Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Post: 10 Things Learned in 2012

I'd like to welcome Michelle Hauk to Yesternight's Voyage today. Michelle blogs at It's In the Details, is a fellow Speculative Fiction Group member, and a soon to be published author. You can follow her also on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads. She hosts a group on Goodreads devoted to discussing speculative fiction.

Her book, Kindar's Cure comes out in March of 2013.
"Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother's throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that's killing her by inches. When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block.

"No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination. A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision - a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his feet isn't the best option, but beggars can't be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.

"Her mother's decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess.

"With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people."

And now over to Michelle directly:

Being always slightly off my rocker, I volunteered to do a post for Joyce about ten things I learned in 2012. Ten things. Ten things. That will be easy, right? Eager to find a starting point, I looked back to last year, examined where I started it and where I ended it, and can honestly say they were not the same spot. Things did change for me. I became wiser--or maybe more experienced as a writer (definitely bolder.) Sometimes it was painful and sometimes embarrassing. I'll let some proverbs show what I learned.

Back in that faraway time of January 2012, I was querying my second manuscript, Kindar's Cure. (Strangely enough in this here and now time of January 2013, I'm querying my third manuscript, Dodge the Sun.)

10. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Is this old proverb true or false in regards to querying? After getting many, many, too many rejections over three different manuscripts, I can honestly say...querying is extremely painful.

Did it kill me?


Did it make me stronger?

Eh. Maybe. Form rejections hurt as much the one hundredth time as the first time. I think I dwell on them less now. What I learned is not to let them stop me.

9. Rome wasn't built in a day. In regards to the publishing business, this one is absolutely true. Publishing moves like a snail with a hangover. To write Kindar and edit it took a year. (Nanowrite people are looking at me. What can I say? I'm slow.) From the start of the query process until I signed a contract to publish with a small press was ten months of near constant email checking and refreshing. Be patient. If you're looking for an agent or a publisher, expect to wait and wait and wait and...

8. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. What does this mean? After you send those queries, don't be sitting around pressing refresh on your email. Start a new project while you wait for responses. Then if nothing happens on your current manuscript, you'll be ready for more crushing thoughtful replies on another.

7. Fortune favors the brave. If someone is kind enough to hold a contest where you might be brought to the attention of agents, don't be afraid to enter just because the feedback is tough to bear. Just remember that contests are long shots and no substitute for putting in the work of researching agents to see which are the best matches for your work. After all, there are no quick fixes.

6. All that glitters is not gold.  Keep in mind that an offer, whether from an agent or publisher, is just the beginning. Some writers forget to look on down the road. There is more work to be done once you get an offer because now you have to build yourself as an author. If you don't believe me, then check out the promotional checklist on AQC. It's a killer.

Not only do you have to write and edit, but promote yourself and your book. It's not something that comes easily if you're a shy person. In the middle of 2012, a lot of my attention turned toward this perplexing riddle of how to draw attention to myself.

5. If you build it; they will come--eventually. I ramped up my efforts on blogging in the beginning of 2012. At first, I was writing to myself because I was the only one reading the dang thing. But gradually the followers built to where I'm not alone. Now, a lot of nice people actually leave me comments. I even have a dedicated following of spammers who leave me incomprehensible comments with links I'm afraid to click. (I highly recommend inviting real writerly guests to contribute to your blog until you're off the ground and adding pictures to your posts.)

And as for embarrassing moments as I promised above, think and rethink having giveaways on your blog. Make sure you can get people to enter so you won't be giving books to empty air.

4. If a tweet falls in the forest will anyone care? That should be a proverb, don't you think? I finally got up the nerve to join Twitter. I do not find it a great place for promotion. No matter how often someone shouts out about their book, I don't click their links. I expect many others don't either. They are all there to shout out their own business. There is just too much traffic, too much promotion, with no way to weed the good from the bad.

I do find it a great place to connect with friends and make new ones. It's also a useful place for learning from agents. You can discover some great contests. Twitter has been a timewaster and unexpected bonus. Take the good with the bad. (Ha! Two proverbs for the price of one.)

3. Don't burn your bridges behind you. In other words, watch what you say because the internet is forever. I've heard of writers responding to bad reviews or troll comments and they usually get the worst of that attempt to vindicate themselves.

2. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Help out fellow writers as often as you can. Host them on your blog. Give suggestions on their queries. Feedback their chapters. Retweet their tweets. Not only will they repay the favor, but you'll feel happier with yourself. He who gives, receives.

1. Friendship is golden. The surest and best way to succeed in life (and in promotion) is to make friends. Of course you have to be genuine; this isn't something you can fake. Nothing will serve you better than surrounding yourself with supporters. Of all the treasures writing has brought me, I value the friends I've made the most.


  1. I love these proverbs :) Awesome sayings, and so applicable!

  2. Wow, Joyce. You made my post look awesome. Thanks again for having me.

  3. I agree with SC. Perfect fits for writers braving the wilds of publishing. I have always loved "What does not kill you, makes you stronger." In every aspect of life, not just writing, that saying has been my salvation more than once. Awesome post. :D

  4. Great advice, Michelle. I adore the proverbs turned into writing advice sprinkled liberally with your humor... :)

  5. It's so true about friendships. I'll take reading suggestions from my friends above any other kind of marketing ploy.

    Spot on about Twitter. We have to make it work for us and cut out or ignore the junk-tweets.

    Still got to work on the bravery bit, myself. Is it enough to say I'm pretty comfortable with blogging by now?