How to Traditionally Publish Multiple Times

How to Traditionally Publish Multiple Times

How to Traditionally Publish Multiple Times

For some writers, the problem may not be writer’s block, but what I like to call “submitter’s block.” Stephen Oliver, struggled with submissions and the fear of rejection–until he came to the Writing Gym. 

When we first met, Stephen was frustrated because he couldn’t get published despite the copious amount of writing he accomplished—up to 1,000 words each day. He believed no one liked or wanted to read his work, particularly the anthology he was trying to publish. He had read books about organizing his novel, and had attended the classes on how to publish his book.

Yet he was still getting rejected.

Despite all of his research and resourcefulness, he was still stuck, having tried to revise his manuscript on his own with no knowledge of the publishing industry.

Stephen wasn’t sure what to do. Then he read Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline, and reached out to me about some of the issues with his manuscript.

We got on a call for about an hour and talked about where he was, where he wanted to go and how he could get there. It became clear to me that Stephen was the right fit for the Writing Gym. He accepted my invitation, and we began revising his work to publishing standards. 

With each new session, Stephen recognized the difference the Writing Gym makes. He no longer had to flail among do-it-yourself solutions. Instead he had tailored feedback and a personal foot in the door of the publishing industry.

The Writing Gym is different because it’s like having a private coach, one that’s shared with a community of friends who all support and hold each other accountable.

When I made a call to an agent I know about one of Stephen’s manuscript submissions that received no responses, the agent read it right on the spot and loved it. They began to move forward with the publication of his novel Paranormal City, which is now published.

Within a week, Stephen’s second novel Shuttlers–one he was inspired to write during his time in the Writing Gym–also received a publishing contract.

Stephen no longer faces the issue of submitter’s block. To date he has sent out a total of 433 submissions, has had 12 short stories published and one forthcoming, and received two publishing contracts in the same week for his novels.

Along with his novel publications, Stephen’s short fiction has been published in anthologies What Lies Beyond by Red Penguin Books, Murder and Mayhem by Dragon Soul Press, From the Shadows by Printed Word, and Handmade Horror Stories by Frost Zone Press. His Star Trek spoof “Star Truck” appeared on the Tall Tale TV podcast–and that’s just a few of his many publishing accomplishments during his time in the Writing Gym. 

Not only did Stephen overcome submitter’s block, he now identifies as a full-time writer, putting himself out there through short stories, novels, and anthologies. Stephen is experiencing a dream many writers covet: living the author lifestyle.

Anyone who’s been thinking about the Writing Gym, go for it because Annalisa can get you that little backdoor entry you won’t find anywhere.

If you want a tailored publication plan, and you’re ready to get over submitter’s block, to move from rejection to publication, you may be the right fit for the Writing Gym. I’ve opened some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about publication and living the author lifestyle. Book yourself into my calendar here.

What Do You Really Want For Your Writing Career

What Do You Really Want For Your Writing Career

What Do You Really Want For Your Writing Career

 

Today, I want to share a quote  with you from the ancient Roman poet, Seneca.

“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.”

So what does that have to do with writing?

Well, many writers never reach their goals, because they don’t know what their goals are. More precisely their goals are too vague.

When I’m speaking all over the world to writers, writers say things to me like “I want to publish. I want to be a best-seller. I want to have fans now.”

Those are all worthy and reasonable goals, but they’re really hard to reach.

For example, if you self-publish, has that met your goal of publishing? If you only have an e-book, has that met your goal of publishing?

The problem here is specificity.

In order to have quality goals, we really need to quantify what those goals are.

It’s a very different thing to get published with a self-published book versus getting published by one of the big five, like Penguin. Those are two different goals.

There’s no real judgment one way or the other, but you need to be really clear on what your goal is so that you can get there.

The first step here is to quantify your goal. This gives you clarity on your own vision for your writing career. With clarity, you can work toward a specific goal every day, meet your writing dreams, and ultimately live the author lifestyle.

Over in the Writing Gym, we help writers to get clarity and to create the exact strategy to get them toward those goals.

If that sounds like something that you’re ready for or interested in, and you’re tired of churning in the same old solutions that don’t work, you’re ready not only to get some clarity on what your author lifestyle goals are, but how to get there.

I’ve opened up a couple of times in my calendar next week to chat with you. We can hop on a call and talk about where you are, where you’d like to be, and how you can get there.

Until next time. Happy writing.

What Writing About Personal Experience Teaches

What Writing About Personal Experience Teaches

What Writing About Personal Experience Teaches

By Writing Gym Alumnae Sonee Singh

I have been in the Writing Gym for eight months and it has transformed the way I write. The program has pushed me to expand and explore my writing in unexpected ways. I am in the midst of editing a women’s fiction novel, yet I have realized there is value in writing about my personal experiences.

