Sunday, January 03, 2016

Week in Review 1/3/2016<---holy smokes!

Welcome to the week that was.

Last week's review started with Carolynn (no more Ns for her!) suggesting we might have a year in review. Poor Caroly. Her n-less exile to Carkoon is such a mild penalty. I must be getting soft.

Lance had the best comment on this:

Caroly__, I know how you feel. I lost a lot in my birth naming.
It took me two passes to get the joke. See it

And Carolywith0ns now asking for forgiveness:
I want my Ns back, pleassssse.
Forgive my lapse in judgment.

Last week's review also mentioned Janice L. Grinyer's encounter with some lost souls. I remembered that when I had a similar encounter not very long after.

Janice's comment:
My husband was in the woods when he met a young couple from Vermont traveling across the US; not only traveling but living in their car. "There is a storm coming, would you like to stay with us at our home until it passes?" Needless to say, it has been a fun four days getting to know this couple, and the adventures they have had (worldwide adventures!) Once the sky cleared, they were on their way again, and we had one day off until the next wave of guests. So many stories, so much laughter; all good.

My encounter is posted here on my Facebook page.

On Monday we talked about snout to tail promotion: the concept that you use everything you can to promote your book.

I really liked what Audrey Shaffer said:
Several years ago, I took over a chatroom for writers. The mailing list was almost 300 people, and I was so excited! Now, we have live chats twice each week, and the mailing list is almost 3,000. I have 15% open rate, and people respond to the emails. (And Janet has dropped in twice!)

If I had started out with the goal to build this, I probably would have tied myself into knots and it would have fallen apart. But by simply moving forward, one step at a time, I'm amazed to find myself with something valuable.

15% open rate is HUGE for this kind of promotion, just in case you were wondering. And yes, I do like to swim by these kinds of things, but it's mostly luck of the draw: I'm on Twitter tormenting my clients with glee, and see a tweet that a live chat is going on NOW. There's no way for anyone to plan for it, it just happens.

And this from Jennifer R. Donohue is a good point:
But. I'm outside the bell curve of normality on any number of things, and one of those is newsletters. I hate receiving newsletters. I sign up for them, sure. I don't read them, for the most part. I kinda scan Publisher's Lunch, that kind of thing. But, as we discussed last week, I also don't read jacket copy (or reviews, by the way. I don't read reviews until after I've read the book. Or tried the book and failed to complete it). Commercials don't actually seem to make me want to buy things, but rather have the opposite effect.

So, when you're thinking about promotion, think about how YOU find books to read. Most of us find books by word of mouth. Someone we know tells us about a book they liked. Starting RIGHT NOW, keep a list of every single time you acquire a book (either borrowing at library, or buying, or receiving from another source) how you got the book and how you heard about it. You'll need to start EARLY cause you'll need a lot of data points to see a pattern.

I'm a big proponent of doing what works, not what people tell you what works. There's a lot of VERY BAD advice about promotion out there. Trust your experiences, not someone else's opinions.

And this from Sherry Howard about the MailChimp newsletter mailing platform just cracked me up:

I'm visiting the zoo today to get one of those mail chimps from the gift shop; I'm glad to know he's trained to take of that for me. I've always wanted a chimp!

Susan makes a VERY good point here:
As for mailing lists and newsletters: I'm of the Newsletters Don't Work For Me camp--both in sending and in receiving. I tried creating a newsletter for my business a few years ago. It began as a monthly, then dwindled down to a quarterly before going extinct. The pressure to create that content when I was already marketing my book, writing another, burned out from working a stressful corporate job, and recovering from illness was too much. It became a chore I grew to dread rather than an enhancement to my services, and I decided I'd rather spend that time and energy producing content I enjoyed: more blog posts, books, resources, and even personal journaling.

I do see the wisdom in maintaining a mailing list, and I'll likely revamp the newsletter into simple email updates such as book news and free resources, but I'm not one who can churn out content on a consistent basis like I'd originally intended. It actually took me a while to come to terms with that.

We talk about newsletters as though they have to be the multiple-page things we get from groups we belong to (I get Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime etc.)

Mailing lists don't need newsletters! You can simply email your list with a short paragraph of news:

Felix Buttonweezer's new novel "My Life In Kale" co-authored by Carolynn and Colin of Carkoon, will be published next Tuesday! You can pre-order a copy here (put in a link)

Here's what early readers have said: (include some good SHORT blurbs)

Thanks for all your support!

Kelsey Hutton said it very well here
I also think fewer words, more frequently is the way to go if you want to do newsletters or updates. At least for myself, I'd much rather read 1 amusing anecdote every two weeks from my favourite author than receive a long quarterly newsletter. The longer a piece is, the more likely I am to get distracted before I reach the end and then never go back.

Lucie Witt's parenthetical on a comment about bios caught my eye

(I almost didn't enter because so many "real" authors submitted but then I reminded myself I'm a real author too, dammit, and I should let my work speak for itself instead of fretting over my lack of name recognition).

If you're EVER hesitant about entering a contest, or sending work to an anthology for consideration or sending work ANYWHERE because you're not a "name author" let me remind you of this: one of the top flight agents here in NYC, Nat Sobel, is renowned for finding writers in places like literary journals, anthologies and other off the beaten track places.

One of my favorite books from 2014, Ghostman by Roger Hobbes, was found this way.
"I eventually wrote a short story called 'What's Inside?' about an armored car robbery. Nat Sobel (a literary agent) saw my piece and really liked it ... He asked me if I had any novels, and I sent him two of the novels that I had. He said, 'These are pretty good, but you should write another one for me over the summer and send it to me when you're done.' I thought, 'I've had some pretty good success with that heist story and he likes that so I'll write another really dark crime novel,' and I wrote 'Ghostman.' I turned it in on the day I graduated college."

