Wagging the Long Tail

A few authors sell vast numbers of books, while most authors sell very few. If you could amass accurate data on that, it would probably look like a decaying exponential curve. It would have the Pareto property, where 20% of the authors sell 80% of the books—those on the left. However, today we’ll focus on the right side of the curve. Statisticians, with their penchant for arcane, hard-to-understand terminology, call that part “the long tail.”

The curve I present here is approximate and intended for illustrative purposes only. Note the vertical red line. Believe it or not, the number of books sold to the left of that line equals the number of books to the right.

Out on the tail of that curve are many, many authors who sell very few books. Looks a little lonely out there, doesn’t it? Most of those authors would love to move left on the curve, ideally all the way left. Readers only have so much money to spend on books, though, and they’re more likely to read books by authors they know.

Very few of those “long tail authors” will move much further left from where they are now, and only a tiny fraction will make it near the vertical axis into the stratospheric heights of the best-seller lists.

That may sound depressing, but let’s squint and take a closer look at that long tail. Each author represents a single point on that curve, but book distributors look at the curve differently. These days, they see the near-infinite length of the long tail as a new profit opportunity.

Distributors have realized we now live in the age of instant and easy searches for obscure information. With the ability to print books on demand, it doesn’t matter how few readers seek, for example, alternate history books about trips to the moon. What matters is that the book “A Tale More True” pops up in response to that search and a sale ensues.

In Wikipedia’s article on the long tail, they quote an Amazon employee as saying, “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

You might have to read that again and let it sink in. I’ll wait.

In fact, now is the best time to be a long tail author. Let’s consider the set of those readers searching for steampunk books about planet-threatening comets. They easily find my book, “The Cometeers.” Among that admittedly small set of readers, I’m a best-selling author!

Here are a few more examples included for instructive purposes, and certainly not for crass self-promotion:

Readers search for books about: They find and buy:
Alternate histories involving the Ottoman Empire To Be First  
Romance stories taking place in Ancient Greece Against All Gods  
Stories involving Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions Leonardo’s Lion  
Sequel to War of the Worlds After the Martians  
Shakespearean clockpunk Time’s Deformèd Hand  

If you’re a long tail author, don’t despair. You have plenty of company; readers can find your books more readily than ever before; and book distributors now regard you as a profitable part of the book-selling enterprise. Happily wagging my tiny part of the long tail, you’ll find—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Of Brands and Platforms

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned ‘author branding’ a few times in passing, and wrote a post on ‘author platforms.’ But what’s the difference between the two, and is one more important than the other?

First, let’s define both terms. In Brian Niemeier’s post on the subject, he quotes Jane Friedman’s definition:

Author Platform = the proven ability to reach a target audience with visibility and authority

Niemeier then cites Joe Konrath’s definition of brand:

Author Brand = the reader’s linkage of author name with a positive reading experience

Author BrandTo understand branding, think of the effort major corporations put into getting customers to associate the corporations’ products and logo with a happy experience.

Philip Martin has listed the ways author branding is akin to religious faith, though I wouldn’t go that far, and the analogy with religions quickly breaks down. In my view, it’s better to think of branding in the context of corporations, such as those marketing fast food or soft drinks.

Even better, think of your favorite authors. Just the act of recalling each of their names evokes the linked memories of your satisfaction with their books. For each author, you form the mental gestalt of their genre, writing style, typical settings, and common character types. The whole pleasurable reading experience comes flooding back to you upon the mere mention of a name.

That’s the effect you want to create in your readers. How do you do that? First, write great fiction. Ensure some commonality between your stories, in genre, style, settings, or character types. The more of these that are in common between your books, the more effective your branding will be, since readers will better know what to expect. You’ll achieve the consistency necessary for closer linkage of your name with your body of work. Lastly, you’ll have to do the marketing necessary to keep reinforcing that mental connection of name to experience.

Once you achieve effective branding, where a tribe of loyal readers associates your name with a great reading experience, then they will spread the word about you, and through them you’ll reach new readers. It’s that ability to reach new readers that is your platform.

Having defined and described platform and branding, what is the relationship between the two? Obviously, they’re related and intertwined. If you have a recognizable brand, you’ll have constructed a platform, which further establishes and cements your brand.

Think of platform as being from the point of view of a major publisher. Traditional publishers don’t often risk publishing works by authors who don’t already have a platform. Think of brand as being from the point of view of the reader. It’s in the reader’s mind where the desired linkage of name and experience occurs.

