You’ve toiled for years, writing story after story. You’ve sent them out to agents or publishers, you’ve self published or you’ve hid them on a shelf in the back of your closet where no one will ever read them.
Each book is a journey, and more than the journey your characters take. It’s the trek you, as the author, takes while honing your craft. It’s the trip to tell the story itself. It’s the return expedition to polish the tracks you’ve put down. It’s the vacation while someone else reads it and the outing to the padded room while you worry about what they are thinking. It’s navigating social media to promote yourself and your work and it’s the higher ground you stand on when people try to bring you down because of what you write or how you’ve decided to get your work out there.
As we grow, so do both our writing and our life in general. You may come to find you no longer like what you’ve written in the past. You may think your style amateurish or even be embarrassed by the genre you’ve written (Monster erotica, anyone?) . While it’s okay to feel that way and you don’t need to necessarily promote them like you used to, it would be a disservice to you, and any reader who enjoyed those books, to hide those books away and pretend like they never existed.
Those stories show how far you’ve come. They are the proof that you’ve grown and how your hard work has paid off. Use them as examples of what worked and what didn’t. Share those findings with others without shame. Everyone has to start somewhere and very few start at the top. They have to work to get there, just as you have. Take pride in that.
What have you learned from your earlier work?
Title: Clipped Wings
Author: Helena Hunting
Genre: New Adult (?)
Source: Net Galley
Goodreads Rating: 4.34
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
An emotional love story that follows the touch-and-go relationship of Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.
As Hayden and Tenley navigate their newfound but slightly unstable relationship, they want to trust each other, but Hayden is hiding a dark and shameful past that he doesn’t ever want Tenley to find out about. And Tenley has secrets of her own that could make Hayden run away forever. When Tenley asks Hayden to put a beautifully elaborate tattoo across her back, the two form what they thought was an unshakeable bond. But when Tenley’s past shows up on her doorstep, will Hayden stand by her side…or run?
This story had a lot more going for it than I expected. The two main characters are broken and wracked with guilt, yet undeniably attracted to each other. There are several nice and steamy bits but I was glad to find there was more to the story than just the hooking up portions. I found the character reactions to their difficult situations realistic, although I felt Tenley’s character was a bit over the top at times, making her life more difficult than it needed to be…but I suppose there are people out there in the real world that are drama-llamas who make things worse for themselves than it needs to be. All in all, it was an enjoyable, emotion-driven story that I think a lot of people will get into. The only thing I really disliked? Cliffhanger ending! Nothing is wrapped up. You’re left hanging and quite honestly, it was super annoying. I don’t mind questions left to have a sequel, but not resolving anything? Nope. I’m not a fan.
A blurb is typically what is printed on the back cover your book. It’s purpose is to entice the reader into buying the book or taking it out of the library. It’s got to be precise, well written and engaging. At two hundred words or less, it’s a quick glimpse into your story that’s probably 50k+ words.
Why put so much emphasis on it? Well it’s for more reasons than you may think.
A well polished blurb can be pared-down even more and used in your query letters. Think about it, the blurb was written to catch a reader’s attention and an agent or publishing house is who you want to read the book the most (at first anyhow!). A blurb can be too long for a query letter but you should already have the good bones. You can work off that.
I belong to a writing group that meets weekly. We often have new people stopping in or people who can only make it on occasion. Several of our members give rambling ten minute long descriptions of their story before they read their pages. It’s repetitive for those of us who are there regularly and it takes up a lot of time. If you have a blurb, you can read it and give them some info on the story without taking a whole lot of time.
Have you ever told someone you’ve written a novel and when they ask what it’s about, you find yourself with verbal diarrhea, telling them every piece of witty dialog you’ve written, every sex scene and all the plot twists? Not even your bestest friend or mom wants to sit through all that (and if they do, then they won’t need to read the book, you’ve given it all away!). While it would be unnatural to recite your blurb to them, you can use the blurb to give them a much more condensed version to pique their interest.
It may feel like a chore, trying to take your long story and explain it in a couple of paragraphs, but it will be well worth it in the long run and help you have a better handle on explaining your work.
Share your blurbs with us!
Ask this question to ten different people and you might very well get ten different answers. Many may say success lies in the amount of money you make, while others will say it’s reaching your goals. Sometimes, it’s just not so easy a question to answer.
Is success selling a certain amount of books? I recently came across a quote that said: “The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime”. I’m not sure how true it is or where it came from, but if I used that to measure success, I have no doubt I’d be considered successful by year’s end.
Is it in the money you make? Considering most authors I know work another job in conjunction with writing, I don’t think most of us are in it for the money. Not to say that wouldn’t be nice, but I think most of us aren’t expecting to be able to live off our book royalties.
If your book gets picked up for movie, does that mean you’re a success? Probably! Hah except that they typical have to change the story to fit the different medium, so it doesn’t always end up as powerful as your writing, but I would definitely rank it up there high on the success ladder.
I think, for me, success lies in the reviews, both good and bad. I think writing something that moves the reader enough to want to review it means your writing has touched them in some way. Of course the good reviews make you feel better about your writing and it’s lovely to see people enjoying your story, feeling for your characters, etc. but I’ll take the bad as well and use it to better myself and my writing.
How do you measure your own success?
In Heavyweight, Ian and his friends deal with a lot of issues: eating disorders, bullying,prejudice and the stress that comes along with school life. Sadly, these are issues that many teens are dealing with these days. They aren’t to be taken lightly as these kinds of issues can lead to hospitalization, depression and even possibly suicide.
Having the internet at one’s fingertips can assist someone in finding the help or support to get through these situations. The Web allows for an anonymity that can help a teen or young adult feel more comfortable opening up and seeking assistant for their problems.
Here are some some websites and phone numbers that offer support:
- Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention 1-800-931-2237
- Eating Disorders Center 1-888-236-1188
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 1-847-831-3438
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders 630-577-1330, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday http://www.anad.org
- Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline 800-USA-KIDS (800-872-5437) Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week http://www.thursdayschild.org
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
- National Hopeline Network 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) http://www.hopeline.com/
- The Trevor Project , 866-488-7386 (24/7) Live Chat with the Trevor Project (Fridays 4pm- 5pm EST)
- Crisis Call Center 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html
Stress and Anxiety
These are just a few of the many options out there. Individual states also seem to have their own sites dedicated to school violence and bullying.
If you’re a parent, consider printing the list and hanging it somewhere your teen will see. It could help them knowing the information is readily available and to know that you understand they may be going through difficult times.
If you’re a teen who is in over their heads, needs help but feel they have no where to turn, who is worried for a friend or wants to do something to help those suffering from any of these issues, do your research, join a forum, make a call or send an email. You are not alone and there are others who understand what you’re going through and there is help out there. Love yourself and know that you’re important and worthwhile.