Saturday, December 27, 2014

Writers Beware: A Cautionary Tale

Years ago, when I first started out as a writer, I submitted one of my children’s stories to a publisher that I had really no knowledge of. I got the contract in the mail, as vague as it was, but asking for 300 dollars, I convinced my husband into going ahead with it. Months went by, no progress at all. I’d email once a month, asking what will be the next step and the publisher kept putting me off. Nine months went by with nothing done until I started receiving illustrating for it. My heart sank when I saw them. It looked like a three-year-old did them. Granted, some three-year-olds are great artists, but unfortunately this particular artist that had done my drawings was very amateurish.

Then when I started receiving edits, which was nearly a year later, my writing had improved and I was telling the editor of errors—errors which should have been easily picked up by an experienced editor. Clearly he was not.

That was the last straw for me. One year after I signed and sent my money, I terminated the contract. Since they had done a few homely drawings, I couldn’t get my money back. I was pissed off to say the least. But eventually I moved on, chalked it up to a lesson learned—never send money to any publisher. That’s what a vanity publisher is. If they are asking for money, run away like a scared wild animal being hunted. These publishers prey on writers all the time and a lot of times, get away with it. I assure you, if they are asking for money, the end result will not be good. No matter how much you love the idea of being published, don’t do it.

Later on, I started writing novels and my first novel was accepted by a publisher, again, that I didn’t have much knowledge of. But they weren’t asking for any money, and clearly they published their books and it seemed okay at the time. They were pumping out 10 to 15 books a month and I saw nothing wrong with it at that time. It wasn’t until after I started receiving my royalty statements that I made yet another mistake. My royalty statements were so sad, I couldn’t even buy a roll of toilet paper even if I wanted to. Not with that kind of money. Basically it was pennies.

Luckily I wrote more books and really cracked down on researching publishers before I even submitted to them and thankfully connected with better publishers. So the lesson to this story is, do your research before you sign the dotted line and never spend any money doing it. There are a lot of reputable sites to help you with the search.
Here is the list of very resourceful sites that will help you find a good fit.

AbsoluteWrite: Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks 
Preditors & Editors 
Agent Query 

But sure to ask as many questions as possible. Keep all emails, perhaps in a separate file. Contact other authors of that publisher in question. Check the books and their Amazon rankings. Are they low? (good sign) Are they high? (bad sign) Run a Google search and see what pops up. Are they a small publisher (authormill type) publishing several books a month? (could possibly be another bad sign) And again, I repeat, do as much research as possible before you sign. Good luck on your submission journey. It can be very daunting at times, but never rush into a hasty decision you may regret later on. It may take a long while to find the right publisher, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Giveaway for Disconnected!!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Disconnected by Lisa M. Cronkhite


by Lisa M. Cronkhite

Giveaway ends December 17, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Finding Your Voice in YA

Once you get critiques on your work, you might come across people saying something about the voice of your character. Does it sound like a YA novel? It’s hard to tell sometimes when you’re writing. If you’re getting a lot of feedback saying it doesn’t sound YA enough, hopefully some of these tips will help you.

I think the number one thing you can do to help get that YA voice you’re looking for is to read other YA novels. Don’t be a douchebag and write YA but never read it. It doesn’t make any sense why you’d want to. When reading YA, try to get a feel for the character and what they are saying and how they are saying it. You can use common words teenagers say like, like, just, whatever, or something, etc. But try not to overuse these words because it will sound like you’re trying too hard. Teens will detect a fake. Having that authentic teen voice is most important when writing YA. How do you write authentic YA? It comes from your gut. If flows naturally. It isn’t forced. If you’re forcing it, then you have a problem. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a teen. Would they say that? Would they feel that way? To me there’s always some kind of vulnerability in the character. They don’t quite fit in. Or they are testing their boundaries. This is a time when they are finding themselves. They don’t know everything. Who does? Teach your character to find themselves. Have your character ask questions, doubt themselves, wonder why. Have your character yearn to find out the answer, searching to solve the conflict in their lives.

In YA, characters are between the ages of 12 to 18. So if you’re writing about a 17 year-old, put yourself in a 17 year-old shoes. Depending on the ages, they might have a lot of responsibilities, or they might be dependent on their loved ones. Don’t have an adult character help too much. Your character will have to seek out the answers for themselves. That’s how they grow. This is another important factor in YA. Don’t let everything happen to your character. Make your character pro-active.

Another thing you can do is hang out with teens. If you don’t know of any friends or family, you can go to the mall or the park or wherever teens are hanging out. Don’t be a creep about it and take notes as they’re talking. That would be weird. But try to pick up on how they communicate with one another. Watch how they act.

Writing about your experience as a teen is always good. They always do say, write what you know. Were you bullied in high school? Were you an outcast? Did you play the piano? Some of these things you did when you are younger may in fact help you write a better YA novel. Don’t be afraid to explore your past. This is where some of the authenticity comes in. You don’t have to incorporate everything of course, just some important factors you experienced firsthand when you were a teen.

Nowadays everyone wants to write YA—because that’s the hottest market. But because of this, it is the most competitive too. Don’t write YA because you think you can make money off of it. Your writing will show the difference. Write YA because you love it.

If you can think of some other tips to help with the YA voice, please feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear from you.