Friday, February 22, 2013

New Website!

Change, it’s inevitable. Every new year we make a resolution to change, to improve, to do more or less–pretty much go a totally different route in one way or another be it our careers or our hair color. I’m no different. In fact, I embrace change. On that note, let me introduce you to my new website!

I was in desperate need of a better, cleaner, sleeker and more professional design. WordPress delivered!

Visit www.leslieleesanders.com to go to my new site.


While you're there, subscribe to stay current with new, helpful blog posts on writing and the publishing industry and new book releases. lots of great things are in the works so don't miss out.

*Note: You may have to clear your cookies or visit in a new browser if the link brings you back to this BlogSpot site. Sorry for any inconvenience.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

4 MORE Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From


Last week I listed 4 Mistakes I've make in my writing career that you can learn from. This week I'm listing FOUR MORE! Below are some mistakes I’ve made in my writing career that, hopefully, you’ll never have to make yourself to learn from them.


1. Using bland book covers


Even though my book was a YA title which discussed serious issues like; dissociation, rape, and cutting, I thought the image of a sunset was too beautiful to not use as the cover of my book.

My Mistake: I was thinking about what looked pretty as a book cover instead of my target audience and how the cover would translate to those readers.

The Lesson: Great book covers help sell books, right? Not only does a great cover help to sell the book, it also conveys the book's overall message through the cover images and design. Sometimes you can correctly guess the book's genre just by looking at the title, the font, images, etc. So if you are serious about targeting the right readers and standing up to the competition consider a professional, well thought out design for your book's cover instead of using a basic or bland cover.

2. Not using a pen name for different genres


I write mostly fiction with spice (i.e., erotic romance) but in the beginning of my career I swayed a bit and wrote a couple of young adult books. All seemed well, except I never considered using a different name to separate my adult books from my young adult books.

My Mistake: I wrote for two completely different genres using the same name. Those genres were complete opposites and definitely needed to be separate.

The Lesson: If you write different or conflicting genres, consider using a pen name. If you don't want to use a totally different pseudonym but want it to be different enough to distinguish between the genres you write in, use your initials or your name mixed around (i.e., L.L. Sanders, Leslie Lee, or Lee L. Sanders).  It's still your name, and still recognizable to your readers, but separates the many genres you write.

3. Experimenting with fiction


There's nothing wrong with experimenting. However, I can't break the rules without understanding and applying them first. No one can.  

My Mistake: Once upon a time, I had a master plan to write at least one book in EVERY single genre. Now reread that last sentence and take a moment to process what I just said. Yeah, big mistake! Although I managed to write and publish in three different genres (Romance, Young Adult and Horror) I did use a pen name for my horror. So, I think I earned a gold star for that good idea.

The Lesson: As much as we enjoy reading different genres, not all of us has what it takes to successfully write in every single genre. Sometimes writing well requires you write a lot in a specific genre to develop the skills necessary to make it a satisfying read. Now, I'm sure it's possible to do and probably has been done, but it's mighty difficult to manage several different personas, platforms, marketing strategies, writing styles, etc.

4. Moving ahead when not ready


Rushing. Rushing to write, rushing to edit, and rushing to submit and/or publish.


My Mistake: I struggle with this even now. It's a hard habit to break when you have so much to do in a twenty-four hour day, especially if you self-publish because usually you’re doing everything on your own. If only our days were forty-eight hours instead and there were no such things as deadlines.

The Lesson: Rushing to complete a task more than likely results in poor performance, especially if you don't spend enough time away from your project to look at it with fresh eyes. You hear that advice all the time, I'm sure. Put the manuscript away for a few days or weeks, get it out of your mind, then come back to it. You would have removed yourself from it long enough to see it in a new, fresh perspective. Then you can move forward to the next step with more confidence and a sense of completion of the previous step.

