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WORDS FOR WRITERS – How Long Should it Take You to Write a First Draft?

WORDS FOR WRITERS – How Long Should it Take You to Write a First Draft?

Tweet from Katie Crabb: I am making sense of an idea document for a potential new project tonight, and thinking of all the research I would need to do, and all the things I would need to figure out, and it makes me think of seeing people writing drafts in like…a month and honestly?? How??? HOW.

This wasn’t a direct question to me, but I ended up writing a really long thread on Twitter in answer to Katie, which I’m going to flesh out a bit below.

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The facetious and flip answer to this question is, of course, that it will take you as long to write the first draft of a book as it needs to take. The more familiar you get with your own writing style and narrative tropes, the faster that process will get, until it isn’t any more, for some reason.

And while, yes, some people “draft” a novel in a month, you also have to look at a few factors – their experience as writers, how complete that draft is, and how much space they have to write.

Let’s start with EXPERIENCE

What does it take to become an expert or master performer in a given field? The common rule of thumb, popularized by Malcom Gladwell in his bestseller “Outliers: The Story of Success”, is 10, 000 hours. While that’s not precisely true, the fact of the matter is that some practice has to go into every endeavor before you’ve got a handle on it.

And as writing is constantly evolving as you grow as an artist and a person, take comfort in the knowledge that you will never have a handle on it. Not one of us has it handled. Every book is different, and every time you sit down to write is different. You can’t perfect  your writing experience, but you can make it easier by figuring out HABITS that help you streamline and speed up your process.

(This is something I love NaNoWriMo for – it forces you to write everyday, and if you’re participating in both the OL and IRL events and challenges, it helps you experience writing in a whole load of different environments, and under different stresses. It’s great for helping you find out how you hate to write, which means it will help you eventually find the way you love to.)

The first thing I want to talk about under HABITS is ENVIRONMENT. Some people love noisy coffee shops. Some people hate them. Some people can only write in their private home office. Some can write in the park on their lunch breaks. Some need a getaway at a cabin or beach to get the juices flowing. Some people need a specific playlist going, or a certain candle lit to evoke sense memory, or a certain kind of tea available. What kind of environment you need to tell stories in? How long your writing sessions need to be, and basically everything you need to actually sit down and make the words go, and at what point does that going stop?

Wherever and however it is that you need to be to really get into the flow of writing, once you find that place and build those environmental habits (and habitats), your drafting will go quicker.

Sussing out and codifying the shorthands and tropes you prefer to use are another form of HABIT, this time a CREATIVE SHORTCUT. Once you’ve figured out what sorts of story elements you like to work with best, and the kinds of themes you like to assemble, the next books will be easier because you’ve already got a catalog of your familiar and preferred tricks. This isn’t cheating or being lazy – it’s more like a soccer player focusing on a few kinds of specific goal-winning kicks to specialize in.

Lastly, the more you write, the more you’re going to figure our your own STYLE. That is, your internalized preferences in storytelling and narrative structure, the way you like to build and evolve characters, the way you like to drop information and worldbuild, etc. Once you figure how it is that you like to do these things, you’ll get faster and better at them.

The first draft of my first novel took me about two years to finish. The first draft of my second novel took about a year. My third novel took about four months.

However, take into account that people change, and the kinds of stories they want to tell also change. And then it will be a long hard slog again, as evidenced by the three novels I have currently in half-formed states. I’ve decided to change up how I structure novels, what sorts of stories I want to tell, the kind of character evolution I want to spotlight, and how some of these stories are formatted. I’m working with – and learning – new tropes and new plot maps.

And so it’s taking me… well, years, again. It’s like having to go back and relearn how to write all over again now that I’ve changed how I’m structuring my work and which creative shorthands I’m leaning on.

You’ve got to learn how to skate before you can turn out a flawless triple axle each time. And the minute you change what kind of skates you’re using you’ve got to relearn all over again. And even then, your triple Axel will never be Flawless on the first attempt. Figure skaters have jump coaches. Writers have editors.

COMPLETENESS

When someone says they “drafted” their book, what do they mean? To my mind, a “drafted” book is a fully complete, totally written version of the manuscript.  It is, essentially, a whole book that any reader could pick up and understand. (Though, as a first draft, it might not be good.)