In my view, brand comes first, then it builds your platform, which then reinforces your brand and they snowball together after that.

That’s it, pardner. I reckon you better stop readin’ this an’ start heatin’ up your brandin’ iron. You got a heap o’ work to do, and so does—

Poseidon’s Scribe

When to Quit Writing

You really, really wanted to be a well-known author. You did everything right; you devoured books about writing; you read every blog post by Poseidon’s Scribe; you joined critique groups; and you went to writers conferences. Most of all, you wrote all the time, turned out stories and sent them to all the markets…

…and got only rejections, no acceptances.

Undeterred, you turned to self-publishing. These days, who needs an editor or publisher, right? You became an “indie” author…

…and sold nothing.

QuittingNow you’re wondering if you’re cut out to be an author. You’re wondering if you should quit.

After all, there have been other times when you hoped to be good at something, tried it for a while, and gave it up—those guitar lessons, those pre-med classes you took in college, high-school basketball, the internship in the law firm.

Sometimes it takes a few tries to find out where your talents are. There’s no shame in trying something and finding out you just can’t do it. Now it looks like you’ll have to add ‘famous author’ to the list of jobs you’re not suited to. Just one more item on the list, that’s all.

But you’re torn. You know that the ‘famous author’ thing is partly about luck. Maybe mostly about luck. What if your next book is destined to be your breakout book, the one that propels you to best-seller lists, fame, huge advances, and movie deals? You’d hate to quit writing when you’re just one book away from all that.

How do you know when it’s time to give up? Lucky for you, you surfed to the right blog post. I’m going to give you a simple equation. Here it is:

A + B – C = D

A = All-consuming inner drive to write for its own sake.

B = Belief that you want to be a famous, successful author.

C = Cumulative frustration with the rejections and lack of sales

D = Decision factor.

Simply figure out the values for A, B, and C and plug them in. If D is positive, stick with your writing. If D is negative, it’s time to quit and find something else.

(Yeah, I know it’s subjective. What do you want from me, a calibrated quit-o-meter?)

Quitting graphsLet’s work through some examples. The horizontal axis is time. The vertical axis is the strength or intensity of each equation term. You might start writing without much drive to write for its own sake (A), but more of a belief in achieving fame and fortune (B). Most often, those reverse over time as the realism of the writing profession sinks in, while frustration accumulates (C). Remember, as long as D stays positive, you’ll keep writing.

Obviously, the key variable is A, the all-consuming inner drive to write for its own sake. So long as that stays greater than the cumulative frustration, you’ll stick with it.

So there you have it, an explanation that’s all scientific and mathematical. With an equation and everything. Are you going to argue with respected scientists and mathematicians?

You can read some great advice on the subject of whether to give up writing by Jane Friedman and Kameron Hurley (guest-posting on Chuck Wendig’s site).

May you meet with enough success in your writing that you won’t have to face a decision about whether to quit or not. That’s the fervent hope of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

October 18, 2015Permalink

12 Reasons to Change Your Name

Pen NamesAs a writer of fiction, you might choose to be published under a name other than your real one for a variety of reasons. The use of pen names, (or nom de plumes, literary doubles, or pseudonyms, if you prefer) is not uncommon. Although I’ve blogged about one reason for pen names before, I figured I’d provide a more comprehensive list of reasons today.

• The first three on my list have to do with Branding.
1. To separate your books into different genres or types or styles. For each name, readers know what to expect.
2. To give the reader the impression the book is an autobiography. You can adopt a character’s name as your pen name, as Daniel Handler did by choosing Lemony Snicket as a nom de plume in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
3. To share the same pen name with other authors, making it seem like a book series was written by one person. With the Tom Swift series of children’s books, several authors wrote under the single pen name, Victor Appleton.

• You may have reasons to shield your true identity.
4. To keep your real name in reserve until you’re a more established author. Eric Blair used the name George Orwell for this purpose, though it’s not clear what he was waiting for!
5. To protect your reputation. As a don at Oxford University, C. S. Lewis got published under the names Clive Hamilton and N. W. Clerk for this purpose.
6. To maintain your privacy. Enough said.

