Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: Advice... from me?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Advice... from me?

You're kidding, right?

I have this reaction several times a week. Over the past... oh, I dunno, year or so, I've gotten emails on a regular basis, usually several a week. Asking for some kind of advice. Or info. Some are a little easier than others. The easiest question to answer is...

How much money can I expect to make... I always answer that one the same. I have no answer for you.

I'm primarily still an ebook author, and yes, I write for a living, so I think I do okay, but every author is going to be different. So that one is easy. No answer~sorry.

The rest of them, though, they make me bang my head. I hardly ever have an answer. I've asked, how do you make yourself finish the book? Well, I just do. If I don't finish it, i can't sell it and I like selling them. $$$$$

Where do you come up with your ideas? Every single one is different. Sometimes, I'll see something that inspires me to start a book and then the book comes from there. My current release is one of those. The idea for Hunter's Pride came from something I saw on Animal Planet. A young girl in Africa was rescued from a couple of kidnappers by.... a pride of lions. Now I moved my book to America and it was cougars, or mountain lions, that saved her, but that's where that idea came from.

The original Hunters? Eh...that was all Tori. I wanted a heroine that was kick a$$ but not so stupidly independent she'd cut off her nose to spite her face. Those sort of heroines really annoy me. So there was Tori, and then there was Declan and then there was the book. The rest just sort of came naturally after that.

Other ideas came from various places... fairy tales, or I'll be talking with a friend, and there it is. So I don't have a simple answer for that.

Do you plot out your books? I hate answering this one. I always feel like a moron. Nope, I don't plot out until after I've started the book, and usually the plot just unfolds for me as I write it.

Where should I try to sell my book? Oh, boy. That's a tricky one. Depends on what sort of book, how long, too many factors, and that's another question i hate.

How did you get published? Another one that I kind of scratch my head over. Often... it feels like pure dumb luck. I had a book that was rejected by Harlequin. That form letter so many of us have seen, not what we're looking for...yadda yadda yadda... My personal opinion~eh, it was perfect for them, however I wasn't going to sweat it. That was about the time I'd found EC and I decided I'd just revamp the book and try it there. And that's that as far as my ebook history goes. I've sold more than thirty various books, novellas and short stories to places like EC, Triskelion, and Samhain.

New York career, eh... a little different. Boils down to a couple of people mentioned my name to Cindy Hwang at Berkley and she looked me up, read a few things, and liked them. So I got the infamous call. I didn't really do anything~so pure dumb luck on my part.

There's other questions, like I need an agent. Will you read my book? Do you do critiques? Frankly, I wish I could help but I can't. You can find a lot of these resources through RWA. I don't have time to read for pleasure hardly, and I suck when it comes to technical advice, so I'm not a good person to ask.

It's really very mind boggling to keep getting these emails~scary, yet at the same time, feels kinda cool. But I seriously suck at advice...


Jennifer Y. said...

Great post and I love that cover!!!

Maura said...

*makes mental note to never ask Shi for advice*

Seriously, I think most published writers are enormously patient and go far beyond the call of any sort of duty when it comes to being hit up by the unpublished newbies (of which *I* am one, so I can call them that).

However, I do think unpublished writers should be merciful and not explode with questions and pop quizes at any opportunity. I just cannot imagine why someone (out of the blue) thinks you will disclose your income and how they might think you have time to read their work just out of the blue.

Seems sorta ... like an imposition.

Jana said...

I understand how frustrating it can be to have people ask for advice & not know what to say as each situation is different. Still it is nice when an author can at least say "I don't know" & mean it rather than sounding like they don't want competition. :-)

If I ever finish the stories running around in my head I promise not to ask you for advice. I would however hope you liked what I wrote.

LuAnn McLane said...

Oh Shi I'm sure that you are much more helpful than you might think. I know that just a little hint or something small can make a writer into an author. You have probably said things to aspiring authors who have run with your advice and it has made a big difference in how they write or how they approach the business.

I think that pubs are so willing to help unpubs because it was a pub that might have given them the spark or advice or the encouragment that they needed to get to the next level and it is so great to give back.

Oh yeah....Jennifer is right your cover rocks ;-)

Silma said...

Lovely cover!

Shiloh Walker said...

gawww.... LuAnn, how in the hell is... I don't know... helpful? Lol... the majority of the time, that's exactly my answer.

Jana, reading is just hard me any more. I don't read much any more for enjoyment, but that's not even all of the problem. A lot of my problem is, I'm not always the nicest person and I'm more worried about hurting somebody's feelings with a reading. Writing is hard and just finishing something takes courage and should be applauded. And I know some people who have some serious talent and they just don't write anymore because somebody didn't exactly approach a critique sort of thing with the right attitude. I don't want to be responsible for doing that.

Jennifer, Silma, SL Carpenter did that cover... he's seriously talented.

And Maura, you'd be AMAZED at how many people ask that sort of thing.

Id I was a more... ahh... tactful person, or a teaching type, maybe I wouldn't get so nervous about people asking for advice, but eh... I'm not. I prefer bluntness to tact and I'm one of those people who sit in awe of people who understand the technical ins and outs of writing, so I can't really help with teaching/critiques either.

Shiloh Walker said...

Oops, didn't clarify enough... how many people ask the money thing.

Asking me to read something, that's happened a handful of times and it's not really an imposition, it's just... I suck at giving the sort of help they seem to want.

Stacy~ said...

I can understand that as a published writer, you'd get asked for lots of advice. And maybe it's the reader in me but I don't think someone should expect definitive answers because the answer tends to be different for everyone. Other than the basics, like keep on writing everyday, finish the book, etc., a person who sits down to write is most likely going to approach it dfferently than you would.

Personally, I think advice should come from sources dedicated to those types of questions, like critique groups and workshops. I want you to write Shi, and by that, I don't want you writing an advice column - LOL. I want more Hunters. There might come a time later on when you might hold a writing contest or something to help aspiring writers, but until then, I still want those Hunters.

The money question bothers me. Makes me think the person is not serious about writing.

I'll add my vote for the awesome cover (got The Huntress & Hunter's Pride yesterday!)

Cryna said...

Shi I just want to comment that you have an awesome cover. It is an eye catcher.

I hate when people ask for advice from me, because I am afraid I am going to say the wrong thing, or influence them the wrong way. And if it turns out wrong for them, then I am the one at fault. But that is just me.

Maura said...

Well, not only is asking someone their income horribly rude (unless you work for the IRS and are auditing them) the money thing is hugely variable too. Which *should* be obvious.

You can figure it out for yourself to some extent, especially in ebooks. You look at the cover price of a book in the word range you are aiming for from the house you want to work with, you multiply it by the percentage the publisher offers the writer (a lot of them have that on their info pages) and VOILA you get a "net per sale" for you.

Then you take that "net per sale" and use it to figure out how much gross income you need in order to make the amount of money you need, factoring in taxes.

You can't use someone else's sales numbers anyway - they depend so heavily on popularity of author, of genre, of publishing house plus how well things are publicized, etc.

And there's a basic understanding needed that sales fluxuate and you have to keep producing to keep new income coming in as older works taper off.

At least, this is what *I* did to figure out how many sales I'd need to make to generate the income I wanted.

sorry - my ex-business major is showing, huh?

snowflake said...

Congrats on your new release, Shi.

It's hard to give advice even to people you are close to. I think just a little encouragement goes a long way. You are certainly not obliged to answer every question asked of you.