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On June 16th, the Many Shades blog will be closed.
The authors thank you for your readership and hope you will come visit them at their personal sites via the links to the left.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Selling On Spec

This past month has been hard for me to figure out just what I’m going to write here at The Many Shades. This is not withstanding the fact that each blogger here brings a new perspective of writing, research or a writer's life information to this blog. To put it bluntly, I learn things here and this is a very good aspect of any blog as it’s my feeling if you can’t learn something from what you read, what’s the point.

I’m not talking about what you read for pleasure because usually those readings are for entertainment purposes only. Meaning, I don’t read those books to learn something even though many times I do. Now sometimes I do read a book with the idea of dissecting it to see why such and such a person was such a good author and therefore published by NYC.

So this morning, I was pleasantly surprised by a few things in my email box. One was an invitation to speak at my local writers group’s conference in a day. This is where they try to get some of the best local people to speak regarding writing and a writer’s life. I’ve been part of the program before but was surprised this time on what they wanted me to do. I was to go over the submission process and include the topics of researching agents, researching publishers, choosing the right agent or publisher for you, writing a synopsis and writing a query letter.

Wow...lots of stuff...big stuff for a writer. Sigh. Yeah, I know this stuff but since I’m with a few houses already, my submission process is quite different. When you are a publisher’s author, you usually just submit to your editor and go from there. Very few things in the last five years have been rejected by any of my current publishers. I’ve been asked to tweak, rearranged and do overhauls on pieces but none have been rejected. And this is great but these are my epublishers not NYC publishers.

As for my foray this past year with NYC publishers, my luck hasn’t been so good. But I’m getting close. And part of the reason for this is because I present a decent proposal package. Still, I’ve decided once my current contracts are completed, I don’t want to write on spec any more as it makes me crazy. Basically, what writing on spec is that your publisher is making the speculation that you will complete the proposed novel and turn it in on time. What I do when I sell on spec is submit a package consisting of, but not always, a synopsis, a sample chapter and a complete outline of where the book is headed but I don’t necessarily have the book complete. With NYC, you can get an advance, but usually only a portion of the full amount, then finish the book. It all depends upon how the contract is written. I want to have everything I submit complete, meaning ready to go to an editor, as this cuts down on my stress level as an author.

I hear what you all are saying...but every author writes on spec...and this is true. Almost every writer does. I currently have twenty-two books sold on spec and right now am writing on six of them at the same time. Here’s how many deadlines I have scheduled for the next year: January – 1, February – 6, March – 2, April – 1, May – 1, June – 2, July – 1, August – 2, September – 1, October – 1, November – 1, December – 1. This leaves one last book on spec due in 2011. Then, I’ll be all done with spec unless I’m stupid. And as everyone knows, I can have hoof and mouth disease at the drop of a hat. LOL!

Now the real reason I would like to stop writing on spec is the fact I have found that writing this way can stymie my creative process. And it doesn’t matter if you are writing something in one of your beloved series. Point in case was my recently completed Christmas novel, An Elf’s Love from my Santa’s Elves series. The first book is a true stand-alone while the rest of the series has pretty much has been decided by the epilogue of the previous book. But I altered what I had originally planned for this latest book by sticking in an August release in the series called Giselle’s Elf. This addition to the group, while necessary in the story arc, totally threw off what I had originally sold on spec.

At this point, I had to explain to my editor what happened and curse the fact I had sold to her this Christmas story on spec. Imagine trying to do this with an NYC publisher whose deadlines are normally in stone. With my epublishers, I have a little latitude on where and how I go, so if I screw up something, they at least have a little wiggle room where they can have another book step right to take another’s place and maybe I’m able to take that person’s slot. But with a seasonal book, or a themed one, it’s a little harder. After all, Christmas does only come once a year. Thank god...LOL!

But here’s the real kicker: I could not wrap my head around what I needed to do. For almost a full week, I was paralyzed with nothing coming in regards to this story. So, to make sure I wrote every day, I went back to other stories where the deadlines weren’t so close and looming or one of my uncontracted pieces. Finally, something in a show kick-started the process for me and I was off, writing a 38K story in only eight days. This is not something I recommend for anyone. Not that it isn’t possible, obviously it is since I completed it, but if I had done things differently I wouldn’t have been in such a crunch at the end, no matter if my muse left me or not.