• There may be problems with your real name.
7. To choose a name more appropriate to the genre you write in. Pearl Grey chose the pen name Zane Grey for his Westerns.
8. To present yourself as the other gender. As a woman, you might feel your military adventure novels would sell better with a man’s name as the author, and similarly for you men who write romance novels.
9. To enable readers to more easily pronounce your name. Face it, some names are difficult to say.
10. To distinguish yourself from someone else. Your real name might spell or sound like another person (or thing). The British statesman and author Winston Churchill always wrote under the name Winston S. Churchill (I know, not much of a pseudonym) to avoid being confused with the then-famous American author Winston Churchill.

• Sometimes the publisher has reasons for suggesting a pen name.
11. To enable several of your stories to appear in the same magazine. Thus Robert A. Heinlein became also Anson MacDonald and Caleb Strong to avoid the appearance that a single author was monopolizing that issue.
12. To keep from saturating the market. If you write very fast, publishers might fear the public will see your name too often and tire of your novels too quickly. For this reason, some of Stephen King’s books were published under the name Richard Bachman.

Sure, there might be additional reasons for using a pen name. You don’t really need a reason, after all. It’s a personal choice and nobody’s business except yours and the publisher’s. (You’ll want your publisher to know your real name so they send those huge advance and royalty checks to the right account!)

Other good sites or blog posts that list reasons for pen names include this one, this one, and this one.

Oh, yeah, in case you were wondering, my real name isn’t—

Poseidon’s Scribe

September 14, 2014Permalink

Guess Who’s Author of the Week

Yours truly is the Author of the Week for Gypsy Shadow Publishing. For those of you who’ve been on the fence, somewhat undecided about purchasing one or more of my stories, this would be the week to buy one (or more). It’s a rare opportunity to purchase a book during the same period in which I’m Author of the Week. Very few people can say they’ve done that.

To celebrate the week, I am embarking on a world tour. Well, not physically, but virtually. For this whole week, I’m making this website available everywhere all over the world.

GSBannerBrdrFor this honor, I’d like to thank Gypsy Shadow Publishing, the company that has published a good number of my stories, all in the What Man Hath Wrought series. Among the company’s huge staff, CEO Charlotte Holley and Chief Editor Denise Bartlett deserve being singled out for special mention. Thanks to them, my rough manuscripts have become e-books of timeless prose with eye-seizing covers.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also express my gratitude to all those who’ve influenced me in one way or another, helping me achieve this level of accomplishment. This list includes my parents, my critique group, and my spouse. Thanks as well to you, my legions of eager readers. I couldn’t have done it without you.

I’ve let it become known around my household that being the GSP Author of the Week comes with certain privileges, certain reasonable expectations of being catered to. These expectations include freedom from common drudgery work, absolute quiet while writing, the appearance before me of the beverage of my asking within moments of my asking, the use of respectful forms of address (such as Your Most Illustrious Highness, Author of the Week), and a polite bow or curtsey when approaching my presence.

To my amazement, my announcements of these sensible forms of deference have been met with very little interest, and even less obedience. This I find curious, and I’m sure you do too. Ah, well, I suppose greatness comes with the responsibility to educate the less deserving, to increase their understanding of the grandeur and glory of me.  It’s true that genius often goes unappreciated in its own week.

And, yes, to answer the question uppermost in your mind, it is wonderful for all of us to be alive during the very time that I’m the GSP Author of the Week. Someday your grandchildren will sit in reverential awe while you relate the sheer excitement of it.

Now that I think about it, being Author of the Week is the sort of honor that could go to one’s head. During weeks when it’s bestowed on lesser authors, that might well be a concern. But my unsurpassed humility and matchless modesty combine to keep me from becoming, in the slightest degree, egotistical.

No, fear not. I’ll go on, unaffected by the focused adoration of the Earth’s billions. To all of you, I’ll be the same old, unassuming—

                     Poseidon’s Scribe, Gypsy Shadow Publishing’s Author of the Week

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Difficulties

I know I said my latest book, the two-story compendium of “Rallying Cry” and “Last Vessel of Atlantis,” would be released today, March 1st.  I’ve just been informed that due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the book launch will be delayed a few days, perhaps as much as a week.

Please Stand ByMy many fans around the world, and on other planets, and those in alternate universes (I know you’re out there and that you read my stuff) must be disappointed.  I assure you, no one is more distressed about this than I am.

Why the delay?  The fact is, publishing an e-book is a complicated business, so I’ve been told.  There’s the virtual ink to pour in, the imaginary rollers to align, the invisible type to set.  There are gears that turn, levers that snap, boots that kick buckets over, marbles that roll down inclines into chutes, balls that fall into bathtubs, cages that catch mice.  It’s very involved.

