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Newsletter Dated: 12/28/2006 9:10:22 PM
Subject: Andrea Campbell*s Soups On
Andrea Campbell’s Newsletter
*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, professional friend of Andrea*s, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine.
Have questions, comments, or ideas for future publication? I look forward to your input and hope you will stay around to see new features in every
In this issue:
* From the Author*s Desk
* Shel Horowitz Interview
* How to Start a Novel by Albyn Leah Hall
*** From The Author*s Desk ***
Happy New Year 2007.
Good news. A student from my Mediabistro Publish That Book online e-course just sent me a note that she has a sale. Not only that, but Jeannie Ralston’s book, The Unlikely Lavender Queen, got what Publisher’s Weekly would call a “good deal!” Makes me proud.
A nice, three-part interview is running at Families.com in regards to raising Ziggy, my Helping Hands monkey. I met Courtney Mroch in Nashville at the Donald Maass Breakout Novel Workshop. It’s here:
I’m in the blogging business. Yes, I’ve succumbed. I have heard so much commentary about how a blog increases Internet presence and helps to better define an author’s position with search engines. I don’t know if that is true, but I would like my readers to visit and lend some commentary or just say, “Hello.” Some of the topics for future reading are: do crime TV shows educate criminals? What are the most egregious elements that producers insist on for their shows? Who exactly works for whom in the criminal justice system? etc. The URL: http://www.thecsieffect.blogspot.com
Please join me on January 28, for The Writer's Chatroom with Audrey Shaffer. The schedule and other information can be found here: http://writerschatroom.com/schedule.htm
Remember to mark your calendars for Houston and the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. I have a featured mystery panel spot called The CSI Effect, to be given at a 3-4 p.m. on Friday, April 27. Here's the convention web site: http://www.rtconvention.com and the magazine web site: http://www.romantictimes.com Please think about attending and look me up when you arrive. After the event, at 7 p.m., I will join a group of eight mystery authors for a group signing at Murder By The Book.
Please visit my website for the book proposal: The CSI Effect: How TV Crime Dramas Are Messing With Reality. This title details the disparity between TV crime dramas and fact and how this is affecting real-life criminal justice:
http://www.the-csi-effect.com Interested publishers? Contact my agent Bob Diforio.
Legal Ease: A Guide to Criminal Law, Evidence and Procedure (Charles C. Thomas Publishers) is going into a 2nd edition! I just finished the updated copy and the new version will have questions and assignments to augment the written materials. More info later.
*** Shel Horowitz ***
Q.: Who is Shel Horowitz and what are your strengths?
A.: I make the world insist on knowing why you're special. As a copywriter, marketing consultant, and author of several how-to books on marketing, I tell people how to get the world to know about (and purchase) their products, services, and/or ideas--inexpensively, ethically, and effectively. And that ethics piece is not just a throwaway; it's actually the most important part, and a key principle of business success (which I explain at length in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First).
Q.: Shel, can you tell us about your writing background?
A.: I was trained as a journalist in college, but even back then--mid 1970s--I started helping to promote the events and activities of various groups I was involved with. I did manage to publish over 1000 articles over the years, but I have found that writing marketing materials is easier in many ways than being a working journalist.
Q.: Do you think with today’s difficult publishing climate, authors can make a decent living?
A.: Yes, but not necessarily on their book sales. Smart authors will find tie-ins from their books to other kinds of income streams, such as consulting and speaking.
Q.: You are a well-respected marketer, how long did it take you to find a direction and really begin to feel confident about your career?
A.: I've found several directions over the years. From 1985-1995, the bulk of my income was writing resumes for a primarily local clientele. Then it shifted to writing marketing materials and consulting on strategy for authors, publishers, small businesses, and occasional non profits. Recently, it seems to be shifting again, with a greater percentage of my clients engaging me for long-term consulting on developing their book in the first place, and marketing it once it's done. One of the things I love about my business is that even after 25 years, it's continually changing. I'd hate to have only a single direction; the world is just too interesting and diverse for that.
I'd say the publication of my 1993 book Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring (Simon & Schuster)--and my becoming involved with Internet discussion groups in my niche, when I bought back the remaining inventory two years later--were the two most important events in establishing my career.
Q.: Can you talk about some tactics writers can use to establish themselves as an expert?
A.: Write books, write articles, be interviewed in the mainstream press (not as hard as you think--I explain exactly how in two of my books, Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World and Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers), speak at conferences, participate in communities of interest both on and offline, start and promote a blog, co-market with others who already reach your audience...the list goes on and on.
