Critique and other feedback! What makes crit useful and not, how to know what to take and what to discard (Spoiler: it doesn’t get easier), and what we can learn about giving useful critique.
Critique and other feedback! What makes crit useful and not, how to know what to take and what to discard (Spoiler: it doesn’t get easier), and what we can learn about giving useful critique.
How my day went all to hell yesterday with several pieces of bad luck. More importantly, I’m talking about my bestie Grace Draven, some stuff she’s dealing with, and her upcoming Go Fund Me.
Financial emergencies and other downsides of earning one’s living as a creative. How the demands of monetization affect creativity – and how being a fulltime writer isn’t the idyllic, dreamy, artsy life we envision.
Celebrating the release today of WINGS UNFURLED by Rebecca Gomez Farrell and A HARD DAY FOR A HANGOVER by Miss Darynda Jones! Otherwise I’m talking about being gentle with ourselves and what that means.
I’m just loving these autumn/Halloween collages of the Czech translation of the Chronicles of Dasnaria books!
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re discussing collaborations – if we’ve done them and what our dream collabs would be.
I’ve never (quite) collaborated with another writer on actually composing a story. I added in that “quite” because my friend, Jim Sorenson, and I did start writing a book together. However, even though we wrote several chapters, our mutual agent (Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency) didn’t ever love what we came up with. Getting our voices to gel together was a challenge. We’ve talked about going back to the project, which I’d love to do someday. It’s definitely a different way of working though!
The collaborations I do regularly are anthologies! My bestie Grace Draven and I love to put together anthologies, either of stories from just the two of us, or with more writers. Our next project is THE WATERS AND THE WILD, an anthology that will include fae novellas from Grace, Dana Marton, Maria Vale, and myself. It will be out in late April, with a special print edition available for Apollycon attendees, and then available in ebook and regular print form after that. I’m very much looking forward to what everyone comes up with!
If I could collaborate with any writer, living or dead, it would’ve been Anne McCaffrey. I was too late to meet her and too slow in coming to writing fantasy to be one of the several writers privileged to write in her worlds. I would’ve LOVED to do that and, in one of the sliding doors versions of my life, I believe it totally happened.
One more pep talk on how it’s REALLY OKAY if you don’t like doing newsletters, examples of successful authors without them, and thoughts on reinvention, flexibility, and how this business is hard.
I’m talking about debut author expectations, how to learn about the industry, and (hopefully) dispelling the myth that excellence = success = money. Also, exciting upcoming episode with Grace Draven!
Some exciting news on an upcoming anthology project, musing on why people always want us to pick a favorite among equally wonderful things, champagne problems, and the value of hanging with successful people in your field.
Some stats on my Bookbub Featured Deal and setting DARK WIZARD free for the week. TL:DR-great sell through on books 2 & 3! Also how I harvested grapes, organized all the things, and danced to TSwift.
I’m back from Apollycon and giving my full review of the conference! Also discussing it in terms of cons that take advantage of authors, the importance of keeping in mind why authors invest in this, and more!
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Well, that’s good. That’s my first at home cup of coffee in a number of days so I’m back home today is Monday August first and I returned home from Apollycon yesterday. And it was. It was truly a wonderful convention. It was fabulous. So I have lots to say about it. Um, ah quite a few take homeme messages I pretty much ah called Grace Draven bestie as I was leaving the airport and we talked my entire 1 hour drive home. Ah, like as I was leaving the parking garage I called her and she picked up right away and I was like want to hear the breakdown. so um so yeah nice to be home nice to be back. Ah, it’s good to go places. It was really productive conference but I’m also happy to be back in my garden and now for for several weeks couple weeks anyway, no like 3 almost 3 ah. So um, astute and dedicated listeners among you may be surprised that I am podcasting today because you may have remembered that I was supposed to have jury duty today but they called me on. Friday afternoon and said that I was no longer needed I’m still on call for jury duty through the end of August but um, that thing got canceled. So my theory is is that they like settled out of court on Friday they called me. Well. It’s maybe they settled out of court on Thursday day. Ah because they called me fairly early in the day eastern time on Friday organized of them huh I really appreciated that they called and let me know so early so that I didn’t have to ah truck down. To the courthouse. Um I would have had to be leaving about this time. So I got a day back which is good I did get writing done when I was on site but I didn’t get a lot done. Um.
