The ABC’s of Writing

Awards, Blogs and Careers.  But not in that order.

The other night on an Agent Query chat, a few of us discussed the ins and outs of writing across genres.  It has been stated that the genre an author first publishes in is the genre that sets the tone for her writing career. 

For instance, if Author A pubs a paranormal romance, she will be expected to write more paranormal romance stories by her agent, editor and her fan base. 

Likewise, the size of the publishing house and an author’s success rate on their debut novel creates a certain career path that can be difficult to break out of.  Say Author B pubs with Small Press X.  He will typically remain with Small Press X, or similar sized presses, throughout  his career.  Unless he has a surprise best seller.  In which case, he may choose to seek a contract with Big Press Z.  A disasterous first print can relegate a writer to Small Presses or No Presses for life.

Mainly, this has to do with marketability and saleability.  Readers buy what they know (Author A), while publishers stick with what works (Author B).  This is the business part of writing that writers often fail to consider when submitting their manuscripts.

Before submitting that whimsical, one-shot-wonder of a manuscript to random agents/editors, it is imperative that we take a solid look at our dreams career in the writing field. 

Questions to ask: do I want to write manga until I die?  Do I even like the agent I am submitting to?  How respectable is the publishing house within the overall publishing climate?  Does it matter? 

If you decided that you truly wish to make a career out of writing instead of getting that one memoir off your chest, marketability becomes an issue for your future.  Some of the ways writers can promote themselves are through online communities, websites and blogs. 

Mary Kole posted a great blurb about this on her blog.  While she is an agent of juvenile literature, her blog is timely and pertinent to all writers who wish to succeed.  Her post is a gentle reminder about making ourselves accessible and interesting to our potential fan base, as well as the agents who may check up on us prior to offering a deal.

Questions to ask: who is my target audience?  What do I offer my readership in return for their loyalty?  Do I present myself accurately and honestly to my readers, yet provide them with something besides me, me, me? 

These questions have no right or wrong answers–as long as we accomplish our goals. 

For instance, I write my blog to document my journey as a writer, as well as to provide other writers with information on the process as a whole.  By definition, this makes my audience predominantly other writers, as well as those whose professions revovle around the written word.  While I try to be extremely honest (see my sidebar on integrity), I sometimes find myself stretching the truth in favor of making my writing interesting and humorous.  I also try to connect me as a person with the writing industry. 

Do I succeed?  I hope so.  Which brings me to the A in the title of this post.  Awards. 

Over my blogging career, I have recieved a few awards from my fellow bloggers.  Most recently, Roz Morris passed along The Sunshine Award (also given to me by Michelle on her blog in January) and The Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award.  In early February, TK over at My Writing Masquerade named me in her Over the Top award.  This proceeded my Superior Scribbler Award in January from Yvonne Osborne.

These awards mean a lot to me.  They are given by my fellow bloggers and cyber friends.  Each award has a special significance attached to it and is passed on to acknowledge fellow bloggers for their spirit, inspiration and/or productivitity.  I thank Roz, Michelle, TK and Yvonne for thinking of me. 

Yet I don’t want my non-award-giving readers to think I only appreciate cyber awards.  Rather, I have a deep gratitude for those who read my blog faithfully, yet quietly.  I know there are some subscribers who read every word I write, but never leave a comment.  I love that you are there, lending your support.

I also adore my commenters.  Nothing warms my heart more than logging on and finding a response to something I wrote.  Whether you’ve left one comment or 100 comments, thank you for taking the time to do so.  You are amazing.

And lastly, there are my sometimes readers, those who pop in when the weather is too cold to go outside or those who inadvertantly stumble over my blog while searching for something like snowshoeing in South Africa.  You, too, get a personal thank you.  I hope that something you read makes you want to come back for more.

Rightly  or wrongly, I think of my blog as a way to connect to a community.  My community is comprised of writers, knitters, gardeners, educators, parents, avid readers, strangers and friends.  Some blog, some don’t.  Yet you all have a place in my heart. 

I hope someday you will be able to find my books on the bookshelf.  I even hope some of you buy them.  However, my blog is not a marketing tool.  It is my journey–of which you are all a part of.

Why do you blog?  Who is your target audience and why?  Which kind of blogs do you read and why?

