Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More on that Pesky Business Side of Writing

After meeting with the excellent girls of Traveling Java, my local writers group, I came home and settled down to business.

I had about 20 Funds for Writers newsletters in my inbox. 

Note: I've mentioned the most fabulous C. Hope Clark before, and I'm not affiliated with her site (other than her having published 2 of my articles), but let me say again that I cannot recommend enough.  Go at least sign up for her free newsletter, but know the paid subscription is worth every penny and more!

Anyway, I subscribe to three of her newsletters, FundsforWriters, TOTAL FundsforWriters (the paid subscription), and FFW Small Markets, which covers a lot of the fiction markets (because fiction pays SMALL.)

My business for the night was to catch up all of my submission information.  I was severely hurting on this aspect of my New Year's business plan.  I had one - ONE - submission for this year and I needed to have 6 done to meet goal. 

I was also severely behind on my QueryTracker (another FREE service that I HIGHLY recommend!) information on Starbard submissions. As depressing as it was, I updated all my stuff there, which included two rejections I'd forgotten about because I hadn't recorded them.  The MS still outstanding at three agencies, all of which were sent out over three months ago, which was longer than their websites stated turnaround, so I followed up with all three of those.  I did this first because FFW also lists agencies and publishers, so I wanted to work based on updated information.

While I was updating, I pulled from my 2010 general fiction/poetry submissions spreadsheet three more subs that were still outstanding.  One is likely one of those "you don't hear from us = rejection," but the other two were a contest and a grant that won't post winners until later this year.

As I went through all of my FFW newsletters, I found one specific listing that I could submit to right now!  So, I did. Yay me!  I found a few other non-fiction or potential fiction-inspiring pieces that I liked a lot, so I kept a list of those and emailed it to myself.  On top of that, I found two publishing houses that I saved the information from.  One is Angry Robot, which will be accepting non-agented manuscripts in March.  Another was a Scottish contest called "KELPIES PRIZE FOR SCOTTISH CHILDREN," and I'm thinking… "hmm… my Kelpie novel is just for that age range."  Of course, the deadline was February 28th, so it was immediately followed by, snerk-snerk-HAHAHAHAHA! because I'm still drafting.  However, it's a prize with a history, so next year… something to think about!

Now, the newsletters and website are more valuable than just market and job listings.  There are a number of great articles - written by Hope, herself, or written by guest authors (like me and me.) 

Her article last Friday was the deciding factor in why I wrote on this particular topic today. (I had other plans… but I've got business on the mind and my other plans was on craft and magic.)  She often uses great animal analogies - something that resonates with me (I even emailed her a chicken adventure story because one of her chicken analogies helped in an real-life chicken experience; how's that for meta?!).  Last Friday, she wrote about her sons' puppies.

In a nutshell, one son is out of work, so he's using his time to work and train his puppy; the puppy has become exceptionally well-trained and mature.  The other son is in college and working, both great things, but he hasn't as much time to spend with his puppy - and you can tell by the behavior and effusive energy.  There writers who struggle to try and do everything: have a full time job, or several jobs, or many responsibilities, and yet expect to produce a mature and powerful manuscript in a reasonable amount of time. Then, there are writers who, for some reason or another, do not have to work or nurture as many responsibilities, so they can spend hours and hours on craft, creating a strong, high-quality manuscript in a  (relatively) short time.  "All of us fall into one of these categories, or one of many levels in between. You cannot devote your primary time in one direction and expect your writing to evolve in your absence. On the other hand, you cannot expect to make money for a while when you write fulltime."

Why highlight this?

I got home from my writers group at a little before 9PM.  It's almost 3AM now, as I'm writing my blog.  (And I still need to edit, proof, and post.)  That's almost a full-time work day.  I ate dinner at my desk, and took a half hour break to check on Facebook (I timed it.)  Now, before my writers group meeting, I had already spent an hour on critiquing, an hour on interviews for an article… and also had to finish laundry, dishes, and throw dinner in the crock pot. Oh, and somehow there were two-and-a-half hours devoted to horse duties in there.

That's well over a whole business day's work.  Even the writers group - as fun as it is - is devoted to writing. 

Staying on focus with the business end MUST get the time it needs.  And constantly re-evaluating our time management is part of that.  Now that I've mostly caught up on 2 months of submission neglect (I've been neglecting since December 8th, exactly, per my Almighty Spreadsheet.),  it will be easier to stay on track now.  There are still some FFW newsletters in my inbox because more than half the newsletter had leads for me and/or an article important to my business.

Based on what Hope said about the categories of how writers spend their time and my experience with so many writers - especially women - is that we fall into that first category of needing to make money and run a business.  That simply must be attended to. 

Don't neglect the business end of writing, even if you do have the luxury of spending hours upon hours writing.  Keep atop your submissions, your stories sold, your book inventory (if you've got one.)  Write, yes, but unless you're simply writing for yourself, don't let that be the end all, be all.

Give business the time it needs for you to be successful.


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