The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Thirty-Four
Over Eight Months and Going Strong
Every once in a blue moon I come up with an idea that has legs. This series was one of them, but if I’m being totally truthful I never thought of it as a series. I was just going to do one of these, take care of some odds and ends, and be done with it.
And then the questions flooded in, and I had to re-think this series.
And here we are eight months later.
Just goes to show how much I know.
So here we go with more questions and answers. Thanks in advance to those who asked. I hope you find my answers useful.
Posting Novels Online
From Mary: “Anyway, as always the mailbag is full of good mail. I did chuckle though as you answered one particular question I've been wondering about and that is the length of a novel. I guess my next question is can I post my entire novel here or should I cut it off at some point. Hey, is that a mailbag question?”
Yes indeed, Mary, it is a mailbag question.
There are differing opinions about this matter, Mary. I’m going to tell you my opinion, but I know there are those who disagree and that is fine. I’m not here to debate but only give my opinion.
If a book is being written for the purpose of eventually selling it, then it just doesn’t make sense, to me, to give it away for free. I certainly endorse sharing the first few chapters to entice people to read it once it is published, but I don’t see the sense in sharing the entire book for free.
The other problem I have with that practice is that stealing work online is a practice that is growing rapidly. I would be quite concerned that someone would just copy your entire book and publish it as their own.
Having said all that, I know writers on HP who believe in sharing the entire book, and if that works for them then fantastic. I would love to hear their reasons for doing so. Maybe they know something I don’t know, which is entirely possible.
Agent Vs Publisher
From Sha: “Now for my question: would you recommend an author who wants to go the traditional publishing route find an agent to do the legwork and marketing for him/her? Or should they query publishers directly? The reason I ask is I have a client whose novel I'll be editing. She asked me about publishers. I suggested she research agents who are accepting submissions in her genre and checkout their guidelines. I want to make sure I gave her sound advice. When I finish my novel, I will seek agents rather than publishers. What are your thoughts?”
Sha, it is highly recommended that writers find an agent and let the agent find the publisher. Many….many…publishers won’t even look at a book written by a writer who is not represented by an agent. The traditional publishing business is going through tough times these days, and publishers have to be very picky about the projects they choose. Because of that, most of them only choose books represented by agents they trust.
Is it impossible to get a publisher to look at your work without being represented by an agent? No, but it is definitely more difficult.
Anyone interested in finding an agent would do well to purchase the “Guide to Literary Agents.” It is published each year by Writers Digest Books and it is invaluable for those searching for representation.
In Search of Productivity
From Aesta: I have so many lines of ideas written on my Notes and nothing much gets worked on. I freeze or my mind does. We are constantly on the road and I tell myself I'll do it when I get to stay put. I have time. That's not the issue. How do I enhance my productivity? Maybe you have already addressed this before but this is the second of the series I have read. I just have to read all. Thanks again.
This is a tough one for me to answer, because I think it’s a personal issue for all writers. This is not a matter of not having the time. All writers have the time if they make the time. We can get up an hour earlier to write, or go to bed an hour later at night. We can cut out television and use that time to write. No, time is not the issue here.
It is motivation, pure and simple. For whatever reason, there are many writers who cannot pull the trigger and shoot themselves to the next level. They are creative as hell, and they are decent writers, but moving to the next step…the action step, eludes them. I don’t have an answer for this one, but I wish you all success. I wish I could be your personal cheerleader and push you forward, but there is only so much I can do, even in my role as a writing coach. You have to want it bad enough to make it happen.
Traditional Publishng Vs Ebooks
From Karen: “Good luck with the novel my friend. I respect you for attempting the traditional publisher route, but i have one question…
Why? From what i’ve been told, it isn’t what it used to be and more and more traditionally published authors are going the self-pub way.
It’s all about marketing and today's trad pub’s aren’t doing a lot of that unless you’re el james etc.”
Thanks for the question, Karen, and it’s a good one.
Karen is referring to the fact that I am not self-publishing my latest novel, “Shadows Kill,” but rather am going to try to entice an agent to represent my work. As you can see from the question, Karen is questioning my sanity, and I’m sure there are many who agree with her. I happen to know, by the way, that Karen has been quite successful with her ebooks, so she has a reason for stating what she has stated, and I’m in no way offended by it.
Here’s the thing: my plans call for me to be the next E. L. James, or the next James Patterson, or the next Steinbeck. I believe in traditional publishing and I don’t think for a second that it is a dead industry. I think there will always be a place in the literary world for traditional publishing, and I think ebooks are going to fade in popularity. I believe I’m a good enough writer to be offered a contract by a major publishing firm, and that’s what I’m shooting for.
This is a subjective decision every writer has to make, and this is the decision I’m making. If I’m wrong I can always self-publish this novel a year from now, but I don’t think I’m wrong.
From Janet: “Are you really leaving HubPages? I’d be shattered if you did.”
Well, Janet, we don’t want you shattered. That would just be way too messy.
No, I’m not leaving HubPages. I love the community far too much for that to happen. I am, however, going to cut back on my participation sometime in April. I’ll still post Hubs; just not as many. I’ll still comment on the Hubs of others; just not as often. My novels are calling me, and if I’m going to prove Karen wrong then I need to spend more time on them.
So you all are stuck with me!
Any More Questions?
If not then I’ll say goodbye for this week. Keep the questions rolling in and I’ll do my best to answer them. If I can’t answer them then I’ll steer you to someone who can. That’s the best I can do for you.
I appreciate all of you who have supported this series for over eight months. It’s been quite a ride and I’m looking forward to it continuing for a long time.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”