Are there any successful authors here?

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SakuraKino
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28 Nov 2010, 10:44 pm

I really want to get my stories/novels published someday very soon but I don't know how to go about doing that and I'm low on cash for now. Along with advice on how to turn my daydreams into hardbacks, I was also wondering if there is such a thing as writing apprenticeship (or something like that I'm not sure how to word it) where you can work under a pro and get paid to help out and eventually become pro yourself. Not sure if all that makes sense but I just can't see myself happy doing anything but writing or voice acting and both are so obscure and hard to break into. That knowledge alone makes me feel really depressed as I know I have great potential in those areas but I'll probably end up working customer service jobs the rest of my life and I want so desperately to change my life's path. Even a job that remotely involves writing might be enough to make me a little happy...:roll:



bucephalus
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30 Nov 2010, 1:42 am

SakuraKino wrote:
I really want to get my stories/novels published someday very soon but I don't know how to go about doing that and I'm low on cash for now. Along with advice on how to turn my daydreams into hardbacks, I was also wondering if there is such a thing as writing apprenticeship (or something like that I'm not sure how to word it) where you can work under a pro and get paid to help out and eventually become pro yourself. Not sure if all that makes sense but I just can't see myself happy doing anything but writing or voice acting and both are so obscure and hard to break into. That knowledge alone makes me feel really depressed as I know I have great potential in those areas but I'll probably end up working customer service jobs the rest of my life and I want so desperately to change my life's path. Even a job that remotely involves writing might be enough to make me a little happy...:roll:


your not alone on this. A close member of my family (NT) has what i would consider a rather well paid job and she hates it. She writes alot and would much rather to get a play into the West End. you've not failed until you've given up...



danandlouie
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04 Dec 2010, 11:01 pm

it's pretty hard to get an agent or a publisher to read first works from an unpublished author. i should know.

sent letters and an outline to 50 of above and received zero responses. went to a self publishing outfit and paid for the whole thing myself. common for unknowns.

my experience seems to be the norm. self published book turned out really nice and i'm pleased with whole process. just a tad expensive though.

don't give up. you never know what might happen.



jagatai
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05 Dec 2010, 12:03 pm

A close (NT) friend of mine has one published book and another that she just finished and will come out next year. She has also published many short stories online and in assorted magazines. She is beginning to develop a following in the speculative fiction world. She has been focused on writing most of her life, but has really put in the work mostly in the past 15 years. She just turned 45. She has a full time job as a secretary which helps support her family, but doesn't drain her energy for writing.

She is very good at networking. She has a number of friends online and she attends sci-fi conventions etc. This helps her meet editors and that personal contact often helps her get past the slush readers and directly to the person who can publish the work. It also doesn't hurt that she is a good writer.

For some time I was pursuing writing. I published a few short works in some 'zines and did some commercial writing for a food magazine. But I am more of a visual person than a verbal one and writing to order just took too much out of me, so I now work in visual arts.

One thing I have heard from my friend over and over; An agent isn't terribly useful unless you are a big name writer. But making friendly contact with other writers, editors and publishers can help. She did this primarily by reading and responding in online writer's forums. Don't be pushy. Be friendly, easy to work with and most importantly become a good writer.

Self publishing may help in very rare cases, but generally professionals don't have a high opinion of self published work. The main reason for this is that most writers who self publish do so because no one else will publish the work, mostly because it doesn't come up to the level that most readers are looking for. The thinking is that if no one saw enough value in your work to want to publish it that you have to pay for it yourself, then most editors will assume your work is not worth looking at.

Writing is exceptionally hard work. Most writers, even many very well regarded ones, are unable to survive on what they are paid. I don't know the exact amount my friend has made on what she has written, but I'm pretty sure it's under $10,000 in the past 15 years. (The bulk of this would be from the two published books which were commissioned writing rather than her own personal projects)

My focus as a writer was mostly on screen writing. I worked for free for a few years for an agent, reading spec screenplays and writing coverages of them for the agent. I learned a lot about what worked and what didn't. Reading and analyzing other people's work helped me to improve my writing quite a bit. And while I'm not interested in pursuing it professionally, I can still write a decent short screenplay.

