Submission hopes and fears

Are you embarking on the submission phase of your writing journey? Or perhaps like me, you’ve forged head-long into the process, only to feel lost and disorientated.

You’re in the ‘The Magic Eight Ball’ zone. The inside of your mind, has been shaken to its core. Only able to answer; Yes, No or Maybe to your pointless rhetorical questions. Will you find an agent, is your work polished enough, have you spelt the agents name correctly? Blah, Blah, Blah.

I knew going into this process, that waiting and rejection was inevitable. And still I was unprepared.

Submission writer agent hopes fears

As I discussed in my previous post Searching for an Agent. I’d researched the best fit agents for YA fantasy novels, fine-tuned my synopsis, pulled my big girl pants up and repeated, show no fear, you’ve got this.

I’m just five weeks in… I want to share some of my hurdles, blunders and worries I’ve faced:

  • Well-meaning friends congratulating you and ask, ‘When are you going to be published?’ – Urm, I don’t know. It’s about as helpful as asking a heavily pregnant woman, when is the baby going to arrive?
  • Having the best dream, where an amazing, talented agent hired you. Pulling you into a massive bear hug and promising that the world is your oyster. – Only to wake up. At least you know you’re passionate about your writing dream.  Right?
  • Stalking agents via Twitter, Tumbler or LinkedIn, heck maybe all three. Only to humiliate yourself with a miss understood tweet. – Hide from all forms of social media, close all the curtains and spend your life like a hermit. Yikes!
  • Doubting your skills and creativity. Questioning every plot decision that has led you to this point. – It’s hard passing your precious novel over to the great unknown. As a control queen, I thrive on setting my own goals and reaching them. This part requires blind faith in your work, leaving it up to the masters of the literary universe.

Submission writer agent author

I’ve already learnt from this process. By revaluating my hook and short bio, I’ve strengthened my chance at making a good first impression. There are some fantastic bloggers out there who have helped me develop those skills.

Shout-out to: 

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/secrets-of-story-structure-pt-2-hook/

The Submission Process

That magical moment when you decide NOT to quit writing #writing #writers — BlondeWriteMore

Love writing agent submission

An important part of the process is acknowledgement. It’s easy to let it corrode your self-esteem. You’re not alone in these worries; every writer has struggled with them. Embrace those fears. The whole experience is tinged with What If’s. Use that momentum to evaluate where you’re going and what you plan to do next.

I’ve come to realise that this process, as painful as it can be, is also liberating and exciting. Even if I don’t find the agent of my dreams, I’m not quitting. I can’t. What a huge eye opener. In fact, I’m already 20% into my first draft of book 2 and loving every minute. There’s a sense of satisfaction, in knowing my craft. In the continuous growth of mastering a skill.

Writing inspiration agent submission
Perhaps it will take a 100 submissions, perhaps it will be lucky book number 5, maybe it will never happen.

I’m still going to keep on writing, dreaming and plotting my way to the end.

I hope this blog gives a little bit of hope to anyone embarking on or wading through the query trenches. I love your advice and moral boosting comments, so don’t be shy.

Author writer Lorraine Ambers

Thanks for reading.

© Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com 2017

universe, night sky, stars

Guest post – From Whispers to Roars by Kristy Nicolle

Please welcome indie author Kristy Nicolle. She has published a fantasy romance series, The Tidal Kiss Trilogy and is due to release her new dystopian novel Something Blue next week. 

Author Kristy Nicolle
Today, Kristy is sharing her experience on self branding and platform building on social media. 

Author Lorraine Ambers
When I was asked to write this guest blog post I didn’t really know what to say. Lorraine informed me that I’m quite the social media guru, which I guess until recently I never really noticed. So I’m here to talk to all you authors, those of you who are new, old, considering publishing your first book or looking to learn something new.The thing is, marketing via social media, or any other platform for that matter, isn’t awfully difficult. I’ll tell you one thing though, you must have one key quality to succeed. That quality is BELIEF. It sounds sappy and dramatic, but the biggest way to fail at the first hurdle in publishing is to believe that nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say, that it’s all been said before.

 

Here’s the thing.

It has all been said before.

 

But not by you.

