Tag Archives: writing career

TO SELF-PUBLISH OR NOT SELF-PUBLISH, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

So this is a question many writers have, to self-publish or to go the traditional route of looking for a mainstream or small publishing house to accept your manuscript?

Here is the reason I chose self-publishing over the traditional way: Many of you may have read my post about grief (and if not, here is the link) and you may have read about my interaction with my once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the literary agent of my dreams in my post about “other Shakespeare authors,” but if you have not read either of those posts, here is a summary of why I chose self-publishing.

First and foremost, I love the idea of going the traditional route. I have many friends who I met during the writer’s retreat I attended who are published authors and secured their book deals from publishing houses. I say, more power to them!

I attended the Writer’s Retreat Workshop in Erlanger Kentucky in 2006 and found myself completely inspired and on fire to finish my first novel and find an agent and trudge through the mire of the publishing industry. Honestly, I was excited and very naive. Two years after that I attended the Writer’s Conference in Myrtle Beach South Carolina where, as I mentioned before, I had the chance to sit down with the literary agent of my dreams. I found her online and researched her background before I went, so I knew what kind of books she took on, but I never in a million years would have thought she might pick me out of the thousands of people at the conference to sit down and have lunch with. But, she did!

What I learned from the talk with her? I have to be honest, I left the conference very dejected and disillusioned because I learned that sometimes you have to learn to be commercial to be accepted rather than rely on your heart, which is hard to take as an artist and writer. I know this isn’t always the case because there are numerous writers out there still making a living on their art and some are far from commercialized.

I continued on after the conference, another two years went by and I finally secured an agent in New York. Again, the naivety on my part blasted me full in the face. Although my agent loved my work and claimed to have sent out my manuscript to numerous publishing houses, every time I asked for verification, well, needless to say, I never got a letter, an email, nothing to confirm what he told me he was doing. All his emails ever said is “St. Martin’s” said no, “Doubleday” said no, and on and on and on…

By that time, I already started work on research for my second and third novel, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I shelved everything from 2011 to 2015 and took up another of one of my favorite hobbies – photography – and my husband and I moved to the Georgia coast. We became wedding photographers and within three years we were voted #2 best wedding photographers in Jacksonville Florida on Thumbtack.com! I also took my artistic and love for storytelling into my photography and started delving into conceptual work. One of my photographs was accepted into an outdoor exhibition in Lithuania, two of my pieces were mounted in a gallery in Houston Texas, an another in Orlando Florida.

And the bottom fell out of my life. February 2, 2015; the most horrible day of my life. The day I lost my daughter and her husband by the hands of a drunk and drugged driver running from the police. They were only one mile from their home. The 20-year-old idiot traveled at 85 miles an hour down the wrong side of a four-lane highway and took them in an instant. He walked away with a scratch on his leg and is now serving 30 years in prison. But my life changed forever. My life, my husband’s life, my son’s life, forever snatched away and we now serve a life sentence of pain and sorrow.

Now it is 2018 and I am slowly climbing out of the despair and depression hole. I don’t think I will ever fully recover, of course, and I acknowledge this fact. I acknowledge that no matter what I do from this point on, nothing will ever return to normal. I am a part of “that group” now. I am now a mother who peruses the MADD website and who will forever carry a hollowness in my heart.

This brings me to the final reason I chose to self-publish. Disillusionment with the whole publishing industry to begin with, and now, grief overtakes me. We are not promised tomorrow. None of us know from one second to the next if we will get that horrible phone call or have a police officer walk up and knock on your door at five o’clock in the morning with a box of your child’s belongings.

I am content to write for my health and sanity and artistry and love. Whether I ever sell one book or a million matters less to me now. Death brings things into perspective in the most tragic way. I choose to do what makes me happy for I have so very few happy days now. Writing makes me happy, or rather a distracted peace I should say. Anything which distracts me from this hole in my heart and life I soak up like a sponge.

And why am I sharing this? Because as writers we often look for acceptance through our writing. We look for another person to connect with, someone who sees the world as we do through our words, and when another person does that there is a measure of joy and happiness which links our art to the world. My advice now to my younger self and to any other young (or old) writers out there looking to plunge into the mad mad mad world of traditional publishing? Let me first say that I am not against it and if you are one of the fortunate ones to hook a deal from a major or small publishing house, yay for you, but for the vast majority of writers who will never see a book deal I say: write for you. Write for your own heart and write what you love.