With all that bewildering complexity, it’s amazing that e-books get published at all, let alone on any kind of schedule.

Meanwhile, you were surfing to the various bookseller websites all day since midnight, searching for my book, ready to put it in your shopping cart and to hit ‘place order.’  And now you have to wait.  I know what a frustration this must be.

But think how much worse things are for me.  I’ve had to postpone the lavish book launch party, reschedule the reservations on the yacht, tell all the celebrity guests to come back in six days, delay the skywriter service and the fireworks team.

Still, I feel pretty bad about the whole thing.  As a service to you, I’ll make some suggestions for fun things to do while you wait, things to take your mind off the anticipation.

1.  You could buy and read any of my earlier books.

2.  Read them all already?  You could read one or more again.  They are all good for re-reading since you can pick up subtle and enjoyable nuances you missed on first reading them.

3.  You could peruse my earlier blog entries.  You’ll find some real gems there.

It’s sad this has happened, but we’ll get through this challenge together, you and me.  Think of it as just another of life’s little trials.  Are you going to mope around, wallowing in misery?  Or are you going to pick yourself up, shake off those blues, rise above your gloom and despair, and manage to make it through the day?  Be brave, be resolute, and be patient.

I’ll tell you just as soon as the book is available, believe me.  Soon enough your persistence and suffering will be rewarded and you’ll be the happy owner of the latest book by—

                                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

It’s All You, Dave

Remember ‘Dave’ from the Staples™ TV commercial from a Dave - Staplesfew years ago?  The guy walked into an office where everyone looked suspiciously like him, and they all greeted each other by saying, “Dave.”  The commercial closed with the voiceover saying, “In a small business, it’s all you.”

If you’re a writer these days, you’re much like Dave.  After all, in your corporation of one, you fill the following positions:

  • President.  Congratulations! You made it to the top, the big cheese, the high muckety-muck.  The company bears your name.  You’re praised when it succeeds, and blamed when…well, let’s not focus on that.
  • Vice President of Purchasing.  In days gone by, this job entailed keeping your business furnished with a functional typewriter, paper, pens, a nice desk, and a comfortable chair.  Now the job responsibilities have shrunk to ensuring a functional computer and a solid Internet connection.
  • V.P. of Research & Development.  This is one of the best jobs in the company, the department doing all the research for your stories.  If you write historical fiction, this is particularly important.  It’s so much fun, however, that this job will take over your company if left unchecked.
  • V.P. of Contracting.  You may not be a lawyer, but you’re going to have to know some basics about contracts.  Just reading the darn things can be tedious—nothing at all like reading fiction.  Once you sign, you’re bound by that agreement.
  • V.P. of Production.  Finally, a fun job.  This is the one you signed up for.  You manage the mental machinery that takes ideas from the R&D department, plus some coffee, and produces polished prose.
  • V.P. of Marketing and Sales.  Your company won’t promote itself, that’s for sure.  If you contract with a big publishing firm, they’ll take care of this, but with smaller publishers or with self-publishing, you’ve got to get your name out there by yourself.  You’ve got to work the social media, speak at conferences, arrange book signings, etc.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  Unless you’ve got someone else handling the books, the ledgers, the taxes for you, it’s up to you.  Skill in accounting doesn’t always go hand in hand with skill in writing, so your on-the-job training better not take too long.
  • V. P. of Customer Service.  When your customers (readers) complain about the product, to whom do they turn?  You.  Although there’s no need to respond to negative reviews, you should respond to comments on your blog posts, and e-mails from readers.

All those fancy job titles lose some luster when they’re combined in one person, and that’s you.  However, look at the bright side:  decisions get made quickly in your company of one.  All those departments see eye-to-eye; they’re on the same page, so to speak.  No in-fighting, no hidden agendas, no stabbing in the back.

Unlike the conclusion of the commercial, there is no Easy button to push.  Purchasing is the only department Staples™ can help.

However, there are Help buttons, many sources of information to help writers figure out all these specialized jobs.  In fact my blog is dedicated to providing that information.

So, ‘Dave,’ get back to work.  It’s all you.  And I’ll return to my work, too.  At my company, it’s all—

                                                          Poseidon’s Scribe

February 9, 2014Permalink

The Publishing Times, They Are A’Changin’

To distort a line from a Bob Dylan song, times are indeed a’changin’ in the publishing industry.  In the long march from storytellers to clay tablets to papyrus scrolls to bound books to electronic books, each technology has brought a revolution and we’re now in the middle of one.