Q.: What would you say to people who are reticent about “selling” a product or their talents?
A.: It's not about selling. I hate to "sell" in the traditional sense. I create marketing systems so that people contact me, and if I don't screw up the initial interaction, I pretty much have the sale. You always want to look at how it's in the other person's advantage to do business with you, and create mental processes that lead that person to conclude inescapably that he or she simply has to do business with you in order to accomplish his or her goals.
Q.: Can you tell the “half-book” story on behalf of one of your clients.
A.: It wasn't a client, but someone who provided an example for my latest book Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers. He got a small batch of defective books, had his printer chop them in half, and sent the 50 half-books as lead-generators. He estimates this made him $15,000 or $20,000 in extra revenue (consulting and speaking, as well as book sales).
Q.: Are you an advocate of self-publishing? Can you tell my readers why.
A.: I'm an advocate of using the appropriate publishing method for a particular book. that might be self-publishing, publishing traditionally, or even in some circumstances using a subsidy publisher. As examples: there's a book that I'd love to write, but it's research-intensive and would involve a lot of footwork getting permission to interview famous people. I will only write that book if I get a traditional publishing contract with a substantial advance. On the other hand, when I did Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, I wanted to get the book to market very quickly, and I also wanted complete control over the content and production. Self-publishing was the only viable option. It was only 10 months from the time I wrote the first word until I received final copies. I didn't have any clue what the cover was going to look like even when I did my galleys, which was about five months before books were printed.
Copywriter and marketing consultant Shel Horowitz's three current books are:
Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers: http://www.grassrootsmarketingforauthors.com
Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First: http://www.principledprofit.com
Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World: http://www.frugalmarketing.com
*** How to Start a Novel: The Willingness to be the Best and the Worst ***
by Albyn Leah Hall
Writing fiction is like allowing yourself to be the ugliest person in the room and the most beautiful person at the same time. The "beautiful" you swans into the party, garnering admiration, presuming that everyone else will be interested in what you have to say -- about anything. The "ugly" you would prefer to cower in the kitchen, scoffing leftovers in the dark.
It's a schizoid existence. The part of you that is dying to be heard is chronically at odds with the part of you that fears exposure, rejection, or being just plain bad, which brings me to my next point. In order to write a novel, you must be willing to be bad. This is especially true in the first draft; it is, arguably, what the first draft is for. (Or, in keeping with the analogy, in order to be beautiful, you must be ugly first.)
There is no easy way to do this. Every writer has his or her own way of wrestling with the demons, and I can't tell you how to wrestle with yours. However, I can suggest some techniques that I use when starting a novel; simple strategies that help to free me from my inhibitions and create a space for the work to emerge.
1) When you begin a novel, rather than thinking you must write for, say, a minimum of four to six hours a day, try to write for only one hour maximum. This means you may write for no more than one hour! Most of us harbor an image of the tortured writer; the pacing, hair-pulling novelist locked up in a chicken shed while the world spins without him. And yet, while writing inevitably entails some pain and struggle, the stereotype of the suffering, workaholic writer is your enemy. The first draft is when you must pull something out of nothing: words from the ether, or from your unconscious. If you impose a tough regime upon it before it has had a chance to breathe, you will stifle it. If, rather, you write in bite-sized pieces, tantalizing yourself with just a little each day, then eventually you will want to write more, and take delicious pleasure in breaking your own rule. (However, while you don't have to write much each day, it is important to write every day, including Sunday; even if that means just a quick scribble before brushing your teeth -- you've still observed the rule.)
Lest you think this sounds frivolous -- a hobbyist approach to writing -- I must confess that there was a time when I thought the same thing. I didn't understand why I couldn't write for hours, or even, sometimes, minutes; why I spent most of my time staring at my computer screen longing to be anywhere but there. It was a severe blow to my sense of identity; I was a writer who could not write! When a friend suggested the hour max rule, I tried it with reluctance. A year later, I had written my first novel.
In later drafts, you will probably want to write for longer. This is great, so long as you bear in mind that good writing doesn't always come from abundance. I can think of many days in which I have produced far more inspired writing after one hour than on other days when I wrote for six.
