UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) — Jordan Spieth is halfway home to the Grand Slam, a prize only three of the biggest names in modern golf have ever chased.
NEW YORK (AP) — J.D. Martinez wanted that fourth home run. He had never even hit two in a major league game before, so might as well tie the record the first time he got a chance.
SPEILBERG, Austria (AP) — Nico Rosberg showed his championship potential by overtaking pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first turn and went on to win the Austrian Grand Prix in style on Sunday.
If you haven’t read Deb Vanasse’s book, What Every Author Should Know, you are missing out on tips you wished a more experienced author would share with you. Vanasse generously distills years of experience from publishing 16 books with six different presses into this easy-to-read “how to” publish, promote, and live the life of a successful writer. Every time I reread this book, I learn something new. Before my writing desk, I’ve posted many quotes from this book, such as: “Without fear there cannot be courage. Embrace your fear. Learn all you can, and keep learning. Persist. Give it your best. Persist. From defeat, emerge stronger. Speak truth. Persist. Persist. Persist. Honor your friends, and compete with no one but yourself.” Did you know that besides cofounding 49Writers and founding Running Fox Books Vanasse is a Montaigne Award Finalist? Check out a wealth of resources for readers and writers at http://debvanasse.com and Facebook/debra.vanasse and Twitter @debvanasse. My favorite tip from your book is the 80/20 rule: 80% of your writing time on creative efforts and 20% on production and promotion. What do you use to keep track of creation/revision, reflection, immersion, community, and promotion and marketing time? How do you apply this rule if you suffer constant interruptions from what you call a “side trip” or other non-literary commitments like a full-time job or small children? Mostly, it’s a matter of looking closely at how your days unfold, and then making adjustments where you can to preserve your craft time first, your time for creation and revision. When are you least likely to be interrupted? Alice Munro, one of my literary heroes, wrote short stories while her children napped. Once you’ve found that “sacred time,” be it 10 minutes or six hours, you have to commit to its purpose. No checking emails, no surfing for research, no staring at the screen for long periods. Just write. Everything else gets worked in around the crafting. Reflection is fun because it happens best when you’re going about the everyday business of living. I get my best insights while walking the dog, taking a shower, and right before I fall asleep. As for keeping track, all I use is a cheap spiral notebooks, one for each year. On each page I keep my to-do list for the week. What I can fit between those lines is about what I can get done in a week, after my creative time. In the first section “Publish Your Book,” you wrote “more and more, I look to well-established small presses not as a last resort but as my first choice.” For an emerging writer who is debuting their first book, would you still recommend small press over a Big Five? It depends on how you define success and how much patience and persistence you have for what can be a slow and protracted process of acquiring a literary agent and then hoping that agent can place your manuscript. Sometimes aspiring authors have unrealistic expectations of what a Big Five contract will do to launch their careers. If your debut book doesn’t make a huge splash—on its own, because in most cases there won’t be a huge marketing budget attached—you can very quickly find yourself on the path toward midlist, which means subsequent books become harder and harder to place because your sales numbers aren’t off the charts. As for small presses, a few months ago I was asked to become a regular contributor to the Independent, a trade magazine for independent publishers. It’s been a wonderful assignment; I’m becoming acquainted with a number of vibrant publishers who nurture bestsellers by giving them a much longer run than they’d get with the Big Five. If time, energy, and money are constraints, please rank the priority of promotional efforts you discuss in the second section “Promote Your Book:” e-newsletter, social networking, blogging, author web site, Amazon reviews, Goodreads giveaway, book trailer, trade reviews, author appearances, book tour, book launch party, free or discounted books. For an emerging writer, you recommend “spend a whole lot less time on promotion.” Out of all these promotional efforts, should an emerging writer who is ready to pitch their book focus on Facebook? Twitter? Website? E-newsletter? Or start a blog? It’s complicated. There’s no good, hard data to support which of these activities will generate more visibility, and hence more sales, than the others. So much depends, too, on the particular author’s genre and platform. In general, trade reviews and consumer reviews on distributor sites like Amazon correlate strongly with titles that have a strong reach into the literary/library market. But