And I was very interested in this from A.J. Cattapan, something I did not know:
Oh, one more thing!! About the Google search. My brother (who is a hotshot online marketing VP at a MAJOR company) has informed me that if you search your name on your own computer, you should definitely come up first because Google has cached your name and the sites you visit often. You do visit your own website often to update it, right?

Anyway, the real test is to have a stranger Google you on his or her own computer. Then you'll know whether or not a stranger can find you easily. One plus to having an unusual last name like Cattapan is that it's pretty easy for other people to find me. Not a lot of other Cattapans out there. :)

Kara Ringenbach asked:

Hope this isn't too far off topic: I am curious how someone with a pen name would handle these things. I am planning on using one even though I know now that it will prob. give something between a slight and extreme disadvantage as far as marketing. Assuming your name is NOT Stephen King, at what point would you mention a pen name in the querying/ publishing process?

There is a blog post on that very topic from back in June 2014.

Almitra Clay had a very interesting question about pen names
I share a name with a published author. Thus “Almitra.” I know that I will have to correspond with industry professionals by my given name. Should I also make it clear publicly that Almitra is my pen name?

Thanks to the white guy who used a Chinese pen name to publish a poem, I am a little worried that any obfuscation of my very white ethnicity is going to cause problems. The name I have chosen could lead people to assume that I’m not white. Should I be concerned?

I'm going to use that question for a blog post this week. It's something I've been thinking about recently. Stay tuned!

Another comment generated Tuesday's blog post about what a marketing department will do for an author;

This from Julie M. Weathers makes me think the Defense Department lost a great strategist when she decided to be a writer instead of a general;

When I was in real estate, I used to hold a lot of open houses. Even in the West Texas summer, I would have a fire going if the house had a fireplace. I'd put a loaf of frozen bread dough out to rise to give the house that yeasty home smell or a bowl of cinnamon and vanilla water went in a warm oven so the people thought they were walking in on fresh cookies coming out of the oven. I did everything in my power to make them feel like they were home, they wanted to spend more time there.

People who were really interested got a quart of Baskin Robbins ice cream when they left. Baskin Robbins ice cream is good enough not to want to waste so they'd take it home. Most didn't feel like leaving home again to look at more houses.

Theresa mentioned some model author websites:
Eve, these are the author websites I like. The first two are fiction writers, the rest nonfiction.

(1) Katharine Weber
I really like this website. It's crisp, clean, informative. The only thing I see right away is that I'd have suggested she add the Twitter icon below her headline. Lots of people look for the icon, not a text block when they're seeking contact info. Same for Facebook if you have it.
(2) Caroline Leavitt
This one isn't one I'd use as a model. The landing page doesn't lend itself to navigation. The link "welcome to Leavittown" is clever…only if you think about it. If you're just trying to figure out the correct title of a book or verify a piece of information, it's not intuitive that you click on Welcome To Leavittown to enter the site.

Once you enter the site there's a headline, but what is it? A book title? If I don't know, it's not clear. Then there's a list of kudos. This is a CLASSIC mistake in promotion. It's the same rule you have in queries: tell me what the book is about.

Most people aren't visiting your page to find out what awards you've won. They're interested in your book. Always always always start with the book and what it's about.

The next problem is that when you click the tabs, they open in new windows. If you want to see the difference, go back to Katharine Weber's site and click her tabs. They don't open in new windows.

The problem with opening in new windows is you've got a dozen tabs open now, and you'll have to close them all to get out of there, AND it doesn't allow you to use back/forward arrows to travel between pages.

The biggest mistake though: her contact page doesn't list her social media. Her social media is at the bottom of the very very long first page, a place you're not very likely to find it.

And don't get me started on outdated events pages. These events are from 2013.

(3) Stacy Cordery
This website is terrific.

(4) T.J. Stiles
Good, but not terrific

(5) Erik Larson
Terrific. Also notice on his contact page that he has made arrangements for people to get signed copies of his books from one of his local stores. This is something every author should do. It's MUCH easier to let a bookstore make these sales than have a fan ship books to you and you ship them back.

And he's got a TERRIFIC blog. If you'd never heard of this author (ie you've been under a rock, or on Pluto etc) you'd know just by reading this blog that Erik Larson is a talented writer and you'd want to read all his books.

That's pretty much game, set, match there. Come to the website for info, leave wanting to read All The Books.

James Ticknor asked:
How exactly does one guarantee sales? That concept never made sense to me. I get the whole promotion bit, but not the other.

The only way to guarantee sales is to write a large check to the bookstore. In fact, people used to do that so their books would get on the New York Times Bestseller list. (This was early 90's) but the NYT, no slouches they, wised up to the move and now cast a skeptical eye on any kind of bulk purchase of a title.

Short of that, there's no way. If there was, and I knew it, you think I'd be sitting in Brooklyn writing this blog? Hell NO. I'd be sitting on a Greek island sipping mimosas with all my clients as we counted the wheelbarrows of cash being flung at us.

On Wednesday I listed my year end stats on queries, requests, new clients:

Lucie Witt said:
"From 2013-2015 I still have four people working on requested revisions."

So this means at least one person is still working on revisions going back to 2013? This potentially makes me feel better about the R&R I've been working on since September.

I'm working with an author who's been revising since 2008. That is a rarity, of course, but certainly not unheard of.

Just Jan asked (as did many subsequent commenters)
How (or why) do you sell one book three times? Do publishers back out? And do they have to pay a penalty if they do?

The first time I sold what we'll call Three Lives, the publisher decided to close the entire imprint and cancel all the offers and contracts. We were at the offer stage, so we didn't get any money. One of my colleagues had a signed contract so that author kept all the money he'd received (sort of like a penalty clause!)

The second time was to a publisher I hadn't worked with previously. When we got to the deal negotiations it was increasingly clear it was not a good match for my author and his particular situation. After a LOT of discussion with my author, I told the publisher we would not be taking the deal.

I'm very fortunate that my client had faith I could pull the rabbit out of the hat one more time, and sure enough I did. However, it's a not something I care to make a regular habit of. I'm not sure my nerves have fully recuperated. And let's just say the bar got a damn good workout those couple months.

