At Least You’re Not Me

Published November 20, 2013 by swankivy

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issue30

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So I promised every tenth comic would be long. I didn’t think they’d be this long, though.

This of course refers to how J.K. Rowling pseudonymously wrote a book called The Cuckoo’s Calling under the name Robert Galbraith. She claimed she wanted to do so because she “was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

She had already tried once to release a book unrelated to the Harry Potter series with her adult novel The Casual Vacancy, but of course she couldn’t escape comparisons to her previous work and complaints about not living up to whatever people expected.

In releasing The Cuckoo’s Calling pseudonymously, with even the publisher who accepted it not knowing that it wasn’t really by a man named Robert Galbraith, Rowling got to prove that she really could do this, that it wasn’t a fluke, that everything else she does isn’t just riding on her own coattails. But the book didn’t sell fantastically–it sold better than she’d expected, but there was no huge explosion until the real author was revealed.

She wishes she hadn’t had to admit she is Robert Galbraith. I guess even being one of the biggest authors ever has its drawbacks.

Be Honest

Published October 31, 2013 by swankivy

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issue29

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The ugly truth of why you should never ask me to read your first draft. (Or, realistically, your second. Or maybe even your third. Maybe I just shouldn’t read books.)

I’m really not an absolute ogre–I can deliver bad news with grace!–but I’m extraordinarily picky and have trouble being lenient even if something is early in the process. But on the other hand, I’m not the only one to blame here. If you ask your beta readers to be honest, you’d better be ready to take their advice and make your work better. If you’re not going to listen, you don’t need an editor. You need a cheerleader.

Gimme a Bad Book Any Day

Published September 29, 2013 by swankivy

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issue28

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Do yourself a favor. Don’t read excellent books while you’re on submission. ::sigh::

Yes, we really are this insecure sometimes. But in all seriousness, we’re also inspired to do our best by reading the greats; it’s just not super great for our self-esteem when we’re trying to talk ourselves into believing we’ll get there one day.

Feeling a little unconfident about your writing abilities? Read a really crappy book.

Creating a Buzz

Published August 31, 2013 by swankivy

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issue27

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This comic was partially based on this conversation I had, in which a strange person told me that I would be more likely to get an agent if I put my book up for sale in PDF form through my website. (I seem to have managed to sign with an agent without doing that, y’all.) For the record, folks, most agents and publishers are not out looking to discover authors. They want you to come to them. With a book you haven’t already put on the Internet.

When you hear those stories about people getting discovered for their blogs and getting a book deal, it’s almost always nonfiction (a field in which Internet popularity and “buzz” DOES matter). When you hear about self-published books getting mainstream deals, they’ve sold an unusual number of copies (5,000 in six months gets their attention; 500 does not). The ones you hear about are exceptions. They’re lottery winners. They’re not an example by which to model your own career, because the likelihood of it happening to you is slim.

If your GOAL is a mainstream book deal, chances are much better for you if you query agents and keep the book you want to sell off the Internet!

Externally Imposed

Published July 31, 2013 by swankivy

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issue26

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I’ve had people actually laugh at me when I expect them to respect a deadline I chose myself. Apparently some people think it’s not really important if someone else isn’t making you do it or waiting for your product. I’m the opposite: I think it’s kind of sad if the only deadlines you respect are the ones imposed upon you by someone else.

Sorry man, my writing is serious business, and if I treated it like it was a low priority based on other people’s impositions on my time, I’d never get anything done!

First Novel

Published April 30, 2013 by swankivy

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issue23

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Seriously. I thought it would be hilarious to read over my first novel and giggle over how adorably incompetent I was. Let’s just say there was nothing cute about it whatsoever. It was blisteringly, depressingly, horrifyingly bad, and to be honest if I’d read a freshman work of this quality by a teen today, I’d be tempted to say “this person has no future in writing.” Happily, even the most embarrassingly awful writers can become accomplished novelists if they practice (and, as always, if they keep reading). I’m living proof. I think.