The 24-hour short story challenge continued. After only three hours sleep, I awoke at 4am to continue my story. It was a touch-and-go process, time-wise. Fortunately, Leena bought me coffee and one of my favourite Starbucks egg sandwiches for breakfast. This kept me going until 3.30pm, whereupon my 7000-word story was completed, allowing me 30 minutes to make it back to Author Services for the 4pm deadline.
Me with my printed manuscript:
Leena Likitalo – happy to complete her 24-hour challenge!
The printed stories were taken away by Tim Powers and Dave Wolverton who chose three at random for the group to critique overnight. One of them ended up being mine and, needless to say, there was a great deal of critique leveled at it, which I was happy with because it gave me a lot of insight into how I need to polish it for market.
Megan E. O’Keefe and Anaea Lay also had their works chosen and I was most impressed with what they came up with in 24 hours. It’ll be exciting to see these works reappear in the future and know that I got to see them at their most raw!
After the 24-hour challenge, we were due for a treat and boy did the people at Author Services and Galaxy Press come up with one!
We finally got to the see the artwork that the twelve winners of the Illustrators of the Future sister contest created in response to our winning Writers of the Future short stories! The artwork was simply phenomenal!
Me and Cassandre Bolan with the artwork she did for my story: Beneath the Surface of Two Kills.
Leena Likitalo with Trevor Smith and Kristie Kim with KC Norton.
Michael Talbot with Paul Eckheart.
Megan E O’Keefe with Sarah Webb and C. Stuart Hardwick with Andrew Sonea.
Anaea Lay with Bernardo Mota and Adam Brewster with Oleg Kazantsev.
Liz Colter with Kirbi Fagan and Cassandre Bolan with Timothy Jordan.
Vincent-Michael Corviello with Amanda Forrest.
Terry Madden with art by Seonhee Lim and Randy Henderson with art by Vanessa Golitz.
We had a great time mingling with the illustrators and enjoying all of the different artwork.
Despite our epic 24-hour challenge, there was no rest for the wicked. After a quick dinner, we returned to Author Services for another three hours of masterclasses.
This time our tutors were Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta of Wordfire Press! Their presentation was on professionalism and the standards required of professional writers and it was a really good affirmation of many of the things I’ve always thought to be true and a timely wake-up call on other points I hadn’t even considered.
Some cool tips I gleaned:
- You must write.
- You must finish what you write.
- You must put your work on the market.
- You must keep it on the market until it is sold.
- Start at the top – with the best publishing houses available – and work your way down as the rejections occur.
- Refrain from rewriting or editing a completed novel unless you are given a guarantee by the publisher suggesting the changes that they will buy the book based on those changes. Don’t make changes purely based on one person/editor saying it’s bad.
- As a writer, you should always have a business card ready to hand out as needed.
- Aside from an actual card, one of the best business cards you can give is a copy of your book. This way the person you meet might even become a fan and presold buyer of your next work.
- The best ad for your first book is a second book. Don’t waste your life ‘pushing product’ on your blogs or twitter or taking out adverts.
- You are always on stage as a writer so never be a jerk! Don’t be a rabble-rouser on the net because this just alienates half your audience. Also, never bitch about other writers, their books or people in the publishing industry – everything gets back.
- Be polite and nice to everyone in the industry – you never know when an assistant editor you were once nice to might end up the head of a major house! Also, the industry is small and everyone talks and you might find that you don’t just insult the one person, but all that person’s friends in the industry as well!
- Never take on a reviewer or critic who writes something you don’t agree with! Ever!
- Speak professionally in public – try to sound intelligent.
- Never miss your deadlines ever and always deliver on word-count.
- Get to know your business – the agents, publishing houses, new presses and so forth. Do not just leave it up to your agent. You are your best agent and best hope for your own career!
- Read and understand your contract!
- Build and maintain your reputation, including your branding.
- Keep track of all your reviews! Any time someone writes nice stuff in the press about you and your work, you can put those on your books as puff quotes. The really generic ones can be put on all your books!
- Don’t quit your day job until you can live off reliable royalties.
Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Dave Wolverton (David Farland), Eric Flint and many others conduct a course called “Superstars Writing” every year. This is a course purely on the business of writing. You can find it here.