Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

January 13, 2011

Notes from April Eberhardt’s Lecture

Filed under: Motivations,Technique,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 11:09 am
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The following notes were taken by  Lisa Nowak and Alice Lynn at the Willamette Writers Meeting on January 4, 2011:

The publishing models are changing.  Power is shifting to the author.

The Big Six publishers are offering fewer books and their share of the market is dropping.  The count of e-Books and self-published books has risen to over a million and that number is bound to increase.  Authors and readers no longer need big publishers the way they used to

At the end of 2010, there were 10.3 million e-readers, up from 3 million in 2009

E-Books comprise 1/3 of all sales now, jumping up from 1/2 of 1%

There are more options now to getting published.  Authors need to make more informed choices and must check their individual goals.  Some options include publishing with Scrib, Smashwords, and Publication Studio, located in Portland. The hybrid models include a sharing of costs and profits between the agent or publisher and the author

The route you choose today can change tomorrow.  You need to stay on top of the latest changes.  But some successful authors are going to self-publishing.

There are three publishing choices:

  • Traditional: using an agent
  • Submitting to small and University presses
  • E-Books

Traditional publishing can include not only the big presses (like The Big Six) but also the smaller presses.  However, agents rarely submit to smaller presses.

Traditional Model


  • Someone else does much of the footwork
  • You enjoy the status of being published by a major house


  • Chances of finding an agent are slim
  • The chances of an agent actually selling your work to a publisher are slim and getting slimmer.
  • Advances are shrinking, and in some cases, non-existent.
    • Advances now range from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars (down from the 6 figure numbers of old); Advance are paid in dribs and drabs over a long period of time, like a year, and maybe more.  They stretch it out.
  • It can take up to 2 years (or as long as 4) to actually see your book in print.
  • Even with a publisher, you need to do much of the marketing yourself
    • You’ll need to set up and maintain a website
    • Publicize yourself
    • Pay for much of or all of book tours
  • You lose all your rights; e-rights, movie rights, re-print rights etc.
  • If your first book doesn’t sell well, they won’t even look at your next one.
  • You may or may not make a profit.
  • Big publishers are looking for blockbusters.

Small and Independent Presses


  • You may get a small advance, set up book cover, some marketing
  • Status of being published by an established press


  • You will need to do the research —lots of it—before choosing who to submit to.
  • You may not hear back for two years if at all on submission
  • Competition is fierce
  • Advances are often non-existent
  • If accepted, it can still take 2 years to publication
  • You have to do most of the marketing yourself
  • You probably won’t make a profit
  • Chances of acceptance are small



  • You’re in control
  • You retain all your rights (very important)
  • Once your cost is recovered, you make a profit
  • You can choose, change or redesign your book and/or cover
  • You can do two versions of the same book for different markets (some folks have)
  • You can write in different genres (some traditional publishers frown on this)
  • Relatively easy and inexpensive
  • The web is an easy and cost effective marketing resource


  • There is still something of a stigma to self-publishing
  • There is a public perception that self-published books are second rate, though putting out your best work, carefully edited and presented, will help to dispel that idea; there have been cases where self-published works have been picked up by an agent or traditional publisher and become very successful.
  • You still have to market and promote your book, but you control the expenditures.

Advice about self-publishing:

  • Be sure you have a good story!!!
  • It has to be well written!!
  • It has to be edited; hire a professional freelancer to edit before submission
  • Critique groups and Trade critiques are also good
  • It’s good to have a book that fits in a niche
  • Check out the web and explore
  • Create an arresting cover; even for e-Books. Covers sell!  Get a pro to do it.
  • Tune up your marketing skills
  • You can hire professionals who are out of a job for specialized things like layouts, editing, or cover design and marketing.
  • Network with friends and associates

Check out Publisher’s Weekly.  Sometimes they review self-published books.

Bookstores aren’t really a good deal…although Powell’s carried some self-published work.  A possible way to get your self-published work into a bookstore would be to organize a group of writers to approach them.

Lightning Source (a publishing option) works with Ingrams who will distribute your book to bookstores (of course they get a % as does the bookstore!).

Be active in blog tours; maybe someone will give you an interview in one.

Traditional publishers will usually do a run of 5,000 to 10,000 books for a new author; if they don’t sell, they’re “re-possessed” and dumped in a landfill.  😦

Investment in Self Publishing: About $3,000 includes:

  • Professional editing
  • Proper layout
  • Cover design

Marketing and Promotion

The Hybrid Model of Self-Publishing covers

  • Cover design
  • Layout
  • Editing
  • They develop a website to market your book to a targeted audience

Contact “agent presses” prior to self-publishing.

Marketing through Facebook is also an option

Using your email contacts, send an announcement, a synopsis, a thumbnail of the cover, and ask if they would tell the people they know about your book.