Publishing

After Gutenberg’s printing press and right up until the Internet, the book publishing industry had optimized into a fairly lean and stable operation, full of specialized tasks.  Each task was fairly well understood.

The writer wrote, and sought an agent.  The agent sought a publishing house and handled all the contractual details for the writer.  At the publishing house, of which there were only a few big ones, the editor polished the prose.  Upon agreement about the text, the publisher took care of cover design, printing, distribution, and marketing to booksellers.  The bookseller catered to the reading public, offering books for sale from their stores.

Despite all the middlemen, that process had been pretty well honed such that readers could still obtain books inexpensively.

With the advent of the Internet, much has changed, and it’s got all of the middlemen wondering what their future role will be, if any.

For the writer, there are software word processors and Internet research options, but not much else has changed.  A writer still must create the prose.

At the other end, the reader has more options, including e-readers and audiobooks, but for the most part reading is unchanged.

But agents, editors, cover designers, marketers, distributors, and booksellers are all left wondering what’s going to happen to them.  These days, writers can connect directly with readers, bypassing all the former steps.  An author can work with a single website such as Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and others, to get e-books directly to the reading public.

These websites offer many services, but the writer must do most of the tasks formerly accomplished by middlemen.  This includes reviewing the contract, editing, cover design, and marketing.

So where is all this going?  At what sort of equilibrium state will all this turmoil settle out?

It may be too early to tell, but I think there will be places for all the publishing middlemen in the future, assuming they adapt to an Internet-based world.  Some writers still need agents, editors, cover designers, and distributors.  Some readers still want bound books.  Much like the continued (but low) demand for horseshoes and oil lamps, there will be niche markets for all these functions.

As for me, I have yet to take the full plunge into self-publishing.  So far, with my short stories, I’ve been dealing with an independent ebook publisher, and with publishers of anthologies.

If Bob Dylan’s right, and the times they are a’changin’, where do you think the book publishing industry is headed?  What change would you like to see?  Leave me a comment and perhaps we can change things together, just you and—

                                                  Poseidon’s Scribe

December 29, 2013Permalink

The Life Story of a Short Story

AlexandersOdyssey9Hello.  I’m a short story.  Since Poseidon’s Scribe never got around to blogging about the whole short story process, he invited me to guest blog today.  My title is “Alexander’s Odyssey,” and I was written by Steven R. Southard.  My life story is typical of other tales, and might be obvious to many of you, but the steps weren’t clear to Steve when he started.

Idea1.  Idea.  I started as an idea.  You did too, I suppose, but with stories you only need one human with an idea, if you know what I mean.  Getting a story idea isn’t as difficult as most believe.  Ideas are all around you.

Outline2.  Outline.  This can take many forms, not just the standard I-A-1-a-(1) type.  It can be a mind-map, for example.  An outline can keep you focused as you write, but don’t be afraid to deviate from it if the story takes off in a different direction.  Steve used an outline for me, but if you don’t want to, just skip this step.

Research3.  Research.  You might have to conduct research for your story like Steve did for me.  Use the most authoritative sources you can.  Steve didn’t include all the researched data when writing me, just a tiny fraction.  You might enjoy research, but don’t get stuck at this stage.  At some point, enough is enough.

First draft4.  First Draft.  Steve wrote my first draft fast, without caring about quality.  He didn’t even stop to correct typos.  He got it all down, the emotions, the drama, and the character interactions.

Edits5.  Edit.  Steve did several drafts of me where he corrected typos; deleted extraneous stuff; added in foreshadowing, metaphors, similes, and symbolism, etc.  Don’t get stuck at this stage either; some stories never even get submitted.

Submit6.  Submit.  Steve located a suitable market, and had to modify me a bit to conform to the submission guidelines.  After much hesitation, he submitted me.   These days, you writers have the option of self-publishing us stories, so you could skip this step.

Reject7.  Rejection.  Actually, I didn’t get rejected the first time, but I know the feeling.  I don’t understand why writers take rejection so personally; the editor is rejecting me, not you.  Just shake it off and submit your story to some other market.  Keep us moving!

Accept8.  Accept.  I was pretty happy when an anthology editor accepted me, but Steve was positively giddy.  I’d never seen him so thrilled and, frankly, the details are embarrassing, so I’ll just move on.