But to other folks, they may mean they just set up a document, figured out the number of chapters they’re aiming for, and went into each chapter and wrote a detailed one-page outline of everything that happens in that chapter, mapping the character growth. To yet someone else, it could be an intricate system of cue cards pinned to a wall whereon they’ve figured out each and every minute detail of the worldbuild and laid out the plot.

So having a completely drafted novel in a month could mean something totally different to different people. Don’t compare yourself if your notion of “drafted” means something different.

SPACE

I also want to be clear that when people are talking about the time it takes to draft also depends on your ‘availability’. What do I mean by that?

Well, let’s have a think about J.R.R. Tolkien who took several years to draft LotR (but it was big): Tolkien was a professor with tenure, so he had stability and job security. It’s well known that he deliberately poorly-taught and sabotaged his own courses so students would drop out so he had time to sit in his office and write. So he had SPACE available – both physically, in having a private office that was away from home, and the time, because he used the hours he should have been teaching to write, as well as the hours around when he actually was teaching.

His home was managed by his wife, whose only job was to stay there and plans meals and events, oversee the staff, the nannies and governesses, and the household. So he was free of the EMOTIONAL LABOUR of participating in his own domestic life and raising his own children. He told them bedtime stories, but I don’t know how much else he was involved in raising them.

People call Tolkien a genius – and he was – but when you envision the grand fantasy master sitting under a tree, smoking a pipe and scribbling in his notebook, remember that he has the privilege to be doing that because many, many other people are making his life go.

Tolkien was MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, FINANCIALLY, and SPATIALLY ‘available’. And he was healthy enough to sit for long periods of time to do the actual physical work of writing (which I personally have not always been, so I understand that as a privilege too).

So when you’re worried that other people are drafting their novels faster than you, consider what kind of SPACE you both have available. Do you have kids, and they don’t? Is writing their full time job, while you have to work 40hrs a week? Are you suffering from Covid Concentration Crud (I know I am!) while they’re finding the lockdown time inspiring and freeing? Do they have a spouse to help with childcare, or domestic and emotional labour?

For example:

when I say my first novel took me two years to write, and several more to edit, this is true. But I was also working, cooking for myself, cleaning, commuting, and trying to have a social life.

When I started “Triptych” I was at work 50hrs a week in a high-academic school in Japan, with a 20min commute both ways. I lived alone in a place with little English, did all my own cooking and cleaning, and had to do all my own grading and lesson planning (and unlike Tolkien, I actually taught my lessons.)

In the middle of writing the book, I applied to five grad schools, studied for and wrote the GRE, got hit by a car and was laid up for six weeks with a broken knee (a large chunk of the book was written with the laptop on my stomach, high off my face on Japanese painkillers), did all my physio and had a once-a-week visit to the hospital, moved back to Canada, found an apartment, attended classes, moved apartments again, had knee surgery and all the attendant physio, did my course work, worked 20-40 hours a week at McD’s, recorded a new voice demo and did some freelance voice acting, volunteered for a medical trial, wrote my MA thesis, got an agent and did auditions, was a TA for one course with piles of marking, and still did all my own cooking, shopping, and cleaning.

I started thinking about the book in 2006, and started seriously writing it after the car accident. It was published in 2011.

I learned a lot about myself as a writer in that time. It was the second book I’d written (the first was while I was in undergrad and is buried under a tree forever), and it was already leaps and bounds better than the first. I learned the optimal conditions for me to be productive as a writer in that time.

Over the course of my second book, I was living in one place, with a steady full time job that paid enough that I required no side-hustling, I was walking again so I could cook and clean for myself, and I had an established friend group with established weekly plans, and I wasn’t dating. So I had lots of time to write, and moreover to work on my habits.

Now that I had practice, I could optimize my time, my mental processes and storytelling choices, and environment to make the writing go better, faster, and smoother. I had developed HABITS and figured out my needed SPACE.

Draft one of that next book took about a year to write. After that, each book took a little less time, maybe a month or two less.

Over the course of the next few years, I still worked, still switched jobs, still switched apartments, still lived alone, still handled all of my own domestic and emotional labour.