Thanks~ cat

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15 responses to “The ABC’s of Writing

  1. Hi, Cat. I did a similar post a few months ago. I think I blog because it helps me say and do things that I cannot necessarily say or do in fiction.

    For instance, I love passing along info on contests, awards, agents or publishers to others. There’s so much information out there that doesn’t get distributed. It’s also why I started my Authors of Asian Novels Yahoo Group: When I started writing my book, finding other unpublished authors writing in an Asian setting was impossible. It’s easier now and so is finding information/resources for writing in such settings, but I’d like to think it’s easier in part because I’ve worked hard to make that data accessible to others.

    I also blog because it’s a way to share myself and my experience. If there’s something happening in my life that I need to share, but don’t have a story to plug the issue into, there’s my personal journal and there’s also my blog. Both are an enormous help to me.

    • Victoria,

      That’s one of the things I like about your blog. You have so much good info there for other writers. You work hard to find the nuggets so we don’t have to search quite so hard. That must take quite a bit of time on your behalf and is much appreciated by those who stop by to see what’s on your radar.

      Keep up the good work!

  2. Interesting post, Cat. I think I blog for a lot of the same reasons. I started because an online buddy suggested it. It is a lot more fun than I expected. I love meeting other writers and getting their take on things. I enjoy getting insights into how other people do things – both in the classroom and in the writing community. How brains work differently is fascinating stuff :)

    • Jemi, the demi-god of blogging and writerly support!

      Thanks for commenting and double thanks for keeping up your inspirational blog. You are so amazing with how you apply your knowledge to help others. Keep it up, we need more people like you.

  3. I read blogs by writers and publishing industry professionals. I also blog for other writers. See you on the bookshelf!

  4. Ah, shucks. *Blushing*

    That said, I plan to have a few links up by tomorrow, mostly related to Asian stuff. LOL

  5. I started my blog at the same time I enrolled in an online blogbooktour class with the intention of doing a blog book tour for my new release. The tour never happened, but I stuck with blogging, not so much as a marketing tool but more as a way to connect with other writers. I’ve now expanded that to connecting with more and more people whether they write or not. I sometimes enjoy the blogging world more than I like the writing world.

    As for your comments on writing/genre/publishers, I’m looking to move from amateur sleuth mysteries to suspense. I don’t have enough of a following to care what I do. The trick will be getting an agent or publisher to give me a fresh opportunity (even if I have to use a pseudonym). :)

    • Patricia,

      You have such an informative blog, and are one of the most supportive bloggers I follow regarding your interviews, mentions and warm fuzzies of other writers. Like you, I find that I am increasingly drawn to the blogosphere for the creative outlet, as well as to connect with all different kinds of people.

      In terms of switching genres, yours could be worse–say picture books to paranormals! If you haven’t done so, it may be worth picking up “Damn the Rejections: Full Speed Ahead” by Maralys Wills. She is a genre hopper and tells how it can be done. Best of luck.

  6. Hi Cat, this is a thought provoking post which poses a great question. When I started my blog I intended only to write short stories and post them. Instant publishing :). I never thought I would have any followers (friends), but I was so delighted that people actually liked what they read and followed my blog. (That still amazes me!) After a few months I started adding tidbits of information here and there. I tried not to copy other formats or repeat too much of what was already out there. To me those other writers and bloggers were doing a fantastic job and I didn’t want to repeat what they were doing. So the short stories were something I could do. I don’t blog to market my work, I guess I blog because I really like it and I’ve met some wonderful people because of it.

    • TK,

      Your short stories are amazing, so to that end you are extremely successful! You hold your own in the friend department as well, and I’m so glad we crossed paths.

      In addition, your website is a beautiful extension of your cyber presence.

      Good luck and thanks for responding.

  7. Thanks, Cat! I really do appreciate that. :)

  8. You’re the bestest Cate! I was going to send the Sunshine award your way but noticed TK already did and didn’t want to bombard you with duplicate awards. You’re so loved. :)
    Always great info on your blog, and a laugh or two which is more than welcome.

    • Lisa,

      Thanks for the warm words. I’m a firm believer that a laugh or two goes a long way in making a miserable life bearable and a good life great.

      PS. I sent you and TK an email on that project.

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