 





Sunday, February 10, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday: Beyond the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #3)


This is my first time participating in Six Sentence Sunday! So I hope I'm doing it right. It's a lot fun so, why not? Let's dig right in. Here are six sentences from my latest WIP, Beyond the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #3), an MM, post-apocalyptic, dystopian.

~~~

As much as Adam didn't want to speak about the horrors of the past, those things came up in every conversation. He couldn't open his mouth without mentioning how sorry he was for everything they'd been through—the abrupt changes and many deaths. And as much as he tried to prevent himself from instilling false hope, he couldn't help doing that either. He truly believed rescue was just days away, but he had stopped talking about that days ago to please Elliot. Elliot couldn't take getting his hopes up only to be let down.

Still, rescue was coming.

~~~

The first two books in the Refuge Inc. series, Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #1) and Amid the Darkness (refuge Inc. #2) are available now. 




- Leslie Lee Sanders

Thursday, February 7, 2013

4 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From

It’s hard to admit you’ve made mistakes. However, admitting your mistakes, at least to yourself, is the necessary first step you must take to learn from them. We all had moments where we wish we had someone to mentor us at the start of our writing careers. Wouldn’t life be easier and less stressful if we could learn from someone else’s mistakes? Well, here’s your chance to learn a thing or two from someone who’s made a few mistakes over her eight-year writing career. Below are some mistakes I’ve made that, hopefully, you’ll never make yourself. And here is a list of 4 MORE mistakes I've made in my writing career that you can learn from.

  1.  Failing to acquire the proper editing

 

I’ve actually paid a couple hundred dollars to have one of my earlier books edited. When all was said and done, it turned out I got a critique of my book instead of an actual line edit that I thought I was paying for.

My Mistake: Not understanding and verifying what type of “editing” I was paying for.

The Lesson: Make sure you understand the exact service the editor will provide and agree to those services before paying a cent.
 

  1. Waiting too long to revise a published manuscript


I’ve self-published a book (or two) at the start of my writing career that, looking back, I realized needed a hefty dose of revision. And being a better writer today than I was eight years ago helps in identifying poor writing.

My Mistake: I didn’t revise and republish the book sooner. If I tried to revise the story now, it will take time away from my recent projects and delay the completion of future projects. I’d still be stuck in the past!

The Lesson: If you have a project (book, article, poem, etc.) that is published (i.e. self-published, published to a blog or other website) that’s in need of a revision, do it now or soon. Starting more projects before finishing current responsibilities will keep you from ever revising, or can make it more difficult to go back and revise in the future.
 

  1. Writing several  stories at once


Writers have so many ideas, don’t we? Can’t wait to write them down and start working on some. We get used to having several Word documents opened at the same time, or a different one opened every other day. How did I manage to finish anything if I was working on everything at once?

My Mistake: I’ve had too much going on to focus on anything. And worse, it was hard to keep up with the many characters and plotlines. I ended up scrapping some of the stories and never finishing others, and looking back made me realize that time could have been used much more productively.

The Lesson: Like the lesson above, stick to one project until it’s complete. At the very least, stick with just a couple of your very important projects (i.e. projects with fast approaching deadlines) to make sure you stay focus.

 

 

  1. Not marketing my work


I used to think that if you write a book, readers would come. That’s kind of funny now that I think about it. No, not really. That’s sad. How would anyone ever know about my book if I never let people know it exists?

My Mistake: I told a couple of my friends and family about the book I was so proud of, I made a website and added the cover and back copy description, and then I sat back and waited. Watching as I sold 4 copies this month and 8 copies the next.

The Lesson: If you want readers and sales you have to make your book known to more than your close group of friends. You can’t only rely on word of mouth advertising anymore. You have to get out there and participate in some online activities, make some friends, join a group or too, be a guess blogger, connect with your target audience, make a presence, etc. Here are some Simple Online Book  Marketing Tips you can refer to.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz: Are You Due Some Praise?

