Category Archives: GetPublished

How to Bookmark Your Brand

AOB Sunrise ImageI said it over and over again back when I was still presenting workshops for writers. “Don’t brand your book. Brand yourself.”

I have a habit of not listening to my advice. Just ask my savvy author friends. They get a kick out of puncturing my pride with my own words on occasion in the form of a humorous anecdote. I could make a column of those witticisms called “What Alice Says vs. What Alice Does.”

To be fair to myself I did pay attention to my message when it came to one thing. The visual that banners the website where this blog appears plus my Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

I thought a lot about that visual. What image best represents who and where I am right now? Not just in my work but in my life as well? I needed inspiration so I went to Shutterstock.com and started clicking through possibilities.

Nothing grabbed me for quite some time but I didn’t mind. Compared to my usual work routine of struggle to make my characters and their actions come to life on the page – searching through hundreds of graphics felt like toddler play.

Then I saw it and I knew. Just as I was thinking I’d have to settle for “good enough” there was “perfect” staring out at me from my laptop screen. It was titled “Sunrise over the Sea” and the colors were glorious. The sky was gold and red-orange and reflected in water that turned to blue-green as it flowed toward me.

This is the way I feel about the place I now occupy and what I choose to do in this place. A new morning filled with promise. The crown of a full life spent doing things I loved – now offering fresh things I love. A dawning with mysterious adventure ahead. What will happen today?

I immediately emailed Kim Killion and Jennifer Jakes of The Killion Group Inc. We were on the same wave length as usual and within hours my sunrise was everywhere. Eventually we’d strengthen the impact with my book covers overlaying the right corner of the banner.

I couldn’t stop smiling. This was my brand. I’d had difficulty understanding exactly what Brand was until that moment. Your brand is You. Not as much what you do on the outside as what you feel – or are in route toward feeling – on the inside. I’d noodled around the edges of that. Even wrote a Blog Post about how long it had been. But the words didn’t sink into my heart before I made the sunrise my own.

Then I designed my first bookmark and that bright gold/magenta/turquoise epiphany disappeared into forgetfulness. It was a beautiful bookmark but it was for one book only. A Christmas novella no less – limited by both its singularity and its seasonal story.

The novella came and went along with the holidays. I gave away more of my thousand bookmarks than I thought I would. The rest were trash but I still liked the bookmark idea. I don’t care if they’re in or out. This is my sunrise time and I do what feels right for me. Right?

That reminder brought my epiphany winging back. “Brand yourself not your book”  goes for bookmarks too. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new Alice Orr Books bookmark so I can send it to Killion. And – you guessed it – the background is my sunrise.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

 

We Have Everything to Fear from Fear Itself

DO IT ANYWAY from Marie DuessQuestion: What does most damage to a writer’s career?

Answer: The simple answer to that is FEAR.

In my experience the biggest boulder in my writing career path – and probably yours too – has been FEAR. I write the world bold and in solid caps because that’s how it arrives in my psyche. Pulsing as well and emitting a ratchet sound.

What is the most common source of this very unpleasant experience? FEAR that I don’t know what I’m doing. My story isn’t good enough. My writing isn’t good enough. I’m not good enough.

I have plenty of voices among my memory circuits ready and eager to echo the sentiment. “Alice you’re just not good enough!” First soloist in my personal negativity chorus is my mother. You can fill in the blank with yours.

I generally keep on working despite those voices because I love to write. This is your best defense against FEAR in all its forms. Immerse yourself in the work. Get lost in the words and the fun of coming up with them. Pull the wonder of the writing experience over your head like a blanket. Stuff it in your ears. Reduce the negative nigglings in your head and gut by remembering We Write for the Joy of It.

The FEAR of not-good-enough rises to an even more powerful decibel level when it’s time to submit our work to an agent or editor. Or for us Indies – to upload onto Amazon. Each of these is a terrifying leap. We’re delivering our precious creations and our tender psyches to the world. The response could very well be yet another “You’re just not good enough.” In a deafening and debilitating roar this time.

