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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #312

Updated on June 8, 2020

Don’t Mean to Be Insensitive

I know, this is going to come across as insensitive, but I don’t mean it to be: this is a great time to be a writer! There is so much going on. I find it hard to believe anyone would be suffering from a lack of inspiration right now, what with COVID-19 and the protests in the streets and arguments about the Bill of Rights . . . takes me back to the 60’s. I would wake up every single day while in college wondering what exciting and troubling and fascinating thing was about to happen on that day.

Anyway, that’s how it feels for me right now. I’m terribly aware of the pain around me. I know this is a troubling time for many. But it is also harvest time in the fields of a writer. Get out there with your famer’s implements and get that crop into the silo.

Let’s find out what’s waiting for us in the Mailbag, shall we?

The Mail Room
The Mail Room

Photos in a Book

From Bill: “Bill, we all know HP requires a certain number of photos in be included in our articles, and I get that. How do you feel about the use of black and white pictures in a book of short stories and/or a novel? Can the purpose for photos online relate to the printed page as well? Thanks in advance.”

I think it works marvelously well, Bill, and I’ve seen it in many novels and non-fiction works. There is the matter of extra cost and extra work with the publishing, but maybe the cost doesn’t increase with black and white. I think the formatting is a bit troubling, but still, the effect in the finished product would be worth it, me thinks.

I say go for it! You only live once, right?

If it served a purpose, I would put this picture in a novel
If it served a purpose, I would put this picture in a novel

Google Adsense

From Shannon: “My Google Adsense account shows this message: These sites haven't shown any ads for at least 4 months. If they remain inactive they'll need to be reviewed again. Only applies to AdSense for content. The site listed is Letterpile. And then it's telling me to add my publisher ID to the main hubpages site or earnings may be significantly impacted. What's changed?”

Shannon, it’s my understanding that HubPages no longer uses Google Adsense for earnings. I never got that memo or, as is often the case, I completely ignored it when it came. Several sources I have found mention the end of Google Adsense and HP in collaboration. I don’t know the reason for it. I don’t know why they would send you that message. My only suggestion is to check the comments below, because I have no doubt some of our readers know a hell of a lot more about this than I do.

Pitching to Agents

From Sha: “I enjoyed the videos, Bill. I'd seen your "Resurrecting Tobias" promo before, but not the "Shadows Kill" video. As I was listening to you, I wondered if what you presented on YouTube would be similar to how you'd pitch your novel to an agent. Perhaps you can explain the (pitching) process to your readers?”

Just for you, Sha, because how can I deny a request from one of my oldest friends on HP?

Pitching agents and/or publishers is a bit like taking your best shot in ten seconds. Agents and publishers are overwhelmed by pitches each and every single day of their lives. They do not spend a lot of time on each pitch. In order for that pitch to be effective, it better be an attention-getter in about ten seconds.

That is the secret to a good pitch, the first ten seconds, and you better use those ten seconds wisely. Do whatever you have to do to make your novel interesting in that span of time. Would I use a video like the one you mentioned for Tobias? You bet I would. If I were into this game, I would use whatever wild-assed approach I could think of, and not feel one-bit embarrassed for having done it.

Times have changed thanks, or no thanks, to self-publishing. The old ways of sending a pitch through the mail, or email, really don’t apply any longer. The formats suggested are outdated. This is a dog eat dog scenario you are asking about. Probably less than one percent of pitches ever get to the next stage, which is “please send us the first three chapters of your manuscript,” so that pitch better be a doozy.

Unbiased Writing

From Robert: “I’m curious what you think about biased writing. Do writers have a responsibility to write unbiased articles?”

No, Robert, I don’t believe writers have that obligation. My God, we are surrounded by biased writing. We even see it on the major news outlets.

What I do think we have is an obligation to write the truth as we know it. Yellow journalism has been alive and well for centuries, and it is protected by the Constitution, but that doesn’t make it right. I hate those tabloid newspapers we see at the supermarket. I think it is cheap entertainment which can be harmful, and I just don’t think that is morally acceptable.

Of course, then we can get into an argument about “what is the truth,” which is another bag of worms we don’t touch in this response. My truth may not be your truth, and we see that play out in so many blogs these days, and really, in my mind, if you have a blog you should be able to write your truth without too much oversight, and if you believe the stuff you see online, that’s your bag of worries. Until I actually meet an alien, or have lunch with Bigfoot, I’m going to trust my truth and not those truths.

I will warn you right now: a lot of my writing is biased.
I will warn you right now: a lot of my writing is biased.

Where Is the Podcast?

From Roberta: “Bill, you mentioned a podcast in the making? When can we expect it?”

I honestly don’t know, Roberta. Every week I think “this will be the week I do it,” and then something calls me away from that goal. I know the format. I have the material written for it. I even have a quality microphone to use. I just haven’t done it yet. Thanks for caring. I hope to have something for you in the next month.

And That’s All for This Week

Short but sweet! We all have things to do, so let’s wrap this one up and go do those things. Of course, I just noticed I only have one-hundred words to go to meet the 1250 threshold HP holds so dear, so I guess I could ramble on nonsensically for a few sentences so I can meet that word total and make Google happy, but that kind of manipulation would be beneath me as a serious writer, so I’ll refrain from doing it even though the inclination is mighty strong to tell you about my dogs Maggie and Toby and the recent walk we went on but no, I won’t stoop that low, just to reach a certain word total. I’m a serious writer for God’s sake!

Mission accomplished!

Thanks for the questions. Thanks for the comments. Have a great week as a writer and a great week as a human. And please, remember, do all things with love.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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