Lisa Bodenheim asked
And I'm curious as to why people withdraw when you've requested. Do they say why? Is it because all of a sudden, after a conference or reading a craft book, they felt their writing was not up to par?
It varies a lot. One author told me I was essentially pond scum and didn't want to work with me. (I was so shocked I thought he was joking when he wrote me) Others have offers and I can't read fast enough or soon enough to give them a verdict, so the project is withdrawn. If the author has a blinding flash of insight and wants to revise, generally they have to start all over again with a query and a request to read the full. Revise and resubmit requests are VERY rare. I have maybe five of those in two years.

Panda in Chief said:
Actually, it always makes me think of what they said to us just before we aspiring painters graduated with our shiney new BFA's: maybe one percent of you will go on to graduate school, and of those, one percent will still be painting 10 years from now. Of those, less than 10% will ever make a living from your artwork. This January marks the 28th year I have been supporting myself soley with my painting. Even soul sucking odds can'r get in the way of sheer stubborn determination.

First, huzzahs!

Second, this reminds me of an article in the NYT some years back about the graduates of Juilliard in the class of 89 maybe? Something like 20 years after graduation, the question was how many of the graduates worked in music at all, let alone made a living. The answer was precious few.

Donnaeve asked:
I'm also keen to know who the contest winner was that you signed! I looked at your current client list - and didn't necessarily remember seeing any of them as an FF winter - so, I'm wondering if that list is all inclusive - or- do you only list the clients whose work you've sold?

I only list clients when I've sold work. The FF contest winner is not listed there (YET!) And it's his story to tell or not tell, so I'll leave it up to him about when to tell it.

Donnaeve also asked:
E.M. and others working on R&R's...I have a writer friend who received an R&R from one of the BIG FIVE YA editors - almost three years ago. She's still working on it far as I know. I'd almost be afraid the longer I took the more they'd think I couldn't 1)follow critique suggestions, 2)received representation elsewhere or 3)simply blew the chance b/c really - how long should an R&R take?

On the other hand, maybe they'd view it like the writer didn't rush it.

I wonder (I do wonder a lot don't I?) if there is a sort of timeline to it. A Goldilocks method - not too fast, not too slow, but getting it back to the agent/editor in just the right time.

I think the key ingredient here is staying in touch. I have a writer working on revisions going on 8 years now. We're in touch a lot. For other clients working on revisions, I'll touch base if I haven't heard from them in a while. So, it's not three years of deafening silence and then popping back up with "hey, here ya go" at all.

Other agents may handle this differently, but I like to keep in touch with everyone who's got serious potential.

John Frain asked
How many clients do you represent that you have not sold (yet)?
12 right now. That includes 3 new ones this year.
4 are on active submission.
5 are working on revisions
1 is working on finishing a novel
1 isn't writing right now

and John Frain asked
Also, I'm curious about the withdrawn manuscripts, and wondering how many of them eventually came back.
Not a lot. Mostly manuscripts are withdrawn because the author is signing elsewhere.

kdjames asked
In the category of Things I Am NOT Obsessing Over (and might never need to know) But Just Find Interesting: I'm curious about what sorts of things cause you to turn down an offer. I mean, I can guess that it's money and terms or some combination of the two, but it would be interesting to hear any details you might be willing/able to share.

Money is the big one. I'd rather hold on to a project (particularly film rights) than let it go for less than it's worth.

Editorial/publication vision is the second.

Susan said:

Yes, I have a question. Where is the graphic that goes with

"Any questions?"

And I'm STILL laughing at this from Julie M. Weathers
Now I just need to win a contest so Janet will recognize me when I query her!

Yea. Cowgirls Wanted. I wonder who wrote that.

Thursday was a discussion on timing for promotional emails.

I was hollering bloody murder about people who email stuff before the event.

Audrey Shaffer said
I used to send chat-reminder emails a day or two before the chat. I've gotten better response, and more re-tweet/shares since I started sending them the same day as the chat. Took me about six years to figure that one out.

I too have had those blinding realizations only to think "how the hell could I not have thought of this before now!"

And yes, same-day reminders are the only effective way to get me to visit a site, or drop by a chat.

BJ Muntain had a VERY good suggestion here

Here's a suggestion (from someone who used to work communications/marketing): When you send your first message - the 'save your date' message Janet talked about - give your date, but also *tell them* that you'll be sending them another message once it's live. That way they're not fiddling with their calendars - and if they're not near their calendar, they can think, "Oh good. I'll do that then." And they'll be prepared for your next message, which will have a live link.

I should have included that in the original post cause it's exactly the right thing to do.

John Frain asked:
So this leads me to think we need to keep multiple email lists, correct?

For example, a list of potential readers who would buy the book. And then a separate list for promotion purposes, consisting of people who might get the word out about the book via giveaways, contests, reviews, etc.

I suppose the reader list is a subset of the promotion list, but they'd need to be kept separate somehow. Or am I creating more work than is necessary?

Whatever the case, this is a facet of life I had not calculated for prior to now, so as long as we're making New Year's resolutions...

Deep River had a good answer:
It would be better to maintain one master list of all contacts with each contact record having additional fields for marketing purposes. You might need one field to record buyers, a second to record promoters, a third to record reviewers, and so forth. The idea is that a single contact may buy, post a review, and then recommend your book to their friends. Other contacts may buy and review, and many may only buy.

The marketing fields allow you to create various subset lists from your master list, enabling you to tailor the message accordingly. You will spend much less time adding data to an existing contact rather than creating new, separate lists for each purpose that comes up. Also, if a contact changes (e.g. mailing address), you only need to update a master list once, rather than searching and updating every specialized list in which that contact may appear.

There are all kinds of contact management programs for designed for salespeople that would work just fine for authors; most of the contact functions are the same

In fact, this gives me an idea for a blog post next week so stay tuned.

