Monday, June 10, 2013

Why “Keep Moving Forward” is My Best Advice For Writers Everywhere (Guest Post by Chuck Sambuchino)


(This column excerpted from my book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, out from Writer’s Digest Books.)

Keep moving forward. That is probably the best advice I can give you as you continue toward your writing goals, whatever they may be. Just keep moving forward.

Photo by welcometoalville
I remember specifically that 2011 was a strange year for me. The first eight months seemed to be filled with near-misses and small disappointments concerning my writing. Things just weren’t going my way. I vented to those who would listen; my wife and literary agent both told me they could take no more so I started complaining to the dog. (If he listens for five minutes, he gets a treat.)

But then, in a span of 45 days in the fall of 2011, I had a flood of good writing news. I formally sold the film option and Japanese language rights to my first humor book about garden gnomes. I sold my latest book on writing called Create Your Writer Platform (fall 2012). And I finally sold my second humor book — a fusion of funny dog pictures and political humor called Red Dog / Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political (summer 2012).

So much happened in a span of weeks—all of it amazing news. And I attribute it to one simple thing.
I kept moving forward.

In my opinion, the most frustrating thing about writing books is that so much is out of your control. It’s crazy. You can’t control which editors will connect with your book and which won’t. You can’t control what an agent’s mood will be like on the day they review your query letter. You can’t control when your book will be considered timely and part of the pop culture conversation (and therefore a valuable project). You can’t control when an editor or publicist assigned to your book will get laid off, or when your agent will retire, or your editor will switch houses and leave your book orphaned. You can’t control when Amazon will make a pricing decision that forces your publishing house to decrease the print run of your book. You can’t control if foreign markets or Hollywood will buy rights to your book. You can’t control whether some staffer at EW or Vanity Fair or wherever has a bit of time one day to pick your book out of their “to review” stack and take an interest in your work. You can’t control when another title in the marketplace will be a breakout hit and direct readers to your book because they have some kind of connection.

You can’t control any of these things. All this stuff will drive you mad if you let it.

But there is a way to keep your marbles. The way I personally stay sane is to focus on the things I can control. These include 1) always writing the best work(s) I can, and 2) always building my author platform so that I can control my personal visibility as well as a bit of my sales, no matter what external circumstances bring. But the most important thing I do, in my opinion, is 3) I keep moving forward.

My latest humor book idea was rejected? I vent to the dog then brainstorm more concepts. A blog post fails to generate interest? I punch a pillow then sit down to write two more. 10 people don’t return my e-mails? I write to new contacts and tell myself it’s a numbers game. A writers conference cancels my trip suddenly? I reach out to another one. My first screenplay didn’t turn out the way I wanted? I’ll write a second one — and improve on my mistakes. My script manager left the business? Well I can’t find another one unless I just start querying—so why waste time?—I’ll start querying people this week…

I promise myself that while I may fail at a task at hand, whether it’s small or big—I will not fail because of a personal lack of effort. There are so many things I cannot control, but you can be damn sure that I will keep moving forward through bad news. I do it because it’s all I can do.

Keep moving forward, and I promise everything will be all right.

(Hi, everyone. Chuck here chiming in for a second. I wanted to say I am now taking clients as a freelance editor. So if your query or synopsis needs some love, please check out my editing services. Thanks!)


Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
Feb. 10, 2018: Indiana Writing Workshop (Indianapolis, IN)
Feb. 17, 2018: Minnesota Writing Workshop (St. Paul, MN)
March 10, 2018: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
March 24, 2018: Pittsburgh Writing Workshop (Pittsburgh, PA)
April 14, 2018: Michigan Writing Workshop (Livonia/Detroit, MI)
April 28, 2018: Seattle Writing Workshop (Seattle, WA)
June 23, 2018: Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
July 14, 2018: Cleveland Writing Workshop (Cleveland, OH)
July 28, 2018: Chesapeake Writing Workshop (Washington, DC)
August 4, 2018: Florida Writing Workshop (Tampa, FL)
August 25, 2018: Writing Workshop of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
September 29, 2018: Boston Writing Workshop (Boston, MA)
November 17, 2018: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)


Other columns by Chuck Sambuchino
- What to Write in the “Bio” Section of Your Query Letter
- How to Write a Screenplay: 7 Starting Tips for Adapting Your Own Novel
- Do You Need Multiple Agents if You Write in Different Genres?
- How to Write a Novel Synopsis: 5 Tips
- Building Your Writer Platform—How Much is Enough?
- Getting Specific: What Literary Agents Want to Get RIGHT NOW
- 15 Questions to Ask a Literary Agent Before You Sign
- Crafting a Novel’s Pitch: 7 Tips
- 25 Debut Authors Share Advice for Getting Published
___________________________________________
Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN'S WRITER'S and ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing.
    His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING and SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM.
    Besides that, he is a freelance book and query editor, husband, sleep-deprived new father, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham. Find Chuck on Twitter and on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

BEA 2013 Recap! Books, Neil Gaiman, and the best roommates ever.