Do It Anyway Sign -- from 1990sThis is what I call a Do It Anyway Situation. I shall illustrate with an anecdote. Way back when there were only hardcopy manuscripts I was building a collection of my own. Partial manuscripts to be exact – every one just short of long enough to constitute a submission which of course I never made.

My collection grew to such volume my husband was forced to build shelves for it across the walls not far from the ceiling on both sides of a long hallway in our apartment. My partials sat there gathering dust and turning yellow until a therapist friend of mine asked a dreadful question.

“What are you planning to do with those?”

She listened almost patiently while I recited my litany. I’d abandoned each project because a better one came to mind. The characters weren’t whomever. The plots weren’t whatever. The market had shifted. The cats ate my mailing labels. In other words I was too frightened to make the leap or – even more scarily – to take the risk of venturing into judgement territory.

After I’d laid my lengthy litany on her my friend said simply this. “You have two choices. Pick the best manuscript and submit it. Or ask Jonathan to build another shelf.”

The image engulfed me. Shelf after shelf of brittle yellow pages from ceiling to floor until the hallway was filled. Then along the walls of every room in turn until we were entombed by my not-good-enough work. The absurdity of that vision – like something in a New Yorker cartoon – triggered the kickstart mechanism in me. I began to submit. I was eventually published. I’ve been published many times since.

Do It Anyway SignOvercoming fear. Relegating it to non-bold lower case. That is a Do It Anyway Situation. Period. End of commentary – almost. If you’d like a Do It Anyway! reminder sign to tape to your computer or staple to your forehead. Email me at aliceorrbooks@gmail.com. I’d love to send you one. Or several if you prefer.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my work – including Books 2 and 3 – are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

 

How Marketable is Your Manuscript?

Ask Alice image 1Question: I want to be traditionally published. How do I get started?

Answer: Ask yourself this. How marketable is my manuscript?

Is your goal to be published by a traditional print publisher? As opposed to a strictly e-publisher or yourself as independent publisher? If your answer is yes you must FIRST evaluate your manuscript in terms of what the the traditional marketplace demands. This is the savvy way to start. Skip this step and your chances of publication diminish drastically.

At the same time you must also function as best you can on your own behalf – personally as well as professionally. Be aware of the realities of your choice. Do that for the sake of your own psyche. Otherwise you leave yourself vulnerable. To loss of effort. To loss of energy. To loss of hope which can be most psychically disastrous of all.

The first reality to be aware of is this. The publishing market is super cautious right now. Even more skittish than has always been the case. In MOST cases – work that veers very far from customary publishing expectations for your genre and subgenre will have a rough time finding welcome – especially if you are previously unpublished.

I did say “in MOST cases” however. The exception. A manuscript that is a truly extraordinary market-buster blockbuster bestseller masterpiece. Does this describe your work? Eliminate ego. Eliminate parental pride in your creation. Be hard of nose and heart and make a clearheaded answer to that question from an objective place. Not easy to do but imperative.

Submitting your work at this point in time – or any point in time really – is looking for a job in a low-availability environment. Looking for the job of published author. Think in terms of making yourself and your work as attractive as possible within a narrow avenue of possibility. Your quest for attractiveness always begins with the work itself.

You must always submit only your very best work. That is extra valid now. Don’t expect an agent or editor to see through your imperfect manuscript to your possibly more perfect talent beneath. Editors are looking for perfection visible – not perfection possible. Agents are the same because they look for what editors want.

Your first marketplace search is most likely for an agent. Ask yourself “What does this agent prefer to represent? Does my work fit those preferences?” Research those answers online. Go to the agent’s website. Google her name. Look for articles she’s written and statements she’s made. Find out who she represents and what they write. Figure out what all of this tells you.

I’m assigning you a sleuthing exercise. You must Investigate – Investigate – Investigate. You have your own sleuthing tricks. You will come up with new ones along the way. Please share them when you do. Share them everywhere and in every way and with everyone you can. Don’t forget that all boats rise together.