John Frain asked later
But here's where I'm still confused. If one of my goals in all this is to develop an email list, where is that happening? Do I ALSO need a newsletter or some such to collect email addresses?

It happens on your website here on the contact page. This is from Terry Shames website

On Friday we talked about when/if to reveal upcoming life implosions during the query process

Many of you extended good wishes to the questioner and I particularly liked this suggestion from CynthiaMc (who's had a few implosions this year herself)
My mom used to tell me to remember the hour glass when things got crazy - one grain of sand at a time can go through. From that I developed the habit of asking "What's the best next thing to do right now?" Sometimes it's simple - make the bed, do the dishes. Sometimes it's a trip to the beach. It works in crisis or out and keeps the day from being overwhelming. It turns the tide from victim to victor.

That's my tactic when I'm utterly overwhelmed. "What is one small thing I can do right now that will help move me forward?" It's surprising how often "make the bed" and "wash the floor" are the answers!

And Janice L. Grinyer offered this (she too has had some implosions this year!)
What got me through was organization. Writing lists nightly for the next day. Delegating when I could, accepting the fact that I had to rely on myself other times. So no pity parties because they waste time (well, have only one, but make it a good one to get it all out- no witnesses, it can get ugly.)
Focusing on communication with others, even those long distance, to build a future, no matter how uncertain. Developing a timing for when to let people in, and when to hold back information. However, when you let people in, you'd be surprised on how understanding they can be - no one wants to be left in the dark, on the sidelines, especially those who you work with.
But don't pull the pity card just to get a good parking space- a strong personal moral code will make you a better, healthier human being. Also, recognizing that when I took care of my sleep, eating, exercising needs, I became stronger in spirit too.

And writing. Don't stop writing. The best writing comes from the ashes. "The evening's coals are the morning's ashes"

On Saturday we discussed whether you need a website before you're published. (yes, you do)

Some of you seem to confuse website with blog.

This is a website:

This is a blog

You can have your blog ON your website, but they are two very different things.

A website doesn't require daily/weekly updates or much content.

A blog is more dynamic. You do need updates, and new content.

I update this blog daily.

I update my website MUCH less often. Ideally it should be monthly or at least quarterly. I don't even do that much right now.

You don't need a blog. You DO need a website.

The biggest problem with using a blog as a website is that a blog has time stamps.

If I click on your blog and the last post is from 2013, that's a BAD first impression.

Susan Bonifant said
We've touched on this before, but I wonder how likely it is that blog content will endear a writer to an agent if it's not about writing? I use my blog to tell stories about how I see strangers connect, on planes, in line at the supermarket, etc.

I love doing this and have nice blog customers, but I tend to think of it as "the other writing" I do, rather than bracelets and earrings on the writing I pitch.

I'd like to be wrong about that, I guess.

You're in luck! You are wrong!

Any kind of writing on your blog is fine. I'll read about your dog, your adventures, your book reviews. The key is GOOD WRITING (also layout, white space and brevity but that's just me.)

Speaking of wrong, Colin Smith said
Websites, on the other hand, require design and technical know-how to set up, or you need to pay someone to do it for you.
GoDaddy offers a template website that even the least tech-savvy person can use to build a website. It's not all that pretty, but it' works. You've actually seen one. Here it is again.

Colin's only a little bit wrong of course; you do have to pay for this, but it's not a whole lot. You can go to the website and check it out. It's called Website Tonight.

Colin Smith also said

OK, I'll bite on Susan B's question too. I agree 100% with Dena, and I'll add this: it's about platform Why would you want to read what I, an unpublished, unagented woodland creature, have to say about writing over, say, Chuck Wendig, or any number of published authors who might touch on the subject from time to time.

The reason a writer might/might not  read your blog is DIFFERENT than why I will.  Think about it. Chuck Wendig has an agent (the amazing and very capable Stacia Decker.) Those other published authors who might touch on the subject from time to time also have agents. You, unpublished, unagented woodland creature, do NOT. Therefore you're of much more utility to me than Chuck Wendig.

I think we may have to let Colin come back from LAX (the exile after Carkoon) because getting beaten up twice in one WIR is really more punishment than even I can dish out.

And if Colin isn't in exile, I guess we better bring back everyone on Carkoon, and LynnRodz from LAX too. A fresh start for the new year.

Welcome back!

Back to work tomorrow after almost two weeks of slacking off. I love my job, but oh man, it's hard to think of getting up early and tackling the inbox tomorrow.

Thankfully I have a brand new can of Cafe Bustello to help me out.

Have a great week!

Blog subheader noms

Happy New Year to everyone in the known universe, and here's to achieving our goals without maiming anyone in the process. Cheers. --Amanda Capper

So raising my coffee mug to all; may we have a wonderful writing year, an even better querying season, and the time to read everyone's success!--Janice L. Grinyer

What if daily kale intake were the key to unleashing your inner best seller?--Lance


Jed Cullan said...

Am I first? Lemme be first?

I'm thinking a five-year review should be thing.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Mentioned in the WIR. I can die happy now. :)

Wait…TWO mentions?
Excuse me, I’ve lost the power of speech.

Theresa said...

Such a great WIR for the holiday week!

After reading Janet's dissection of some of my favorite websites, I'll admit that the thing I love most about Caroline Leavitt's is the Welcome to Leavittown. Irresistible to a historian. Still, someday I hope to have one like Stacy Cordery's.

Anonymous said...


"Am I first? Lemme be first?

I'm thinking a five-year review should be thing."

The first what? The first one to be exiled?

Amanda Capper said...

I'm subheading! About all I've accomplished this New Year, but I'm still proud because of the stiff subheader competition. I want to have a better querying season, and what if kale is the answer?

Worst. Cold. Ever. (Is this emphasizing already out of date?)

I recently passed by real estate exams so Julie's comments mean even more to me. Love the idea of ice cream. But I am feeling overwhelmed. Have to finish book two. Have to update my website. And my newsletter. And I really should sell a house or two.

