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From Writer to Writer: Lindsey Roth Culli

Lindsey Roth CulliMeet Lindsey Roth Culli

Hello! I’m Lindsey and I write books for teens and people who used to be teens.

I earned my MFA in Creative Writing in 2010. Since then, I’ve been writing novels and teaching college students how to write… papers.

I’m represented by Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.

Lindsey’s Take on Handling Rejection

If you’ve just been rejected by an agent, an editor or a lit magazine, then CONGRATULATIONS! That’s great news! Wait. What? Why?

I know it sounds weird but I think it’s great news because it means you are officially in the game.

If you’re getting rejections that means you’re actually submitting your work and that, friend, is half the battle.

Making your writing a priority so that you actually have something to submit and have rejected is further than many, many, many would-be novelists ever get.

Plus, rejection at every stage is just practice for the rejection yet to come. First, maybe you get rejected from lit magazines, then maybe agents. Even after all your toil and trouble finding your perfect agent match, you’re still going to get rejections from publishers.

But here’s the great thing: You’re in good company. You’d be hard pressed to find any writer who has not been on the receiving end of rejection. Stephen King, JK Rowling (need I remind you that the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows part 2 just made $1B at the box office?), Anne Frank (seriously), William Faulkner, George Orwell…. the list goes on. Point is, rejection happens to, quite literally, the best of us.

Sometimes rejection is totally subjective but sometimes, rejection may be warranted. Sometimes your manuscript is just not quite there yet—good but not great, likable but not loveable. And that’s okay! Hopefully, you’ll be able to read between the lines of the feedback you’re getting from your rejections to see what needs to be fixed/tweaked/redone.

The best way I know to move forward is to keep writing. Keep revising. If your current manuscript is getting you nothing but “no,” start a new one! Frankly, if you plan to be a career author, it’s good practice. The bonus is that some time and distance between you and your other manuscript will give you fresh perspective and some objectivity to help when you return.

Many people repeat that old adage that writing is a solitary art. To that I say poppy-cock! You need people on your team. Friends who’ll cheer you on when you need cheering, beta readers who’ll give you honest first impressions, crit partners who will tear your manuscript apart so you can rebuild it to be stronger or who can help you brainstorm and work through plot holes. You’ve simply got to find some people to be your teammates and once you’ve got them, don’t let them go! (And if you need advice on where to look—I can help there, too.)

So my final snippet of advice is simple—rub some dirt on it and get back in the game, because you most definitely are in the game.

Connect With Lindsey

Website | Twitter

From Writer to Writer: Ken Armstrong of Writing Stuff

Ken ArmstrongMeet Ken Armstrong

I write plays mostly. Theatre plays, radio plays and some film stuff too. Also stories. And there’s this one novel that…oh, never mind.

Ken’s Advice for Handling Rejection

Firstly – hurt. You’re allowed to hurt so don’t fight it, it’s only natural. It’s a rejection, it’s not supposed to make you waltz around the kitchen.

Now, collect yourself. You haven’t read the thing in a while because it’s been out getting rejected. Read it now, cold. Is it as good as you thought it was when you sent it out? No, of course it isn’t. Fix that.

Did you get some reasons for the rejection? 90% of the reasons will be pure bullshit, obviously, but find the 10% of truth and work on that too.

Shine the thing up and, if you still think it’s any good, send it out again to some other poor sod.

Then, most importantly, while it’s out getting rejected again, write the next big thing so you’re not preternaturally focused on this one thing that keeps getting rejected.

The next thing you write will be much better than the ‘reject’. You have my word on that.

Connect With Ken

Writing Stuff | Twitter

From Writer to Writer: Susan Ross on Self-Publishing

Susan RossMeet Susan Ross

I am a self-published children’s author with 4 books: The Great Bellybutton Cover-up, Say Please to the Honeybees, The Kit Kat Caper, and The Rose & the Lily. I published my first book in 2008. Three of my books were created while I was a storyteller.

Fifteen years or so ago, I started writing my stories down after a woman said I should write them for my (as yet non-existent) grandchildren. I sent one book out to traditional publishers. After a few rejections—in defense of the editors I did change the book considerably before publishing it—and frustrations with the typewriter, I ended up shoving my manuscripts in the closet.

