Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting By With a Little Help

...From my friends.

Today's post is over on Writer Unboxed and is all about why I think it's so important to surround yourself with writer pals. While we're on the subject, thanks to ALL OF YOU who have become one of my networks of support. I always appreciate your comments, insights and humor!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Great Blogs

I just received a note letting me know that Ask Allison has been named one of the top 100 blogs for freelancers. Whoohoo! I'm so excited because that's the goal here: to give a little bit of perspective from someone who has BTDT.

I know that you guys are always looking for new and better resources, so if you want to check out the list and find some new blogs and sites to peruse, here ya go:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Goodbye Dear Friends

You have been with me through thick and thin - literally - through two pregnancies; through the conception and drafting and publication of one, nearly two, books; through fall and winter and spring (though I tend to lose contact a bit over the summer); through, well, just about everything.

But our relationship is well, literally beginning to thin. It's fraying and stained and frankly, unsightly. I suspect that people are starting to comment.

So it's with much sorrow that I'm saying goodbye. I've loved you so, so much and you've been of great support.

Goodbye my beloved Gap Kids velour sweatpants. For the past six years, you've provided unimaginable amounts of comfort. But your waistbands have popped and your legs are gnarly, and well, it's all gotten a little embarrassing.

So while I love you dearly, it's time to look for something new. As I case the racks of J.Crew and yes, Gap Kids (always return to the place of your first love), know that I'll think of you fondly and smile.

(Hey readers, where do you get your favorite lounge wear? As you can tell, I'm in need of an upgrade, but I need a 30" inseam and everything other than kids wear and J.Crew petites is too long!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Truth Behind The Myths

Lately, I've been running headfirst into all kinds of questions and people who seem to totally not get how this industry works or what life is like as a full-time writer. I don't blame (or begrudge) some of these people or comments...I mean, I get how you can be pretty clueless about my job if you've never dipped your toe in this arena, but still....If I'm told one more time by a person with no writing experience or background whatsoever that "I want to do what you do - work from home and make money - how do I do it?," my head is going to explode.

So, to that end, I reveal my top five myths (and truths) about publishing. Have some others? Weigh in on the comments section.

1) This job is a piece of cake/a dime a dozen/insert cliche that implies lack of ass-busting work and a dash of talent. I am, I like to think and verified by those around me, a very easy-going gal. Not a lot ruffles my feathers. But so help me God, if one more friend of a friend of a friend (no, not you dear Ask Allison readers, whom I know are at least moderately invested in your careers) writes me or calls me or stops me at some social function and says, "Ooh, how can I get in on that," as if any old Joe can do what I do...well, as stated above, head meet explosion. The truth is that there aren't a lot of industries with higher failure rates (and lower success rates), and just because you have an idea for a book or 30 pages somewhere in the dredges of your hard drive, that doesn't mean squat. It certainly doesn't qualify you to assume that what I do is easy, nor that you could just slide in and assume my career as your own. UGH. Pet peeve.

2) That Oprah Will Love My Book. Even my dear mother, whom I love to pieces, suggested at some point that, "now, all I need to do is get The Department on Oprah." Well, mom, (and everyone else!), DUH! Wouldn't that be lovely? Of course it would! But Oprah (and the Today Show, etc) are but pipe dreams for the average lot of us, so let's just be happy with the kudos and press we do receive and stop pretending that the world's most influential television figure would even care a flying fig about us. 'Kay?

3) That Film Rights are a Given. Most writers fantasize about Julia Roberts and George Clooney or Reese Witherspoon embodying their characters. (Well, they might fantasize about Clooney for entirely other reasons as well.) Most writers will be sorely disappointed. The truth is that selling a book is damn hard. Selling the movie rights is damn harder. Actually getting the movie made is damn near impossible. Sort of like making the all-star team and then being selected as MVP. It happens. (And I hope it happens to me and in the near future.) But you can't - and shouldn't - spend a hell of a lot of time worrying and/or dreaming about it.

4) That Selling Your Book = Financially Loaded. The average fiction book advance hovers in the four-digits. I have no idea why people assume that when you land a book deal, you're also on the way to easy street...but people do. I can't tell you the number of off-hand comments I get. The truth is that - while this isn't a scientific number or anything like that - I'd venture to say that 95% of first-time published writers keep their day jobs. My advance was significantly higher than the average first-timer's, and after my agent's cut and taxes...I kept right on writing for my other clients.

5) That Writers Lead Lives of Leisure. True, I do wear sweatpants just about every day. (A habit I've tried in vain to break but just can't! Summer can't get here fast enough so I can at least switch over to shorts.) But I work damn hard. In my early days, my husband called this "hustling." I had so many balls in the air that I nearly had whiplash, but in trying to establish myself, I had no other option. These days, I've slowed down a bit due to a variety of reasons, not least my two kids, but that doesn't mean that I still don't hit the ground running. I have no idea why people think writers are lazy - maybe it's the sweatpants or the failure rate? - but to them, I say, "Try my job for a month, and then report back to me." Oh yeah, see #1. Good luck with that.