Your next sleuth project. Editors and the publishing houses where they work. Check out publisher websites. Google individual editors. Remember that the reception of an unsolicited – as in not agented – manuscript will usually be less welcome than a solicited – as in submitted by your agent – manuscript.

Some publishers declare they will not consider unsolicited manuscripts at all. My response to that is this. Send it along anyway. What have you got to lose? Except maybe that time and energy and psyche strength I mentioned. So be aware this is a Hail Mary Pass and adjust your expectations accordingly.

In the meantime – through all of the sleuthing and planning – you are making Lists and Lists and more Lists with your manuscript always in mind. Where might my work be most marketable? Who might find it most intriguing? What should I pitch most prominently to each target in order to maximize my chances of luring them into my lair?

Do all of this with high ambition and a courageous heart and you will also maximize the marketability of your manuscript. Next assignment. Always always always – Keep on Writing Whatever May Occur.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

 

How to Create a Relatable World – Ask Alice Saturday

Hope's Prelude cover image Question: How do I create a fantasy world that works?

Answer: You create a world that real-life readers can relate to.

First of all write a series. Creating an entire alternate world is too much work to undertake for a one-off novel. Besides a series is the road to success for an author in today’s marketplace. A series is also an adventure through that alternate world. Your goal is to draw readers in and make them want to stay through one book then the next and the next. To do this you must create a world that has reality and resonance – a world that is relatable.

Then you must immerse your reader in that world. You must immerse her so completely in your story world that she’s wants – even needs – to remain there until you release her at The End. So completely she will miss that world when she’s forced to leave it and be eager to return asap. Achieve that and you’ve set a powerful narrative hook for the story and for the series as well. But how do you manage such immersion?

I found an answer to that is in a book by L.G O’Connor. Hope’s Prelude – The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles – Book 2.5 is part of a very big story world. The biggest as a matter of fact because O’Connor’s macro story world encompasses nothing less than the struggle between good and evil to determine the fate of the universe. I love big stories and good versus evil but most authors have difficulty managing the scope of that canvas. Specifically they have difficulty making the story believable and relatable.

O’Connor manages the vast scope of her story and the series by anchoring us in credible human territory. The landscape may be vast but the situation is intimate because at its heart is a love story and we relate to love stories. This is the powerful narrative hook we all carry in our romance genre kit bags. We can use it to make a potentially overwhelming story canvas personal. We immerse the reader in the world of the lovers and that is our open sesame to immersing the reader in the alternate world of the story.

But we must do so as deftly as O’Connor does. At the center of an apocalyptic struggle scenario she grounds us in a tender love story that humanizes all of the rest and gives it an up-close-and-personal scale which touches our hearts. I was fascinated by her faceoff between the forces of good – the Angelorum – and the forces of evil – the Dark Ones. But I was truly captured by the love between Hope in her worldly guise as Dr. Sandra Wilson scientist – and her guardian and mate Isa whom she calls Ishmael.

Their passion is both human and otherworldly and Isa is one of the most sexy-powerful yet gentle lovers I’ve ever read. As romance storytellers intent upon creating conflict we are often forced to situate that struggle between our lovers or lovers-to-be. The alternate world framework allows us to situate the struggle outside of the love relationship in the complex universe beyond. O’Connor takes beautiful advantage of that opportunity by creating a hero who openly adores the heroine. I found that refreshing and endearing from the start.

However engulfed I may have been by the multi-layered world of the series – what really grabbed me was Hope/Sandra and Isa/Ishmael and how much they are besotted with each other and devoted to each other. Theirs is the kind of relationship we all long to find in our real-world lives and that longing is the ultimate reader involvement. We not only want to read about this couple – we want to be part of a couple just like them.

What deeper hook can a writer set? How much more relatable can a story be? Does O’Connor’s fantasy world work? You betcha it does. Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XKID2UE and be inspired.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn  – coming soon – is the first Christmas Novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Villain for Vanessa will be Book 3. All of my titles are available at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.