Go to a topic related to your book on the Internet; find site sthat might or would be interested in your book and see if you can link to them and/or advertise on their site.

Google “New Publishing Models”


December 28, 2010

Let a Little Physical Activity Jog your Creativity

Filed under: Motivations,Resources,Technique,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 11:24 am
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When I’m writing I sometimes have trouble getting the words to flow, but I’ve found that a little physical activity will jog loose those ideas. I bought a digital recorder to capture my inspirations, and now I carry it with me whenever I take a walk or a drive. The model I use is a Panasonic RR-US450. It allows you to store up to 99 files in each of its folders, and you have to make a conscious effort to erase one, so you can’t accidentally record over your old thoughts, the way you can with tapes. This machine comes with software that allows you to download your notes to a computer. The voice recognition feature isn’t the greatest, but I understand that you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking once the files are on your computer. Even without that feature, keyboard commands allow you to stop and start the file so you don’t have to interrupt your typing to pause the recording. In addition, the recording reverses by several words when you resume playing, so if you’re a lousy typist like me, you can easily catch what you missed.

October 1, 2010

Are You Up For NaNoWriMo?

Filed under: Motivations,Resources,Writing — K. @ 10:55 pm

Who’s with me? I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which starts November 1st. Thirty days, 50k words. My fingers will be flying. I think it will be the breakthrough I need, to get out of my monkey mind which immediately criticizes every word I set down. No time for critiquing, just get it down and collect the prize (the right to post a NaNoWriMo Winner badge on your blog).