I wanted to get my 2000 words a day on Thursday and Friday I did get 2000 words on Wednesday before I left so that was good but I ended up getting a little over 2000 between Thursday and Friday I got like um. Almost 600 on Thursday there were a lot of distractions on Thursday and I got in very late. So ah I slept in some and then got up and I was rooming with Jennifer Estep so we were chatting. And then we went for a walk and found the Starbucks and got back and sat in the lobby and did some writing and Jennifer is very good about um you know sitting quietly by but of course that’s what you get for sitting in the lobby you’re asking for it. So you know. Lots of distractions people talking and then agent Sarah arrived and she took me out to lunch so that was nice. We got to have a good conversation and um, yeah, and then on Friday I did a little better I got. Like 1488 on Friday ah Jennifer had panels to do and I did not so I walked to the Starbucks and did an hour of writing there and then another hour once I got back to the room and I was hoping to get those last 500 words, but it um it didn’t work out that way we were setting up tables. We went ate lunch things but that was pretty good for being on site. Um, and now I got today back an extra day. Which is good because um, the other thing that happened Friday was David’s movement disorders specialist called the office called reminding him his appointment this afternoon at two fifteen in Albuquerque and I was like did we know about this Ah I don’t think it was on the calendar anywhere. So I’m going up to talk to the nurse about that because it’s just fortunate that it worked out. Um, if I’d had jury duty still. Don’t know what we would I guess we would had to cancel and re schedule so things work out a lot of rain while I was gone the rain ga had over three inches in it when I got back.
We got some last night but I don’t think anything measurable I could go look. But um, it’s definitely good for breeding Mosquitoes If you’re on Video. You’ll see me whacking the Mosquitoes So I Even read um some notes on the airplane things that I was thinking about. On the back of my hotel bill which was actually quite reasonable I Really do have to hand it to a polycon. Um, if you’ve been listening to me for a long Time. You will have heard me talk about um. Conferences and other events I Guess that don’t pay authors and how it’s a problem. So.
Um, this is leading me into many other thoughts that would that’s the long pause. But so I heard a story while I was at Apollycon about um, another conference. That’s a writers conference actually I’m not going to tell that story here I’m sorry sorry to tantalize you um to fill in for those of you who have not been listening for a long time. Ah I had resolved some years ago to stop going to conferences that ask authors to pay. Ah, registration fee that is equivalent to or more than what the attendees pay and there are a lot that do that? Um, because basically they’re building their reader conference on the backs of authors wanting to get promo and. Um, our t had become a big offender that way. It’s bastard child story con is doing the same thing if not worse asking authors to pay a very high registration fee and then tosquito. Ah, and then to do all sorts of sponsorships in addition. Ah, there are other conferences where they would just like charge the authors substantially more than the reader attendees. And it was aggravating to me because you know basically you’re being their content and you are paying to be their content. Um I’ll be right back there. That’s better. Sorry. So anyway, a lot of that stuff grew up around the rise of self-pubishing where so many authors were willing to invest in promo which there’s nothing wrong with that. But. Especially some of the smaller cons and I went to a few of them and I paid my money and they tried to extract more money from me and I watched them go after authors. Um like Darynda who is very kind and has a hard time saying no. And who they saw as having lots of money and they would ask her to pay more and more and more which she did and which drove me crazy. Um, and now I know that some of them don’t like me because I got in the way of them.
Tapping money for a Darynda I’m happy to be mean that way. So. Sorry that that would like lead into a whole nother ramp. Um, but you know I feel like this this whole community that grew up around tapping authors for money. Um, in the name of readers. Getting to do things or um, these other industries that were growing fat off of it. Um, it was it was bad scene and worse some of these smaller cons like I went back to 3 years in a row and it was exactly the same people. And not only was it exactly the same readers it many of these were having fewer and fewer actual readers at them including Rt and more aspiring authors which it’s fabulous to have aspiring authors there. We love having aspiring authors involved. Ah. But when you are paying as an author to go to a conference in order to expand your reach to new readers then that’s ah you know, not necessarily a good thing. Yes, writers are readers too. But you really. What to reach the power of readers. Ah, and that’s that’s important to some of the things I want to say about why I found a polycon. Really excellent. There were a couple of problems I hope we’ll get to do a feedback form but um. The buy-in for a polyon is very inexpensive. It’s $150 for an author to have a table. There were 3 3 hour signings which was a lot. Um and we were tireded afterwards. Um this is sponsored by Jennifer L armintroub and Jennifer ended up I heard from other people that she skipped on Saturday skip lunch and skip dinner and she was still signing at Eight o’clock at night trying to get through her line. So I’ll be interested to know how she re-jiggers it for the future.