AND THEN. I had a really bad accident and had to move back in with my parents while I healed, saw doctors, and did physio to get back on my feet. Suddenly I was free of domestic labour, of a job, and some of my emotional labour as well, as my parents took over.

At first I couldn’t sit or stand for a long time to write, but as I got healthier, I had the PRIVILEGE of being able to just stay at a computer and write for hours and hours each day (as long as my body didn’t rebel). I wrote the first draft of a 400 page book in four months.

Now, to be totally fair, this was my 8th or 9th novel, so at this point I had the whole ‘Optimum Environment’ thing down. And it was a sequel, so I’d already done all the hard work of coming up with characters, settings, plot structures and narrative choices, etc. But the fact remains that I would never have been able to do that if I didn’t have someone else to share the domestic load, the freedom from needing a dayjob, the safety and security of living at my parent’s house, etc. That is, the AVAILABILITY.

So.

All of this to say: don’t get down on yourself if it takes you longer than other people to write the first draft of your book. We all have different AVAILABILITY situations, and it takes practice to figure out your own OPTIMAL SITUATION and STORYTELLING HABITS to write.

In the end, comparison is the silent killer in a creative space. Each artist, no matter their discipline, has their own way of doing things, habits and methods and tricks they’ve figured out.

Da Vinci didn’t sketch, or plan, or mix paints the same way Rembrandt did, but they both produced masterpieces. So work to your own pace, in your own space, and you’ll be just fine.

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Read other WORDS FOR WRITERS articles.

 

JM FreyWORDS FOR WRITERS – How Long Should it Take You to Write a First Draft?
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WORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey – Part II

WORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey – Part II

J.M. Frey, author of THE SKYLARK’S SAGA, in conversation with series editor Kisa Whipkey. Join them as they discuss how the series was first acquired, the decision to split the first book in two, and why they love “enemies to lovers” and slow world-building so much. Warning – contains spoilers for book one of the saga.

 About the books:

The Skylark’s Saga


A Saskwyan flight mechanic with uncanny luck, seventeen-year-old Robin Arianhod grew up in the shadow of a decade-long war. But the skies are stalked by the Coyote—a ruthless Klonn pilot who picks off crippled airships and retreating soldiers. And as the only person to have survived an aerial dance with Saskwya’s greatest scourge, Robin has earned his attention. As a Pilot, Robin is good. But the Coyote is better. When he shoots her down and takes her prisoner, Robin finds herself locked into a new kind of dance. The possibility of genuine affection from a man who should be her enemy has left her with a choice: accept the Coyote’s offer of freedom and romance in exchange for repairing a strange rocket pack that could spell Saskwya’s defeat, but become a traitor to her county. Or betray her own heart and escape. If she takes the rocket pack and flees, she could end the war from the inside.

 About Kisa Whipkey:

Home


Kisa Whipkey is a dark fantasy author, a martial arts demo team expert, and a complete sucker for Cadbury Mini-eggs. She’s also the Acquisitions & Editorial Director for YA/NA publisher, REUTS Publications. She developed a passion for storytelling at a young age and has pursued that love through animation, writing, video game design, and demo teams until finally finding her home in editing. She believes in good storytelling, regardless of medium, and applauds anything featuring a snarky lead character, a complicated narrative structure, and brilliant/uncommon analogies. Currently, she lives in the soggy Pacific Northwest with her husband and plethora of electronics.

 About J.M.Frey:

J.M. Frey – Author, Screenwriter & Fanthropologist


J.M. is an author, screenwriter, and professional smartypants. With an MA in Communications and Culture, she’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on radio and television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, Doctor Who, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambition is to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!)

 Music: “Creative Minds” by Bensound (Royalty Free) – https://www.bensound.com/

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You can find more WORDS FOR WRITERS here.

JM FreyWORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey – Part II
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WORDS FOR WRITERS – How to Make Author Connections

WORDS FOR WRITERS – How to Make Author Connections

We all know the importance of networking and community when it comes to the arts. Word-of-Mouth buzz is the most important kind of marketing your book or story can ever receive, which is why so many writers (whether they have a marketing team connected to their publisher, or they’re their own marketing team) spend so much time talking about their books on social media and forums.