Last week I posted a list of 13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz. It seems fit to mention the great things that people do in the writing business as well. So here they are the 13 most appreciated gestures a person could do in the writing business. If you're lucky, you might have done these kind gestures. You're even luckier if you were on the receiving end.


Proper Email Etiquette:


  1. Notifying recipients that you received their email and will respond soon.

This is great to do especially if you know you're swamped with work and not readily available to answer the email as detailed as you'd like. How to be this person.  A simple "Got your email" is much appreciated. It keeps the sender from worrying if their email landed in a spam folder or was never sent.

  1. Notifying email groups or recipients that you've been hacked and to not open strange links.

It's happened to a lot of us. You receive a bogus email with a link from So-and-so. You suspect it's spam because it seems fishy that So-and-so wouldn't address you by name. How to be this person.  After changing your password, it is sometimes proper to send another email advising to ignore the last one and not to open it or click the link.

  1. Keep a reference of the previous conversation by replying to the email

Keep the things simple and organized. How to be this person. Reply to the last email with the same topic instead of composing a new email. This way, both parties can easily keep track of what was said and agreed upon thus far, or refresh their memory without searching for the other emails.

  1. Alter the subject line of an email when replying

You were discussing the price of your e-book over email, the subject line was "E-book Pricing" but now you want to talk about the cover. How to be this person. By replying to the email and changing the subject line to "E-book Pricing & Cover" you tether to the previous information you shared in the email but updated the subject line so the recipient knows the subject has changed.


Social Media Engagement:


  1. Following, commenting, discussing, liking

We're all looking to build or expand our platform, and simply following an author's posts, blog, or social media presence is one of the best ways to show your support. Leaving comments, liking or engaging in discussions with the author is the best way to show you are invested. This person is highly appreciated in the writing biz, because these invested people help make authors and writers relevant. How to be this person. Show the person you see them, acknowledge them, and understand or enjoy their time with as little as a click of a mouse.

  1. Sharing, Liking, Re-Tweeting, Favorite-ing, etc. In this day and age, it's hard to find an audience with so many in the business vying for attention. It can be difficult to reach and connect to others without some help. How to be this person. Helping to spread the word of your favorite author's new release or latest blog post is highly appreciated usually with just a click of a button.

Sharing and Giving:


  1. Blogging/Article Writing/Sharing your Expertise

Sharing your secrets or your knowledge with those who seek that information is one of the best things you can do for others and yourself. How to be this person. Is there something you're really interested in, something you know a lot about or are willing to learn a lot about? Consider sharing your knowledge or experiences with others on your blog or in an article to post on Facebook or other online sites. There's always someone looking for info on the topic you are an expert in.

  1. Give-Aways/Contests

Everyone loves freebies! Receiving something for nothing always puts a smile on someone's face, because they don't have to do or spend hard earned money on it. Being a winner always feels great, because it's exclusive. Not everyone can win which makes you feel special. How to be this person. Giving away a copy or ten of your latest release, bookmark or other swag is a great gesture because it shows that you are not only generous but sociable and kind. Traits people are attracted to.

  1. Critiquing/Beta Reading/Proofreading

In my opinion, someone that reads your manuscript before it's submitted for publication and gives you feedback on how to improve your story for little or nothing in return deserves a dozen thank-yous, if not more. How to be this person. Taking time out of your busy schedule to help out a fellow author by reading their work and giving your honest opinion is part of helping that author improve and succeed. Kudos for that!

  1. Rating & Reviewing

Ratings and reviews of an author's books or a writer's articles is the perfect way to give a public pat on the back for a job well done. Even if your rating and review is unfavorable, it's helps bring attention to the book or article, help other readers better decide if they'd want to read it or if it was helpful or not, and informs the author what to improve upon in her next project. How to be this person. Rate and review the books and articles you've read.

  1. Rejection Letters with Feedback /Revise and Resubmits

The best thing about a rejection (if there's such a thing) is the actual feedback that some editors send along with it. How to be this person. It's one thing to send a form rejection letter. It's another to get some helpful feedback along with the rejection to inform you where the story failed and how to improve it. If the story is promising but has a few snags, go ahead and say so. Most serious authors respect this kind of rejection.