 Book Tea writing

If you’re a new author you go out there with a freaking megaphone and you tell anyone who will listen about your book. I know it’s scary, I know it’s hard to know if people will want to hear it, but the truth is if you don’t start shouting about your book, nobody else will. Being an author isn’t the kind of profession for those who are shy anymore. Writers used to be thought of as raving introverts, incapable of communicating in any other way than by the pages of their novels, but times have changed, and with indie publishing, you are your own marketing campaign, you are a part of the product. You have to be the one to sell it, to tell people how amazing your book is. To SHOW them what you’re capable of. But to do that, and do it well, you have to believe you have something worth selling. It’s true, vampires and werewolves aren’t a new concept, but how is YOUR vampire novel different? Why should a reader pick it up? If Picasso and Van Gogh both sat down to the same scene, they would paint entirely different pictures. The same goes for writing. Every author is different, and though we walk in the same genres, and among the same types of stories, our experiences and the way in which we write them are nothing less than one of a kind. That’s what you have to realise to market well. Nobody else can be you. Only you can do that. Only you can tell your stories. So, the most important thing is to put your embarrassment and fear aside and start selling yourself. Take a long hard look at who you are as an author and what makes your stories special. Why should a reader pick them up? Pay for them? If you can’t answer these questions- neither can your readers.

Never give up 

The second thing to know about marketing online is simple- image is everything. Often authors say to me – well my graphics don’t matter, they’re paying for my words, not my artistic skills. WRONG. Putting up crappy graphics puts doubt in people’s minds that you know what a quality product looks like before they’ve even checked out the blurb/excerpt. Looks do matter, now more than ever because the market is particularly competitive. You can write the world’s next great novel, but if it looks like crap nobody will buy it. People are shallow, and they say that seven seconds in the length of time it takes someone to decide whether to one click or not. This isn’t just for covers, it’s for everything. Website, teasers, banners. If your author persona doesn’t look professional, people will automatically assume your writing is of a similar quality, even if that’s not the case. If you’re not good with graphics, hire someone!

Writer desk author
My final piece of advice is persistence. Doing one round of spamming facebook groups with your ads isn’t going to see overnight results. Facebook platforms, like anything truly effective take a while to grow and evolve into what you want them to be. Being an indie author these days truly is a marathon, not a sprint. Never be afraid to change it up, to try what’s new and HONESTLY, don’t take every single person’s advice. What works for some authors won’t work for everyone, and marketing trends are just that, trends. They change quickly and often burn out as so many people jump on them they quickly lose their effectiveness.

 If you can dream it you can do it

At the end of the day, there is no one way to market yourself, there is only what you think is right for you. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your approach and open minded enough to make changes when you need to. Trust your gut, believe your product is worth buying and persist. Good things will happen! 

Kristy Nicolle xx

Pixel image computer desk research business

Exploring Google+ for Writers

Hi everyone, thanks for joining me on my expedition of Google+. As an author and blogger I need to get my content out there. To be seen by the masses. Social media provides us this opportunity. But where do we start?

Entering the realm of Platform Building is daunting and a subject we’ve already covered. With our brand discovered and in place, it’s time to adventure into wide web.

photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)
photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)
Take a look at some of the previous journeys:

Reaching a wide audience and connecting with our readers is the aim, so let’s get started!

Step on: Set up an account using the same crafted brand bios and photos. How to achieve this can be found on my blog about building your platform. It’s an important first step and should not be missed. Tip: Google+ maximises your Google search results from essential key words in your Bio. Understand your target audience; use the same language so they can discover you. Example: fantasy, non-fiction, young adult and romance are a few of mine.

You can create a personnel or business profile. I opted for a personnel page. As a new author I wanted to be proactive in reaching out to other people and have them get to know me. You have to use your personal profile to do so.

Business writer artist author Pixabay

Link your account to your website, and any other media sites you have created. Having multiple platforms generates more visibility for your work. More sites! –  I hear you cry, I know, It’s hard work. Take it one step at a time and breathe. It’s taken me a couple of years to get to this point. I’m still learning and growing. So can you.

Google+ is an excellent site for meeting up with likeminded individuals. Choose relevant interests and community groups. I’ve joined communities like; Writers blogs, Creative writing and Book reviews. Tip: Select a few and concentrate on them, don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easy to get carried away and hard to maintain.

photo credit: @brockuniversity Social Media via photopin (license)
photo credit: @brockuniversity Social Media via photopin (license)
Unlike other social media, Google+ has the advantage of creating circles. Your circles could contain containing authors, editors or publishers.  Reach out and connect with your circles, formatting posts that connect specifically with them in mind. They in turn, will link you to their circles, helping you to grow.

Like all media keep posts relevant, with good content and on a regular basis. Get to know your connections and have fun. The advantage of Google+ is there is no maximum content. You can submit a chapter of your novel to be reviewed or post book reviews. It’s an intelligent platform with a host of feature just begging to be put to good use.

Google+ Hangouts is a free online video chat that can include up to 10 people. Just think of the possibilities this opens up, book readings and meeting your readers.

Why not follow me on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/2/+LorraineAmbers

Tell me about your Google+ experience, share some great tips, I love to here from you.

©Lorraine Ambers 2017

Girl-Stars-Draems

How to title your book

This is no easy task. In fact my novel has had several working titles over the development of the book, none of which are any good or of any use.