Rewrite9.  Rewrite.  The editor suggested Steve change me a bit.  He agreed the changes would do me good, and made them.  I’ve seen Steve agonize over suggested changes to other stories, though.  I’ve even seen him push back against the editor.  In the end, they always reach agreement and Steve signs the contracts.  I guess he could always refuse and walk away if he wanted.

Launch10.  Launch.  These days, publishers don’t just publish us, they launch us.  It does make me feel like a rocket going off, sort of.  Again, Steve seems really happy when a story launches, and again it’s awkward to watch.

Market11.  Market.  If I’d been picked up by one of the top publishing houses, they’d spread the word about me.  Steve didn’t send me there, so he had to do it.  Boy, does he hate that part, though I’ve heard some authors like marketing.  Use social media, newsletters, writing conferences—anything to advertise.

Read12.  Read.  My favorite step.  When a reader buys me and reads me cover to cover, that’s what I live for.

Reprint13.  Reprint.  When the rights to me reverted back to Steve, he submitted me for publication as a reprint.  After three rejects, another market accepted me, but asked for significant changes.  My reprint version states where and when I was published the first time.

Spin-off14.  Spin-off.  Oh, I hope, I hope I can get spun-off into a novel, a play, or even a movie.  Hey, a story can dream, can’t it?

That’s my story.  Forget about Steve, or Poseidon’s Scribe.  Address your comments to—

                                            Alexander’s Odyssey

December 8, 2013Permalink

10 Reasons You Really Are Good Enough to Write Fiction

Perhaps you have a story inside you, but you feel too scared or intimidated or inadequate to believe you could ever write fiction.  Here are some ways to banish those feelings.

First, there are at least three levels of fiction-writing.  (1) These days you can write and publish something yourself without an editor, at near zero cost.  (2) You can get your writing accepted by a publisher, but not make enough money to live on.  (3) You can write fiction as your sole means of support.  I’ll limit myself to discussing level (2) today.

Never be a writerTrue, some people aren’t cut out to be writers at all.  My purpose today is to keep you from cutting yourself out of the running at the start.  Let’s look at ways you might think you’re not fit to be a writer:

  1. I just know I could never be a writer.  Where is your resistance to writing coming from?  Do you immediately think “I could never do that” when presented with other opportunities in life?  Maybe this isn’t about writing at all, but your general negativity toward trying new activities.  How many amazing human initiatives haven’t happened because somebody said, “I could never do that,” hmm?
  2. I don’t know anything about writing.  Don’t let this stop you.  That’s the part you can get help with, through critique groups, writing courses, books about writing, writing conferences, etc.
  3. I’d never write as well as [insert your favorite famous author’s name here].  Stop comparing yourself to the great authors.  You can’t know today how you’ll stack up against them one day.  So what if you’re not quite as good?  You can still get published and win over some readers.
  4. I’m unknown, and people only read books by known authors.  Think about it; all published authors started off unknown.  What if your favorite author had talked herself or himself out of writing?
  5. No editor will read my stories because I’m unpublished.  Not true.  Consider that latching on to a new, undiscovered top talent is every publisher’s dream.  All they need is one (you?) to make their career.
  6. Novels seem so hard to write.  No need to begin with a novel.  Try a novella, a short story, flash fiction.  Do blog posts for a while.
  7. My teacher told me I’d never be a writer.  Is one long-ago English or Language Arts teacher still in your head criticizing you?  Keep that teacher in your mind, but dedicate yourself to showing how wrong he or she was; sweet revenge will be yours one day.
  8. My story idea seems trite, or already used, etc.  At this point your idea is just a story concept; it might match hundreds of already-published stories.  Once you flesh it out and write it down, it becomes uniquely yours, different from all others, and possibly publishable.
  9. It takes too long to write a story.  True, writing takes time.  But, of all the skills and abilities you’ve developed in life, how many did you master in a day?  Let the strength of your story idea sustain you.  If it’s truly grabbed you, you’ll persevere until you write it all down.
  10. I couldn’t stand being rejected or getting a bad review.  That does stink, no denying it.  Any creative endeavor requires a thick skin.  Look at editor’s rejections as permissions to send your story elsewhere.  As for bad reviews, remember it’s far easier to be the critic.  At the worst, the reviewer may actually have a valid point you can use to improve your writing for the next story.

See?  You are good enough to at least try being a writer.  Shake off those negative emotions.  Let your imagination soar.  Allow yourself to try it out.  Someday, when you’re a famous author, be sure and give partial credit to—

                                                Poseidon’s Scribe

November 17, 2013Permalink