She’s gonna have to figure out um a way to to maintain her health and still give the fan service. So it’s a cheap buy-in you know, otherwise we pay our travel costs and hotel and food and so stuff. Which we would have to do for every other conference right? Um, so the investment’s inexpensive investing and having your books there your swag and so forth, but the apolykon readers the way that Jennifer set this up. Is Jennifer and her team and the apolllyon team were really great too. Like I said a couple of problems things I think were probably not entirely in their control. Ah some of this might be like first in-person event coming out of pandemic. But. This crowd of readers was so refined and so exactly wanting the kind of thing that I write um and that Jennifer writes and so forth some of the Ben Diagrams got a little you know tangential. But it was um, you know 2000 readers and I think something. Like 100 authors? Maybe I don’t think I know the exact number so the ratio was fantastic and these were power readers. These were the people who um. They were there to see their favorite authors and get signatures. But then they were also looking for new to me authors and they were um, ready to to spend money and they bought books like crazy I have never sold books at an event like this. Um, it was incredibly well worth it. Well worth my time and the best part is is I really reached so many readers who are like I said power readers. Love to read enthusiastic parts of the fandom and. Who had never heard of me and so this sort of brings in an interesting question because and you all have heard me if you listen for a while you’ve listened to me talk about the competing of and I say demands and that’s not right. Reward system may be goals of being a career author because there’s a lot of reasons to try to make your living as an author. Um and the first and foremost should be love of story I think if you don’t love to write if you don’t love story. Um, then.
It’s gonna be really hard for you because that’s what carries you through the hard times and there will be hard times. So If you’re not doing it because you love it reconsider but love of story then there are other reasons um making money. You know, keeping the lights on ah and and as with I think probably all human professions. There’s a sense that the more money you make the more successful you are and the more you can feel good about it. That’s not ah, a straight line. I Know some really amazing tret pubbed authors some I was talking with over this weekend were making very little money and we were kind of talking about why are they not making more money. The simple answer to that is that the trad traditional publishers. We’ll get away with paying authors. It’s really a mosquitoy morning. They’ll get away with ah paying authors as little as they possibly can and um, yeah, enough sad. But you know so there is making money as one thing. Um. And so reaching new readers is kind of of a double-pronged thing because you want to reach new readers because part of the whole point of writing a book Is you want people to read it. It connects that circuit between the creator and the consumer of the creation. Um. I’ve known writers who say well I write only for myself and I’m happy that way and it’s like oh well, great. But you know why? Why would you write something that no one will ever Read. It doesn’t make sense to me. That’s some part of the sure there’s that creative upwelling. But. Circuit is completed when somebody receives the creation and reacts to it but then also reaching more readers means more success more money enables you to do more things enables you to not worry about paying the mortgage. In some of our cases. But then there’s always the ego thing and the ego thing isn’t entirely bad. You know and I know I talk down Ego I talk about fighting ego and ego being a problem and ego can be a problem but Ego is also what. Gets you through the hard times. Um, believing in yourself believing in your work having that strong enough belief in yourself and in what you’re doing that you can I don’t want to say ignore the rejections.
