Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ten Ways to Support Your Fave Authors for Free

I've had a couple people come up to me and basically apologize for getting Venom or Belladonna from the library, as if maybe they're not really a fan of the books since they didn't buy them. Truth time: The only books I bought recently were those released by close author friends or those bought at signings. This year was really hard for me financially, and I also knew I was going to be moving. Even with all the books I didn't purchase, and the books I gave away while packing, half the moving boxes still stacked in my bedroom are full of books. So yeah, I simply couldn't buy more.

But I read over fifty books in 2013--most of which I got from the local library. And that's okay. In fact, that's great. If people quit going to the library we'd probably quit having libraries. And that would be terrible. If you're in a place physically or financially where you can't buy books, that doesn't mean you can't support your favorite authors.

Here are ten ways to give a little author love without spending a dime:

10. Skip the piracy and use the library. Librarians take notice when books are in high demand, and they can be powerful author allies.

9. Follow your favorite authors on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Don't feel bad if they can't reciprocate--Twitter isn't very useful if you're following 10,000 people. If the author posts something that resonates with you, share or retweet the post.

8. Request books. If your school or local library isn't carrying a book you enjoyed, ask them to order it. Again, librarians are superheroes in the publishing world.

7. Reviews, reviews, reviews. I don't care if you bought the book, checked it out of the library, or read it slowly over several visits to Barnes & Noble--honest reviews are an author's best friend. Nothing says "Hey, this must be good. It's really popular!" like seeing a new book pop up on a website with loads of reviews. Copy and paste your reviews to all the major sites--Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.

6. Comment on the author's blog. Most blogs seem to get fifty page views for every one comment. Take the time to respond to posts that are especially meaningful to you. Yeah, it sucks to figure out some of those captchas, but authors love to know that someone is listening.

Andrea Cremer and me. Even authors like meeting authors!

5. Go see authors in person. Nothing is more horrifying than spending weeks stressing out about and preparing for a bookstore appearance only to have three people (two of whom are related to the author) show up. Don't feel like you can't attend a signing or speak to an author because you don't have money to buy the featured book. You matter to us. We want you there.

4. Sponsor a read-a-long. A read-a-long is like an online book club discussion. You invite the author to provide some questions about his or her book and recruit a group of readers who want to read and discuss the book at the same time.

3. Become a member of Goodreads. GR is chock-a-block with ways to support your fave authors. Start simple and add the author's book to your to-be-read list. Maybe vote for the book on Goodreads lists or add your favorite quotes from the book. Recommend the book to other members you think might enjoy it.

2. Tell your friends about the books you love. Tell them in person and on GR and Twitter and on your blog if you have one. Before the internet was big, there used to be a saying in customer service like "A satisfied customer tells 7 people about his experience. An unsatisfied customer tells 25." Pretty sure nowadays an unsatisfied customer tells thousands of people. But you can use the internet's power for good too! Most books don't get six-figure marketing budgets. The way they become successful is through word-of-mouth. That means you!

1. The most basic thing of all--send the author a tweet or an email. They may not be able to respond to you--some authors get thousands of messages a week--but that doesn't mean they're not reading them and appreciating them. No one ever gets tired of hearing someone say "Your book changed me/saved me/ helped me/ made me laugh my butt off." And when we're struggling with our newest project, sometimes it's your emails and tweets that motivate us to keep going.

Can you think of other ways to support authors for free? What about ways for authors to support their favorite bloggers? List them in the comments.

Happy holidays! And as always, thanks for reading :)

Seasons Greetings from Mufasa AKA "Moo."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life and Death at the Beach--in Photos

I took these pictures on Halloween when I went to the beach in Oregon. As someone who grew up landlocked, the ocean always feels like a mystical place to me. So many odd, unusual things washed up onto the shore. Pretty sure the tide would have deposited an entire alien civilization at my feet if I had stayed long enough :)

Mid-day at Seaside, Oregon

Mmm. Hope they're not poisonous.

Beach wildlife!

Do not touch the jellyfish.

What kind of magic beach washes up whole sand dollars?

I did not know what a live sand dollar looked like till I saw (touched) this one.


Nearing sunset.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Agent Post

Okay, this is a little late, like TWO YEARS late. Oops :) But still, my agent story is kind of cool so here goes:

My first manuscript was a contemporary friendship/problem book with a compelling voice but a weak plot. I never queried it (probably because I knew it wasn’t good enough) but I took it to a local conference once. The agent there liked my first five pages and asked me to sub to her. I did. She rejected my full. I didn’t sub it anywhere else.

Instead, I started on a second book—an awesome dystopian thriller. (I know, I know, too many dystopians, but I wrote this in early 2010). This one I took all the way to Oregon, to the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers’ Workshop. I probably dropped close to two thousand bucks when you added in the conference fees, airfare, car, and hotel, but I had decided to get serious about writing and I knew Jennifer Laughran, one of the Andrea Brown agents, was going to be there. I wanted to write YA and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is a major player in kidlit, so why not aim high, right? Even if Jenn hated my 5-page submission and the conference wasn’t helpful, I would still get to spend a week at the AMAZING Oregon Coast. Total win.

Total win.