 

How Marketable is Your Manuscript & Where? – Orr What? Wednesday

Market imageIs your goal to be published by a traditional print publisher? If your answer is yes, you must evaluate your manuscript in terms of what that marketplace demands. To do otherwise is less savvy than you need to be on your own behalf.

If your goal is commercial print publication you must be aware of the realities of that choice for the sake of your own psyche. Otherwise, you render yourself vulnerable to loss of effort and energy and worst of all hope – which can be disastrous to your psyche.

The first reality you must be aware of is this. The publishing market is super-cautious now. Skittish beyond its customary skittishness. Work that veers very far from customary publishing category expectations will have a rough time finding welcome.

The exception – a manuscript that is a truly extraordinary market-buster blockbuster bestseller masterpiece. Does this describe your work? Eliminate ego. Eliminate parental pride in your creation. Be hard of nose and heart and make a clearheaded judgment from that objective place.

Submitting your work now is looking for a job in a low-availability environment. Looking for the job of published author. Think in terms of making yourself and your work as attractive as possible within that narrow avenue of possibility. This effort begins with the work itself.

You must always submit only your very best work. That is extra valid now. Don’t expect an agent or editor to see through your imperfect manuscript to your perfect talent beneath. Editors are looking for perfection visible. Agents follow suit because they look for what editors want.

Your first marketplace search is most likely for an agent. Ask yourself, “What does this agent prefer to represent? Can I accommodate my work to those preferences?”

Research those preferences. Turn first to the internet. Does the agent have a website? Who does she represent and what do they write? Google the agent for articles written and statements made. What does she tell you there?

This is a sleuthing exercise. You must investigate – investigate – investigate. If you have your own sleuthing tricks or come up with some along the way share them with others. Don’t forget that all boats rise together.

What editors and publishers are looking for is an easier search. Check publisher websites. Google individual editors. Remember that the reception of an unsolicited – unagented – manuscript will be less welcoming than a solicited one via an agent.

Some publishers won’t consider unsoliciteds at all. I say, “Send it along anyway. What’s to lose? Except maybe that time, energy and psyche strength I mentioned?” So be aware that this is a Hail Mary and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Through all of this sleuthing and strategizing and planning – you are making lists with your manuscript always in mind. Where might it be most marketable? Who might find it most intriguing? What should you pitch most prominently to each target in order to maximize your chances of luring them into the lair of your work?

Do all of this with high ambition and a courageous heart and you will also maximize your marketability. And always – keep on writing whatever may occur.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It’s also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. They were written for the non-traditional marketplace which is your other publishing option. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

The Crucial Cool Read – Ask Alice Saturday

Coolness imageQuestion. You talk about the cool read. Could you explain what that is?

Answer. The cool read is what needs to happen after you finish the first draft of a manuscript.

 We all know we must always submit Only Our Very Best Work. We achieve our very best work by revising. Revision is where Excellence happens. Revision is where a salable story happens.

We must beware of the blush of enthusiasm we all feel when we complete our first beginning-to-end draft of a manuscript. This is euphoria and it is totally misleading.

We are overjoyed to be finished. Certain our story is a thousand percent wonderful. We’ve lost all capacity for critical judgement. We’re in love – in love with our accomplishment. As we well should be. The completion of a first draft is a huge achievement.

BUT we must never submit our work at this point. This is where the crucial cool read comes in. We need to let the manuscript “cool” for a while. A few days at least. A bit longer if possible.

Set the piece aside. Do something else. Give yourself a total break. Or catch up on your social media/internet presence which will also be crucial to marketing your work. Or do some background prep for your next writing project.

Whatever your choice of cooling mode the purpose is the same. To give yourself distance from your creation. To clear your eyes and your mind and your heart so you can come back fresh – with your critical judgement intact.

When you return to the manuscript read it All The Way Through. Preferably in one sitting if you can manage that. If you can’t manage that – as many of us cannot – read it in subsequent sittings with no other writing work in between. You’ve cooled your head. Take full advantage of that.

Then Revise. Prepare for that revision by interrogating your manuscript. Ask it – and ask yourself – Six Crucial questions.