Stress. Solution? Ice cream, always.

Just Jan said...

Happy New Year (a couple of days late)! Glad to see the WIR continuing in 2016. And welcome back to all who were exiled to Carkoon or beyond in 2015! Good to know there is a return spaceship. Now back to WIP....

Jenz said...

Setting links to open a new tab every time is a great way to annoy visitors. Go try to navigate through the Leavittown site for a few minutes and you'll see what I mean. It may have good content, but there's lots of good content out there. Don't push visitors into wanting to go somewhere else by making your site a chore.

Incidentally, if you want to open a link in a new tab or window, right-click on it. If you're on a tablet or phone, press and hold on the link, you should get a context menu (though I'll admit my ipad can be kind of hit-or-miss for how well that works).

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin you and I have to get crackin' baby, Felix's Kale Book is due out Tuesday, so says the shark. Maybe we should start ? But, oh well, it's Sunday nd Sundays are good for nap days so hows-about I get a few words to ya by tomorra? What says you writing-buddy.

Thanks for the WIR, a heads up fer-sure. I'm trying a new 'voice' this morning, I call it my stupid-speak.

Look what a deal I got on, NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNs. It was an after holiday mark-down. It figures that the tail end of my name would end up in clearance.

BJ Muntain said...

What a great WiR! Thanks, Janet. I'm glad I could be of service this week. *bows a long, complicated bow where my hand starts in front of my face and winds up two feet over my back... oh, um... two feet over my face, with my back put out...ow*

Welcome back, Colin, Lynn, EM... May your return from Carkoon be longer than your banishment (though I'm not sure Colin or Lynn will hold out that long).

Poor Caroly. Still no Ns.

General practice regarding 'setting links for new tabs' is: When links go off your site, use a new tab. That way your site can be easily found again after the reader follows outside links. Links to your own pages should NOT open in new tabs, or you get what Janet describes... which makes people decide they don't want to see more of your pages.

Dena Pawling said...

>>I think we may have to let Colin come back from LAX (the exile after Carkoon) because getting beaten up twice in one WIR is really more punishment than even I can dish out.
And if Colin isn't in exile, I guess we better bring back everyone on Carkoon, and LynnRodz from LAX too. A fresh start for the new year.

Congrats on returning from LAX, but this is scary. I drive by LAX at least 2-3x each month. And it's the exile after Carkoon? That's scary. Even more scary than all the off-ramp signs to LAX from the 105 freeway that emphatically state “no trucks carrying explosives thru Sepulveda tunnel”, see first route restriction here

Fortunately, I'm not carrying explosives or any other prohibited cargo in my little Kia when I exit the 105 freeway and drive thru Sepulveda tunnel to get to Santa Monica courthouse.

Yes, LAX is the airport code for Los Angeles International Airport. Sepulveda tunnel goes under the runways, which explains the cargo restriction.

At least I know there are no explosives allowed in the exile after Carkoon.

Great WiR [even if it's only week and not year lol]. Happy New Year everyone.

Elissa M said...

Another excellent week in review (but I expected no less). I believe I might just get a website up this year. First though, I'm still digging out from the snow storm we got last week (eight days and counting).

I don't write a genre that Janet represents, so there's zero chance of me ever being her client. Still, I'll get a website up just because Janet's made me realize the benefits far outweigh any trepidation I feel. I'm encouraged as a writer every time I read this blog, both by Janet and the many talented people commenting here.

nightsmusic said...

Thanks for another great WIR. I've been so sick, I really wasn't even on the net much. Last night was the first good night's sleep I've gotten in two weeks (at least, 'good night' for me) and I almost feel human again. Almost.

Welcome back to our exiled friends. Way to start the new year!

Almitra Clay said...

My questions get an entire blog post? SQUEEEEEEEEEE! Ahem. Thanks!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Ooh, achieving our goals without maiming anybody. Good and careful wording, perhaps somebody's had some dealings with the fey?

Me, I'm right now dealing with a Doberman who knows all our friends' names but doesn't understand things like "later" or "tomorrow". One housemate has been absent over Christmas, and yesterday we were discussing his imminent return.....she whined inconsolably with occasional whining for half an hour because he wasn't at the door right that minute. And then resigned herself to the ennui. The double-edged sword of an intelligent dog!

While it would've been amazing to READ a Year in Review, I cannot imagine the energy, physical and mental, which it would've required to put such a thing together. It'd be a hundreds-page glossy, like NASA Spinoff (which I've yet to order a physical copy of, because they don't have a simple form, you have to email, and I'm always looking at it in the wrong browser, which makes sense only to me probably).

Actually, on the topic of newsletters/reminders/what have you, it would probably benefit me to find out what newsletter exactly lets everybody know about PitMad and SFFPit and all that nonsense, because I have literally always heard about it day of, if not day after. And of course I hadn't worked on my twitter pitch yet for any of my finished novels, no, that would make too much sense.

Anybody have any writing resolutions? I'm going to finish another novel this year. I hope. I sure have enough of them started...I need to write at least one of them to The End and begin the first editing/rock tumbling step.

Donnaeve said...

Sticking my head out from under the rock. (never heard of Erik Larson - but I sure liked his website!)

Stupendous WIR! Thank you so much for answering my questions too - cannot wait to see the appearance of the mystery FF winner/client! We know it's a he at least.

Congrats Amanda on the subheader!

Colin, Lynn, et al - welcome back! I say we start off the New Year by banishing the term of Carkoon. Possibly kale. New Year - fresh ways to poke fun!

(and the pic of quizzical Husky always gets me!)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Back from Carkoon at last. The kale gases were killing me. I still wonder how Brandon Sanderson can write a whole series on evil librarians and remain immune to Carkoon exile. I only wrote a 100 word story. Of course there were no dinosaurs in vests in my story. Ah well.. Good to be back. Tomorrow I return to the real world. How wonderful it was to have QOTKU and all you Reiders for company as 2015 died. Hoping for a fruitful kale free 2016... Unless kale is indeed the key to writing a best seller. Then I will revise my wishes as I seem to have to revise every other blessed thing in my life.