As I was driving from Portland to Oceanside, I could sense the Pacific growing closer. I was overtaken by this weird sort of mystical “Good things are going to happen to me here” vibe. I accelerated unconsciously, in a hurry to get there, desperate to see the ocean. But all I saw were flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. Oops. The cop wrote me a ticket for what felt like a trillion dollars. It was so high he said I had to appear in Tillamook Court. Problem, you know, since I lived 2000 miles away. FYI, “I was in a hurry to see the ocean” is not a good enough excuse for a cop--not at my age, anyway :)

So that whole “good things” vibe had kind of worn off by the time I finally made it to the conference. But then I met author April Henry right away and she told me she had loved my submission. And then I heard Jennifer Laughran speak and she made me laugh, but kinda scared the crap out of me too. (Somewhere she's furrowing her brow and going: “Scary? I don’t think I’m scary at all!”) I find her much less scary now, but she has this commanding presence, and that combined with her straightforwardness was kind of terrifying for a newbie at her first major conference. Like “Oh jeez, if she doesn’t like my first page, she’s not just going to shake her head and say “Keep working.” She’s going to enthusiastically explain to the whole room why it doesn’t work. Which, you know, is the whole point of anonymous first-page critiques—everyone learns from everyone and no one is called out. But still…yikes. Dude. I am glad I am desensitized to criticism now. Mostly :)

But I worried for nothing because the whole class loved my first page so much that they freaking clapped after the workshop organizer finished reading it. [Sidenote: things like this do not happen to me. Speeding tickets--yes. A room full of strangers clapping--no not so much.] Jenn said “This person should query me.” and now you’re thinking: Holy crickets! Agent fairytale story! Not quite. A couple of months later, Jenn read my full manuscript and passed on it. But she sent me awesome feedback about what worked and what didn’t, and once again I didn’t query anyone else. Because she was right.

You know how sometimes you’re thinking “ugh, that character/plot point/ending just isn’t working” and you hope you’re paranoid so you send it off to beta-readers and cross your fingers they’ll love it, but they all confirm your suspicions? And then instead of being upset you’re kind of relieved? It was like that. I knew the first half of my manuscript was awesome. I very much suspected the second half was not awesome. And while I still love the crux of the story and might use parts of it for a book someday, at the time I didn’t know how to fix it.

How can you not speed on the way to someplace so gorgeous?

So I focused on work-for-hire for a couple of months, writing the Venom proposal for Paper Lantern Lit. After Venom sold, I started working on the rest of the book and also started a third book of my own, which became The Art of Lainey. I wrote it concurrently with Venom, often working on both manuscripts in the same day. When people ask me now about switching from historical to contemporary, that isn’t how I see it. There was no switch. I was always writing contemporary. The historical just sold on proposal through Paper Lantern's agent and got published first. I’ve never worked solely on one project at a time. I sometimes envy people who can do that, but I suspect they’re making more money than I am ;)

I queried Jenn like a proper query bunny and then sent her The Art of Lainey. We had kept in sporadic contact since she rejected me and it had been roughly a year. In that time I had followed her blog and twitter and I really liked her style. She was bold, blunt, a no bullshit kind of girl. She was an Agent Tiger. When it came to publishing, I am was kind of a baby kitten. But I guess this time I knew what I had written might be good enough, because I queried other agents too. 

Jenn read first and offered first—“I LOVED it. I laughed. I cried. I went squee,” she wrote. 
I was so excited because I knew she was “the one” for me. But still, picking an agent is a big deal, and I wanted to take it seriously and listen to what others had to say and make an informed decision and all that jazz. 

But in the end, it was Jenn, and I could not be happier :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Super Terrific Epic Awesome Nano Playlist

I figure by now you Nanobots are either halfway to 50K words or really freaking cranky. Never fear! I have come up with the antidote to all of the usual Nano woes. Just find your particular ailment in the list, listen, and be healed :) [Edited to add direct links to the vids in case the embedded clips bog down your computer].

Problem #1: I'm too tired.
Seventh cup of coffee not quite doing it?


Problem #2: I suck.
99.71% of all writers write sucky first drafts. And that other .29%? They never get invited to the good parties.


Problem #3: I'm angry.
Wanna break stuff?


Problem #4: I. Can't. Even.
Yes. You. Can.


Problem #5: I'm too young for this.
No one is too young for anything anymore. Didn't you get the memo?


Problem #6: I'm too old for this.
I know, right? Kids today! :)

I hope I included something that worked for your specific Nano ailment. (I went old old school with those last two!) When in doubt, listen to all twelve. Repeat as needed. And for reals, if you listened to all of those and you still feel crappy, you might need medical attention :) 

All video clips courtesy of artist, director, record label, or Vevo, via youtube.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog Type Thing

Hi. So I am getting closer to calling this a website. Yay, both and are now working.

Anyway, I have kind of a 'blogger manifesto' which goes a little something like this:

I'm not going to blog because I feel like I should. I'm not going to blog because it's been too long. I'm not going to blog just about writing. I'm only going to blog when I want to, and because I feel like I have something interesting to share.

Okay, so not exactly poetry, but you get the idea. The internet is too full of crap already, right? No need for me to add more clutter. I will be doing a blog series called LAINEY: From Idea to Finished Book, where I tell you about how the book came to be and walk you through the acquisitions, editing, and publication process. I'll also be blogging about music and movies because I like these things, and about writing tips because working as a freelance editor is helping me see repeated problems that writers commonly make.

And there will be other stuff too, and giveaways, so I hope you stop by regularly. In the meantime, happy reading!