  1. How can I give this work a stronger narrative hook? A more intriguing Story Idea or Premise? A more riveting Dramatic Opening?
  2. The next 3 questions are for fiction writers. How can I make my Protagonist more sympathetic so the reader will really care about this character and thus be emotionally involved? Is my Protagonist a decent, admirable, heroic person?
  3. How can I make the Villain more formidable and still believable so he is a real source of conflict for my Protagonist?
  4. How can I make the Plot work better? Perhaps, by strengthening character motivations?
  5. For both fiction and nonfiction. How can I keep the Middle move rapidly along without sagging or getting muddled? With cliffhangers? With revelations?
  6. How can I make the Ending as satisfying as possible?

Congratulations. You’ve done the work. You’ve taken the truly cool road to producing your hottest work. You’ve earned a euphoria boost. Don’t forget to celebrate your work and yourself.

RR

A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It is also FREE at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is available at those same platforms including http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. They are both cool reads. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

The Need for Speed – Ask Alice Saturday

Road Runner imageQuestion. You talk a lot about the positives of Indie Publishing. Is there a negative for you?

Answer. For me there definitely is one negative. The emphasis on frequency of publication.

The three requirements for Independent Publishing success as a fiction writer – according to what I’ve been told – are these.

  1. Write in a popular genre.
  2. Write a series.
  3. Publish every 3 to 4 months. Preferably every 3 months.

I’ve got the first two covered. Romantic Suspense is a popular sub-group of a very popular genre. I’m also writing the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series.

I was doing all right with number three for a while. A Wrong Way Home launched in February. A Year of Summer Shadows in June. Four months apart not three but still in the frequency ballpark.

That looked okay on the calendar but I knew better. Making book number two’s publication date was a stretch for me. An uncomfortable stretch. To accomplish it I did a truly stupid thing.

I rushed the manuscript straight from my editor’s hands into production. I didn’t do the final crucial read-through myself.

I’ve been around way longer than enough to know there are edits only the author’s eyes will see. I rushed it anyway. Because I didn’t want to commit the allegedly deadly sin of letting five months pass between published books.

Since then I’ve committed other sins that also toll the death knell to my frequency of publication. Specifically I’m guilty of wanting and having a personal life. Complete with family and friends and even some fun.

In the 1990’s I set all of those aside to pursue a career as a literary agent. I was all business all the time and the goddess of commerce awarded me well.

What I seem to be experiencing now is a case of Been There Done That when it comes to All Work and No Play Make Alice a Successful Woman.

Whatever the cause may be – I’m just not feeling the need for speed. I fully understand this flies in the face of my having told hundreds of writers in my workshops that they must be Warriors on Behalf of Their Careers.

All the same – I’ve decided not to renew my fast lane pass. Which also flies in the face of the three-prong program for independent publishing success.

I’ve been fortunate to experience a number of worldly successes in my life. Maybe I’ve fulfilled my required quota of those.

Maybe it’s time to seek another kind of success. The kind that perhaps doesn’t involve being a warrior at all.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 1 – the eBook – is FREE at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T9RVGGC. It’s also free at Barnes & Noble and iTunes and KOBO and other online platforms. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – is also available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. These are my 12th and 13th novels. Number 14 will probably take longer to arrive. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

How I Marketed My New Book – Ask Alice Saturday

Question: How did you go about promoting your new book?

Answer: I developed a Modulated Marketing Plan. I’ll share it with you?

Shout Out imageFirst I established a couple of basic principles. I discovered they are basic with me anyway. Maybe they’ll feel basic for you too.

Do what you’re most comfortable with at the beginning when you’re searching for your rhythm and your groove. Accelerate at your own pace after that. Don’t ever panic. This is three principles rather than a couple – the trio I kept in my consciousness all the way through.

What was most comfortable for me was to write blog pieces. I learned the art of the brief blog entry when I was down-for-the-count for a while with cancer and drugs had shortened my attention span. An editor friend taught me to write short and my blogging career was born.

