Thursday, April 14, 2011

I have really smart friends

I can honestly say that you don't get better advice about the industry, than advice from someone in the industry. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised. Think about it. When you need investment advice, do you ask someone who isn't into investments? When you need promotional advice, do you go to your mom and ask, or do you ask someone who also promotes stuff? When you need a job, do you ask homeless Uncle Bob which places offer the best compensation package? When you buy shirts, do you get fashion advice from a nudist? I think not.

You ask people who are in the business of knowing what you need input on. Hopefully.

I have received some of the best advice in the writing industry from other authors who've been there. I haven't always listened at the time. They haven't always been right. But usually, there's a kernel in there which can direct you if you use a little common sense, and good judgment.

For example. I have two pen names. Mia Watts who writes guy-on-guy sex, and menages. Katie Blu who writes guy-on-girl sex, and menages. It wasn't always that way.

Carol Lynne, manlove author extraordinaire and all around fantastic woman, told me that I should never mix male/female books with male/male books. She said my fans wouldn't like it and that it would confuse my branding. I thought, "Bah, I know what I'm doing!"

After a year of mixing the two genres under Mia Watts, I have come to the (financially) painful reality that indeed, it matters. Your readers want to find you. They want to know what to expect when they pick up your book. It's taken me this long, but I've finally begun splitting the two areas, by reviving Katie and giving her a genre platform.

Another example. Fabulous author, Wicked writer, and friend, Regina Carlysle told me: Submit your work to the houses that pay. Makes sense, right? Yeah, except I had my nose out of joint about something, burned the damn bridge down, and took my hurt feelings somewhere else. TWO YEARS later, I grovelled. It's a matchstick bridge I'm creating, and the other side might just blow it down, but I'm trying, and I have permission to submit there. Trust me when I say that this was another financial mistake I've made.

These are two instances where my friends were exactly right. There are so many more to choose from, though. Even when they aren't right, they still are, because their experiences have taught them something very valuable. The fact that it doesn't work for you means you have to re-evaluate those circumstances to fit your current writing climate. That's part of learning, growing, becoming the author you want and need to be.

So you can take a few things from this entry. 1) Always listen to someone in the industry, when asking about something in the industry. 2) Never trust my financial instincts. 3) I'm stubborn, but I do eventually admit when I'm wrong. 4) I trust my friends. So should you.

I'm opening this up. What have you learned about the industry that you want to share with others? What was the hard lesson, and what should you have done? If genre matters to that choice, please share what it is. Let's grow from each other.

And that's my touchy-feely message of the week. Next week, back to regular programming.



Unknown said...

I definitely agree with the different pen names. I've written two M/M, but my readers expect contemporary M/F and menages.
I've decided to publish the M/M under a different name.

Mia Watts said...

You have?!?! Wow, I'm learning all kinds of new things from you lately. Must. Know. Other. Name. Please?

LOL, Google WV! Tasemi
"Please, Officer, don't taze me!"

Tess MacKall said...

Well we definitely know Reg gives great advice, Carol too. Both women are very savvy.

What hard lesson have I learned? An old one: all that glitters ain't necessarily gold! lol

And I'll tell you this. It's hard to have been through some rough battles, learned from them and then try to give advice to others only to have them ignore what you say.

Sometimes people just have to learn their lessons on their own. Our stubborn streaks get us into trouble. But it's those same stubborn streaks that push us to succeed too.

Great insight. Good blog topic.

Mia Watts said...

Thanks, Tess. This is one that's been on my mind for a while. Mostly because I write full time now and it's a true struggle. I very little in the way of expenses most of the time, so I've been able to make it. But I also don't make close to what I could have been making if I'd listened the first time around.

There are times when you stand your ground and there are times when you way the odds and realize that standing your ground will get you in the end. Usually, those are the times when you shouldn't be standing your ground because the ground is very, very shaky and based on partial information. It's a bad place to be.

None of us want to be wrong. We are. We all are some of the time. It's really okay. And it's also okay to change your mind when something doesn't work out the way you intended.

Another great piece of advice I listened to immediately, "Get yourself to Michigan." I needed that. I needed a clean slate, no judgmental family, no old ties to keep me back. So, I'm learning.

Y'all. Don't be a Mia. LISTEN then decide after weighing all the options. This is your life. This is important.

Mia Watts said...

