Friday, February 15, 2013

Reader Friday: Q & A

Today's topic -- a Q & A -- comes to us from a suggestion by our friend Diane Krause.  Let us know in the comments whether you have any specific questions you'd like the TKZ'ers to address. We'll all pitch in with our thoughts as the day goes on. Happy Friday!

37 comments:

  1. I have one! What happened to yesterday's blog? At least on my computer, it never posted fully. It has a title then blank space....

    BK Jackson

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  2. BK, you're the first to raise a problem with yesterday's blog. I check every morning and didn't see an issue on Thursday. Sometimes, different browsers display pages differently. If it ever happens again, try viewing with a different browser--for instance, if you use Chrome, try the same link with IE or Firefox. Thanks for dropping by.

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    1. So it IS a tech glitch with my computer. I thought maybe it was a "create your own ending" post. 8-)

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    2. Had the same problem with IE. Works okay on Chrome.

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  3. Looking back, with the benefit of your experience now, what is one piece of advice you'd go back and give your unpublished, just starting out self?

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    1. What a great question, Julie. I think I'd say don't stress about the marketing. Don't start jumping through every hoop every self-promoting author says you have to jump through. Keep the main thing the main thing at the beginning, which is writing the best book you can and getting better with each one after that.

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    2. Julie, I'd start writing sooner. I didn't think that fiction writing was a 'real' career for people like me, and I stuck to nonfiction writing for far too long.

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    3. I would also advise getting familiar with contract language clauses. I had taken a workshop from an attorney in the biz & worked with contracts in my day job, but I wish I had a better working understanding of the publishing industry terms. An agent can only do so much. In the end, you have to live with what you sign.

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    4. I would have taken more time choosing my agent, not just jumping at the first one who offered to represent me. Because in the end, having an agency with a killer legal department meant that the contract clauses are taken care of for me.

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  4. Julie, my advice is to start doing what you want to be doing NOW. A dream delayed is a dream denied.

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    1. This is so obvious but such good advice and very well stated. I am printing that last line and sticking it to my monitor. This is the YEAR I stop wishing and start doing. :) Love this blog.

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  5. Julie: I would tell my old naive self to get over any shyness and NETWORK (preferably in person not on line). I was very late doing this, not joining Mystery Writers (Florida chapter) until my third book or going to any conferences. The contacts and info you get (not to mention support) is invaluable. It's especially important now because the business is going through such upheaval. Now am I off to a writers conference in Sarasota! Have a good weekend all.

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  6. Julie, if I could go back and advise myself from the beginning, it would be to write for only one person--me. If I'm excited about my work, that excitement will come through to the reader. Second piece of advice: the only rule in writing is that there are no rules.

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    1. Funny you say that. I'm very good at thinking up stories. In fact, I have 16 in my production line. I'm not working on any of them. Then I read this same advice elsewhere.

      I laid out the title pages of each and said, "Which one do I want to READ. The answer was easy. That's the one I'm writing and my weird writer's block is gone.

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    2. Great advice, Joe. Very true for me, even now.

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  7. I am loving your responses and your individual takes on the question. Thank you all so much for taking the time to answer. If you have collective wisdom and experience asking for questions, by golly, take advantage! I'll keep checking back.

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  8. What is the biggest writing or writing career screw-up you ever made? What did you do to work around it then and to avoid it in the future?

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    1. Biggest screw up was letting myself get scheduled for a book signing in the same booth as Mary Higgins Clark. I avoided signing with Ms. Clark ever after.

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    2. That would be cool as a fan, and bad as a new author. Did everyone think you were the assistant?

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    3. Funny, Jim, I signed next to her too once! It was helpful, actually, some people from her massive line ended up getting my books because there was no wait. But I'd say in terms of mistakes--I wish I'd gone over earlier contracts more closely, especially with regard to how many copies had to be available for my backlist to be considered in print. And I would never, ever pay for my own mass mailing again--total waste of cash.

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  9. What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Is it the wave of the future? Or do you stick to the traditional publisher?

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    1. Mel, it's the wave of the present. We've written a lot about that here at TKZ. Some time back I gave 10 reasons why I self publish. Put "self publishing" in the search box at the top of this page and you'll find abundant reflections. More and more writers are doing some form of both, trad and indie. The present and future are creative and fluid, which is a GREAT leap forward for writers.

