Fourteen years ago I set out to write a novel. It wasn’t on my bucket list then, but after a few years it rose to the top because of how difficult it had become. I wrote and re-wrote my manuscript for Gray Ghost at least thirty (30) times, many of those coming AFTER I had a traditional publishing contract and was only a few months from the scheduled publication date. I had every opportunity to quit on this project, and if I shared with you how things went down when it came time for Gray Ghost to actually see print, you’d probably wonder why I didn’t just give up.
The thing is, I was raised by my parents and family NOT to give up. I used every single criticism and hundreds of rejection letters to push me. It forced me to write better, which is what it’s all about when you are an author. I studied my craft AND the industry and quickly realized writing, or more accurately, publishing, is a cut-throat business of very few HAVES and millions of HAVE-NOTS. Once I realized that, I was better suited to develop a plan of attack.
I will feature what I did to become a marginally successful author through a series of blogs on this site. I am not charging for this information. Everyone thinks I’m crazy for giving my ‘secrets’ away, but there is a method to my madness. So, this won’t be the first time I’m called crazy, nor will it be the last.
First, my modest stats:
Beginning on October 31, 2013, Gray Ghost reached #13 on the Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Crime Fiction, #41 for Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Mystery, and #48 Amazon best sellers list (Paperback) for Mystery. As of right now, it’s still ranked #48 on the Amazon best sellers list (Kindle) for Crime Fiction.
Second, my appreciation statement:
Thank you everyone who helped me reach my goal of becoming a best-selling author. I really hope I write the second book well enough to honor my fallen friend and that it sells like Gray Ghost has. Stay tuned for updates about the second book, Collectors, as I am as excited as all of you are for its release!!!
I appreciate everyone who has helped me. I’ll be doing a drawing sometime this week (after today when the sale ends), for FIVE lucky people to receive a signed copy of Collectors when it’s released!!
Third, the first tid-bit:
“FAKE AGENTS and PUBLISHERS:”
If you are reading this right now you are on the right path when it comes to promotion because you are on a social media site (WordPress) and you are trying to learn something to help you formulate a plan of your own for success. That’s the nice part, the not-so-nice-part is there are literally THOUSANDS of fake agents and fake publishers (traditional and self-pub) praying on your unbelievable need/want/desire to get published. So what do you do to prevent getting scammed?
First, you need to research the heck out of the agent or publisher. Start by running their name through Google’s search engine. If they don’t pop up, they could be new, but they could also be fake. Almost immediately you will see in your Google search results whether ANYONE has a complaint about the agent or publisher. Read those carefully. Many times a rejection letter will be the issue, not the legitimacy of the agent or publisher. Everyone thinks they can write and should be the next big thing. It stings when someone tells you otherwise (and even worse when the truth is you may not be a strong writer, yet).
Next, try to put a face and person to the name. This means you will need to meet up, face-to-face, with an agent or publisher. This can be done fairly easy at writing conferences. There is a much higher probability that someone saying s/he is an agent or publisher at a writing conference is in fact one or the other. This is the case usually because most cons are done over the internet and e-mail scams and other REAL agents and publishers tend to ferret out the impostors at these conferences.
Then ask OTHER writers, agents, and publishers (that you know are legitimate) if the person or agency you are researching is legitimate. Writers groups, on-line groups, bookstores, and other writers tend to be close-knit groups. Sort of like a neighborhood watch. So, bounce your thoughts off them to see what you can learn or what they think. If they give you a thumbs-up, then you can feel a little better about the important decision you are about to make.
Lastly, NEVER pay any money up-front. There are various costs associated to self-publishing which you will have to pay, but make sure you have a contract with a reputable publisher before you dole out cash. In addition, there should be no up-front costs to an author in a traditional contract. If a publisher says they need YOUR money for promotion and production costs, you should have red flags popping up. You need to read and re-read the contract you may have with the publisher. If, and I say this very lightly, the publisher has increased your royalty percentage it’s normally because they ARE NOT providing promotions for your book. So, why would they ask for money upfront for promotion if they are not (per the contract) promoting your book? All I’m trying to relate to you is don’t be so blinded by your desperate need to be published that you get sucked into a scam. It’s easier said than done, but I’m at least one person in your corner.
So, what we are doing here is building a strong foundation for your writing and getting you set up to move forward in the right direction so you can focus on your writing, not getting scammed before your work in progress ever sees print. Stay tuned for more tid-bits.
c. L. Swinney
THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE and the Rule of Worst Thing
By Melodie Campbell
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN LIFE:
- Men called Raoul are to be avoided.
- Coffee can solve a lot of problems, but it doesn’t help you sleep.
- It is a really bad idea to make financial decisions after finishing an entire bottle of cheap wine. (Okay, even expensive wine.)
- If it sounds like a stupid idea, it probably is.
- Never EVER go easy on your protagonist. In fact, invoke the rule of WORST THING.
My name is Melodie Campbell and I write comedies. I came by this honestly, in an attempt to avoid being serious. Most of my life, I have tried to avoid being serious. (Which is why I was a dismal failure as a bank manager. That’s another blog – yup, a comedy. But I digress…)
So far, it’s worked. THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE is my 5th non-serious book.
But here’s a secret: writing non-serious is serious hard work.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
Comedy writers take a situation, and ask themselves ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now?’ And then, ‘what’s the funniest?’
In THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, Gina discovers that her weasel cousin Carmine has switched real gems for fakes while he was babysitting her jewelry store. The lousy rat! Now, some of her best clients are walking around with fake rings on their fingers. Her rep is seriously on the line if anyone finds out. What’s a girl to do?
Mastermind a bunch of burglaries to steal back the fakes, of course. She is the reluctant Goddaughter of the local mob boss, after all.
So let’s invoke the rule of Worst Thing. What’s the worst thing that could happen to Gina when she breaks into houses? She could get caught by the cops. Or shot as an intruder. But that would end the story pretty quick, and we don’t want that.
Also, I don’t want ‘worst thing’ all the time. This is a comedy. We need a balance of pathos and bathos. So what’s the funniest thing that could happen?
All the burglaries could go wrong. That’s our worst thing. And the WAY they go wrong is the comedy.
Houses aren’t empty when they should be. Her accomplice is a manic critic of interior design. Everyone in Steeltown is following the antics of “their very own Pink Panthers” in the local newspaper. The more Gina tries to be invisible, the more they become a sensation!
Worse and worse. Funnier, and hopefully, funnier. And that’s my rule of ‘best thing.’
Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications, and six awards for fiction. She was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer, and both the 2012 and 2013 Arthur Ellis awards. Melodie is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.
Library Journal says this about The Goddaughter (Orca Books):
“Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans. Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.“
THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/kmgjgsf
THE GODDAUGHTER on Amazon http://ow.ly/dnObH
Follow Melodie’s comic blog at www.melodiecampbell.com