J.L. Langley is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers around. I love all of her series and standalone books, but my personal favourite is her Sci-Regency series with two books released to date: My Fair Captain and The Englor Affair. I keep asking when the next book is going to be available because it seems so long since The Englor Affair. I also love her With and Without series, with the latest book With Abandon scheduled for release next March, but The Tin Star was the first book I read by this author and I still re-read it because it’s a ‘keeper’ and a comfort read.
JL is of course very busy but she didn’t hesitate when I asked her to offer advice to new authors. Her post happens to be the last one in the series and I think it’s very appropriate because it’s called Know When To Say ‘No’. This will strike many chords with both new and experienced writers.
One of the hardest things to do as a writer is saying ‘no’. Getting new work out there is a must if you want to succeed, but it’s very easy to spread oneself too thin. I know authors who have books lined up for years to come. Some actually work well with this arrangement. Others fret constantly about the deadlines and become distracted with new ideas they can’t use for some time to come. It all depends on the person, but as a writer you need to know your limits. What can you do and stay sane? You don’t want to make a bunch of commitments and then fail to produce and miss deadlines. My big downfall is anthologies. I don’t care for writing short stories, and they tend to take me longer than a full 100k novel. But given a great list of participating writers sometimes it’s hard to turn down. I get stars in my eyes and go all fan girly and decide to go for it. I nearly always regret it. I do end up with some great stories, but the stress of it isn’t worth it to me. So I’ve learned to say ‘no’.
Josh Lanyon has published countless books and has written so many posts on this site that I don’t have to introduce him to you, but I will. Josh is well-known to anyone who reads or writes gay romances or gay fiction, especially those of us who love mysteries. He has also written the quintessential book on how to write M/M – Man Oh Man! Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks & Ca$h. If you’re a new writer in this sub genre and you don’t already have his book you might want to check it out on Amazon or other booksellers because you can’t afford not to read this book.
Josh’s knowledge and longevity in this business is something that not many authors can equal or surpass, and you and I are fortunate that he agreed to give of his time, despite his killer schedule, to do this. On behalf of all those new AND experienced writers, I’m really grateful for the time and effort it must have taken Josh to write his awesome and intelligent pieces and especially this one on looking at writing from a strategic perspective.
Here’s his post
Authors come in all shapes, sizes, and colors — you can amuse yourself wondering what kind of shape and size I’m talking about — but one thing all authors share is ego.
I’ll qualify that slightly because there are a few authors who truly do write for themselves — meaning they never, ever share their work with another soul — but those writers are few and far between. I’ve never met one. Never. I think they’re legendary creatures on a par with Chimeras and that gecko who sells car insurance.
You have to have a certain amount of ego to believe that anyone would be interested in reading — let alone paying for — the elaborate literary fantasies you spin for yourself (a process officially known as writing fiction). This is an observation, not a criticism. It never fails to bemuse — and delight me — that people are interested in reading my stories. I try not to question it too much, though in the interests of Wave’s wonderful series we’ve all taken a crack at analyzing the elements that go into a successful writing career — in the end, it distills to this: a successful writing career is one in which enough people want to read your stories that you feel it’s worth your while to continue sharing your work.
When I invited Clare London to write a post in our Ins and Outs series to help other M/M authors, I had no idea the guilt I would feel when I read it, that I dared ask her to take time out of her very busy schedule. She’s Superwoman, like many of you, and it boggles my mind that with all of her responsibilities she still manages to produce those wonderful stories that are either gripping and tension filled, (72 Hours) or funny as hell (What Not to Wear) and a host of other well crafted books with characters you just want to hug.
This post is a lesson to not just writers, but all of us whose days are so crammed with all the jobs we have to juggle that we forget what life is all about. I know I learned a lot when I read the post and I intend to take Clare’s advice. Here’s her post –
Hi all. This post is my viewpoint on juggling. Not with clubs or fire, though by God, it feels like it sometimes, but with everything in life: work, home, family and writing. I was kindly invited by Jessewave to post on this last month but…guess what? I dropped the spinning plates of life and couldn’t manage the time. A perfect example of how NOT to juggle, right? Or maybe a recognition of reality.