  1. Notifying of website/e-books errors/ways to improve

Who doesn't appreciate someone who points out errors in order for you to fix them and remain flawless-looking? How to be this person. If the links on the author's website stopped working and you emailed her to notify her, you'd be a hero in that author's eyes. You are helping her improve and fix her mistakes, one of the very best gestures. 

  1. Truly appreciating what another has done to help you in your goals

The note to readers at the top right of my website is no gimmick. I am absolutely thankful for my readers, all of them, fans or not. I'd like to remind them with every book release, article or post, but I don't want to get too cheesy. I think showing that you are honestly appreciative of others and their contributions is necessary in building a connection

Did I leave any appreciated gestures out? Go ahead and leave a comment. Add to the list. Tell me what you think.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz: Are You Behaving Badly?

If you're in the book writing/publishing business and you haven't crossed paths with at least one of the unprofessional people on my list below, you might eventually. If you're lucky, you never will. In no particular order, here are some of the most unprofessional types of people. Don't be one of them. Also, here's the followup post for the 13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz.

 

  1. The vanishing critique partner

You've exchanged manuscripts, spent the entire weekend reading, editing and making notes, you send the manuscript back and you wait and wait and wait for your critiqued manuscript in return. You receive nothing. Don't be this person. Time is precious to every writer and that's something you can't give back. Respect the writer's time by keeping your word.

  1. The vanishing publisher

Anyone you rely upon who suddenly vanishes into thin air is probably not a professional, especially when they're holding your royalty check and the rights to your creations. Don't be this person. A wise thing to do is to give your authors notice that you'll be going under long before your vanishing act. Be open and honest, answer your emails, and assure your authors that you're handling things in the best manner. Most importantly, give them their money and their rights back pronto.

  1. The vague critique partner

You received your manuscript back with a short note. "This was awesome!" You're thrilled that she liked it but would've liked a little more detail. Just a little more. Don't be this person. If you can't pick apart every piece of the manuscript from the first word to the last … don't. That's not what most authors are looking for, but we can use much more feedback than an "awesome."

  1. The agent/editor who likes your work but still rejects it

In my humble opinion, if you decide to write a page-long letter or email raving about the manuscript you've just finished reading, never mention a flaw, but still reject it, I think you should at least tell the author WHY you rejected it. Don't be this person. You of all people in the publishing business should know how frustrating it is to give false hope through a rejection letter that starts as a raving review of the manuscript and ends with "I hope you find a home for it!" Either state why it's not for you or send a form rejection.

  1. The agent/editor/publisher who never answers your questions or delays

Deadline has passed … a week ago! You sent email after email, asking the same questions from the emails before, but this time you're asking if they've even received your emails. Finally, you get a response … days before the book's official release date! Don't be this person. Sure, you're an editor and a super busy one too, but you can find time to send a quick email. A brief "Got your email. Will get back to you shortly" instead of nothing at all is always appreciated.

  1. The professional who picks favorites

Jane Doe's books are a top seller (she's a regular commenter on your blog). John Doe edits the most books in the shortest amount of time (and you chat every day on Facebook). Mary Jane's books are rating pretty high with readers (and her Twitter pic is pretty hot too). Go ahead and allow Jane, John and Mary to take over the publisher's blog and reel in the readers. Sure, there's other authors and editors who can better contribute, but … these three are your favs. Don't be this person. Sure, it's a business and you want the top, highest and the best, but don't make it obvious that you have your favorites. Professionalism requires that you are fair and making the best "business" decisions. Project that.

