterious I think I should. I do editing for him, and most of it is overnight stuff. In other words, he sends me an email at 10:00PM and asks if I can have it back by 2:00PM the next day.

I enjoy working with him not only because he is very mysterious and imagination stimulating, but also because he pays well and is a regular customer who is easy to work with. That is the type of employer every freelancer needs. One time big jobs will not give you a regular income, but repeat smaller jobs do.

Now, normally, I wouldn't question ASAP editing or find anything mysterious about it. But, these are like expired coupons from over five years ago. Why the rush? It isn't like they are about to expire tomorrow. I have yet to receive one coupon dated after 2011. Mysterious...

Of course I can think up all kinds of reasons someone would want expired coupons edited five years after the fact, just give me another year or so and I will probably have a whole book about it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

To Refresh Your Memory...

The quickest way to inspire me to write a book about you is to hire me under mysterious circumstances. I have a vivid imagination, and as innocent as your project may be, if it can in any way be construed to be suspicious (read: you want me to do something ASAP, you pay well, your job is simple, and you are generally happy with my work), I will think up some fantastically fictitious backstory as to why you are having me work for you. I wrote an entire book about one of my repeat employers, who unfortunately changed genres and I didn't apply for the job (I am still kicking myself over that one). To refresh your memory, I am reprinting one of my first blog posts about Simple N:

Simple N is another one of my favorite clients. I do a lot of rewriting for him and I have built an entire story (which is fictional I am sure) around his life. It is a postmodern sort of story, which is the kind of writing I can do without someone outlining what they want.

You see, Simple N frequently contacts me, sends me work, and expects it complete in three days. The type of work he sends me does not seem urgent in any way, but it is to him. He is a repeat customer, and I enjoy doing the work, but I often wonder how he makes money? The things I do are not that intensive, but he pays decently. He also pays without question - another thing I am glad of.

With Simple N, I get paid by the word. While most projects from him run from $30 - $50, one was a whopping $120. I was shaking because I thought he would never pay me that much for such simple work - I was wrong.

So what does a guy do for a living, who sends someone simple rewrites with all the necessary information and pays them well for it as long as it is done in three days... I know a good story that would explain it.

My version of Simple N's life (the fictitious one I created) is in the editing process and will soon be on kindle. I'll post an excerpt and let you know when I finally finish it up.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Traditional publishing part III (the wait)

Now the hardest part of traditional publishing is the wait. I submitted my book a week ago and have heard nothing. In fact, I am not expecting to hear back from them for 3 months at the soonest. Some people on the Harlequin network have been waiting a year.

The hardest part of the wait is not pestering the publisher. In the past, I have never had this problem. Most of the people I have submitted to were very prompt in sending me my rejections. However, when I did not hear back from the agent I sent my husband's query to, it threw me off a bit. Then I read the fine print - email submissions to that agent are not answered if they have been rejected. Although I feel that practice is a little rude, I am the one looking for a job not the other way around so oh well.

I don't think any writer can ever be done learning how to write. At the same time, I feel that I have learned enough to at least get published. Perhaps I should say, I hope I have learned enough to at least get published. But I always have self-publishing to fall back on, I suppose if it doesn't make it.

Now, if you get rejected from a traditional publisher, you should simply resubmit it elsewhere. However, in my case, that will be more difficult. First, I am tired of rejection letters. I enjoy writing and most people who read my stuff (and are not related) also enjoy it. My beta readers had some very important suggestions, but they both liked it enough to read it in one setting. As an editor, I know that is saying a lot. And although I grumbled about what the one beta reader suggested, it was simply my laziness. I didn't want to make the change to the character's names. In the end, I did it because I recognized the book was better.

Beta readers are not editors. An editor does an in depth analysis allowing you to have a completely polished work. A beta reader is donating their spare time to read a book and get a mention in it. They can tell you about major plot inconsistencies, some typos, and when you have given someone the wrong title, but asking them to do a full edit is not nice to them and even if the person is an editor, they will probably just skim over most things. For traditional publishing without an agent, beta readers are definitely the way to go.

Now, Harlequin recommends beginning your second book as soon as your first is submitted. I already have the synopsis for three of the next five books written and a brief blurb about the other two. If they accept me, I want to sell them a series of six books. If you are planning to make a living as a traditional author, you should try to write three books per year, and you want to start on the next one before the first is accepted. It keeps you from pestering the publisher.

Yes, manuscripts get lost (even good ones), but you need to give the publisher plenty of time before you contact them to see if they received it. Most publishers and agents tell you up front how long it takes them to get through your novel. Wait until after that time to contact them.

Well, I'll give you an update on how it went in a few months. Now, back to the freelancing grind. :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Traditional publishing part II (learning the rules)

So, I needed to research my market and learn the unspoken rules. I chose Love Inspired Historical, which is an imprint of Harlequin and joined their book club. Yep, I get four books a month and read them all whether I like them or not. It's kind of like broccoli, I guess. I rate most of the ones I have finished, so if you ever get curious you can click on my Goodreads account and see them. Also, if you ever clicked on my Goodreads account and wondered why I am always reading romance novels, that is the reason. I actually prefer classics, sci-fi/fantasy, and postmodern books.