More recently a well-organized friend got me on a three-posts-a-week schedule. This is Ask Alice Saturday of that schedule. I’m comfortable here so I created Riverton Road Monday too – named after my series – and the first phase of my marketing plan fell easily into place.

Meanwhile the initial step of accelerating at my own pace was to look at what I was already doing that had a marketing angle. For example – what was I doing on social media?

My granddaughter put me on Facebook in the same bedridden period I mention above. I wanted to keep in touch – especially with other writers. Facebook was a comfort zone that turned into a visibility place for me and my books. Though I learned early not to direct market much.

Twitter was another thing entirely. All those postoids streaming past bewildered me until a writer friend turned my on to TweetDeck. Suddenly the incomprehensible stream sorted itelf into manageable lists. I love Twitter now. Though I keep direct marketing at a minimum there too.

Let me speak about indirect marketing. What you’re selling/branding on these media is you. I try to be my best authentic self. My most positive me. If people are attracted to that person – maybe they’ll also want to read my books. Which I do market more directly for a bit at launch time.

Next I got a new website. My old one was about me in a former incarnation. This one is about me in my new incarnation – as a full-time writer. I hired good help and found a visual image I felt represented who I am now. You can check out the results at www.aliceorrbooks.com.

A newsletter is the latest step in my modulated plan. Research told me I like the Debbie Macomber model. Personable. Low-keyed. Not very sexual. The first issue comes out next week. Go to my website address above and sign up if you’d like to see my newsletter too. You could win a replica of my favorite coffee mug in my first-ever giveaway. “Have a Cuppa with Alice.”

This plus some Guest Blogging is most of my marketing so far. A media savvy friend says YouTube is next. That makes me shiver in my summer sandals. But the third principle of my modulated plan is never to panic. Let’s just say I need to work on that one.

RR

 A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book 2 – officially launches THIS COMING MONDAY – JUNE 22nd! At http://www.amazon.com /dp/B00ZBOTH5O and lots of other places. This is my 13th novel and I thank heaven for my Modulated Marketing Plan. Feel free to make it your plan too – adapted to the comfort level and pace that’s right for you. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

 

 

Your Place of Maximum Possibility – Orr What? Wednesday

Sky's the Limit imageMy grandmother used to say “Always put your best foot forward.” She could have been speaking to anyone who hopes to be published today. I’m speaking to that very audience and as Grandma’s good girl I say “Always approach publishing from your place of maximum possibility.”

“Where is that place?” you might ask. Your maximum possibility resides in three venues. Today I address the first and what I consider the foremost of those – your writing work. I’ll get to the other two later.

To be in your place of maximum possibility for finding a traditional publisher or a readership as an independent publisher – you must write the very best work you have in you. The very best novel. The very best memoir. The very best nonfiction book. The very best story or article. That YOU have in YOU.

Anything less than your very best won’t be good enough to get you where you want to go in this extremely competitive media environment. On the traditional side agents and editors have piles of pages and a plenitude of digital submissions to select from when it comes to what they will represent or acquire.

“Choose me. Choose me” every eager writer cries. Your voices and mine are among them.

On the independent side readers have a multitude of eBooks and even indie published print books to choose from. We talk a lot about discoverability in the indie community. Those conversations have lurking beneath them our own cries of “Choose me. Choose me” as well.

Whatever your publishing medium choice may be the central question is the same. How do I emerge as one of the chosen? You write something absolutely bang-on terrific. That’s how.

You do that by getting your writer self into study mode. Study authors who are doing it right already. Study books on writing craft that can help you hone your own. Grab most tightly onto the tomes with lots of hands-on exercises. Do those exercises with your current writing project in mind. Because you must take what you learn and practice – practice – practice.

This also means going back to school. Find a writing course taught by somebody who truly knows how to teach. Listen to the jungle drums of student comment to know who that good teacher is. Then don’t miss a single class or blow off a single assignment. Take criticism with gratitude and run with it straight to the best writing you have in you.