  1. The agent/editor/publisher who talks about inappropriate matters in public

Sure, you're human, and you go through rough patches like the rest of us, however, not everyone is interested in your bankruptcy details, your crazy sex life, or the fact that you think self-publishing and its authors should go the way of the dinosaurs. Don't be this person. Think before you speak, especially in public. You feel secure behind a screen. It's not like being face-to-face with a "real" person. In social media it's easy to forget that your colleagues, employers, fans, readers, followers, etc., are witnessing what you put out and are judging you by it.

  1. The tardy blogger/staff

Your job is to update the blog every Monday. Instead it gets updated sporadically (maybe late Monday night on a good day). You're hosting a blog tour and have a give-away scheduled for this day, instead you post it that day. Do you find yourself constantly apologizing for being late? Then this may be you. Don't be this person. If you say you're going to do something at a specific time, do it at that specific time. Punctuality is one of the best traits a professional possesses.

  1. The lowdown, dirty "professional"

Think it'll be cool to try to cheat Amazon's algorithms to raise your book's sales ranking? Don't see the harm in giving away copies of another author's e-books on your blog without the author's permission? Thinking about making a bunch of email accounts and rating and reviewing your own books online? Don't be this person. You will lose all the respect people had for you once they realize your ways. Being lowdown and dirty especially in the publishing business is never a good look.

  1. The author/writer who never follows the guidelines/rules

You want to send your submission to your dream editor before they leave on vacation and don't have time to look for and read the submission guidelines, so you just attach it as a DOC file and send  it to the email address you found online. Don't be this person.  Submission guidelines are there for a reason. Simply put, they make life easier for you AND the editor, and increases the chances of your submission being seen. You want to show the editor you are a gem to work with and are capable of following rules. So follow them exactly.

  1. The professionals who never follow their own guidelines/rules

Being a professional is hard work. Life is very busy. So since you made the rules you can break them at your convenience. Don't be this person. If you want others to follow your rules practice what you preach by following your own. If you promise to respond to submissions in four weeks, then make sure you follow through. How can you expect others to put up with your rules when it's difficult for you to?

  1. The negative/snarky/bashing reviewer

So you think the book was written by an author who couldn't grasp the basics of high school level English, and you say so in your review. You even go a step further and accuse the author of writing their own five-star reviews of the book because "who in their right mind would like that junk?" Don't be this person. A good reviewer reviews the book's content, not the author. And even though you believe those terrible things about the author, you don't look good accusing or bashing another, especially in public.

  1. The author/writer who negatively responds to negative reviews

So the reviewer claims you wrote all the five-star reviews of your latest book because the book reads like an illiterate child scribbled it down and no one else could possibly enjoy it. You think the reviewer didn't read your book at all because in the author bio, at the end of the book, it states that you have a B.A in English, and the reviewer needs to know this. So you respond to the review and tell her. Don't be this person. If someone didn't like your book, they are simply stating their opinion. When you respond, you are trying to sway their opinion. It never works. When someone writes a bashing review, they look like a bully. When you respond, YOU look like a bully. Keep that in mind.

Well, there you go. The thirteen most unprofessional types of people in the writing biz and why and how not to become one. Have you encountered some of these types? Take a shot at adding to the list. Did I leave a certain type out? Could you relate? Do I ask a lot of questions? Leave a comment and let's discuss it.

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Refuge Inc. Series Blog Barrage & Give-Away!

Follow these blogs and enter for a chance to win BOTH books, Before the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #1) and Amid the Darkness (Refuge Inc. #2)!
Ends Jan 28th.



January 22, 2013




January 23, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

How I Will Use My Talent and Desire to Change My World

Back in late 2009 when I was very active on Hubpages, writing posts about the craft of writing, I met a wonderful person who went by the name Scott Life. He would leave comments on almost every post with encouraging words like,
"See you could have charged 50 dollars just for that consult. You're onto something here I'm telling you. You're building a career...Is it obvious that I've been on my computer for three days straight?"


He knew my potential before I even knew!
And this very touching comment.
"You should know that most of my books success and structure I will attribute to you and your advice in these Hubs."


