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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Business of Love

Please welcome guest blogger Lynn Crain

When I tried to come up with a subject for this blog, I was bombarded with ideas but nothing jumped out for me. As the week went on, I knew I wanted to do something different and inspiring. Then I started reading some other blogs about agents and authors being non-professional with each other which made me cringe for both parties.

Added to these blogs was a movie. Everyone knows I just love to use visuals but this one isn’t an ordinary movie at all. Matter of fact, it’s entitled A Life Less Ordinary. Now the stars of that film don’t matter but a line I heard struck a chord with me. That line was a definition of love. Their definition is: Love – an emotional adaptation to a physical necessity.

Wow…what a definition…and as I sat at my computer I thought to myself how true the definition is. And I’m not just talking about man/woman love here. True, it does apply to the relationship kind. You have a physical reaction to the person, you like the way they walk and talk. And when they touch you, your heart starts to beat more and more rapidly. Before you know it, your emotions get involved.

Now think about the relationship you have with your books. You feel for your characters. You know their pain, their triumphs and everything in between. You have a physical need to write that can’t be relieved any other way than just sitting down and doing the work. And soon, you find yourself having a very emotional bond with the inanimate, or in many cases animate, object known as your novel. Well, I’m here to say there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Unless it clouds your business judgment.

We are all in the business of love. We form all sorts of emotional bonds with our books and we expect the rest of the world to come to terms with our feelings. Maybe in a perfect world but none of us live in a perfect world. The only group in the world who understands you a little is the writing and publishing world. Other writers will sympathize with you when things are not working out as planned or when you can’t seem to sell your work. However, they are a group of people who also work in the business of love and they have passionate moments just like you for their own projects.

BUT no one is like you. You are one of a kind and only you will love your books like you do. The others love your books according to their position in the business. Agents and editors look at books very differently than readers and marketing because everyone has a different focus. It doesn’t mean that people don’t cross the line. They do and will but there are different levels of in involvement which have nothing to do for your love for your work. All writers should be readers and most are. Reading the genre is actually a case study which every author needs to do.

Don’t mistake passion for your work as business savvy. They are not the same. As a writer of nearly twenty ebooks and small press works, I make it my business to take at least one class a quarter on something which will give me more leverage in my career. The market is always changing and evolving therefore I have to evolve as well.

I can’t tell you how many pitch classes I’ve gone to and I get something new each time I take one. I just took a class before the Desert Dreams conference which helped me to fine tune my pitch so I could do a bang up job at the conference.

It paid off. Every agent and editor I pitched to requested at least a partial on this book I’ve called my break-out book for the full three years I’ve been working on it. So my love for this book worked in my favor. Apparently, I’ve loved this story just the right amount.

Another important thing to do in this business of love is to attend one or two conferences a year. As a writer, this conference needs to be important for you. It can be big or it can be small. It needs to give you something back which you need to learn or which can propel your career forward. Like I mentioned above, I recently went to the Desert Dreams conference and entered their ‘Realizing the Dream’ contest for attendees only. I was very surprised to find out on Friday evening that I had won the contest and received another editor/agent appointment of my choice.

When I decided to go to the small regional conference in December I made my number one goal to do things which would forward my career. I was determined to get appointments with NYC editors and agents. I wasn’t disappointed. With any luck, I will be getting my own NYC call sometime in the near future.

Another thing I have learned in this business during the last twenty-five years is when to talk, when to listen and when to ask questions. And I never, ever air my dirty laundry except to a few outside the business and maybe one or two inside. The blog which that made me decide to write this very column was about an unpublished author who blogs her rejection letters.

Nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t add your emotional two cents which she did at every opportunity. I’ll be honest, I read one and found myself reading fifty because I couldn’t believe someone was shooting themselves in the foot like that…sigh…well, they were. I did feel for the author when an agent couldn’t remember that this is an emotional, passionate business and let the ugly words fly. But the author had just as much negative passion in her responses. Oiy-vey…and I’m not Jewish!

Please, as a new author or even a seasoned one, don’t find yourself in this quagmire of horridness. I always use the golden rule and something my mama used to tell me: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I can unfortunately reveal I didn’t always follow these rules as I was way too passionate about things as I grew up. Yeah, my twenties, thirties and some of my forties, I had to spend growing up. A good amount of self-pride is healthy but there is a difference between being assertive versus being pushy or downright rude. Some people are lucky to find their business savvy early and it took me longer than most. But by the same token, I am not afraid to admit a mistake and people have heard me start a conversation with, ‘I’m sorry but I gave you the wrong information’ or ‘I told you something that is wrong.’ Own your mistakes and move on. As long as it wasn’t a major faux pas, people will ignore it. If it was major, publishing is a very small world and things get around. Always remember this fact.

As I wrap this up, there is one more quote I’d like to bring up about this business of love. Every one of us should be familiar with I Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Bible. Now I’m not talking religion here, I’m talking about love and my favorite passage is this: It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

You all got that…right? Love never fails. We love our books. As we complete each one, we have triumphed even if it never gets sold to a NYC publisher, even if we never get an agent. We have persevered and won in a business which is hard and changing and not very forgiving. Each one of you has realized at least one step of your dream just by participating in groups like this one. The journey will be made of many, many steps. Some good, some bad, some unexpected.

But never, ever give up the dream. You will make it, you will be a published author in whatever form you want. After, all, if I did it, anyone can!

I’d love to hear from you all…just drop me a line at lynncrain@cox.net.

Lynn Crain realized at an early age she wanted to write. She took the long way to being published by doing a variety of things like nursing, geologist, technical writer and computer manager all of which have added to her detail-oriented stories. Now she’s a full time storyteller and weaves fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales as well as erotic stories for various publishers. She lives in the very hot southwest with her husband, son, new puppy, three cats and three snakes one which is named Psycho. Other members of her clan live nearby. She is a past national board member of the RWA; founding president of Cactus Rose Chapter of RWA; immediate past president, past VP, former Secretary and EPPIE contest Chair of EPIC. But the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net. 

Captive Illusions 2: Merrick and Jenna

Merrick never expected to be part of his brother, Iain’s wild sexual games. Once it is over, he realizes he wants to find what Iain has found…his soul mate. When he meets Jenna, he’s afraid she is the one. But she certainly isn’t what he expected. She’s a hunter or so he thinks. But how can someone so innocent belong to a group as cold as the Hunters?

Jenna cannot believe her eyes when she sees Merrick…talk, dark and brooding…and everything she’s ever wanted in a man. There’s just one problem. He’s an immortal and her family hunts immortals. But he holds the key to her deepest, darkest fantasies. And the more she’s with him, the more she realizes her father has deceived her. But is she ready to give up everything she knows for an uncertain future?