by Carolyn Brown
This week I’m the keynote speaker for a book club banquet and one of the questions, after how many books have you sold, usually comes from an aspiring writer.
They ask me to tell them my secret for writing so many books in a year’s time.
So today this blog is for all your aspiring writers who would love to sell a book to Avalon, which is a wonderful company that has bought more than 40 of my books in the past twelve years.
So here’s my standard, tough love speech to aspiring writers and I got to admit it, folks... to myself pretty darned often.
Just a minute while I polish up my soap box and get a good long drink because I’m about to do some serious speechifying. Okay, I’ve wet my whistle and I’m on top of the soap box so either run or sit down and listen to my oration titled “Stop Whining and Write!”
Write and Whine are both five letter words with only two differences. Write has a "r" in the second letter slot and whine has an "h"; write has a “t” in the fourth letter slot and Whine has an “n” in that place.
Write: R stands for right now, right this minute, don't go to the gym even if you've gained ten pounds since Valentine’s Day; don't go to the grocery store even if your pantry only has stale chocolate hearts and three withered up potatoes (that will sustain you long enough to write, right now). R stands for no procrastination. It means this very minute ... sit down, pick up the pen or slap those sticky little chocolate covered fingers on the keyboard and write…RIGHT now!
Whine: H stands for ho-hum! I'm still trying to get back in the groove. I've got too many rejection slips already so I'm not in a hurry. Darlin', it's 2011. The year is half over! Make it your goal to either sell something this year or else collect enough rejection slips to wall paper the White House and I'm not talkin' about that little house down at the end of Great-grandma Mabel's back yard. I'm talkin' about the one on Pennsylvania Avenue. If you don't get rejection slips you aren't sending out queries and proposals. Ho-hum won't cut it in today's market ... authors with publication dates do not have ho-hum in their dictionaries!
Write: T stands for TODAY! Not tomorrow or next week. Not when the spring cleaning is done or petunias are planted or the dust bunnies are scared out from under the bed. If you want to be a writer you have to write! Stories that are not written can not be sold. They can’t be read. They do not exist except in your head and that can’t be sold in a bookstore. So adopt the WRITE schedule and write today!
Whine: N stands for not today. Poor baby, let’s whine! The idea is there and it’s a wonderful one but if I write the story no one will buy it or I’ll get another depressing rejection slip. Hey, when I started writing I had a sharpened pencil and a spiral back notebook. The day my husband bought me an old Underwood manual typewriter I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. When I got my first computer and didn’t have to buy typewriter ribbons and white out in a bottle, I named it and told it bedtime stories.
But just so you won’t think I’m being too hard on you, I’ll let you whine a little bit because you really want to write but it’s such a hard job to get the story on paper and get it published. So put on the coffee pot and stand by the kitchen counter and whine until it gets done. That should take fifteen minutes or less so enjoy it! Pour a cup. Whining is over. Go WRITE! And if the mail man or the e-mail gives you a rejection slip that day, you are entitled to fifteen more minutes to whine about that. Then go WRITE! When you get “the call” you’ll be glad you stopped whining and wrote!
Maybe you are a five hundred a word day person. That means writing five days a week, taking Saturday and Sunday off for family, errands, long baths and yoga, you will finish a book in less than a year. And after the first day you will be so excited about the next five hundred words you will most likely forget to whine while the coffee is making.
Now you have a book in your hands. Study the market and send out the query letters: one page, your credits (awards, previous books, etc.) and a one paragraph hook that would make the editor wish they had the book in their hands right then. And while you are waiting for the editors or agents to contact you, what do you do?
You got it, darlin’! You WRITE another book. And don’t give up. Persevere until you sell! I’ve stomped a hole in my soap box and the two ladies on the front row have slipped outside. They are Lia’s hope for a wonderful new debut author next year because I’m sure they have both gone home to WRITE!