J.P. Bowie is back. This time his topic is all about the questions he has been asked and what the answers are. Since I did the big introduction for his first post, all I will do this time is tell you that when you have his longevity in publishing it means that he’s doing a lot of things right.
Jim has almost 40 books to his credit and he writes stories that range from mysteries, paranormal, historical, westerns, and gay fiction.
Some time ago I was asked this question in an interview: If you had a movie adapted from any of your novels, which famous movie stars would you like to see play the roles?
First, I thought of the movie stars I wouldn’t want to cast in the movie—Tom Cruise immediately sprang to mind. Not that he’s a bad actor, he’s been okay in several movies, but he’s made it clear on several occasions he’s no friend of the gay community.
As all of you know, Laura Baumbach is an icon in the publishing business as well as an award-winning author. So when I wanted to get the perspective of someone who knows both sides of the business intimately, her name came immediately to mind because I knew that she would give newbie or aspiring authors the straight goods. Here’s Laura’s excellent advice on how to get published:
How to Get Published?
It’s a straightforward question that isn’t easily answered. The whole ‘getting published’ process has numerous layers to it. I’m going to assume for the purpose of this article that the writer has acquired a degree of writing skill. While this may be the first story they have decided to try and get published it is not their first attempt at writing a story. While they may not be a seasoned, multi-manuscript author, they know how to craft a story from beginning to end and craft three dimensional characters readers can relate to.
I don’t have to tell you how much I love Rick’s writing and also the person. When I was in a bind for a post for this series because one of the advisers had an emergency, the first person I contacted was Rick and asked him if he could fill in, and he was happy to do so at very short notice, and what a post. I’m not a writer but I learn so much about the business from his posts. Enjoy!
I get e-mails all the time asking me for suggestions for publishers. I greet this question with the same degree of befuddlement as I greet the ones that ask me which of my books is my favorite, or which one they should read first. Both questions have one thing in common—they’re difficult if not impossible to answer without knowing something about the person who’s asking the question.
Usually, though I give an answer of some sort, either referring the one group to my website where they can browse my titles and decide which one best suits them, or to author Lori L. Lake’s excellent list of GLBT publishers, which can be found here. Lori keeps the list updated regularly and I doubt there’s a better overall list in one place on the web.
Anyway, this is my roundabout way of getting to answering the question: how do I decide which publisher is best for me?
It pays to be polite and Victor J. Banis hammers the point home in his latest post which illustrates that authors get better results by using honey than by insulting readers. I did a poll 16 months ago in which I asked whether an author’s online behaviour affected readers’ buying decisions. 46% of readers said they stopped buying an author’s books due to rudeness, and 35% of those polled said that they were more likely to try an author based on the way they interacted online; only 15% said it didn’t matter either way. Even though the survey was done over a year ago I suspect the results would be the same if it were done today.
I recently dropped out of an online writers/readers group because of a snarky comment made by a moderator. Actually, it wasn’t really a slam, more a dismissive kind of thing, and I’ve got pretty thick skin, so I can’t say it kept me up all night with tears on my pillow. What really bothered me, though, was the lack of manners. If only as a veteran in our gay Civil Wars, I thought surely I deserved more respect than this. Actually, just as a member of our human family, I thought I did. I think we all do.
I’m old fashioned—hell’s bells, I’m old—and I grew up in an era in which courtesy was the expected norm. People comment often on my good manners—but, wait, isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Now I look around and I think, when did rudeness become the standard? This is not the first such group I dropped out of—I left another a couple of years ago when a member emailed a nasty message culminating in “f… you.” Apart from any other consideration, one has to worry about the word skills of a writer who can’t summon up anything better than that.
Victor J. Banis is back with some very wise counsel about what to do when writer’s block hits, which it will. Every writer experiences it - it doesn’t matter how famous he or she is.
James Jones once said, “No one can help you. A writer is alone with it, by the nature of it.”