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    2. Here's my take on it: http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2012/10/enough-already.html

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  10. Mel, indie publishing is becoming an important tool in the writer’s toolbox. I don’t see it as taking the place of traditional publishing, but more so as a new avenue available for us all. Probably the biggest plus is for veteran writers in that it offers a great method of placing backlist books back into the marketplace. Another plus is to fill in the gaps between major releases with short stories, novellas and other works. What we’re seeing is the emergence of the hybrid author—a writer who is published traditionally and self-published. This is a trend that I believe will continue to expand in all levels of publication.

    As far as a new author is concerned, I would caution that indie publishing should not be considered a “shortcut” to publication. And taking on the role of “publisher” can be a daunting and confusing task. A great story can be doomed by an amateurish cover or numerous typos for lack of a professional editor. The number of writers who have tremendous success the first time they self-publish is rare.

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  11. Oh my goodness, I'm so excited for the Q & A op -- thank you, Kathryn! (Now trying to dig up the questions I've been collecting.)

    I actually have two questions, if that's allowed. :) If not, pretend I only asked one.

    1. Do any of you have a particular formula for starting a new mystery/thriller -- do you begin with the characters, the specific crime (murder, extortion, kidnapping),or a plot line? Or does it vary from book to book?

    2. For a series that features a law enforcement character (Lisa Gardner books, for example), do the rules/guidelines for the character arc apply to the law enforcement character, or the featured crime victim -- or both?

    Thanks in advance for all your wisdom.

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    1. I like to live with my characters for awhile. I do some research on setting & major plot points. I also like to devise an outline of sorts. I posted something on TKZ about my 3-act "W" method of plotting, which I recently used in a large series proposal. I rhink I called the post The Bucket List on Plotting. That method gives me the main high level plot reversals & twists, enough for me to get started with a writing sample.

      As for character arcs, I spend more time on my main characters (don't forget your villain), but my victims always have a face & a story. I'm not a fan of killing off a person purely for pace. Crime is like a ripple on the water. It radiates out to affect a lot of people, especially the cop working the case who may be haunted by it.

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    2. I always start with one idea, which usually turns out to be Chapter 1. From there, it all kind of builds, one idea at a time.

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  12. Are there any ebook distribution channels that you wouldn't use? And why?

    Cheers!

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    1. None that I would not use. It's just a matter of how you get to the outliers. One way is Smashwords, going to those places that you don't have a direct account with. There are others. Lots of options. But the more distribution, the better.

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    2. I think you also have to consider what time you have to set up your book for distribution. The business end will take away from your writing time. Presently, Amazon & B&N represent 60% of ebooks sold. Kobe has a new portal that could be worthwhile in time. Beyond that, you could be spreading your time thin if the business side of maintaining your books eats into your writing time.

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    3. I had a friend whose book was hugely successful on Wattpad, and from which she didn't end up making a dime. IMHO, if you're going to offer a book for free, do it on Amazon. Then later you can increase the price if it's a hit.

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  13. Diane, I work with a co-author (Lynn Sholes). Before we begin drafting chapters, it’s very important that we know where we’re going. So we build an outline followed by a detailed synopsis before we get started. But the germ of the idea comes from playing the “what if” game. I covered some of this in my blog Magic Words (http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/2012/06/magic-words.html#.UR6o1R0m3ng) back in June. So I guess the answer to your first question is, we start with a general plot line, and expand from there. I can’t answer your second question because I don’t write crime fiction.

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  14. Given your responses to the indie-publishing question, do any of you see changes coming in ITW rules to make self-published authors eligible for full membership? If not, do you feel that's a discussion that needs to happen within ITW?

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  15. Lance, your question has been under consideration for over two and a half years withing ITW. It's not an easy matter to solve. My term on the board ended in 2011, but we were in serious debate on this subject even then. I think that sometime in the future, it can be resolved, but we are still a ways away on finding the perfect solution

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  16. Thanks for the open forum. I really can't think of anything. Y'all do such a good job every day. Please keep up with the writer's life tales, the how-tos, the critiques, and the general fellowship. It is a rare day that I don't stop by, even when I don't comment.

    Terri

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