Also, ignore my spelling errors... geez.

Carol Lynne said...

I think the best piece of advice I've received came from my 10 yr old daughter.

After going through a divorce, I knew I was suddenly thrust into the role as head-of-house. I worked (wrote) up to fifteen hours every single day, afraid I wouldn't have enough to pay the stupidly high overhead each month. One day my daughter asked me to take the day off and watch movies with her all day. I told her I needed to work to make sure we could make the house payment next month.

Delaney got right in my face and said, "So what? We could live in an apartment if we lose the house."

Sigh. Huge moment for me in my writing career. At that moment I realized the one thing I'd been working so hard to do, taking care of family, had nothing to do with writing. Sure, the royalties are nice, and they allow me to give the girls what I think they deserve, but when is enough enough?

Since that day I've made it a point to take evenings off and usually weekends. Sure, I don't have as many releases, but I have something more important. Time to be with the people who love me no matter what the reviewers say.

Regina Carlysle said...

This is such a great post, Mia. There are a lot of sludgy pitfalls out there and often we don't see them until we'd landed on our asses right in the middle of one. The thing that has honestly helped me the most is my lack of 'temper'. Takes a whole lot to make me lose it but when I do all reason goes out the window. That's when I am most likely to say or do something I'll later regret. So I'll say here what I've always told my kids and what I've reminded myself of during those moments when I'm so mad I want to just smack somebody....hold on, cool off, and don't burn down any bridges. Sure it's okay to LATER address the issue that got you steamed in the first place but make sure you have your facts straight before you head into a bee swarm and be CALM, don't be ACCUSATORY, and ask questions of the people you think might have done you wrong. Every time I've lost my temper and flown into a situation, fists flying, I've lived to regret it.

Regina Carlysle said...

And something else...BRAGGERS. People who know me realize quickly that I detest that. There is a way to promote yourself without endless bragging. Don't tell every man and his brother how many fan letters you get or how much your editors adores you. Don't couch every comment to another author with a brag about YOURSELF. Lots of folks want to make others believe they are MORE and BETTER than they really are and carry on like crazy about every little thing. Usually they are seriously embellishing.

We all have to promote but for heaven's sake be classy about it. You have a new book out? DON'T say 'this book is AWESOME, INCREDIBLE blah blah'. Professionally inform folks you have a new release, a new review, etc. but never, ever brag because eventually everyone figures out that you are full of hot air and not "all that'. They will run from you in droves.

Regina Carlysle said...

Carol, I love this story. You're right. We get so lost, so immersed and DRIVEN that we often forget to set our priorities. When we do that everything else goes to shit in a hurry. Family first. We need their support to do what we do but if we forget to just stop and be with them, love them, we quickly lose that support. One thing has to nourish the other.

Mia Watts said...

Carol still puts out an amazing amount of books, so clearly the hanging out with the family isn't too detrimental. LOL.

Reggie, absolutely agree with you too. My biggest error with that publisher was letting my current personal climate affect my decisions when it came to the business. I was a mess and angry. There are two sides to every story, but I made a point of apologizing and taking my consequences as I should.

These past few days, I've put the computer down around 4pm. Ok. Yesterday I didn't, but basically, I'm trying new things. LOL. If I'm going to work hard to keep it, maybe, just maybe, I should enjoy it too.

Just a thought.

Molly Daniels said...

I've learned to investigate publishers BEFORE I submit a ms...on the upside, it got my book published, but on the downside, I may never see any money from sales, unless I sell it myself.

Molly Daniels said...

Yeah, I don't feel the need to spend all my time online anymore, and my kids are happier:)

Mia Watts said...

Research is absolutely critical! Good point, Molly. So is finding time for the kids. We tend to forget that there's a world outside our "boxes of light and wonder--ohhhh, ahhhh", yet they're living it. When you aren't a part of it, you lose out in a big way.

Looks like you've found your balance.

anny cook said...

Don't put all your eggs in one basket...

Bronwyn Green said...

Awesome post Mia!

My lesson? Walk away from the computer for a while before hitting "send" or "post" on anything sensitive that can possibly be misconstrued or blow up in your face.

Sometimes all the apologies in the world aren't enough.

Mia Watts said...

Yep, Bron, you've said that to me sooo many times, I've lost count. I'm learning that one too. ;)

See folks? I toldja I have smart friends.