Drinks on me, guys. Cheers.

The Sleepy One said...

One note. Janet said:

"The biggest problem with using a blog as a website is that a blog has time stamps."

You can set up Wordpress to have a static template as your home page versus having your blog as a landing page. So it looks like a website and you won't have time stamps on your home page. You can create as many pages as you'd like in addition to your static home page and blog page (which you can name whatever you'd like--like news--so it doesn't look like a a blog you don't update).

The only issue is Wordpress will want to create a comment form on pretty much every page. I'm sure there's a way to remove it.

Note: you can also use Wordpress to power a website with a custom domain, eg. versus

Anonymous said...

Well, I poofed another comment. I'm so adept at this stuff.

As usual, this was a great WIR. I miss so many good comments.

I've been going over my site and cleaning it up. I need to create a new, professional FB page and twitter account, I suppose. Yet another thing to obsess about. Thank you, Janet. No, really, thank you. In appreciation, I'd like to share something from my link section. While going through them (and realizing they needed to be updated) I came across "Things That Amuse Me".

Some of you have seen that, but it will be new to others.

I'm setting up a separate email account for strictly business this year. The one I have is professional sounding, but I have been hacked a couple of times and had agents email me to ask if I sent them something. That is not a good situation. Setting up a separate account just seems like a good idea. Less chance of accidentally spamming agents.

I set up my new calendar yesterday. At the bottom, I wrote the legend. Green=500 words Blue=Reading Red=Exercise, etc.

Every time I accomplish a goal, I get a star. In my case, I love the bling, so I'm using stick on rhinestones.

A person could also use stars or draw them or even use happy faces.

Foil stars or happy faces are great atta boys.

I used to put stickers, stars, happy faces, and use inspirational stamps in rainbow ink when I graded lessons from prisoners. It's amazing how encouraging these can be.

I don't usually strive for a certain word count. Instead I have an antique 30 minute hour glass. When I flip it, I don't do anything but write. Usually, I'm on a roll so I'll flip it again until I reach a point I'm satisfied.

Lance said...

Thank you for a great WiR, Ms. Janet. A mention in the WiR and a nomination for the sub-header! What a great way to start the new year. Congratulations to Amanda! Thank you, Ms. Janet, for re-posting Theresa's web site examples. Great stuff. Welcome back, all the exiles and exiled exiles. A note in passing: LAX in this context does not refer to the airport, but to a cross-dimensional slush pile.

How could anyone characterize the great shark of the vast literary deeps as nothing more than planktonic, single-cell and filamentous algae with interlacings of cyanobacteria? I mean, really!

Brian Schwarz said...

Amanda! Congrats on the header mention! I laughed very hard when I saw this!

Thank you Janet for the WIR as always! So great to have such a concise summary of the whole week and all the wonderful comments that shed light on the subject even further! I can't thank you enough for how helpful this blog is on a personal level, and how valuable the community of writers is as well!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Lance, at my age the context of LAX has to do with digestive comfort.

Lance said...

I was going to suggest a voluntary trial of eating an unnamed, green, leafy vegetable for 30 days. However, I see we're moving on to some other vegetable.

LynnRodz said...

I love the WIRs! Hear that needle scratching on the vinyl? Yes, I know, but it's true.

There were a few things I was going to touch upon in this week's WIR, but I'm afraid, like BJ said, I won't be back to civilization for long if I do. Sooo, mum's the word. And to think I was going to repaint the walls in my cave.

It's a little after 7 p.m. I'm going to make myself a kir royal before dinner to celebrate. So nice to be back! Thank you, Janet. (BTW, that author who sent you a letter calling you pond scum...*shakes head* came out the winner. Better to know what kind of person you're dealing with sooner than later.)

Cheers everyone!

Anonymous said...

Lance, I laughed at your name comment. Well done.

Regarding the pond scum remark, that always amazes me. I wonder why the person queried in the first place. I secondly wonder if they realize rude behavior tends to get around. Odd behavior can be overcome. I'm not sure rude can.

OK, now I really have to write. I have a mare foaling.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

What an explosive WiR.

QOTKU, your new website is fabulous. My only question is why that photo on the subheader? Are those Jack Reacher’s feet on the metro escalator?

Welcome back from exile Lynn and Colin. Carkoon Memoirs?

CynthiaMc said...

Janet, I feel your pain. I'm grateful for my job but having two weeks to write has been sheer heaven. This is the life I want. Just have to figure out how to get there from here.

Today I intended to wrap up all the things that were on my to do list for how I intended to spend my time off. It's cold and rainy here so I made sausage cheese balls instead. My director sent my new script so I recorded my scenes (to learn during commute time) and did my index cue cards instead.

It occurs to me this is my last day to snuggle on the couch with Hubby, the pups and the kitties so I think I'll tear up the list, write as much as I want, and maybe take a nice long bubble bath with a good book instead.

Happy New Year, everyone!

xnye said...

You don't list clients til they sell. Good to know. Always wondered.

Theresa said...

@TheSleepyOne: Those are the reasons I chose to start with Wordpress. The Blog section is the changing, interactive part of it. The Home and About sections are static, though I do have that comment thing to address. (I only want comments on the Blog portion.) And I was able to get a domain name without Wordpress in it, so I can be found at

John Frain said...

Awesome stuff. I could've kept reading clear into Monday. Except I have to leave to work for a few hours, but otherwise...

So much great content here, but I'll resolve to stay under 100 words.
- Welcome back from Carkoon. Think I have to return someone's lawn mower now.
- Taking Tekkie Friend to lunch on Wednesday to conquer Website Creation 101 & I'll bring this WIR with me.
- Enjoyed "Welcome to Leavittown" but agree with the overall assessment. Would still work on a revamped site.
- So fired up after reading this WIR I wish I could jump on everything right now. Thank you x 1,000,000!