That literary agent told me no one reads anything having to do with Shakespeare and to a major publishing house, oftentimes, Shakespeare is taboo, but this is what I love. Writers should write what they know and what they are passionate about. I love all things Shakespeare, so this is what I write. I am not a commercial writer and I never will be, for I refuse to become a lemming writer who runs headlong into the ocean of erotica, or gore, or horror, or vampires, or werewolves, or whatever trend moves the reading nation.

My daughter would have loved my novels, and for me, that is enough.

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley

Chickie’s Writing Tips #1

I am at a loss for words, and here I sit trying to write a post for this blog. I mean, I’m not really at a loss for words but you know how it goes when something moves you beyond anything you hoped for and you are dying to tell someone. That is where I am at after attending an online Zoom workshop from Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services by Donald Maass and Lorin Oberweger.

I knew it, of course, that it would be exactly what I needed to bump up my writing for my new work-in-progress; after all, I attended a 10-day workshop over 14 years ago where Lorin was one of the instructors. The experience and the knowledge gained resonates even to this day.

So, I determined that this topic is the very first in my “Chickie’s Writing Tips”. As a writer we often do not do very many things for ourselves except sit in a room alone and type away at the keys to bring our story to life, maybe sipping our favorite coffee or tea with a pup or kitten at our feet. We push ourselves to flesh out the characters and scenes in our head like some Dr Frankenstein pulling the handle and praying a jolt of electricity will bring it all to life. What I have found is that sometimes that jolt comes in the form of a well-renowned workshop where you immerse yourself in learning before writing, or during your writing.

I say, well-renowned, since I have heard of workshops that just do not deliver and left some of their patrons feeling deflated about their prospects of being a writer; but, if you attend one under the tutelage of some high-profile names in the industry, I think it is a safe bet that you will come from that classroom refreshed and electrified.

Free Expressions offers online workshops via Zoom at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic known as the Weekly Writing Webinars, but in normal circumstances supports in-person workshops such as “The Breakout Novel Intensive” by Donald Maass and the “Boni Graduate Learning Retreat”, as well as the “Wake Up & Write Writer’s Retreat Workshop” (the one I attended in 2006). At Free Expressions, they even offer a two-year Story Lab that you can apply for where they help you bring your novel from idea to finished and revised draft, with a view toward big five publication! Ooo, if only my ship was approaching the dock . . . right? Still, if you can afford it, then why not do it for yourself and for the stories begging to be told? I know I would if I could, in a heartbeat!!

So, what do you learn? Well, let me give you an example. Yesterday, I listened to the workshop called “Emotional Tipping Points” given by Mr Maass since I was struggling to push my characters further in the story. Well, I shouldn’t say struggling, I actually need to say I knew there was more there and needed a little jolt to breathe some life into them. The workshop delivered more than what I needed. In just two and a half hours, Mr Maass was able to ask enough questions of me and my characters to flesh them out, as if he reached inside my protagonist’s heart and resuscitated her. Just in the first chapter alone, I discovered ways of turning up the emotional impact for the reader, after all, isn’t that what we are trying to do for them? If a reader cannot connect with your characters, especially with your main character, then how long will they stay with the story? Or even want to read another one of your stories?

I’d love to share some of his questions, but that sort of spoils the fun of the experience, does it not? My advice is to check it out for yourself. This one workshop was only $39, but you can get the whole series for $399.00! A steal!!

So, this is my writing tip #1 – do something for yourself as a writer, sign up for a workshop, and not just any workshop – get the best. To me, the best by far is the ones I mentioned above. You will never regret the investment in yourself and your career as a writer.

Where to sign up?

https://www.free-expressions.com/

Who they are?

Donald Maass founded the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York in 1980. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996),Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011), Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012) and The Emotional Craft of Fiction (2019).  He is a past president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.

Lorin Oberweger is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with almost twenty-five years experience in publishing. Her company, Free Expressions, offers intensive, deep craft workshops nationwide. She’s also known for her one-on-one story mastermind session for writers of all genres of fiction and creative nonfiction.

Lorin’s students and clients have millions of books in print and have been published by HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Disney, and many other presses. They have also gained representation with some of the industry’s leading literary agents.

An award-winning author, Lorin has co-written and ghostwritten eight books, several for New York Times bestselling authors of fiction and nonfiction. Her work, commissioned by major publishers, has received glowing notices from the New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, and others.

With bestselling author Veronica Rossi, Lorin is the author of the New Adult books, BOOMERANG, REBOUND, and BOUNCE, published by Harper/William Morrow under the pen name Noelle August.  The novels were praised by Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, among others, and BOOMERANG was chosen as a “new and notable” selection for Target Stores across the US.