I mention this because it seems to me that a whole generation of would-be writers are spending their time in coffee houses and cafes, tapping on their laptops.
I think this is a pleasant enough way to spend your day if you are interested less in becoming a writer than in posing as one in the hope of eliciting the admiration or envy of others. (Be forewarned: not everyone admires or envies writers.) Jonathan Kellerman has a character in one of his novels remark that when an aspiring student says he wants to be a writer, he knows there is no hope for him, but when he says he wants to write, there is at least a slight hope.
If you are really serious about it, for Pete’s sake, go home and write. Jones had that right, at least. To do it right, you have to be alone with it.
Everyone on the site knows Jordan Castillo Price so she needs no introduction. This is her follow-up post to the one on Marketing a few weeks ago linked here. Since I did the big intro the last time I won’t do it again, I’ll just say that she is one fabulous writer. You go Jordan!
Here she is to talk about your author newsletter:
Your author newsletter is critical to keeping your readers interested and engaged between books, as well as educating them about your backlist and alerting them to upcoming releases. I spend about four full working days per month on my newsletter–that’s how important I think it is–and my readers always rave about how they look forward to seeing it in their inboxes.
If this time commitment seems daunting, remember that you don’t necessarily need to invest such a huge amount of time in each individual issue to have a good newsletter. Your initial setup will take some time, but you could feasibly put together something entertaining in an afternoon, once that setup was in place.
James Buchanan is a multi-published author of primarily homoerotic romance & fiction. He writes original erotic GLBT fiction, or what he says is gay porn with plot. James’ stories are homosexual fiction (some call it slash from the Male/Male designation) of the romantic flavour and he has also written pansexual and/or bisexual stories.
James is one of my favourite authors and also “go to” expert whenever I have a question about BDSM in M/M romances because he is regarded as an expert in this field. He hasn’t steered me wrong so far. I asked James to write another post about BDSM because the last one linked here was so well received it’s on the site as one of our most popular posts. Obviously many of you want to read what he has to say. So here’s his newest post on a topic some M/M authors write about, but really shouldn’t.
Not everyone can, or should, write BDSM.
You all say. Isn’t this a blog about how to write M/M BDSM?
And my answer is, “Yes, but…”
I will admit to a subtle bias when I write these HOW TO type posts. My dear Papi points it out every time I do such a post and I have to go in and scrub my sentences so I don’t offend people.
For Jessewave, I’m putting the black leather gloves on, shoving my feet into my boots and tapping the riding crop on my thigh. It is time for some tough love, baby.
There’s no need for me to introduce Josh Lanyon because if I have to, you don’t read books in this sub genre. Josh is well-known to probably everyone who reads or writes gay romances or gay fiction, especially those of us who love mysteries.
There are many posts in this series that new M/M writers will find helpful, depending on what you’re looking for, but the knowledge behind the one you’re about to read is hard to replicate. There’s something to be said about having longevity in this business.
On behalf of all those new AND experienced writers, I’m really grateful for the time and effort it must have taken Josh to write such an awesome and intelligent piece about how to make it in this industry. Here’s the post:
The price you paid for your riches and fame
Was it all a strange game?
You’re a little insane
The money, the fame, the public acclaim
Don’t forget what you are
You’re a rock ‘n’ roll star!
Jim McGuinn and Chris Hillman
Most of you know Rick R. Reed as the master of horror. He moved into the world of M/M romance to bring you his vision of romance. For those who don’t know Rick here’s a short bio:
In their October 2006 issue, Unzipped magazine said: “You could call him the Stephen King of gay horror.” And Dark Scribe magazine said: “Reed is an established brand – perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction.” To date, Reed has fifteen books in print, and his short fiction has appeared in more than 20 anthologies. His novel, ORIENTATION, won the EPPIE Award for best LGBT novel of 2008. He lives in Seattle, WA. Visit him on the web at www.rickrreed.com
Here’s Rick’s Post
This blog comes to you both from the perspective of a reader and a writer, so beware. The two beasts, when combined, are a potent force.