I enjoy writing fiction, because it allows me to explore the unfamiliar. I write characters unlike myself and have them participate in activities I would not normally engage in. However, fiction also allows me to explore the familiar. I write about traits within me or people I know, give my characters my hobbies or interests, and place them in settings I have visited. I give a voice to the experiences in my life under the cover of made-up scenes.

Salons are an integral part of the Writing Gym experience. In these salons, Annalisa Parent, who runs the Writing Gym, provides us a writing prompt and gives us 20 minutes to write non-stop. We take turns sharing our writing and providing feedback in a way that highlights strengths in our pieces.

Salons have helped me gain confidence as a writer, discover skills in my writing that I didn’t know were in me, and build a supportive bond with my fellow writers.

A couple of weeks ago, Annalisa did something unexpected, and asked us to write about a personal experience. I panicked. When I have written about myself in the past, no one knew. Now they would and it made me feel naked. Salons are safe environments, but I felt exposed.

It’s natural to feel vulnerable. When we share our personal stories, we open ourselves to criticism. It shouldn’t matter what other people think. After all, writing is something we do for ourselves. Still, we need to get over the fear of judgment, and that takes courage. It can be freeing and empowering.

Writing about our experiences forces us to look within.

This can lead us to recall the positive and joyful moments, but anytime we peer into the recesses of our past, we also run the risk of finding buried hurts, shunned memories, or dulled pain. It exposes that which we never intended to see the light. It exposes what we have lived through, and what we have survived.

There is a benefit in that. It allows us to accept what happened to us– good and bad.

We can’t change our history, but we don’t have to hold on to it.

Accepting the past helps us heal. It helps us release. It allows us to let go of the experience, let go of what it holds within us, and let go of the emotions that we attached to it. In bringing the past to light, it ceases to fester, diminishing its significance.

It is not about exposing ourselves. It is about unburdening. It is about the catharsis. And that has another consequence. Sharing is authentic. Sharing gives a voice to our experiences, and it makes our writing unique. It makes us relatable. It also allows us to feel lighter. At least it has done for me. After the salon where I shared my story, I felt oddly liberated, and it brought a smile to my face. It opened up something for me– a sense of ease I hadn’t felt before. I was motivated to do more.

I encourage everyone to be open to writing about personal experiences. It may result in a pleasant surprise.

While in the Writing Gym, not only has Sonee revised her women’s fiction to publishable, she has also published two poetry anthologies.
Want to know how you can get the same results?

A Writer’s Worst Enemy (It’s Not What You Think)

A Writer’s Worst Enemy (It’s Not What You Think)

A Writer’s Worst Enemy (It’s Not What You Think)

 

I’m here to talk about a writer’s worst enemy, and I can promise you, it’s not what you think.

Lots of writers talk to me about writer’s block. They’re not sure what to write, and feel stuck. They don’t know where to go, what to say next, or what their next chapter should be.

I think I’ve heard it all, but we put that all under the umbrella of writer’s block. Most people get stuck and they don’t know why, and I’m here to explain how you get stuck in writer’s block.

You’re not going to believe it, but what gets in the way is your own brain.

Many of you know that most of the work that I do over in the Writing Gym is based on my study of neuroscience, how the brain learns and creates, and the secret is this:

Your mind will tell you anything to keep you in the comfort zone.

When you sit down to write, which is a risky endeavor, you’re going to share it with the world. You’re sharing your most intimate thoughts. You’re sharing a story, whether it’s your own personal narrative, or close to it.

There’s risk. It’s scary. You might not get distracted and not get it done. You might get stuck and not find the right words.

There’s lots of scare factors, and your mind wants to keep you safe and comfortable.

It sends you these messages that say things like “you can’t do this,” “this is okay, but you could do this so much better.” These are lies that come from our brain to keep us comfortable.

If you want to be a successful writer, you need to get out of that negative feedback loop, and get into the right relationship with your inner critic.

Then, the writing can flow.
Then, you write with confidence.
Then, you can circumvent some of that negative feedback and know what your strengths are.

As a writer, I have confidence based on real facts, not empty praise like “good job.” That’s not real confidence.

If you’re ready to break out of that loop, you may have had it with writer’s block, being stuck, and letting your mind take control of your writing future. I’ve opened up some time in the next week or so to chat with writers who are serious about becoming their best writer, finally finishing that novel, and getting over fear to get the writing done. 

If you’re serious about finishing your novel this year, I’d love to chat. You can get on a call and talk about where you are, where you’d like to be, and how you can get there.

Until next time. Happy writing.

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Writing Excuses: I Can’t Write!

Writing Excuses: I Can’t Write!

Writing Excuses: I Can’t Write!

By Writing Gym Alumnus Stephen Oliver

“I can’t write because…”

Name your problem: space, time, people, inspiration, whatever.