if you write in a genre like romance, a trade review’s not important at all; consumer reviews are everything. And with the consumer reviews, there’s a chicken/egg question: did the book become popular because it had lots of reviews, or did it get lots of reviews because it’s popular? Likely, the answer is both. In the end, authors are best off doing the sorts of marketing and interactions that they like best, so it doesn’t feel like a huge chore. The other general advice would be to try to build a genuine reader base of people who care about your work, and be able to reach them, be it via a e-newsletter or Facebook or whatever. I’m most impressed with how you keep your web site and presence on a variety of social media fresh and engaging. How do you “systematize your involvement so it’s not a huge time-suck”? I start my weekdays with 10 minutes on Twitter, then set it aside. I jump on Facebook only when I’ve got down time—when I’m waiting in line or enjoying a midday cup of tea. I set aside an hour or two every Thursday to draft two blog posts, one on an aspect of writing or publishing for The Self-Made Writer, and one on my work in progress for the WIP Wednesday feature on my website; I post both in advance. Cindy Dyson of Dyson UXDesigns recently revamped my website for me, and in addition to infusing it with this incredible energy, she also became very protective of my creative time, so she set it up to require minimal maintenance while still managing to maximize the ways in which I interface with readers. If I’ve got lots of news to share with friends and fans, I’ll use Buffer to schedule posts. In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman writes “an author website is your most critical tool for book promotion and long-term platform development…if you depend on social networking to take the place of an author website, this is a terrible strategic move.” She outlines seven essential website elements: clear author name/brand, email newsletter signup, bio page, information about your books, social media icons, social proof, straightforward navigation. Do you agree or disagree and why?
I’m a big fan of Jane Friedman, so no surprise there: I agree! Social media is how you interact, but your website represents who you are, plus a good website prompts sharing. Check out what Cindy has done with “Bad Book Club” and WIP Wednesdays on my site, and you’ll see what I mean. “What you do with and for your fellow writers along with what you do with and for your readers will come back around in the best of ways to you and your work.” Please share some examples of how this has worked out for you.
There are tons of examples, but here’s an easy one: Look at the authors who blurbed my novel Cold Spell. Every one of them I met in one way or another through my volunteer work with 49 Writers. What’s important is that your engagement is sincere. If you’re jonesing for connections, if you’re schmoozing, people will see right through that. Give because you mean it, because it’s the right thing to do. It’s a karma thing. In the last section “Live the Life,” you offer important lessons you’ve learned about maintaining “bounce”: a blend of confidence and strategy. What tools do you recommend for generating ideas, managing promotional strategies, juggling several projects at once, and not giving up when you feel the universe is against your writing? You have to believe not just in yourself but in the project you’re working on: that you’re speaking truth in the best way you know how, truth that in some way will better this world. You have to love what you do for its own sake. When I read about how writers need first and foremost to affirm themselves, it saddens me. What a set-up for failure! Writers are some of the least-affirmed people I know. But you know, sometimes when it feels like the universe is against our writing, maybe it’s actually trying to help us out, by prodding us to do the better work we can do if we forego the ego and take a learner’s stance with every project. The best writer’s tool, honestly, is joy: in what you do, in your approach to your life and your work. Regardless of external rewards, a writer, by virtue of her craft, enjoys a bountiful existence.
Clarissa’s desk sports a 6-year-old Samsung “SyncMaster XL2370″ monitor linked to her 6-year-old MacBook
10 years ago, I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer. I refused to spend any time in the world of technology; like why would I need it, right? There’s only so much time in the day and I’d rather create than look at a computer screen for hours. Even though I had an official website since 1998 when most artists did not (only because my friend Cecil insisted I had a website so he created it), for the first nearly 8 years whenever I received an email from someone commenting on my work on my website, I always had to ask my kids to pull up my website to see what the inquirer was talking about and at that time it was a chore to do so! Since then, my attitude has changed. I had to surrender to the fact that every business interaction was all on line; there was no need for a hard copy of anything. Not even what’s inside my wallet.