One of the ways authors can build some of that buzz is to make connections and friendships with other authors. You can recommend each other’s books on your blogs and social media, write each other reviews, offer manuscript reads and critiques, attend each other’s launch parties, just hang out and complain about the biz together, bounce ideas off one another, and generally just revel in having people in your life who get it.

But how do you find these authorfriends?

When I was starting out there wasn’t much of an online community in public forums (lots in private YahooGroups and Bravenet Chats, but not so much in places where the writers of the internet could just stumble on it.)  So I found lots of my authorfriends in writing classes, at book launches I had randomly learned about and attended for funsies, at open mic and coffee slam nights, in those online forums (for both profic and fanfic), at community or library workshops, and at SF/F conventions.

Now there are sites like Wattpad, Radish, and services like Discord and Tumblr where writers can join groups, post on forums, create servers, and speak easily to one another. But with that comes a different kind of ettiquete when it comes to reaching out to specific individuals.

I’ve put together a list of suggestions for approaching and making new authorfriends based on my experiences. Most of it is aimed at the internet side of things but most of this advice crosses over into IRL interactions as well.

DO:

Buy and try to read their books.

… or at least read about them on Wiki/GoodReads/their Website before you even reach out to someone online. Obviously you can’t look them up on the spot at an IRL event (but feel free to ask them what they write, they’ll be happy to share), but if you’re reaching our to someone or trying to forge connections over DMs or in a forum, know who you’re talking to and what they do.

If you’re a true-crime mystery writer and I’m an epic-fantasy romance writer, we may hit it off as people, but be aware that we’d be kinda useless to one another as beta readers or as ins to each other’s community. If you’re just looking for friends, cool; but if you’re looking for colleagues, maybe start with writers who work in the same genre as you to start with.

I cannot tell you the number of times total strangers have asked me to help them get published and I’ve had to say “I don’t even work in your sphere. I know none of the major players, I don’t read that genre, why are you contacting me, I’m utterly useless to you, and you’ve wasted both our time.”

And, my god I can’t believe I have to say this, but be honest if they ask your opinion of their book, but not insulting. You can say, “I had a hard time because I really struggle with reading first-person-perspective books, but I liked the story very much!” You should not say: “You ruined a perfectly good story by making it first person.”

It is also okay to not read someone’s book if it’s really, really not your cup of tea or you’re really slammed. Again, just be both honest and kind about it. I have authorfriends who are very successful in genres I simply don’t enjoy reading, and they know it. I still buy their books to support them, as they still buy mine, but we have an understanding that we won’t be reading each other’s books.

Interact organically and openly on social media.

Nobody likes being shouted at, and nobody likes those aggressive sales people who corner you on the sidewalk or by the cosmetics counter that try to bully you into buying their product or donating to their charity. So don’t assume that using the same tactics on Social Media is going to sell your books – or your self.

When someone follows me on Twitter,I pop over to their feed to see if they’re someone I’ll want to follow back. If their feed is nothing but tweets about their book being on sale, or “please buy my book!” I don’t follow them. Social Media is a conversation not a sales floor, and people whose feeds are only about selling and buying are just going to spend the whole time they interact with me trying to get me to spend money instead of cultivating a friendship. No thanks.

When you interact with folks on social media, be genuine, be generous, and engage in community. (Besides, readers love getting a glimpse into the the behind-the-scenes life of a writer – and I’m not just talking curated desk pictures and posed reading selfies – so it’s also a good marketing tactic to share a bit of your genuine self.)

Go through official channels.

If you’re reaching out to authors for authorly things, do it through authorly channels.

Go through their agent to ask for a blurb for your book, and use the “contact me” part of thier webpage to send emails as they’ll be seen immediately. Sliding into DMs can work, but only if you already have an established relationship on social media. Reach out to them on forums or in Q&A sessions, and if you’re meeting IRL, introduce yourself at launches, koffeeklaches, or in room parties where they are clearly ‘on’.

Writing is ‘work’, so approach them in the most professional and work-appropriate way if you’re asking for worky things like blurbs, advice, or mentorship opportunities.

Be polite and aware of the context if you’re meeting in person.

Don’t interrupt.  Don’t interrupt dinner, don’t interrupt private conversations, and don’t interrupt Q&A sessions or panels to talk about yourself and your work, if they’re the guest and you’re not.