Looking back to where I was then and seeing where I am now, it seems fit that I attribute my successes to Scott Life and the other Hubpages followers and commenters.

It really didn't hit me that my articles were truly helping and inspiring others. After all, that was my goal, what I set out to do. However, I used to think that I had to "become somebody" before my advice mattered. I was wrong. In fact, I was somebody then. I was the expert those readers were looking for way back then in 2009. Since then I've grown tenfold because of their support.

Scott Life and I were this close to working on a project together when I submitted a short essay for inclusion in one of his projects which unfortunately fell through. Still, I should've known then that our meeting was fate, letting me know I was on the right path just by the title and content of the essay (below).

I lost touch with Scott a couple years ago, but I appreciate all of his encouragement even more now than ever. Thank you to all who encourage me and believe in me! If you'd like to include how you will use your talent and desire to change your world you're more than welcome to.

How I Will Use My Talent and Desire to Change My World

My world is full of people from both ends of the writing spectrum who are in need of some inspiration. At one end, there is the aspiring writer. On the other end is the successful established author. Even though I place myself somewhere along the middle of this spectrum, I believe my writing talents can offer that inspiration and motivation to writers on all levels of the spectrum. 

Story telling alone is enough to transform an individual. Exploring the fantastic worlds of fiction is a magical experience that often inspires one to create their own fictional world to explore, as it did for me. Story telling is one way my talents will change my world.

Sharing useful knowledge about writing and publishing is easy for me. Like most writers, I have had my difficulties regarding writing and publishing, and I continue to learn new and exciting things regularly that I enjoy sharing with aspiring writers. I am confident that my words will put that adrenaline rush of creativity into those who read them. In my world, everyone needs a little push in the right direction. This world, mostly filled with dreamers, is also flourishing with an abundance of dedicated writers in need of inspiration every now and then from a fellow dreamer. I am that dreamer.

Inspiring, motivating and enlightening dreamers to improve creatively are ways my writing talents will change my world.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, Great Results!

Happy 2013!!!

This is going to be a great year. I can feel it.

Starting it off with an improved website coming soon. New projects in the works, including short stories and other creative works.

I can't wait to dig in. How bout you?

Here's to creativity, hard work, and great results.

Happy new Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

4 Insecurities Writers Need to Get Over


Insecure?
As writers we put a piece of ourselves in everything we write. Writing is a form of creativity, and our creativity stems from our very soul. A little piece of our experiences are scribbled into our writings along with our sweat, blood and tears. So it's no wonder most of us are insecure. Here's a list of some of the insecurities that plaque us and reasons why we need to get over them.

  1. What if I fail?

This is a common fear most people encounter when starting something new. The fear of failure. In a world full of uncertainty, we often settle for what we know or choose tasks with predictable outcomes instead of pushing ourselves to our greatest potential. But failing is okay. It's not the end of the world. The sooner you put yourself out there, the sooner you'll see that either way, failing or winning, there's more to accomplish.

  1. People will hate my writing.

Yes. Some people will hate your writing. Simply put, we can't please everyone. This is one of the many things we writers have to come to term with when developing a thick skin. Even some of the most established writers have haters. Focus on those who would love your work, and write to make them proud.

  1. I'll never be published.

If you think this way, you've already given up. And what happens when you give up? You create a self-fulfilling prophecy and, in fact, you will never be published. Reevaluate why you wanted to be published in the first place. Maybe then it'll be easier to keep pushing along. Remember, the difference between aspiring and being is the work you put in and the determination to see your dreams come true.

  1. I don't have enough credentials.

I know this is a catch 22. I hear this a lot. "How are we supposed to build credible credentials if no one will give us a chance to build credible credentials?" My advice … take a chance. Don't stop trying to be published, or never start, because you're afraid a reader or editor will think you're not experienced enough. You obviously know plenty about a subject to think you're the perfect one to write about it. So take a chance instead of letting your fears hinder you. Besides, the information and experience you do have might just be enough to make you qualified.