Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guest author Lynn Emery: A Shift in POV

Lynn Emery is the author of fourteen novels written for five major publishers. Her second novel, AFTER ALL, released originally in 1996, was made into a BET television movie in 2000.

I sold my first book in July 1993. Night Magic was released in September 1995. You read that right. Thus began my schooling in being a published author. Let me make this short and sweet- no control over most of what happens to your book during the traditional publishing process. See? I didn’t need an entire blog post to school new and aspiring authors. Ring da bell, as they say. School’s out.

Okay, so maybe you would appreciate more than a paragraph. If you’re published you know the list of things you have no control over. Covers, distribution, release date just to name a few. The only thing you truly control is the quality of your writing.

Still as a new author so long ago I accepted certain assumptions. Like self-promotion had to be tireless. You need an agent for a number of reasons, among them to help develop your writing career. There’s more, but I only have so much space. Now fast forward to 2010. Imagine my shock when I read a series of blog posts that blow all those “truisms” about agents, promotion, etc. right out of the water. Bam! I blinked and then realized that Dean Wesley Smith’s posts on Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing made a lot of sense. In fact, my gut had been telling me some of this stuff for more than a few years. I recommend you read his POV. You may or may not agree, but it will make you think. Smith covers way too much for me to delve into here. So I’ll just take one for instance.

Years ago I stopped doing certain self-promotion givens that as a new romance author I accepted were just things you had to do. If you didn’t do certain things your career would be a non-starter, end of story. Guess what? I stopped doing book signings. I stopped traveling on my own dime to events longer away than 75 miles to speak or take part in book signings. I finally stopped paying for bookmarks, simple or fancy. I stopped doing a few other “must do” things, too. And that was before I found Smith’s site. Read Smith’s common sense on self-promotion.

Another big topic – agents. My approach was all wrong. Okay, I’m talking about for me. My gut had been telling me some of the same things Smith says (those “snarky” agent blogs became a pet peeve, btw). Yet the “conventional wisdom” kept me thinking the same old way, and chained to doing things the same way.

Will changing lead to publisher success and big bucks? Sure, I’ll be out shopping for my second home on the French Riviera. Please. There are no guarantees. But at least I won’t keep doing things that in my gut just don’t seem right somehow.

You really need to read at least some of Dean’s posts to see what I mean. I’ll just cite one example of what made me read them all. In one post Dean says write the book you’re passionate about, and then worry about trying to sell it. So much for spending endless hours reading those “what’s selling” articles. Already I have a lot more time to write the best book I can; the book I’m passionate about. See paragraph two above. I have a new POV and a new attitude. Read the posts and tell us what you think.

Happy writing!

Lynn Emery
As I Was Saying...
Be Encouraged
A Darker Shade of Midnight- A Cool Murder Mystery in Hot Louisiana


Liane Spicer said...

Hi Lynn! Thank you for being our guest, and for those links to Dean Wesley Smith's articles. I read the ones on agents some time last year and they helped me a lot. Now I've got to read the rest of the articles in the series. They should be required reading for everyone in this business.

Lynn Emery said...

Thanks for having me, Liane. I'm honored to hang out with such talented folks.

I encourage authors, no matter where you are in the writing journey, to read Smith's posts. His POV is a real eye-opener.

KeVin K. said...

Excellent essay. Dean Wesley Smith and his wife Kris gave me the tools (and kick in the pants) necessary to get from "aspiring author" to working writer in a single workshop nearly a decade ago. I will always be indebted to them.
Even though "writing is an art" or "all writing is rewriting" pundits can match Kris and Dean's success rates in this industry, they always try to discourage new writers with their lists of why it's impossible to succeed. Thanks for reminding all of us about what it really takes.