If you’re joining into group conversations or events, awesome – still be polite, and keep the context in mind. As I said above, no one likes a salesperson who corners you, so if you’re adding yourself to a group conversation at a bar or launch even, don’t immediately start to talk about your books. Let the topic come up organically (most writers are either awkward or blunt anyway, so we’ll usually say, “Hi, nice to meet you? Who are you, what do you do? Oh a writer? tell us about your book” anyway) and wait for the invitation – either verbalized or from context clues – before talking about your book.

Again, the key here is that you’re trying to make friends, not make a sale. You’re trying to build a community and support, not just be a marketing machine.

Join writing groups

Want to meet writers? Go find writers!

These sorts of places – either IRL or online – allow you to both build community and make friends, and talk about your books and get advice or support, so it’s win-win!

And if you’re up for it, attend the IRL public events with NaNoWriMo – I attended on in Japan and met some very good writing buddies. They’re back in England now, and I’m in Canada, and their friendship and support while we all NaNo’ed was awesome.

Volunteer at festivals and conventions

When you’re a volunteer you get more access to the guests and get to spend more time with them, which makes it easier to forge a genuine friendship. However, be aware guests may not be looking for friends, and might just appreciate your help as a support at the con – let them dictate the level of friendship they’re willing to have with you. They meet hundreds of volunteers every year. And don’t pitch your work to them unless it comes up organically in conversation; it’s really obnoxious otherwise.

As a guest of honour at conventions, I can tell you that I absolutely have created friendships with my handlers, and still speak with several of them, and was totally pleased to give one a blurb for their novel a while back.

And if you don’t come out of the event with new guest authorfriends, you might find some among your fellow volunteers. If nothing else, you’ll get a nice rosy-glasses-free look at the hard slog and hustle that authors go through to do the speaking and convention circuit.

Attend workshops, festivals, seminars, classes, etc.

Not only will you meet other authors in the audience and have the opportunity to forge friendships that way, you will meet your instructors too.

My playwriting instructor in university was one of the biggest names in playwriting in Canada, a very kind and shy man, and he always came our for beers with us after class. I don’t have much of a connection to him any more because that was two decades ago, but I know that if I were to reach out to him for something specific, he would remember me and be willing to give my work a look or help me forge a connection if I asked.

Work on your craft – and your attitude regarding it

You can’t sit around with your friends and whine that you’re not having any career success if you’re not putting any work into the book-writing side of it. I pretty quickly stop hanging out with snowflake writers who aren’t willing to put in the work and/or take the critiques of fellow writers and editors. They are frustrating and exhausting.

I’m not saying that you have to slave away and hustle at all times, but if you ask your authorfriends for advice or complain about rejections, be prepared to follow through on what you learn – there’s nothing worse than some jerk at a writers meetup sneering “no you’re wrong” at me, when he asks me a question and I give him an answer that he doesn’t want to hear, even though I’m the published one and he’s not.

We all want to be perfect from the outset, but we aren’t. Let your authorfriends lift you up and help you improve, or don’t bother having any.

Write more than one book / series

Don’t just write one book and spend the rest of your life flogging it. Like potters, bakers, cooks, and visual artists, you as a writer can only improve with practice. You can’t just make one jug, one cake, one meal, one painting, and spend the rest of your life trying to sell that one piece. You have to make something over, and over, and over, and over to get really good at it – to learn how you like to tell stories, and how you tell them best, and what kind of environment you need to be able to write. Finish a book, edit that book, polish that book; then query or selfpub or Wattpad that book. And then move on to the next one.

You will meet more authors if you have more than one book because you will have ideas to discuss, or stories to share, and multiple books can take you to festivals and readings series as a repeat guest.

Offer authorfriends copies of your book for free if they want it

Most will likely say, “No, we support one another, I’ll buy it.” and do just that. But if your friend wants one for the purpose of reviewing it, or sharing it with someone, or giving it to their agent, or doing a giveaway on their blog, then by god, give them one.

Todd McCaffrey asked if he could have a copy of Triptych at the launch party and my editor practically threw it at his head, she was so excited. That’s how I got that incredible blurb from him – it’s actually from an email he sent my publisher after he’d read the book, thanking us for the free copy.