Years later I saw The Bucket List. That movie, combined with the new technology of computers, prompted me to start writing again, and now the rest is history. What I like about self-publishing is that it’s the fastest route to publication, and it lets me have total control.

All books combined, I’ve sold around 5,000 copies, mostly of The Great Bellybutton Cover-up.

Susan’s Self-Publishing Tips

  • I read my manuscripts to hundreds of children and make tons of revisions before publishing. I also hire an art student to do  illustrations and hire a professional for feedback on the manuscript.
  • If you have the means and the time to promote your book, self-publish. One of the best means of self-promotion is through the use of promotional products. Companies like Quality Logo Products, Inc. offer a wide variety of different promotional items to help you promote your brand. Another option is to get a print-on-demand (POD) company so you don’t have to lay out a ton of money (like I did). For a small investment ($300 not including art, layout, professional editing) you can get your books on and buy some to sell on your own. You won’t make as much money, but you won’t have as many headaches either.
  • Before you go this route, however, you need input from your target audience. This does NOT include family and friends. Make sure your book is as good as you think it is before you invest your time and money. (I had to scrap one book because what I thought was funny kids thought was mean. Live and learn!)
  • If you have not written multiple drafts/revisions, odds are your work is not ready for the public.

 Connect With Susan

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

From Writer to Writer: Natalia Sylvester

natalia sylvesterMeet Natalia Sylvester

I’m a fiction writer represented by Foundry Literary + Media. My articles have appeared in publications such as Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Latina magazine. A proud English major, I studied creative writing at University of Miami. After graduating in 2006, I worked briefly as the managing editor of a start-up magazine before deciding to freelance full-time. I have since worked with several editing clients on their novels, non-fiction book proposals, short stories and feature articles to help them improve their craft and move closer to publication.

Natalia’s Advice on Being a Newbie

Every story will feel like a first story, because even though you may have written several before, and you have proof— in black and white, in pixels and prose—that you’ve done this before, one finished story does not guarantee the completion of a next.

Because we don’t know where our ideas or inspiration come from, we don’t know if they’ll ever grace us again with their presence. Sometimes it’ll feel like all you really have to go off of is this stubborn, crazy idea that you want to be a writer.

I don’t say this to scare you off—on the contrary, I say it because writing often feels so solitary. You’ll read the blog posts and Twitter feeds of all those who’ve done this before you and it’ll feel like they’re up on this pedestal that you’re dying to climb onto…except no one is showing you the way.

You start to feel left behind, and somehow it feels like the only way to catch up is to research—read the thousands of writing blogs and agent Twitter feeds and how-to-write-a-query resources like it’s your job.

But it’s not. If you want to want to be a writer, write.

It seems simple and obvious, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so easy to get caught up on the wrong side of the process: there’s writing, and then there’s publishing. Publishing is a business, writing is an art.

When you’re an aspiring author and you dream about getting an agent and eventually a book deal, it’s very possible you’ll become obsessed with both sides of this process. I definitely did, and I can tell you that only one of these obsessions is the healthy kind.

Drown yourself in writing if you have to. Write even when you fear it, even when it’s crap, because if you can find your way back to the surface from those depths you’ll emerge a stronger writer.

Educate yourself on the publishing industry but realize it’s not your job to swim in it. For every story that brings you hope (the “overnight” successes, the six-figure book deals for debut novels, the writer who had 15 agents wanting to represent her) you’ll find several that show a somber reality. You’ll read about bookstores closing and authors whose first, second, or even third books didn’t sell, and those who (even when they did sell) struggled to market themselves and get those sales numbers up.

You’ll feel empowered by your knowledge of the industry on one day and be completely overwhelmed the next. On those days, what else can you really do but keep writing?

Think of the craft as your life preserver, the thing that keeps you afloat when you’re not sure you can keep going. Publishing is the shore—it could be miles away, or it could be just over the horizon. The only way to find out is to keep swimming.

Connect With Natalia

Finding Truth Through Fiction| Twitter