I’ve researched my genre, found the running themes to my novel and brainstormed for your hours.

There’s nothing more disheartening than having an excellent title in mind only to discover it’s already in use. Not the smartest move, especially if the other Author is a run away success.

Or when your friends tell you it sounds like an erotica novel. (This happens a lot, I guess I have a dirty mind 😳.)

Thankfully I came across Kim Chance’s awesome YouTube channel with advice on this matter. 

Definitely worth a look. 

desk writing notebook author

#Editing – Removing crutch words

In the last #Editing blog we looked into Developing characters, if you missed it why not take a look. Next time we’ll be delving into emotional beats.

The first draft of my YA fantasy novel was finished. I’d succeeded in writing the story, working towards The End, scene by scene, until the book was complete.

Yay! It’s a fantastic feeling. An accomplishment of hard work, creativity and a dash of doubt.

If you’re working towards that goal, keep going, you can do it.

flowers pink blue

So, what happens once you reach the finish line? It’s time to edit, revise, cut, add and alter your first draft. Working it until it’s the master piece it deserves to be.

Today I’m highlighting crutch words. Or in my case, an over use of body parts. How many times did I write heart, lips or eyes in that piece?

I’m talking about particular words that you’ve peppered your page with. You’ll being to notice the words you rely on. With diligence you can begin to remove them from your work.

love pen book tea -pixels

Edit out crutch words. Jot down a list of your culprits and search your document, preening them out. Try rewriting the sentence using different words? Ask yourself; do the words adding any meaning to the sentence? Will its removal, alter the story? Can the crutch word be replaced with an alternative description? Eliminating the obvious eyes sores before our readers identify them.

#TIP. Word document has a Find tool that searches and highlights them in your manuscript. Making it easy to alter or remove.

Air caution, when using the thesaurus. While its function is invaluable to us authors, it runs the risk of stripping our unique voice from the story. I must admit to replacing a word for a recommended substitute and losing the original meaning by not understanding the definition.

Hey!! I’m a creator of worlds, not a master literary knowledge. (Perhaps one day I’ll be both.)

My last tip is to read your work aloud. We’re often too close to our work to see fault. But by sounding out the writing, our brains have the ability to process the information, thus picking up on the crutch words. I find that reading out to my critique group gives me extra awareness. I’m guaranteed to find at least one more, even after a thorough edit.

An editor will spot these for you. Unfortunately, they won’t do the revision for you.

Yes, it’s tedious and hard work but with persistence your writing will improve.

What is your main crutch word? Don’t be shy. I love it when you share your thoughts and opinions.

 

 

writing desk flowers notebooks

#editing – Developing characters

When I embarked on my writing journey I thought reaching The End of my novel would be the hardest hurdle to jump. Like my protagonist, Princess Alicia, I was naive. Blood, sweat and story arcs were merely the beginning.

I tried editing and revising my MS as I went along. Inevitably by the time I’d completed the novel, my knowledge had grown, my skill set sharpened and my craft had been honed. Meaning my early work needed an overhaul.

 

Beauty of Life. Quote Lorraine Ambers writer

How to create believable, well rounded characters? Try asking your characters some key questions helps to identify them. What are there likes, dislikes, what do they fear, what’s there hobby or passion, who’s there family?

I like to use Pinterest to develop my characters looks, fashion and settings. It’s an ideal playground for formulating the initial ideas to grow a character. With the added bonus of visual stimuli to remembering eye and hair colour, sense of style and interests. It may seem like I’m pratting about on the internet but its research. I’m a fantasy writer; where else would I get images of otherworldly figures?

fairy quote character traits Lorraine Ambers

You’ll be able to distinguish there negative and positive character trails. Add a backstory that fills out the characters life and combine them together. Most of the information won’t make it into the novel but it will guide there choices as they move through the story.

One of my grey areas was my protagonist Alicia. Her internal voice was spot on but her dialogue came across as mousy and boring. The truth was; until the book had been completed I wasn’t sure of her journey, of how she’d grow and develop. Let alone where I wanted her to start. In hind sight drafting a plot would have overcome this problem.

Another tip is to imagine speaking to your character. Or at least imagine it’s the character answering the dialogue. When you know your characters like they’re your best friend, you’ll know how they’d react in a situation and what they’d say; in some cases what they wouldn’t say. Sometimes the tension from silence speaks volumes in a scene.

Got any other tips, ideas or techniques to share with me? Please add them to my comments. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

 

Author self-doubt tumblr_nxeot3aztf1rj0hrio1_500

Overcoming self-doubt

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an author hits us all at one time or another. This past week has been no different for me. My MS is full of tropes. I’m a failure.  No agent is going to accept me. My writing stinks!

Author self-doubt

We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear.