Be reciprocal

If your authorfriends tweet your book promotion post, you should tweet theirs too. If they come to your launch party, you should go to theirs. This isn’t a one-way-street, we uplift one another. We’re not in competition, we’re a community. 

I’m not saying it has to be a perfect one-for-one transaction, but you have to make an effort. Writers who ask favors but never repay them are quickly singled out and left in the dust.

DON’T:

Message them on sites or social media feeds that are inappropriate 

For instance: Friend’s, or family member’s social media. If the author you want to connect with doesn’t have social media or isn’t easily acceible, don’t go through the social media of someone close to them. I heard of an incident where someone DM’d an author’s teenaged daughter’s account asking for her father’s contact info. Like. No.

Another example: Dating apps (the number of people who sent me messages on OKCupid that started “Hey, gorgeous girl! You’re a writer? Can you introduce me to your agent?”). It’s insulting and it sure as hell made me feel unwanted, and inclined to give that guy’s name to my agent and tell them to NEVER take that person as a client.

Only message someone over LinkedIn if their profile is specifically geared to writing.

Basically, don’t come at someone for authorly things at functions or sites where the person is not being authorly.

Ask them for something they can’t provide

I can’t introduce you to my agent. Most of us can’t. My agent has a very specific set of things they’re looking for in a new client and if you don’t meet those requirements listed on their website, they won’t take you. I cannot in any way at all influence my agent’s decision to take you on or not. And if I don’t know you personally or have any connection or states in your work, I have no reason to stick my own neck out and champion you. You need to sink or swim on your own merit, just like the rest of us.

If I know you and your work,  like as a very good friend and I’ve helped you work on the book as a beta reader, I might send my agent a message saying, “Yo, so-and-so is submitting and I think you should give their package some attention because XYZ.” But that’s a big risk for an author, because they’re putting their own reputation and relationship with their agent on the line.

I can’t get you published. Again, you need to sink or swim on your own merit, just like the rest of us. I can guide you through the very involved process of putting together a pitch package (see my chapter on this, or visit my shop at sidehustle.ca for private one-on-one-sessions), but I can’t make any publisher accept or sign your work.

Know what it is that authors can, and cannot do for you, before you ask for any favours.

Friend every writer possible on every social media/networking app and then chuck a form note in their DMs asking them to buy/read your work.

Firstly, it’s insulting. As I mentioned above, social media is for social connections. It’s a community, not a soapbox on which to stand and hawk your wares.

Secondly, I’m the wrong audience. I’m a writer, not a book reviewer or the merchandiser for a store. You’re literally wasting both your time, and mine, by doing this. And it’s so brazenly tone deaf and insulting that you think my generous willingness to talk to strangers via my DMs/PMs for the sake of answering questions via my Words for Writers series means that you can throw your story at me like a rotten fruit, that you’ve pretty much guaranteed that I will never read it.

Force them into some sort of physical contact

Being friendly does not mean you get access to my physical person, in any way, shape, or form. There is someone in our local community who thinks that he is entitled to a hug from every person he even vaguely knows, and he willfully ignores the very  obvious cues (verbal, physical, or in body language) that his hugs are unwelcome and it’s really effing gross. He makes so many of us uncomfortable but won’t stop it, even when he’s been told to directly, because he reasons that because we are vague professional acquaintances, that must mean we’re friends, and friends hug.

Yuck.

What you can do is offer your hand to someone to shake and let them decide whether they’d like to shake it themselves. The same goes for a hug – you can open your arms to offer one, and even better verbalize the request: “May I hug you?” and let the other person decide.

 As an extension of this, don’t pinch or pat shoulders, massage people, get behind them and put your hands around their waist or face, etc. unless you have an extremely close relationship and already know that this sort of display of physical closeness is enthusiastically welcome.

Ask them to blurb your book simply because they’re your friend

You should be asking authors whose audience matches yours. Neil Gaiman is an extremely popular author whose endorsement could sell you thousands of copies – if you write the same thing his audience reads. If you write self-help books for small business corporations though, he’s the wrong author to ask. Your audience has no clue who Gaiman is in the context of self-help books.

