Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I'm not doing NaNoWriMo

Cheryl had a great post the other day about National Novel Writing Month.

I had thought about doing NaNo, but this year, I'm passing. It's not going to work for me.

Don't get me wrong. I think NaNo is great for writers, and it's a wonderful way to kick start a new project. For those who hesitate at writing, it's a good method to just do it. I know someone who has, for years, said, "Oh, I should sit down and finish my book someday."

You're not going to get published with, "finish my book someday.'

I'm not doing NaNo simply because my goals are different this month. Instead of National Novel Writing Month, it's National Reading Month for me. My goal is to read, read, read and then write a new proposal.

I don't want to work on a book that may or may not get published. I have a drawer filled with manuscripts that gasped their last. Instead, I'm looking at the market, seeing what sells and what doesn't, and experimenting with that.

Trends come and go. If you write something based on what's popular this year, it may be out of date by the time publishers are setting their schedules. If Zombie Vampire Cowboy Manta Rays are hot, they may be chilling by the time your manuscript or proposal is read.

Write, write, write, but you also need to be aware of what's going on in the business.

Times are really tough right now in publishing. Authors are getting dropped by their publishers right and left, even those who have been around for a long time. Editors and agents are under more pressure than ever.

So write, but be aware that you need to know about the industry as well. Here's a list of what I think is essential for any writer, beginning or otherwise:

1. Know what a contract is, what the loopholes are, what restrictions there are. Understand about reserve on returns, and royalty rates (especially for the ever-changing market of ebooks). Keep up with industry buzz. There are lots of great blogs and resources out there.

2. Don't rush to sign on with the first agent who wants to rep you. It's said time and again that no agent is better than a bad agent. A bad agent can ruin your career, opportunities and swipe your money. Ask around about agents. Research them on the internet, there's tons of good info out there. When you do sign with one, go with an agent who likes your writing and will champion you, not just that particular project you sent. Because if that one project doesn't sell, you may be left to languish on the sidelines.

3. Understand the book selling world, about distribution, wholesales, e-books and why Wal-Mart is so important in terms of sales and exposure, especially for midlist authors.

4. You can be friendly with your agent and editor, but always keep it professional for everyone's sake. This is a business. Have you ever had to terminate a business relationship with a friend? Not easy!

5. Weigh the opportunities that come to you in terms of your career goals. A smaller house may give you less money in advances, but do more in terms of distribution and promo.

6. Same holds true with opportunities for writing projects. Novellas and anthologies typically pay little, except if you're a NY Times best-seller. However, they are great opportunities to get your name out there before a diff. reading audience. Cindy's "Mammoth" stories are wonderful examples of this. This year, I was asked by Harlequin to write a free online serial for their website. It was a very very tight squeeze with my already full writing schedule, but I did it because the exposure is great, and they wanted the story to promote both my Oct. release, IMMORTAL WOLF, and my Dec. anthology, HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE III.

7. Learn to revise. Accept that revisions are a fact of life in publishing. When you feel comfortable with that fact, and learn to do it well, you'll have an advantage over writers who refuse to change one word of their stories.

8. At the same time, learn to pick and choose your battles with editorial revisions. If an editor wants so many revisions that the story becomes unrecognizable, maybe it's time to pull the plug on that project and send in another one.

9. Cheer when your friends do well, and mourn with them when they've suffered a setback. Friends and supporters are very, very important in this business. Even the superstars have problems. Those who have made the NY Times list worry about hitting it again with the next book. Those who made Number One on the list worry about maintaining that slot.

10. Learn to take a break, and relax, and realize that you ARE a creative soul and all creative souls need rest and rejuvenation.

So, there you have it. Good luck to all those participating in NaNoWriMo. May the book you write this month make all your publishing hopes and dreams come true!

Oh, and BTW, I'm doing a big multi-author booksigning this Saturday, Nov. 7 in Central Florida to help raise money for adult literacy. Romancing the Holidays will be held at the Altamonte Mall from 2-5 p.m. in the center court by the fountain. I'll be signing copies of IMMORTAL WOLF, and for the first ten people who buy a copy, I'm giving away a copy of HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE III, my Dec. book that isn't even out yet.

Click here for more info.


librarypat November 3, 2009 at 9:30 PM  

Different techniques work for different people. I'm not sure this would work for me. A little pressure is goo, but erasing what you wrote can't be a good thing. The creative juices flow sometimes and others they don't. Being on a timer won't change that.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner November 4, 2009 at 12:54 PM  

Bonnie: You are a goddess!! I love this post and your terrific take on writing and the market. You are also right about anthologies--the pay is low, but you get your writing out there to new audiences. It's like being paid to promo.

I'm also not doing NaNoWriMo, because I do it every month, LOL. I already have 24K on a new novel I started at the beginning of last week, so I think I'm ok.

Though I do so agree that it's a good way to get yourself jump started if you need it. I might need it again myself someday, so I'll hold it in reserve.

That's my serious response.

My not so series one: Oh, man, you mean my Zombie Vampire Cowboy Manta Rays story might not fly?? Oy!

Mary Anne Landers November 9, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

Bonnie: Thank you for your post. Plenty of useful info in there.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, but it's just not working for me. I'm the kind of writer who thinks the best time to revise is BEFORE the words come out, while they're still in my head.

With this approach, there's no way I can write 50,000 words a month.
But still, I'm writing as much as I can.

Keep up the good work!

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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