As always, Book Expo America was both fun and exhausting!

I missed Thursday, but I was there for Friday & Saturday. And despite how amazing the books are, my favorite part, as always, was seeing the book people — bloggers, authors, and publishing folk. Without a doubt, being in the same room (and sitting thisclose) to Neil Gaiman and hearing him speak was the highlight of the trip!

And a girl couldn't ask for better roommates — the incomparable Frankie, the awesome Jeri, and the hilarious Laura (who I'd never met before but instantly adored). We stayed at a 5th floor walkup a few blocks from Javits, and we had so much fun that I'd trek up five flights of stairs to hang out with those gals any day!

This year, I decided to be as selective as possible when choosing my books, since I have severely limited shelf space and was carrying everything home in my luggage on the train ... and because I feel guilty when my TBR pile becomes too extreme! I ended up coming home with 9 novels and about 7 nonfiction books, all of which I'm so excited to dive into.

Here's a photo recap! (Apologies for the terrible quality ... I misplaced my camera and had to resort to iPad photos!)

FRIDAY

Started off the day first in line with Frankie for Richelle Mead's
new adult novel, GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS.
Because Frankie held the sign, everyone passing kept mistaking her for a Penguin employee. I must say though, she did a bang-up job answering their questions!

Sooooooo excited to get the CODE NAME VERITY companion novel!
Drawing from Matthew Inman, the hilarious artist behind The Oatmeal.
First day's novels! YA and adult, with a comic-turned-book on top.
 MY DOG, THE PARADOX by Matthew Inman
THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater
ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein
FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS by Richelle Mead
CAPTIVE by A.D. Robertson
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill
THE BONE SEASON by Samantha Shannon
(On Saturday, I also got THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas.)


SATURDAY

Jeri and I were 5th and 6th in line to see Neil Gaiman speak!
We arrived at 7am for the 10am event, despite exhaustion. Initially, I wanted to get there at 8am, but the night before, Jeri suggested 7am via text with a little ;) at the end of the message. I asked, "Are you joking about 7am, since you used a winky face?" Her reply: "Not at all, I was just hoping to soften the blow" ... which made me laugh and cringe at the same time. When I saw our seats, I thanked her a million times for the nudge!

Neil Gaiman. Four feet away from me.
That is all.
Three gems from Neil's talk and Q&A, paraphrased:
- Fiction is dangerous because it gives you empathy, it shows you that the world doesn't have to be like the one you live in.
- Being a writer is a "nightmarish layer cake," a mix of appalling arrogance and absolute self-doubt & humility.
- His response to rejections, before he was published: "Either I'm not very good, which I do not choose to believe, or I'm doing this wrong." So he vowed to write things so brilliant that no one could reject them. Now he's afraid that he'll submit something and, because he's Neil Gaiman, no one will tell him that it's bad. His editor leaned into the mic without missing a beat: "I'll tell you."

Me and the ever-so-awesome Julie Kagawa!

Comedian Jim Gaffigan, signing DAD IS FAT.
Opening line from Jim's talk:
"Hello, book nerds. How are thee and prepositions?"


What did I miss that I wanted?
VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab
THE BOYFRIEND APP by Katie Sise
THE ETERNITY CURE by Julie Kagawa
ANTIGODDESS by Kendare Blake
SYLO by DJ McHale
LUST FOR LIFE by Jeri Smith-Ready
THE WAKING DARK by Robin Wasserman
REALITY BOY by A.S. King
FRIGID by Jennifer Armentrout
REQUIM by Lauren Oliver

What did I not grab because I was lucky enough to already have?
THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales
THE BROKENHEARTED by Amelia Kahaney
TANDEM by Anna Jarzab
ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA by Diana Peterfreund



That's all for me! If you attended BEA, what book were you most excited to get, and who were you most excited to meet? If you didn't attend, what book do you want to get your hands on the most?
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