I think the job of reading scripts was sort of like an apprenticeship. What you might want to do is go to online forums and see about contacting editors about doing some slush reading for online magazines. A slush reader goes through the relatively high volume of story submissions and narrows them down to just a few good ones that they pass on to the editor. Reading a lot of good and bad writing can give you a chance to learn what works and what does not.

Don't expect to become a successful author quickly. Just learning how to write well takes many years and a lot of hard, persistent work.

One thing that can help you achieve some kind of success a little faster is that if you write in a particular genre. (Speculative fiction or Sci-fi or horror or some such genre) The logic behind this is that there are more markets for genre fiction. When I was pursuing a commercial photography career, I looked at the kind of work that magazines were publishing and I noticed that eclectic portraiture was a style that was used a lot. I learned how to do that style well and when I marketed myself, I only showed that side of what I did as a photographer. I ended up getting work very quickly which was generally unheard of among my peers. I think the reason for this was that the art directors knew exactly what they would get if they hired me. If you focus on genre fiction, editors will know what to expect. Writing in many different genres or in straight dramatic fiction will make it harder for editors to pinpoint which audience might like to read your writing.

You will almost certainly have to work some other job to support yourself. I recommend finding one that is not emotionally draining. I worked as a movie projectionist for many years. So long as the projectors were running smoothly, this gave me long stretches of time alone where I could read or write.

Hope this helps.


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jagatai
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05 Dec 2010, 12:13 pm

I forgot to mention:

Never, never respond angrily to criticism. When I was reading screenplays for the agent, I received a few angry responses to my comments on a few scripts. This didn't exactly make me want to recommend the writer's work. I received a few thank you notes and these made me much more inclined to help the writer if I could.

Some writers attack editors in letters or online for rejecting their work. This only makes enemies. While it might be emotionally gratifiying to attack someone who has rightly or wrongly criticized your work, it will pretty much ensure that the editor will never look at your work again. There are many people out there trying to publish their work. An editor is not going to bother dealing with a person who is obnoxious when there a many writers just as good who are pleasant to deal with.


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danandlouie
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06 Dec 2010, 7:22 pm

to jagatai.....thank you so much criticizing my book. how wonderful to hear my work is worthless. your insight is so helpful to a person of such meager talents that i am overlooked by the insiders of the writing/publishing biz.

after publishing my book, i went to a few publishers in person and was told that they do not read any work that comes from someone other an agent. it is shocking, shocking i say, to learn that they lied to me. how wise of you to know that agents are useless and that publishers have thousands of people on staff who spend their days reading all of the work that arrives at their door.

thanks again for enlightened comments. the wonderfulness of yourself.

guess what my genre is? do you think it starts with a 's'?



danandlouie
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06 Dec 2010, 7:27 pm

it was a dark and stormy night.......... wow, am i good or what?

how comforting to know you have no anger for us delusional clowns who scribble letters on a page.



jagatai
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07 Dec 2010, 9:24 am

danandlouie wrote:
to jagatai.....thank you so much criticizing my book. how wonderful to hear my work is worthless. your insight is so helpful to a person of such meager talents that i am overlooked by the insiders of the writing/publishing biz.

after publishing my book, i went to a few publishers in person and was told that they do not read any work that comes from someone other an agent. it is shocking, shocking i say, to learn that they lied to me. how wise of you to know that agents are useless and that publishers have thousands of people on staff who spend their days reading all of the work that arrives at their door.

thanks again for enlightened comments. the wonderfulness of yourself.

guess what my genre is? do you think it starts with a 's'?


Hi Danandlouie,

I'm terribly sorry if you thought I was criticizing your work. I only brought the issue up of self published work because, rightly or wrongly, that is often the attitude within the publishing industry. I certainly did not mean to imply that self published work is inherently without merit. I have not read your work and there is no way I can draw a conclusion one way or the other. (I could be wrong on this, but I believe the woman who writes the Harry Potter books started out this way.)

At any rate, my thoughts and opinions on the subject are only offered as my interpretation of what I have heard or experienced. It certainly isn't the last word on the subject. If the information is useful, use it. If not, ignore it. But you may want to look carefully at the second entry I made on this thread on responding angrily to criticism.


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Brianm
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07 Dec 2010, 7:17 pm

I've never published any books, but I've writen more five short stories.