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Lillian Sara Cauldwell

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What Do You Have To Lose?
By Lillian Sara Cauldwell   

Last edited: Monday, January 19, 2004
Posted: Monday, January 19, 2004

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It deals with a writer's inability (or anyone else) to take a chance with promotion or marketing themselves.

Ever hear of that phrase, "You've got nothing to lose".  They're right.  You don't have anything to lose because you're not putting your best foot forward.  You're not taking any chances with your writing, placing in a contest, submissions to an ezine or regular magazine or even submitting your query letter, synopsis, and bio of yourself to an agent or a book publisher.

What does this sentence really mean?  More importantly, what does this sentence really mean to you and how do you overcome such a seemingly minimal responsibility.

For one thing, you lose more if you don't submit.  I know what I'm talking about.  My first alternate history book was released this August by Publish America.  How are sales your going to ask?  Let me tell you, "Sales are not good."  Why, you ask?  The reason bring after only receiving two book reviews for my book and three national chain bookstores refused to carry my book or promote me in a book signing, I queitly withdrew from the fray.  You can't do that if you're a serious writer or what book publishers and agents call, professional writers.

I consider myself a professional writer.  After moaning and groaning and kicking myself in my posterior, a mid-list writer, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, told me to get off my butt and promote myself.

"What do you have to lose?"

My big loses were: branding my name, getting my book noticed, getting me noticed, and letting the world know about my achievements.  How, you may ak?  I'll tell you; this is what I finally did.

I created a newsletter; This-n-That that provides additional information and tips to writers who want to enhance their writing careers. hosts my mailing list for this list.  Secondly, I joined and put up my webpage with general information, filling in their forms, transferred the rest of me and my books to their online site where people visit your web and learn some interesting things about you.  A website!  Aha!  Did something explode into your brain with sparklies and colored lights?

Thirdly, I involved myself in several writers' groups on-line, joined one or two writer's organizations, submitted articles to my author's den website, put them in my newssletter or sent them out to writer's ezines and normal magazines.  People are hungry and thirsty for FREE information on the many ins and outs of writing.

I wrote science fiction, fantasy, and speculative short stories and submitted them to other websites, to online ezines, at my author's den website and submitted them to charitable donation site, Simecenter, where readers can download them for a contribution to a charity.  I submitted one short story, "Lottery," to and it was accepted for their December issue on-line. I had my first ezine credit.  I submitted to another fantasy short story to Playboy Magazine, "Mask, A Modern Fairy Tale" and six poems to The Atlantic Review.

What did I have to lose?

I am resubmitting my first nonfiction, book, "Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent's Guide" to publishers and agents who do reprints of books that are no longer contracted with their previous publisher and they reprint them.

Poetry was another niche that I found I was quite good at.  I submitted them to several prestigious magazines.

What do I have to lose?

The answer is still, NOTHING, of course.

When you reach a time in your life when something hits you squarely in the face, the first thought that might come to you should be:  What do I have to lose?  And, the answer facing you squarely should be, "nothing."  Send that short story out.  You might be surprised and the magazine will accept it, return it with good rejection advice or the editor might scribble a note telling you to resubmit it when its corrected.  The possibilities are endless.

What do you have to lose?  You know that answer by now.  I shouldn't have to shout it.

Send out review letters asking Publisher's Weekly, Midwest Book Review, The New York T imes Review, or The Los Angeles Book Review to review your book.  Again, you might be surprised, and one of them might review your book and give you a five star rating.  It could happen, you know.

Or get yourself interviewed on radio, TV, internet; what do you have to lose?  You might actually be invited for that interview.   You might talk to a national host where 80,0000 people are listening to you.  Luck... or is it?  What do you have to lose?

Life is funny.  It can take you completely unaware sometimes, but if you don't try, if you don't put out your best foot forward, if you don't take the chance, how will you ever know if you're a clunker or a flyer?

When you come across this sentence, "What do you have to lose?"  Remember, one thing.  It's not the reward that counts (although it does make one glow), but it's the work and effort you put into it that makes you should out loud, "I've got to try or no one will know about me or my titles, except me, myself, and I.

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Reviewed by Tuchy (Carl) Palmieri 4/17/2008

lillianI love your opening statement and your article what do you have to lose such great advice. Normally I would ask for advice as I am new to the den, but you have given it without me asking
Thank you so much I have nothing to lose. I will do as you say
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 11/26/2005
Thank you for writing this and for continuing to encourage and help writers!
Chrissy K. McVay
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 1/19/2004
Excellent advice, Lillian.

I, too, was published by Publish America, and, I, too, soon learned that I had to do all the marketing - on my own. But, as you say, I had nothing to lose - only things to gain.

Midwest Book Review did give me an excellent review on my animal book, as did Animal Planet. Sales are slowly going up, and I've learned - you can do it; but, nothing worth doing is easy.

Thanks for posting this.

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