But um, you know that sort of that idea of having a thick skin nobody really ever has a thick skin but especially as a creator you tend to have a thin and sensitive skin. But that ego is what will help bolster you so that. You can get through the rejections and the scathing reviews and the various slings and arrows of working in a creative industry so you have to have a healthy ego but not an overweening ego but at events like this ego can really come into play. Because of course you have someone like Jennifer L Armittrout who’s enormously successful and signing. You know as long as she could stay on her feet and so it’s easy to be that success. Although a bunch of us were like sitting around in the bar. We found this great back nook in the bar and we’re back there. Eating and drinking wine because we were all so exhausted after 9 hours of siing and and that was where we were hearing that Jennifer was down there still signing and it was eight o’clock at night and she was still signing and had people in line and they were restructuring the line and all of this. And we were all like you know it’s easy to envy Jennifer’s success and at the same time we were all so grateful that we were not still in that line. Um, so it’s great to do this fan. Service. There were other author authors there who were ticketed authors and. Grace and I had even discussed ahead of time like why were these the ticketed authors ah where they could predict who was going to have the really really along the lines and I was interested in how did they predict it and some of the fallout from that was. Is they they didn’t always predict well I don’t know if they had any authors who were ticketed that they predicted incorrectly but there were certainly other authors there that ended up with huge long lines that they had not predicted would um and those authors they. Actually did a great job as soon as they saw a huge long line forming and it happened with um Danielle Jensen’s table was like a couple up from mine I was right next to Jennifer Estep and almost immediately in that first signing this huge line started forming and it was snaking in front of our tables and I was thinking. Oh. This is going to suck because no one’s going to be able to see our tables because we’re going to have this line in front of us which happens at signings it does and you just have to be zen about it. Although you’re muttering to yourself. Oh this sucks? Um, but apolllykon people jumped on it I mean they were.
Within minutes they were there and they were laying the tape out on the floor and getting the line to snake so it didn’t block. Anyone’s table and I was super impressed by that and then they were handing out wristbands for people. Um, at the end of the line so that they could come back later when their number group was called so. You know so it was like well why didn’t they predict Daniel Jensen would have a long line because she’s certainly very popular. She’s blown up recently blown up I love that we use these terms. So um, what was my point I know I had 1 oh. That it’s easy to to succumb to the envy. Um and the proddings of ego and be like well well I just don your gentlemen have such a huge long line and I don’t um but I had steady flow. And it was really cool I had people showing up with like old copies of the mark of the tala or the pages of the mind which I did not have copies there with me. Um one person showed up like first thing Saturday morning she was like on a trajectory. And she came in she brought her whole stack of like all of the 12 kingdoms and the unchartered realm’s books and that was so cool and it was. It’s gratifying to to meet those people who have been reading you for a long time but I realized that. It’s slightly loud at the garbage trucks going by on the street if you’re hearing that but it’s um, for me I had so many readers coming to my table saying you’re a new to me author tell me about your books. And I realized that the authors with the huge long lines they weren’t reaching new readers necessarily maybe they got some but for me I reached so many new readers and that was like Jeffie this is the point this is why you’re here. Um. And so that was so productive for me with this with this convention. Um I will be back in April for the Twenty Twenty three one and it’ll be interesting to me to see how it goes will there be a certain point at which. Reading new readers taps out and as you’re a very successful author like you know Jennifer L Armentrout has this huge audience now. So maybe she doesn’t need to reach new readers. Although I know it’s something that Darynda thinks about all the time. Ah, but you know like for Danielle Jensen
Um, how do you do that balance between making sure that your fans get to see you but then also reaching new readers. It’s ah it’s an ongoing question right? But anyway great convention for this. Um. And I think it’s important to remember that there’s just like different circles of readers because Jennifer Estep like I said sitting next to me has this huge huge platform in urban fantasy and some in fantasy romance but she did not have a long enough line to be ticketed and I think at times was like well you know. It’s easy to just you know to feel a little sad about that. But I think it’s because this set of readership. We should keep track of how many mosquitoes did I kill during this podcast. Um that you know this readership was slightly different enough from her usual platform. She did have readers showing up with like all 19 elemental assassins books. But then she had other people wanting to know who she was and what she wrote so so you want that balance all right long podcast today. But that’s my cheese. That one just dive bomb straight for my nose. Um, that’s my assessment of Apollycon thumbs up I don’t know if you can still get on for 2023 but it’s worth a try right um. I’ll I’ll see if I can put the author interest form in the show notes just in case all right I hope that you all have a wonderful Monday and I will talk to tomorrow morning you all take care bye bye.