The same goes for when you’re asking your authorfriends – if they write hardcore SF erotica and you write light fantasy middle grade, it’s not a good fit.

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Thanks for reading! Please feel free to drop me a comment or DM if you have questions about this article, or have a question or topic you’d like me to address.

JM FreyWORDS FOR WRITERS – How to Make Author Connections
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ANNOUNCEMENT – I have a Talent Agent!

ANNOUNCEMENT – I have a Talent Agent!

I am extremely excited to announce that I am now represented by Jennifer Fry and Carol Anne Prosje of Star Talent, Inc. as a Voice Actor! (If you’ve never heard them before, you can listen to my professional demo reels here.)

Being a professional voice actor has been a dream of mine since I was 13 years old and first watched Sailor Moon. It was then that I realized that there were actors behind the cartoons, and as a child actor at the time, I was determined that one day, I too would be a Moon Princess, or a colourful Little Pony, or a fiesty school girl travelling through the past with a strange half-dog warrior. Basically, I wanted to be whatever strange and fantastical thing animators and mangaka could think up.

My desire to do this for a living was solidified when I purchased a cassette tape of the English Sailor Moon soundtrack (with most songs performed by the incredibly talented Jennifer Cihi – my absolute freaking IDOL). I played that cassette to death, and more than one person pointed at my stereo and asked me if that was me singing.

Me? I sounded like the literal singing voice of Sailor Moon? Wow.

I was quite lucky, then, later in my acting training, to take voice acting classes and workshops with two separate people who were involved in the English dub of Sailor Moon. As I grew as a performer and author, I was also quite fortunate to be either an actor or fellow con guest of so many other amazing VAs, who all gave me great advice.

Since then I’ve pounded the pavement as a freelance VA for years, and with the guidance of several of those VAs, revised my demos last fall. The lockdown slowed some things down for me, but I started sending out my demos this summer, got some wonderful responses, and had the privilege to choose to be represented by Jennifer Fry.

I want to thank the following people for helping me create an amazing demo, and for pushing me to pursue VA work professionally: Deb, Rodney, Adrienne, Stephanie, Kyle, Roland, Gini, Alyson, and Kirby.

Next stop… hopefully your television screens!

JM FreyANNOUNCEMENT – I have a Talent Agent!
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WORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey Part I

WORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey Part I

J.M. Frey, author of THE ACCIDENTAL TURN SERIES, in conversation with series editor Kisa Whipkey. Join them as they follow the series from idea, to how it was pitched and sold, through the editing stages and concept challenges, to final product.

Warning – contains spoilers! Watch out for Jazz Hands!

About the books:

This book follows Pip, who is pulled against her will into the epic fantasy novel series she’s loved since she was a teenager. However, the world is darker, and far more dangerous than she could have ever predicted, especially when it turns out the hero is a much bigger misogynistic ass than she knew. Pip knows how to circumnavigate the Hero’s Journey and the pitfalls and loopholes of this particular world – but what will happen to her beloved characters outside of the comfort of the fantasy they were written for? And what happens when it’s not the male-power-fantasy hero, but the hero’s overlooked and bullied little brother who proves to be her biggest champion?

About Kisa Whipkey:

Kisa Whipkey is a dark fantasy author, a martial arts demo team expert, and a complete sucker for Cadbury Mini-eggs. She’s also the Acquisitions & Editorial Director for YA/NA publisher, REUTS Publications. She developed a passion for storytelling at a young age and has pursued that love through animation, writing, video game design, and demo teams until finally finding her home in editing. She believes in good storytelling, regardless of medium, and applauds anything featuring a snarky lead character, a complicated narrative structure, and brilliant/uncommon analogies. Currently, she lives in the soggy Pacific Northwest with her husband and plethora of electronics.

About J.M.Frey:

J.M. is an author, screenwriter, and professional smartypants. With an MA in Communications and Culture, she’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on radio and television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, Doctor Who, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambition is to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!)

Music: “Creative Minds” by Bensound (Royalty Free)

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Got a question about the craft or business of writing? Ask it here.

Read other Words for Writers blog posts here.

JM FreyWORDS FOR WRITERS – In Conversation with Kisa Whipkey Part I
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