After reading many LIH (the abbreviation for said imprint), I discovered the Harlequin social network. I knew about it before December, but I really did not want to add another social network to my list of things to do. Still, it is one of those unspoken requirements that will give you a plus. So, I joined. The first week of December was great, they had an open house with a lot of giveaways and I even won two! Plus they have aspiring writer boards where you all encourage each other to finish your novel. After checking all the requirements and making sure I met them, last Monday, I hit send and submitted it electronically.

Now, writing 70,000 words is not a walk in the park. With all my other duties, it took 6 months. Then I had two beta readers look at it, and since I have decided I cannot write a query letter to save my life I hired someone to critique mine (she just rewrote it because it was that bad and referred me to websites with query samples on them). Yes, I have read other people's queries that were accepted and done my best to model mine after them, but I fall flat on my face. Instead of empowered and excited, they read like a whiney idiot wrote them. I can write a story in the style of any author you give me, but ask me to write a query letter after one of the hundreds I have read and my head flies out the door. I think somehow it gets screwed up because I am writing from my personal point of view and not someone else's.

So after making sure all my p's and q's were straight, I sent it, hoping there were not too many typos. Like a self-published piece, you should have as many people edit and look at it as you can afford and find. I could find two free beta readers that I was able to afford.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Traditional publishing part I (introduction)

In college during the early 90's I was taking a creative writing class. I was doing well in it, but half-way through I unofficially dropped out to marry my husband, vowing to never return. Then I did return a few years ago (yeah, that's how you know you have undiagnosed ADHD). Happily, my ADHD was diagnosed and now I have two Bachelors degrees (another side effect of ADHD).

Around the time my second son was born, I did decide that I had enough writing under my belt to make a go at a writing career. I unwisely chose children's picture books to write. I also wrote some other things and collected a nice stack of rejection letters that is filling a 3-ring binder in my garage.

At first, I refused to give up, priding myself that I had been rejected by some of the same publishing companies/publications that James Whitcomb Riley had been rejected from. I mostly got "nice" rejection letters, so I was even encouraged. But for whatever reason, I could never break the code. I didn't know what was wrong with my books. Eventually, I gave up writing children's stories to help my husband write his epic. That became my focus and the children's stories just took up space on one of my floppies.

As my husband's book approached completion, I realized: (1) it was huge - we either needed an agent or to self publish and (2) my writing skills needed more refinement to market something like that. I went back to college and got said degrees, taking 3 more writing courses to round them out. Yeah, I could have applied for minors in both creative writing and history as well, but at that point I really was done with jumping through undergraduate hoops.

Thus armed, I bravely wrote my next two query letters. One for my husband's book (never heard back) and one for my children's book (yep, rejected, again). Then, I set out to self publish the children's book to prove it was worthy. If you have been following this blog, you should know I finally have it formatted for print (paperback) but now I need to format it for kindle - its close but just not there. I also want to translate it into a language or two and then begin marketing it. Without marketing, you are dead in the water if you plan to self-publish for money as opposed to vanity.

Marketing costs either time (which I don't have since I still need to earn money freelancing) or money (which I don't have or I wouldn't be freelancing as much as I do). So, I decided to cave in and try to sell a romance novel the traditional publication way. Unlike children's books, romance novels are one of the most marketable books to put out. If you want to break into publishing, Romance is the easiest way to do it - which doesn't mean its easy, just easier than trying to get an unillustrated children's book to sell. But, traditional publishing is a little different that self-publishing and a lot more like freelancing.

When you self-publish, you can write whatever you want, however you want, and you don't have to follow any rules. You just need to know how to format it for kindle/createspace or whatever your publishing platform. When you freelance, you have to follow all the rules of the person that hires you. Whether I am editing, writing, or doing other odd jobs, I have to remember how each employer likes their work done and do it. Unlike freelancing, a traditional publisher is only going to give you a minimal list of rules to follow (most related to formatting) but if you do not know the unspoken rules, your manuscript won't get accepted. To find out the unspoken rules, you have to read what that publisher is putting out.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Holiday Break

Sorry, I took time off over the holiday because I wanted to finish my romance novel. It seems like I didn't have time to do anything this Christmas and our tree is still up! In our house, the tree comes down the day after Christmas (traditionally), but I suppose since I am still baking the Christmas cookies and truffles (the chocolates not the mushrooms) I promised my kids, I can still have the tree up.

I have been diligently writing, and believe it or not after insulting me several more times the guy I edited the screenplay for paid in full (I stopped communicating with him several weeks ago, but he keeps sending me a nasty letter every now and again telling me how he is going to ruin my career). Since he doesn't seem to have a foot in the romance industry I am not worried about his threats at the moment.

I did finish my romance: The Inconvenient Widow. Thus begins my trek back into traditional publishing. I will submit it tonight. I think I will talk about query letters and the submission process in my next post at the end of the week, but then I will get back into some of the interesting side jobs I have done.

Hope everyone had a good holiday season!