Susan said...

Welcome back, Carkoonians! What a great way to start the new year, and a great WIR, as usual.

- "I'm a big proponent of doing what works, not what people tell you what works...Trust your experiences, not someone else's opinions. "

Me too! This, exactly. This is why I have such a hard time with self-help books and so-called life hacks. The 11-year-old in me wants to stomp my feet and cross my arms and shout, "you can't tell me what to do!"

Tell me stories and anecdotes, offer your advice and share what you've learned through your experiences. But don't tell me what to do because, chances are, it won't work for me/apply to my situation the same way it did for yours. I trust my own intuition and always let that guide me--if you tell me what to do and it goes against that, I'll likely run the other way. That's why my philosophy in life (and when I'm editing for clients) is to take the advice/suggestions that speak to you and leave the rest.

- Happy to see the Erik Larson mention. His "Devil in the White City" blew me away when I first read it. It's one of those books that linger with you, haunting you long after you've closed it. The way he writes, transporting you to the Chicago World's Fair, it's hard to believe it's based on a true story, which makes it a thousand times creepier. Highly recommend this book if you haven't read it already. Also, "Thunderstruck" is equally brilliant. I haven't been able to read "In the Garden of Beasts" yet--it's been years, but I think I'm still reeling from "White City."

- Just to clarify, Susan B. asked about the dog picture. I should probably update my profile to include my entire name, but I don't know how since it's now attached to my google profile, and, besides that, I find there's something nice about the intimacy of first names. Everywhere else, I'm Susan Pogorzelski (or SusanPogo, thanks to Twitter's character constraints). I like that I can be just "Susan" here. It lends itself to that sense of community for me.

I really long for the the days of the old salons--especially the likes of Paris in the 20s with Gertrude Stein and the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway, where writers and artists gathered to drink and talk craft, culture, and philosophy (and then drink some more). I'm part of a really great local writing community, but we only see each other at events, and maybe gather once a year at that. I feel like I've been searching for these kindred souls, this place to belong, most of my life, and maybe, someday, I'll be able to create a space like that for others, beginning with reviving our local writing group. But for now, I'm really damn grateful that Janet has opened up her blog home for us to talk about writing and books. It fulfills a piece of what I'm missing, especially being among such talented and caring people.

So, yeah. Just "Susan" here, if you all don't mind it.

Thanks for the WIR!

nightsmusic said...

OT: FYI: If you're using, go to your dashboard, pages, home page, more options and untick the 'allow comments' block. That makes your home page static period. No comments allowed. You can turn that on or off for each page.

Karen McCoy said...

What a lovely and informative WIR! Of course they're always lovely, but each is filled with new and useful nuggets.

I especially loved the marketing thread, and it put me in mind of the "Book Notes" email I send to the youth services librarians in my system, letting them know of new books, etc. that I'm excited about. One very astute librarian pointed out that it's also the WHY, more than the WHAT of content. WHY am I excited about a book? WHY is it a useful book to mention to youth services librarians? In that mindset, the content gets a whole new life to it. It's what Janet and the Reiders do all the time, and why this blog is such a wealth of good information.

S.P. Bowers said...

I've been contemplating a website for a year now. Guess I need to get off my fanny and do it. I'm a little late as I've already started querying, but I do have a current blog. Thanks for the links to websites that work. It's nice to have examples, otherwise it's too overwhelming. Although now my TBR list is a bit longer.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie, what a great system. Inspires me to get more organized. Instead of my hyper-ventilating Tasmanian devil approach to life where I whirl about like a bottle at a junior high game of Spin the Bottle and hope something fruitful emerges.

I did have a question. Is listing only clients that have sold standard practice among agents? Or is that a personal agent to agent variance? I do wonder.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Has anyone heard how Julia is doing? I've been afraid to ask.

BJ Muntain said...

Sleepy One: You just need to go to your dashboard, click on Settings in the left-hand menu, then choose Discussion. That's where the comment choices are, for the whole blog. (You can change your overall choices for each post/page, I believe, separately.)

BJ Muntain said...

Sorry. Deleted that last one because it could have been misconstrued:

0Ns: Last I saw on Facebook (Dec 30, I think), Julia and her family had just made it home from their Christmas holiday.

Panda in Chief said...

Yippee! I made the WIR!
I like to think of my approach to ridiculous odds as the "la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you" approach. If you let the odds against publication or self support in your chosen art form disuade you from trying, well, then maybe you weren't that serious about it afterall.

I'm not a better artist than many people out there swinging a paintbrush. I'm just more stubborn.

I am still not inclined to like kale.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

What a busy WiR. And it was a holiday.

Thank you, QOTKU, for answering my question about why people pull their MS. Although, sorry it brought up the pond scum story. Really? What a lack of common courtesy when you're offering a valued service. Jeepers.

And now all the exiles are gathered on Carkoon. Hm...I'm going to sit tight and see what kind of wonderful stories float up from there! All kinds of excitement for 2016. I'm staying tuned in.

SP Bowers-me too, thinking about getting a website or a blog since last spring. So, let's jump in and do it this year, shall we?

Colin Smith said...

Hello everyone!! It's nice to be back. :) I just got off the shuttle from Carkoon back to Earth after a small delay at customs. It seems in my excitement to be returning, I forgot about the kale sandwich in my carry-on luggage. The sniffer dogs found it, and I was held for questioning. Once the dogs recovered, everything was fine and they let me go.

As for getting beaten up twice, that's quite alright. Getting things wrong is how we learn, isn't it? Besides, I have fired a couple of italics jabs at you recently, Janet, so fair's fair.

I did have a return question/point/observation. With regard to "why should anyone be interested in my blogs on writing as an unagented, unpublished writer?" Yes, I get why an agent might be interested in my blog articles as a whole, especially if I happen to be on form and writing coherent sentences that day. But specifically on the topic of writing? Surely if you're looking for writing tips, you go to someone with an established platform? Why, Janet, would you read my thoughts on writing over Chuck Wendig's? What could I possibly have to offer you on the subject? Wouldn't my articles on music or kale farming be as valuable as samples of my work?