My favourite quote is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying and to hope tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

cat in bed

For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past I’ve buried myself in a double quilt with a large bar of chocolate as my only comfort but life simply passed on by. I now wonder what might have been if I’d had faith in my future.

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up lands from fantasy and create what only our minds can conjure.

Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of mental illness, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruellest one of all. So I won’t feel guilty about allowing myself time to pick up the pieces.

fluff-and-stuff

 Rest and relaxation does wonders for our muse.

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

What helps you navigate from the tiny terrors that whisper inside your mind? Do share, I’d love to know.

writer, coffee, bag, pen, notebook

7 Writing tips by Lorraine Ambers

Hello and welcome, today I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips with you. The kind of advice I wish I always used but as I’m only human, I too forget.

Like the wonderful author Judith Barrow keeps telling me: Read your work aloud. It helps to identify poor flowing work, straighten out kinks and generally is a great tool for your revision. (Yes, she tells me after each critique session when I clearly have not done so.)

Use your own writing voice, don’t try to imitate someone else’s. Publishers want your unique style that only you can deliver, so quite struggling with the pretence and allow your words to flow through the pen.

pixabay tips ideas
Tips anyone?

As a follow on to the last point, always carry a note book and pen, pencil or if you fancy a crayon. I can’t tell you how many times I should have been prepared. In your handbag/ backpack, in the glove box, by your bed or even record your words of epiphany onto your mobile phone. You always think you’ll remember the clever prose or genius plot twists – but you won’t.

A small tip for any of my writing mums or dads, don’t even think about writing when the kids are awake, at home and never in the holidays. It always results in tears and tantrums; mostly mine because they will not let me write. Any writer – parenting tips welcome.

Writer tantrum
Danger! Writer tantrum.

I am the queen of daydreams and procrastination. So I need some limits and boundaries, even if its to write for 20 minutes a day. Most likely, I’ll be typing for hours but on the days I struggle to get two words out it will help me return for the next monotonous writing event. We all have those days, you are not alone!

Afternoon tea, cake, teapots
Anyone for afternoon tea?

Bring a fresh mug of tea, doesn’t help me write but it sure does lift my spirits. A happy writer is… well, still just a writer but we all have our little comforts. So why not enjoy the perks of working from home, all alone and enjoy whatever treats we choose, just because we can. 😉

For today’s last tip; One I wished I used but learnt the hard way, back up your work. Save it to a cloud, on a memory stick, on your computer – and just to be extra sure, a printed out MS, in a sealed self addressed envelope that you lock in a vault. A bit excessive but you understand my point, when the works gone, its gone, so take care of it people.

Tell me about your writing tips, quirks or habits and have you also learnt the hard way?

 

Writing desk Author Lorraine Ambers

Author’s introduction to LinkedIn

 

photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)
photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)

Us authors need to be on social media. We need to be seen and we need our unique voices heard.Truth is we alone are responsible for showing the public who we are and what we are about.

In other blogs we’ve taken a bite sized Pinterest lesson and Building an social media platform.  I’ll be honest each blog I’m learning too.

Be brave and take the plunge!

Pixabay image, Brave Lego Superman
Pixabay image, Brave Lego Superman

As with all social media Keywords are essential, this is prevalent with your title on LinkedIn. Its the first port of call for like minded people to make a snap decision as to weather or not you’re a potential candidate to connect with.

Numbers are not important! Your target audience is vital, so choose editors, authors, writers, bloggers and publicists within your genre to drive your target audience towards you. Your search will begin with similar Keywords that you painstakingly placed in your title.

social media for authors

Use advanced search to your benefit. You could type in, YA Fantasy Author or Fantasy reader and see who pops up. It will enable you to search for people, jobs, groups and much more. Now connect until your hearts content, or in my case, until I’m bored stiff.

Fill in your profile, get creative but be truthful. If this is the first social medial you’re approaching, a little work now can be transferred to other sites when your ready. Helping to maintain your brand. Add your experiences and keep them relevant to your platform. I also run a welding fabrication business but that’s not going to help me as an author.

Remember your Keywords!

Success key

Join groups and get chatting. As with anything social, sitting on the sidelines will not get you noticed (note to self, that’s why parties are no fun). Be brave, introduce yourself, ask questions or just answer others posts. In business it takes time to build recognition and then trust, so be patient.

I have found that LinkedIn is the most responsive platform towards my blog. So remember bloggers to share your work on social media’s, add links or use widgets that connect to this resourceful site.

An image tells a thousand words!

 

Pink Flowers Author Lorraine Ambers

With all media sites no one likes to be hassled about your book. The fastest way to put off connections is to appear selfish and egotistical. A good goal is to aim for 10% self promotion and 90% give back. Share, comment, interact and offer tips)

I’m still learning, so why don’t some of you lovely share your LinkedIn tips with me!