I have heard this, seen this, and read this more times than I care to remember. Especially in the last year, since I became active in several FaceBook writing groups.

Sorry, people, but that isn’t a reason for not writing, it’s an excuse. And a feeble one, at that.

Recently, I stood in the cottage where Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived for three years with his wife and family. It was by far the worst house in the village. The rooms were small, and the only heating came from a small fire in one room. At the time he moved in, the thatched roof was leaking, mice were running riot, and he had no money. Moreover, there were often other people visiting: the Wordsworths, Poole, and so on.

And yet…

While there, he penned some of the greatest lyrical ballad poems of the age: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan” to mention but two.

He wrote, despite the frankly appalling conditions in his home. Cold so bad, for instance, that his son Hartley would cry at night, forcing Coleridge to bring him downstairs to his writing room because it had a fireplace. The mice I have already mentioned. And how they accommodated their visitors, I shudder to think.

And yet…

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree…”

If he could write that in these terrible conditions, then you, sitting in front of your computer in a warm, comfortable home or an air-conditioned office, have no excuse at all.

So, get off your backsides, or on them, as the case may be, and start writing. Even if you can’t create something as wonderful and ethereal as Coleridge did, it will still be far better than the nothing you are producing right now while whining.

Cure: Write Something, Anything

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the cure for writer’s block is to write.

You don’t have to write your novel, short story, memoir, or whatever it is that’s causing you a problem. That will come later.

But you have to write something.

It could even be about the frustration of not being able to write anything, if nothing else. We want to get our fingers moving on the keyboard, the pen scribbling on paper, and our thoughts out into the world in black and white. After all, if it’s garbage, we can always throw it away or delete it. But we have to get the energies moving.

The Muse does not appear if we don’t invite her by writing.

It’s okay if you don’t reach your daily writing goal, either. I’ve had days where the only words I wrote were submission queries while reformatting the manuscript once again for yet another agency or publisher. I’ve spoken about it in another post (Submissions). At other times, I’ve been revising and editing a manuscript to get it into shape for submission in the first place. On these days, I’m lucky if I get a dozen words added to the manuscripts, although I may have altered hundreds.

So what? It’s all part of the process. If you want to become a published author and do this professionally, then you have to be professional about it.

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp. – Somerset Maugham

Need Help?

Personally, the quantity (and quality) of my writing improved once I joined the Writing Gym. Since joining, I have written hundreds of thousands of words, most of which I intend to publish some day.

It all began after I had written an anthology of short stories, but didn’t know what to do with it. And, I was stuck on a novel.

Yeah, I had writer’s block!

I first heard of the Gym when Annalisa Parent’s publisher was looking for advanced readers of her book, Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel Without an Outline. I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), and soon realised I had found someone who understood the way I write.

You have to understand that I’m a pantser (or Discovery Writer) through and through, writing as the Muse dictates with little knowledge of where she is taking me. Here was someone who not only knew about it, but also had advice on how to proceed once I was done. I asked her if she also would also help me edit my work and, before I knew it, I was a member of the Writing Gym.

I discovered that Annalisa offers a number of programs to help aspiring writers complete their books and get them published.

We worked on the anthology, editing it and bringing it up to a publishable standard. In the meantime, she also encouraged me to continue with the short stories, resulting in another three completed anthologies, and three more anthology WIPs (Works In Progress, for those who don’t like acronyms) that are offshoots of the original four. I’ve also written two versions of a novel and begun another. In addition, the blocked novel is now halfway completed (it’s going to be an epic).

The first book of the anthology was rejected by various agents and publishers on the grounds that anthologies are seldom good break-out works to start a publishing career with. Annalisa and I sat together at last year’s Writers’ Retreat and discussed the problem. We decided to take two short stories I had written and to use them as the basis of an episodic science fiction novel.

Over the next couple of months (Annalisa offers a course to help you complete your novel in eight weeks), I wrote the remaining chapters and was ready for editing.

During the editing phase, Annalisa read the book and made suggestions to improve the story while encouraging me to develop my voice. Since this was the second time around for me, editing went much better. I had learnt so much about the writing process working with Annalisa on the anthology, that there were few corrections necessary. Most of our work was developmental: editing, finding and correcting plot holes, foreshadowing, linking back to earlier events, improving dialogs, etc.

She also helped with my abiding sin: Britishisms, as she calls them. I tend to use words and phrases that are unique to British English, which could limit American sales.

The Answer?

Perhaps the answer for you might be the same as mine; talk to someone.

It’s easy enough to book a call with Annalisa. It will last about 45 minutes to an hour. You can discuss your problems with her. She might be able to help you, or at least, point you in the right direction.

And, if you are invited to join the Writing Gym, who knows? We might meet one day at one of the Gym’s online get-togethers.