This blog also comes with a warning—it offers only questions, not answers.
So what I’m yammering about today, all alone in my padded cell, listening to violinist David Garret rock out on “Kashmir”, is the question: How does a writer remain in the reading public’s eye while avoiding being overexposed? Now, by overexposed I do not mean the nudity many of us write about when crafting an erotic scene, I mean the kind of overexposure that makes a reader gasp and say, “Jesus Christ! Does Mary G. Writer or Bill H. Author have another book out? Why, it was only yesterday that I got wind of a new release! And just last week, Mary (or Bill) had two new books out at Fictionwise!” Frustrated—or delighted, depending upon one’s viewpoint—readers may scratch their heads and wonder how one writer can be so prolific without elves chained up in a basement somewhere, hammering out yet another story about a gay detective/cowboy/robot/shapeshifter/vampire or what-have-you falling in love with a gorgeous, deliciously muscled criminal/ranch hand/priest/pumpkin or Monopoly board.
Jordan Castillo Price is well-known to anyone who visits this site because she’s such a prolific writer and just about all of her books have been reviewed here. Although Jordan’s books have all been well received by readers, she’s probably always going to be most famous for her PsyCop stories. When I asked her to participate in this series she didn’t hesitate, and I’m pleased to present her post on Marketing, an area where many authors need a bit of help. If you’re interested, Jordan also has her own advice series at packingheat.net.
Before I was able to devote myself full-time to writing, I coordinated design and marketing for a public library. In those nine years, I’ve learned a thing or two that are of use to me as an author and a publisher. Most people think of marketing as greedy, self-serving, and possibly deceptive—a way to trick people into buying something they don’t want or need. Hopefully marketing won’t sound quite so smarmy if I explain how I look at it.
J.P. Bowie is originally from the Scottish Highlands – Aberdeen. He loves to mention that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a former neighbour during the summer months. Jim moved to London at 19 and worked in the theatre for several years before migrating to the US. He also worked for a cruise line as casino manager for a couple of years which is where he met his partner, Phil.
J.P. has almost 30 books to his credit and writes stories that cover the gamut from mysteries, paranormal, historical, westerns, and gay fiction. I’m really pleased that he agreed to be part of this series and I think you will love his post.
So many good articles have already been written on the subject of m/m erotic romance that I wondered if I could really have anything succinct to add. Victor’s words of wisdom and Rick’s common sense observations have resonated with a lot of people who have read these articles.
I started writing in this genre about five years ago. Until then I’d been writing gay romantic fiction without the erotic edge. Yes, my men kissed, caressed and fell in love, but the love making was, in a word, discreet. When I wrote My Vampire and I, I opened the bedroom door and let the guys go for the gold, and after reading the words of one reviewer – “What a delightful surprise from J.P. Bowie” I figured I’d found my niche.
It was always my intent to ask Victor to come back again and again to give newbie M/M authors the benefit of his vast body of knowledge of writing. This post proves what a brilliant strategist I was when I sucked him into promising to be a regular columnist in this series. In today’s post Victor offers authors real examples of how to make their characters come alive so that the readers will ‘live’ their stories.
Here’s another gem from the master, Victor J. Banis.
When Wave asked if I would like to do a follow up to the Author Advice series, I went back to look at what had been offered so far. Gosh, what a stellar bunch of posts they have been, such great advice – Sean’s insistence that we write, write, write; Josh’s suggestions for finding the right publisher; Laura’s pointing you toward your own (and your characters’) sexual comfort zone; Rick’s admonition to look for social relevance in your work; Ally’s hints on characterization. How, I wondered, was I going to follow all that?
I went to bed to sleep on it and I was deep asleep when, at precisely one seventeen in the morning, I said aloud (and so woke myself up): Characters. Yes, of course, Ally had already written a brilliant essay on that subject, but that is a subject that could easily fill an entire volume by itself. And it’s always been my opinion that the number one element in writing fiction is characterization, followed 2nd, by characterization, and 3rd, by characterization. There was plenty more that I could say on that subject.