For Munday – Re: NaNoWriMo

1. Are you doing NaNo this November? Why, or why not?

I unfortunately don’t have time this year. I am finishing up my undergraduate degree and releasing two non-fiction books before the holiday season. taking time out for NaNoWriMo just is not in the cards this time.

2. How do you feel about the challenge of writing a novel(la) of 50k words in a month?

After doing every day now for over six months, and my average word count per day is between 1800 and 3000. 50,000 a month isn’t really that spectacular of a challenge anymore. If you are serious about making writing your career, and you are getting paid to write, you make the time to do it as often as possible. Everyone says that, but it is true. If you are not writing, you feel it. I think the folks who feel most harried about NaNo are generlaly not in the habit of writing all of the time, even when they don’t feel like it. That’s hard, because understandably, life happens, we have families and jobs and school. I know someone who releases a new book every two weeks of at least 50,000 words. That is definitely a little too steep a goal for most humans, including myself. However, the person I am talking about has been doing this for over forty years and he does nothing else. My own goal for this year is to actually release something at least every other month, and I know that this goal is definitely pushing it for me.

3. If you have tried before, did you succeed? Fail? A bit of both?

I have done both. One year I quit mid NaNo because I was in the middle of a project, I have succeeded two years in a row. Last year, it was far more important to finish other projects that I was actually being paid for.

4. What advice do you have to a would-be-novelist (NaNo or otherwise)?

Traditional publishing as we knew it as few as two and three years ago is dying a very public and extremely painful death before our very eyes. If you are serious about writing and getting your work out there, learn all you can about how to handle your own career because ultimately you alone are responsible for it. Stop waiting for an agent or a publisher to “notice you” and just take it for granted that you get the best percentages as far as royalties, the best options as far as control over what you write and YOUR WORK and the life of that work if you handle it yourself. 98% of publishers will make you responsible for promotion, the cost of your book tours and they are not, these days, giving the best percentages on royalties. Add to this the fact that advances from traditional publishers are getting smaller and offered far less often. Ask yourself this question: If someone offered you 25% of something or 70%f something by way of profit, which would you rather have? Would it be worth your while, then to make sure that you put out high production values on your own, rather than waiting for some in-house moron who doesn’t care about you, or your work or more importantly, you ever getting paid nearly as much as you do? I am guessing you would rather do it yourself unless you truly don’t love or care about what you write.

Make copies of absolutely everything you write. Yes, that is right. I said EVERYTHING. If you make a comment on Facebook or on a news site such as Huffington Post, for example, have a copy of it. You never know if a discussion might not start something that ends up being a much larger work. I have said things on discussion boards that took a long time to craft only to have it deleted by an overzealous board moderator who did not share my particular opinion. These days, even before I hit send, I have hit CTRL-C (copy) and then CTRL-V (paste) into a document to sakve it. Also, have copies, and make backups of your work. Everyone says this, but seriously, back up your hard drives, often. I can speak from experience what it is like to lose nearly three years worth of work for not having done so. I am one of the owners of Pan Historia an interactive fiction and RP site that has been around since 1999. Over the years, we have lost entire servers, and with it thousands upon thousands of pieces of work for hundreds of people when the back up drive also failed. It was tragic. We always tell our members to make copies on their own drives as well. It’s important. Even with cloud technology, that is something that should definitely be done.

Read the very best blogs out there on the subject. At the very top of my list would be Passive Guy and the Passivevoice blog. This man is a former attorney and he and his wife both live of of what they write. This is the news source for what is going on in the industry and the things pertinent to authors. J.A. (Joe) Konrath is a successful author and intermittently has very good advice on his blog along with his buddy, Barry Eisler. Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Katherine Christine Rusch also have blogs, teach seminars but keep their fingers on the pulse of what is happening. All of the above have gone the traditinal publishing route, and have gone to self publishing and know what is what.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct has some great info pages, as does Smashwords, B&N, Create Space, etc. Don’t spend a lot of money getting someone to format your book for you for ePublishing. It isn’t necessary. It is far easier now than it was, but formatting can definitely spell success or failure in any offering. Also, look into the potential of crowdfunding through sources such as or even Kickstarter to help you fund your work.

Understand: Self-Publishing. Is. NOT. a. Get. Rich. Quick. Scheme. You are most definitely going to work your @$$ off. But if you are working your @$$ off, why not do it working for yourself and what you want, doing what you love vs. being an unemployed fanfic writer or a cubicle slave? Fifty Shades of Grey? Come on people. 98% of you here in write far better than any of that overhyped b.s. You don’t have to go very far to read better fiction here on LJ and DW.

I am not saying that if you do all of this and you will be the next Joe Konrath or Amanda Hocking and make six or even seven figures from your writing and self-publishing. (Hocking later did go with a traditional publisher as well, but still continues to also self-publish.) What I am saying is that if you really want this, if you pay attention to your production values, you have great editing, formatting and have a fantastic cover, your chances are better than even that you can actually make a living off your writing and potentially do what you love – or at the very least it can make enough to put some groceries on the table, pay your cellphone bill, make your car payment or even your mortgage payment for you. I am speaking from experience. I would not have believed the possibility if I had not seen it first hand.

5. Are you a plotter that outlines everything ahead of time, or are you more into figuring it out as you go along?.

It depends on what I am writing and howthe manuscript is intended. if it is non-fiction, I need to have some structure. If it is an historical novel beased on events, the outline is critical. If it is just a spontaneous story, I let ig go where it leads. Any of the above ends up in my Scrivener program. It helps me keep organized rather than spread out in various folders on my HD and notebooks in my backpack.

6. What will your novel be about this year? Who are the characters? What is the plot?

No novel. I am finishing out for final release, “Sekmet: The Beauty and the Terror” and a book of prompts from

7. What NaNo support would you like to see charloft offer?

I think you all have always had some very good support and prompts centered around the events of NaNoWriMo. Keep it up. I think the members really enjoy this, even if they cannot participate.

I would also, definitely encourage admins to point folks to the Scrivener program if they are again going to be offering substantial discounts for NaNoWriMo participants. I got mine for 50% off of the $45 price tag last year, so it’s a great tool. There are other deals around the web that are offered to NaNo participants. Putting those links up would be helpful, too.

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