Knowing this will color how I put together my presentation for this mini-conference. Never have I told a group to have the book complete before submitting. This time I would. Right now, along with all those contracted books, I am working on one or two which aren’t contracted by any one. These I’m completing at a more leisurely pace and once of them I am actually going to pass through both the agent and NYC circuit. It is a good solid story written from the heart.

Now each of my stories have been written from the heart and are good but something is different when you don’t have it already sold. I don’t write a story I don’t have an investment in or don’t like. I’ll never do that although I know authors who do. They write to the market and not what their heart tells them. Even the ones I sold on spec have a piece of me in them.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I am only writing a chapter a week or that I’ve taken longer to plot it out or that I now have a wonderful critique group to bounce things off of regarding this story. But something feels different and right and oh so good that I’m not getting with any other book.

This whole experience has made me think about my plans for my portion of the blog next year. Next year there will be more articles on the actual process, like a submission process, and what a new writer can or should do. I’ll talk about contracts as well as other portions of what a writer should really know when coming into this business. I’ll even talk about royalty statements and how the different publishers do them. I plan to use some connections and get some interviews with well known editors, publishers and other writers to share here. There will be a few give aways but only once a month max as sharing my knowledge is more important to me than giving my books away. I do that anyway...I rarely have to opportunity to share what I know.

And that to me is a writer’s true legacy. all have probably been waiting to learn who this week’s winner of An Elf’s Desire is...SiNn! Email me and I’ll send you a copy of this eBook!

Next week...I’m giving away a copy of my new book...An Elf’s Love! Hope you drop by to get your name in the hat!

See you all then!



SiNn said...

I agree totally thats why i love following your blog here since I learn so much everyday so i thank you for that

booklover0226 said...

I love reading the posts from the various authors. Once I finish reading a post, I saw, "Wow, isn't that interesting!"

Tracey D

Boone Brux said...

What an intersting post. As a prepubbed author, I'm unfamiliar with the experience of selling on spec. I am familiar with writing from the heart. I'm amazed when I plot out a storyline and the story ends up to be quite different from where I began. I would be hard-pressed to write for the market. Actually, I think impossible would be a better description. Thanks for the wonderful post. I the insight of other authors.
Boone Brux

Lynn Crain said...

You are so very welcome, SiNn! I'm glad you enjoy it here.


Lynn Crain said...


That's wonderful...and the very reason each of us writes at this blog...we all have some great information to share!

Thanks for stopping by!


Lynn Crain said...


Thanks. And this is just the information a pre-pubbed author needs. Most authors do exactly what I've done here and while it keeps us writing, it makes me wonder about our sanity sometimes. LOL!

That doesn't mean we're an insane lot, it just means we do things differently. And to be honest to myself, a lot of these I have sold are actually series therefore once you sold a series, you can expect to see the rest of the stories.

Next year my final book or two of my elf series comes out. I will also turn in all my Protector series books at the same time as well as most of my Movie Hunks books. Those are series and one of the big reasons I'm out there with selling on spec so much.

One is a five book series and the other is a ten. Some I have to write at the same time to maintain story integrity while others are total stand alone and have nothing to do with the others. As in the case of The Movie Hunks, the only link is that they are all actors falling in love outside of the industry for the most part.

And this is by no means the way every author does it. Which is one of the reasons I want a few completed books under my belt so I have more things to turn into NYC once I get the first one sold.

All I can say, is thank goodness I can write fast. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by, Boone!


Tamsyn said...

Hi Lynn, great post and thought provoking. I realise writers have deadlines but I thought they have leeways for "emergencies". Although now that you mention it, a themed book would have to be out at the right season.

sherry said...

I really love reading post and interviews with authors I always find out something very interesting.

Lynn Crain said...

Thanks, Tamsyn!

Glad you enjoy the blog!


Lynn Crain said...


Yes, blogs are a good way to learn. I know I find out something new every day. If I can apply it to my writing I do. Sometimes I just file it away for another time.

Thanks for stopping by!


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