(No, I don't have articles on kale farming. Yet. But if the writing thing doesn't work out, I suppose that's another career option...)

Julie: I'm glad Janet highlighted your real estate sales comment. Clever idea. :)

I hope all my fellow Carkoon and LAX exiles made it home safely.

Now that I'm a former LAX exile, am I Ex-LAX? ;)

Karen McCoy said...

Ex-LAX! Colin! *guffaws* Maybe time to lay off the kale? ;)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, Hahahaha, yes, if anyone is an ex-LAXer you are.
Thanks for the update BJ.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

And there goes Colin making me laugh so hard that it made my stomach hurt. Ex-lax indeed. Or maybe that is just the kale withdrawal. Getting some Barbeque tonight in celebration of being back from Carkoon.

So who was it that set fire to the place? Burning kale smells worse than flaming cow turds. Wow, got out just in time.

John Frain said...

"Now that I'm a former LAX exile, am I Ex-LAX? ;)"

I was afraid you'd run with that.

You know why men are like ex-LAX, right Colin? Because they irritate the crap out of you.

Sorry, I had to pre-empt someone else dumping that one out.

Colin Smith said...

Sorry, John--it just came out. I tried to hold back... ;)

Anonymous said...

Great WIR, thanks! I missed many things this past week-- my daughter and son-in-law were visiting from Boston and they were my priority, but they left last night (sob).

Carolynn, I hope the fresh start means you get your NN's back. Caroly sounds like a Russian hit man. Although, I guess it would be spelled Karoly.

Amanda, love the subheader. I'm going to adapt it for my own use with the reminder not to maim myself either.

Nightsmusic, I hope you feel MUCH better soon. Awful to be sick anytime, but during the holidays seems particularly unfair.

There was something else I wanted to say, but probably it's just as well I'm still in introvert over-exposure-to-people recovery mode and have no idea what it was...

Kae Ridwyn said...

What a brilliant WIR - thank you, dear QOTKU! I feel like the last couple of weeks has fled and there was so much I missed out on :(
I, too, can not honesty believe that the 'pond scum' thing was not a joke. (I know, double negatives. My brain needs to return from go-slow-mode) but seriously?! I'm still picking my jaw up from the ground.
And congrats to the ex-exiles! It's great having you back!
A belated Happy New Year, and I'm super-excited to see what amazements 2016 has in store for us all!

Kara Ringenbach said...

Thanks for the WIR! and for answering my question!

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Once again another wonderful WIR, and with that a completely unexpected honor; Thank you for the acknowledgment, Janet! And just like the beautiful photo and comment you posted on Friday, your actions in aiding someone in need obviously came from the heart - "And I hope that us sharkly types will realize that letting a mermaid hold our fin while her tail is being mended is a very good use for fins." Right now I'm off of facebook due to completing a book proposal, but your FB post on extending your fin to help someone in need was something I wish I hadn't missed the first time around!

On the website issue - taking notes! I am learning so much here that by the time I produce an author specific website (soon- but Yay Lilac on your first blog- Well done!) it should be query ready. I just hope my sick sense of life on my blog doesn't turn heads in the wrong direction. Anyhow, lots of information noted, and looking forward to the upcoming post on organizing contact Master lists!

Julie W. - My daughter just received her real estate license last month; I sent her your "tips", telling her "remember, this is the Miles City Lady Bronc rider method". Don't know if her head office will approve, but the ice cream method had to be one of the best I have ever heard of.

John and Colin; Potty jokes? How good of a New Year's eve DID you guys have? :D

Amanda; Love your quote -Excellent use of the word "maiming"- one of my major goals in life is to not leave a pile behind me when I go :D

I should clarify that my own personal stint in hell on earth is not ongoing nor recent but was back in 2012. Unless someone knows something new :o that I don't know! ("uh, is that a fin I see in the distance?")

Anyways, we came through a bit crispy then but hella strong and are still moving forward. Always forward, and looking forward to what 2016 brings!

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Aw man, I take a couple of weeks off the Internet to focus on promo for my upcoming release (1 Feb) and I miss *exactly* the advice I need to hear. TGFWIR.

April said...

Newbie here. Please be kind. *whimper*

How necessary is it that my Web site is my name? Like or whatever?

Someone's already staked their claim on my name's Web site, even though they aren't doing anything with it (it's basically blank with some "if this is your page..." text). I've been waiting for years to snatch it up when they forget to renew it or whatever, but no dice. I used to own the .net of my name, but people would always get confused and go to the .com that I didn't own and tell me my site is broken. :/

Right now I have a short phrase as my url (I'm too embarrassed to link to it right now, I need to work on it), but it doesn't have my name in it. Is that a big no-no as a writer hoping to get noticed?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

April, welcome, no need to whimper.
No real substantive advice from me regarding your dilemma except say if you need an answer you will get it here. You might want to restate your question on todays new post as an OT, off topic, 'cause you might get lost at the tail end of yesterday's WIR.
I owned a domain for a year I did nothing with and finally gave up on it. Maybe yours will open up too.

Diane Holcomb said...

I have two sites: a blog for my humor writing, and a website for my copywriting. Neither reflect the style of my fiction writing, which will require a third site. I'm also on GoodReads, on Google+, and I have two different Twitter handles. It feels like I"m not developing my "brand" as a writer. Might this be a problem down the line when I query agents? I want to focus my energy where it will make the most sense.

AJ Blythe said...

Not sure if anyone else found this (I just scanned the comments), but the website for Katharine Weber ( doesn't work for me here in Oz. I get a permission not granted, with some reference to zone (which I assume is because I am in Australia?).

I guess that's something else to add to your checks for a webpage - make sure it has international access. Of course, I have no idea how to do that but I'm sure Google will know.