Polish your writing until it’s a brilliant gem that will shine like a beacon to light your way from here. Because as you hold this writing gem in your hand and heart – you’ve reached the first great milestone without which the rest of your author aspirations cannot happen. You and your very best work have entered your own Personal Place of Maximum Possibility. And Grandma is really proud of you as am I.

RR

A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – Mark & Hailey’s Story. Officially launches with summer on June 22nd but is already available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZBOTH5O. This is my 13th novel and I wrote it from my place of maximum possibility. Alice Orrwww.aliceorrbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

How Far You Can Go – A Writer’s Business Plan Step 3 – Orr What Wednesday

Road Runner imageRefresher Course. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 1 – Work Your Butt Off. I told you about a high time I had with a long table full of clients back in my agent days. High in every respect because we were in a revolving restaurant at the top of a fancy hotel. And I got there by working my butt off.

Refresher Continued. A Writer’s Business Plan Step 2 – Do Everything Right. I told you about doing something crucial very wrong – my first lunch with an editor. Thank heaven she was a compassionate soul or I’d have made an even bigger fool of myself than I did. BUT I never let myself play the fool again.

Now we’re at Step 3. Which takes me back to the beginning when I had the wild idea to become a literary agent – my previous profession before becoming a full-time writer. Please forgive me if I digress to tell you where that brainstorm bright light epiphany idea came from.

I’d been enjoying a good run as an in-house book editor. I edited mystery novels – intense and demanding – no loose ends allowed. And Regency Romance novels – fun fun and more fun. So I had a good work balance going. Except for one thing. I was employed as an editor but I had the soul of a writer.

An editor’s job is to serve the interests of the publisher she works for. High – perhaps highest – among those interests is contract negotiation. The editor is supposed to get the writer to sign on the line for the least money and the most punitive terms possible. Sorry if that offends anyone. I don’t edit or write for a publishing house any more so I can be straight-from-the-hip all the way.

My main personal problem as an editor was my gift for contract negotiation. For some reason – probably my genetic gift of gab – I could whittle authors and their agents down down and down some more. But I didn’t like myself for doing it. So I decided to switch teams and use my negotiating skills on behalf of writers instead.

Then somebody told me I needed a Business Plan. “Why do I need a business plan?” I asked. “In case you have to go to the bank for a business loan,” was the answer. I couldn’t imagine wanting to deal with a bank that would trust me with their money at that tenuous point in my agent life. But I worried myself over the plan thing anyway.

I bought books at my favorite indie store – long-since gone. I researched in the library. This was back when we still did that. I checked out the internet too. What I found were basically templates and templates didn’t say much to me about what I wanted to accomplish in my career.

The truth was – at that point – I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to accomplish in my career. That lack of knowledge became the saving and the making of me as a businesswoman. I didn’t lock myself into specifics because I had no idea what they should be.

A single sentence popped into my head. “Let’s see how far I can go.” I wrote it on a sheet of paper and hung it on my office wall. That sentence turned out to be the brainstorm bright light epiphany I needed because it made all of what came afterward an adventure.

Granted I worked my butt off and enjoyed the successes and hotel-top parties that brought me. I also did my best to do everything right and when I fell sort I learned and changed tactics. The same way I changed tactics after my editor lunch debacle. Beyond that I kept the future open and my Velcro grasp at the ready to latch onto every opportunity that came my way.

Plus – I kept on keeping on in the direction of how far I could go at the fastest pace I could manage. Because – like the Road Runner – I know that Wile E. Coyote is back there. And even though he may not be so wily – coyotes have teeth.

I leap into my new adventure as a full-time writer with all of that in mind. If you asked me what you should do I’d advise the same. Let’s all of us simply See How Far We Can Go. My experience tells me we’ll be in for a happy surprise.

RR

My current novel is A WRONG WAY HOME – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #1 – available at amazon.com/author/aliceorr. A YEAR OF SUMMER SHADOWS – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Book #2 – launches with summer on June 22nd. as my 13th novel.  Let’s see how far it can go. Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.