Clarissa’s office in relationship to her living room
My attitude changed too when I began taking control of how my website required many choices: the lay out, the choice of colors, the photographs, the text, etc. I began to see the artistry of a website design. I truly appreciate having a daughter in the family who enjoys creating websites. She also encouraged me to blog nearly 5 years ago even though I initially resisted.
Clarissa’s office in relationship to her sewing space
In reality, I spend 1/3 of my year creating actual product, 1/3 doing administrative work, and 1/3 doing marketing. Creating actual artwork is the best part; maintaining the business end of keeping one’s self from being a starving artist is 2/3 the work which includes: drafting up proposals, applying for grants, responding to emails, attending to bookkeeping, keeping track of receipts, applying to do art markets or artist residencies, doing the taxes, packaging and shipping artwork, preparing for, traveling to, attending and setting up/taking down an art market, researching and ordering supplies, updating the website, photographing the art, comparing insurance, posting blog entries, maintaining the vehicle, cleaning and maintaining the work space, and filing papers, etc.
Clarissa’s office from the perspective of the kitchenette
I spend at least half of my time as an artist in business on the computer. I spend at least half my time sitting in this office. Some artists have enough income to pay someone else to do the administrative/marketing aspect. I have yet to make that kind of income to afford even a rental with running water and sewer, let alone an administrative assistant. Though some day you will know when I have an administrative assistant. She will be the one who answers the call from you!
Clarissa’s weaving area from the perspective of her office
People wonder if I even have a home. Folks want to know where I live and work because it seems I travel a lot (though I have yet to afford a vacation.). “Clarissa’s Studio” is a 9-part series showing the 9 areas of Clarissa’s studio where I work full-time and live part of the year in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. As you know by now, I remodeled a 2-car garage about 10 years ago as a studio without running water or sewer system because I had no plans of using this space as a place of residence. I had no idea that years later, because of big changes in my personal life, I would not be able to afford paying rent anywhere else. so for nearly 4 years I have weathered insufficient heat during the winter and the inconveniences of not having a real kitchen and a bathroom, until someday I can afford a real home.
Over the next three months (starting this past May), I will introduce you to various parts of my humble 700 sq.ft. sanctuary divided into sections. Here are the parts of “Clarissa’s Studio Series”:
“The Living Room” where I play music, read, crochet, knit and clear out the coffee table to do Tai Chi;
“The Office” where I draft proposals, emails, FB, grants, letters, update my website and post blog entries;
“The Sewing Space” where I sew button robes and clothing for the grandkids;
“The Weaving Space” for all my Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving projects on various size looms;
“The Grand Table Space” where I do large layouts of robe pattern designs and cut the applique for button robes;
“The Drawing Room” where I sketch and finalize drawings for robes, paintings, collages and book illustrations;
“The Painting/Collage-making” where I create just that, along with printing limited edition Giclee’ prints and shrinkwrapping them;
“Clarissa’s Kitchenette” where I zap an occasional Amy’s TV dinner for lunch and I keep a modest supply of drinking water;
“Clarissa’s Storage Units” for beautiful and practical storage of all weaving, spinning, sewing, dyeing, beadworking supplies and recent collection of books
The first three blog entries on “Clarissa’s Studio” series include:
The Juneau School District has concluded our investigation into allegations that on or about May 30-31 of this year a group of incoming senior boys hazed/initiated a group of incoming freshmen boys by paddling them multiple times.
These events were first brought to our attention in early June. At that time the district began an initial investigation, which, due to an active police investigation and summer vacation, was put on hold. When we were informed that the police had concluded their investigation we resumed our efforts.