2) Write your first draft in longhand. This doesn't mean you have to write the entire draft this way, but write each chapter or section by hand before transferring it to the computer. The computer tends to make us feel that we must be excellent immediately. We are daunted by the pristine white space before us, which we think we must fill with something polished and literary. Writing by hand, ideally in some tatty old notebook, gives you permission to be messy and primitive. (The notebook is also far more portable. If you're sick of your four walls, shake up your routine; write in cafes, parks, trains. Occasionally, the noise of the natural world can help rather than hinder, a welcome relief from the more punitive voices of your own head.)
It isn't until my second or maybe third draft that I do what I tastefully call "mining the vomit for gold," transferring the work to computer, and in the process, honing the quality of the writing itself. But for now, it's a mess, and if it isn't, it should be. Scrawl and scribble; spew it out. This is as true for work that is autobiographical as it is for work that isn't remotely autobiographical; as true for comedy as an epic period novel. Like good dreams and bad dreams, it all comes from the same place. If you give yourself time to dwell there, "literature" will follow when it is good and ready.
3) Stay away from the phone, Internet, and e-mails until you have written for the day. In keeping with this, it is a good idea to write early, not only because you will be less distracted by the clutter of the day, but because you will be closer to your unconscious mind and dream state. Even if you write for only fifteen minutes, the quality of your attention will be much, much better if you have not yet filled your head with other people and the many things you have to do. Even something as prosaic as shopping for lunch or having the car fixed can throw you off completely. You'll be amazed by how difficult it feels at first, removed from your social "fixes." This is a sobering reminder of just how addicted we are to these things, and how often we use them to procrastinate! (Yet it is also a liberating, if humbling, experience to realize that our friends, colleagues, and household chores can usually hang on without us for a little longer.)
4) When you start a novel, do not worry about having a great story. The search for the "great story" is, in my view, overrated. I speak only partly in jest when I say that there are roughly half a dozen stories in the world and most books are variations upon them. The story is only as interesting as the person who is telling it. If you have a strong voice, the reader will follow it through anything. You can write a wonderful book which, on the surface, simply describes a party (think of Mrs. Dalloway, or The Dead) or a dreadful book about a prison break or espionage. When people ask how I worked out the story for my latest novel, The Rhythm of the Road, I reply that I didn't, to start with. I found Josephine, my young heroine, and she told me the story. How did I find Josephine? One night, I was watching a documentary about a middle-aged housewife who stalks a young priest, convinced that he shares her obsession. I wondered what it would take for a person to become so delusional that she is driven to behave this way. Josephine, a teenage truck driver's daughter, has little in common with this woman, but the first glimmer was ignited on that evening, by my own curiosity. Like giving birth, I conceived her, but she seemed to develop in her own right. She did so partly through my research (I'm a great believer in research, which will also help to develop the story), but also from a place within myself, a place that could empathize with a young girl so lonely that she must conjure a fantasy relationship to fill the void. In the end, it seemed to be she who was introducing me to her lonely Irish father, to the hitchhiker who becomes the object of her attention, and so on. When I could finally see how the book was unraveling, I did sit down and work out an outline for the entire story. But I could not do this until I had Josephine's voice. So remember that a story can begin in all sorts of ways, no matter how prosaic: with a question, with the way a piece of music makes you feel, with a joke, a dream, a memory, a three minute conversation you overhear in a bus. You can find an entire universe in a single moment.
Of course, I am only one writer and this is only one set of tools. Yet whether or not they work for you, I believe that the underlying philosophy applies to all writers of fiction; to write anything good, you must first be willing to take the ugly, messy, chaotic self out into the light, take it for a run, let it tell you where to go. One of the greatest compliments ever paid to me as a writer was "you must feel pretty good about yourself to let yourself feel this bad." And yet, the funny thing is that once I do allow myself to feel "this bad," it doesn't feel too bad at all. At the very least, I've gotten a novel or two out of it.
Copyright © 2006 Albyn Leah Hall
Albyn Leah Hall is the author of two novels: The Rhythm of the Road, St. Martin's Press; and Deliria, Serpent's Tail. A screenwriter, her play, The Rose of Tralee, is currently in development. Albyn's childhood was divided between New York and Los Angeles, but she has spent most of her adult life in London, where she works as both a writer and a psychotherapist.
For more information, please visit www.albynleahhall.co.uk
*** Future Newsletters ***
In upcoming newsletters we will answer reader’s questions, share a new story or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writer’s tips. If there is any area of my life or work you would like to discuss, from autopsy to monkeys, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )
Copyright©2007 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.