Or even at a book signing.

Writing Gym member Stephen Oliver wrote this piece while on the Writing Gym in England retreat. You can learn more about him here.

The Book That Others Will Read

The Book That Others Will Read

The Book That Others Will Read

By Writing Gym Alumnus Brendan Thompson

I first got into writing on the conviction that I am a creative person with stories to tell. I have never surrendered that conviction, but in the thirty years since, I have taken a lot of time to reflect on what kind of stories I have to tell. In that time, I have done quite a bit of living, which has given me a lot more material to work with. I have read some fantastic books, visited some remarkable places, and known some amazing people. The richness of those experiences has continually added to my ideas for stories.

However, it’s not just about having ideas.

Any long time writer will tell you about the book they got halfway through writing, driven by the strength of its unique and compelling idea, only to see the project fizzle out and remain unfinished. No matter how intriguing, compelling, and alluring the idea was, it wasn’t a story.

In order to see the book through to the end, there had to be a story.

Let’s move forward, out of the 1990’s, through the 2010’s ,and up to the present day. I had assembled an oeuvre of around a million words that made up an outsized, grand, opulent, sprawling world of stories. I took my best work, a gunpowder fantasy epic, and walked it over to Annalisa Parent and her program, The Writing Gym.

It’s a scary thing to go from writing for yourself to showing your work to professionals. Often, it’s one thing to put your work in front of friends and family- I had done that. It’s also one thing to engage other writers to trade work, reading each others’ manuscripts in exchange for notes. I had done that, as well.

But to put your work in the hands of a professional writing coach, a literary agent, or an editor, is an experience of an altogether different magnitude.

I will always maintain that a good writer writes first and foremost for themselves. That’s how you get started, moving ideas into stories. However, selling your work requires moving your stories out of your own collection and into a market. You are asking people to pay money to read your stories. There has to be something in it for the reader.

Being a professional, Annalisa spared no time getting me deep, specific feedback that required extensive rewriting of my novel’s first fifty pages. Fantastic. That level of editorial interaction is what I had signed on for.

It was a double edged sword, to be sure.

It’s great to have good notes for rewriting, but it’s not great to have the task of rewriting. It’s great to find solutions to fix underlying problems, but that requires finding underlying problems. And you don’t want to find problems in your manuscript.

It’s natural to recoil in horror at the suggestion that you didn’t craft the best possible story on your first draft.

Professional writers with massive followings still get those notes from editors, and they rewrite their works accordingly.

It’s not a foolproof process, but it is a process that improves the work. Ideas move through the writer into stories, which move back and forth from the writer to the editor, becoming more and more refined, transforming into stories that are more comprehensible, more relatable, more gripping, engaging, and effective.

I found Annalisa asking me, with some reluctance, if I would go back to page one and start the process over. Completely optional, mind you, no pressure, but still her professional recommendation. Would I mind bending the narrative more in the direction she was pushing for, and doing it for the reasons that she had outlined?

And here is what I told her.

I already know the version of this story that is most for me. I had already revised, reordered, and recapitulated the narrative a hundred times, shifting the perspectives of who was telling the story, experimenting with the order of events, who did what to who, and who was the witness to it. A hundred variations on the story I was crafting. Through that, I had a hundred different versions of the story in my head, understanding the possibilities that are so tantalizing and exciting in this world that I have created. However, that is not what I want to publish.

I want to publish traditionally and for a wide audience. That means continuing the revision and the crafting of the story, refining its very carefully calibrated inner workings to find the version that appeals to a target audience, a core of readers who will engage with the book, fall in love with it, and recommend it to their friends.

I want to get beyond the story that is only for me, and get to the story that is for them.

So, write for yourself. That’s the only way to get started. When you are comfortable showing your work to others, go right ahead and do it. You might even get published right away, and if you do, congratulations are in order. For the rest of us, the next thing to do is to write some more. And start revising. Revise everything. Keep writing, and then revise that. As you keep growing, developing, and finding your voice, engage with literary professionals, get their feedback, and put it to use to further grow yourself and improve your writing.

What you will find, whether gradually or suddenly, is that you are no longer dealing in ideas.

Every time you sit down to write, you craft a story. You think in terms of story, and you can’t create in any other way. When you revise, you will revise in terms of story, and you won’t have any other way to do a revision.

You will find, as if by magic, nothing you write, no matter how personal, is ever just for you. Not any more. You will be preparing yourself for the life of a professional writer, preparing to write for your readers.

Brendan Thompson is a writer and alumnus of the Writing Gym. His film, Bae Wolf, will be available in March.

Resonate with what Brendan says? I help writers to transition from the art of writing into the business of publishing. This is what I do to help people publish and get the representation they need. If you are ready to accept what the guidelines are and are ready to sell your book, let’s chat.

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