I don’t know what I’ll be writing. I might pull out an abandoned WIP and rewrite from scratch. Or maybe a brand new idea will pop into my head and I’ll go with that. Just need to go with something.

~~~ Kathie

more blogging here

June 1, 2010

Will the Writer Sign Her Real Name?

By Ben Fredricson

I used a pen name on the very first piece I brought to Chrysalis to be critiqued.

“Why are you doing that?” one of the ladies asked.

“I just feel better writing under a pen name,” I said.

“We’ll help you get over that really quick,” she said.

I shrugged.  I hadn’t told her the truth.  No way.  The truth was too full of stars and fireworks.  But folks probably laughed, too,  when a ten-year-old Walt Disney told them he wanted to grow up and build a real fairytale.  Noooo, it was better to keep quiet.

You see, I just knew my words were so magnificent and overwhelming that I’d soon have to wear sunglasses to Fred Meyer because fans would bug me as I pinched peaches and filled my shopping cart with those expensive cocktail crackers and brie.

I wanted a pen name, so I could live my life in anonymity away from the paparazzi that plagued J.K. Rowling and me .

And then, I actually got a few lines published in the Oregonian.  It was a thrill to see my words in print for the first time. But…No one believed it was me. “That’s not your name,” one of the critique peers said.

“But it is me.  I used a pen name,” I tried to convince her.  She just looked at me as though I was off my meds.

So…should you use a pen name?

Well, if your name is  a real tongue-twister, you may want to try on a different moniker.

Or if you think it gives you better branding: Try Marketta Twain

Or if you’re published under hot & heavy  romance pulp and want to submit to children’s or Christian magazines, then you might consider a different name.

I soon learned the hard way that I wouldn’t have to worry about throngs of fans digging through my trash to find discarded drafts of my latest novel. I also learned how hard it was to build a portfolio of clips around my name if I kept changing it.

Okay, you can stop laughing now. There’s nothing wrong with using a pen name. Just make it clear to your editor which is your pen name and which is your real name.  I asked one of my editors if I could publish a newspaper article  under a pen.   I simply wanted some clips under that name in case I ever wanted to use it.   I had to have it approved by the managing editor and then it threw the payroll lady for a loop.  NOTE:  You may also have to explain to your bank why you’re trying to cash checks with your alias. You’re laughing again, aren’t you?

So go ahead.  Be Brit Goodwitch or Brandi Golucky, there are lots of reasons to pick a pen name…but I can assure you that fear of fame isn’t one of them.


Barb   a.k.a.  Angelina Jolly

January 19, 2010

The Tao of Creativity

I posted this on my personal blog about two weeks ago and had such great feedback from other writers that I thought I’d share it with the Chrysalis crowd.

From The Tao of Webfoot, January 7, 2010

As I peruse blogs and read other people’s books, I struggle daily with a list of shoulds. I should strike every “was” and adverb from my prose. I should add a bunch of controversial subject matter to my stories. I should enter every writing contest that I can. I should build a huge web presence. I should come up with some brilliant ploy to drive rush-hour volume traffic to my blog.

Or should I? Let’s face it—my voice wants to come out more conversational than literary. Edginess is not something that feels natural to my stories, and I don’t think my target audience would like it. I’m not a contest person; words don’t immediately drip from my fingers. In fact, for me, initial ideas are the hardest part of being creative. I am not a daily blogger. Marketing doesn’t come as naturally to me as breathing, the way it does for Shelli Johannes-Wells, and I haven’t been blindsided by any genius inspirations, like Casey McCormick’s Agent Spotlight.

I don’t think I can change these things. Not easily. And the fact is, I shouldn’t. While the writing process takes dedication and hard work, it should also be organic to who you are. If you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, the creativity will flow. The work won’t seem like work, because your passion and talent will carry you. All these people who I envy and admire aren’t finding their success because they’re trying to be something they’re not. They’re finding it because they’re following their true nature.

The philosophy of Taoism has a name for this: Wei wu wei, “doing without doing”. If you can’t wrap your mind around that, think of water, which is soft and weak, yet can wear away stone. A second concept goes hand in hand with this: P’u, the Uncarved Block. P’u, is a person’s natural state, their innate self, free of prejudices and misconceptions. The idea is that things are most perfect in this state. When you put these concepts together you come up with the following philosophy: By being true to ourselves, rather than striving to be something we’re not, things will come with less effort, and we will be happier.

The uncarved block

A lot of envy and self-doubt comes with writing. Not just for the un-published crowd, but for established, award-winning authors. These feelings are a fallacy. A time sink that robs our creativity and distracts us from our work.  We all have our unique strengths, and that’s how it should be. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from your path by the glitter of someone else’s gifts. Your own are just as dazzling.

November 11, 2009

From the Beginning…

Filed under: Contests,Motivations,Technique,Writing — Barb @ 12:43 am
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Okay,  Put your thinking caps on.

Your job is to come up with a simple sentence. The beginning hook for a story. It must be based off the picture below. Funny, sad…whatever.

Post your one sentence hooks in the comments. Enter as often as you wish.

We’ll announce the winner in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure what the prize is yet, but you’ll have to come to Chrysalis to get it.

Have fun. Get Creative.

June 26, 2009

Information for Writers

gadls thesis

gadl's thesis

Hi lady writers,

I’m copying and pasting some important information from Terripatrick.  She put it in a comment that got hung up in a post, and I don’t want you to miss it.

“Here’s two wonderful agents that blog – and they really do love writers.
Jenny Bent: and here’s a link to her take on conferences:

“Kristen Nelson: There’s tons of great information on this blog, she’s been posting for a long time and covers all kinds of publishing business topics.

I agree with Terri.  I like to set aside a few moments to read agent’s blogs. It keens one’s ability to keep up with what agents/publishers are searching for.

And Yes, they are still looking for crisp language with an inciting plot and memorable characters. But with 10-30 seconds to review your submission, your brilliance may be overlooked unless you have some help.

Check this out. Does anyone have other helpful blogs they’d like to add to this share?

June 3, 2009

YooHoo! There’s a Contest Over Here

by  athena

by athena

Is it worthwhile to enter contests?

Well, the folks that win them sure think it is. Besides, it allows you to stretch your writing muscles and step outside of your comfort zone of reading to your fellow critique members.  Here’s a contest that accepts fiction as well as other genres.

Visions, the literary journal of the NorthWest Arkansas Community College accepts submissions of poetry, short fiction, and digital artwork year-round. The only criterion for publication is excellence.

While there’s no monetary reward, it does build up your writing profile. And it doesn’t cost anything except the postage and ink.

Surely, each of you already have a something in your files to send off.

Good Luck!

May 7, 2009

Women Writing without Claws

Filed under: Critiques,Motivations,Sisterhood,Writing — Barb @ 3:54 pm
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In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to post about the sisterhood found among friends.

I’ve seldom thought of my mother as a girl with friends.

I cubbyholed her as “Mother,” until she had a stroke and our roles switched. It was at that point I wondered about her dreams.  Did she go to dances and giggle with her friends about boys? What did she tell her friends that she felt on her wedding day? Was it the support of her friends that allowed her to endure the hard life she had?

I asked her about the  hopes of her heart, but I discovered that her disappointments and secret yearnings were only shared with friends; with me she took the steady philosophy of “Mother”, and said,  “There’s responsibilities to do…so you do it.”

That’s when I realized that often it’s our friends that contribute to the untold stories within our lives. Perhaps we should celebrate “Friend Day” right after Mother’s day?

Perhaps that’s the beauty of an all-woman critique group? In addition to writers, we’ve become friends, helping mid-wife the words of our stories  and holding the chapters of each others’ lives.

April 23, 2009

Finding Your Creep Factor

Filed under: Motivations,Technique,Writing — Barb @ 9:05 pm
Tags: , ,

In my writing notebook, I keep  pages on things that comfort and things that make me shiver.

I try to write phrases. For instance: “spiders on the neck” evokes more yeowww-

Grow on You by lucy and bart

"Grow on You" by lucy and bart

factor than “spiders on the wall.”

“Golden Lighting on fat pillows” gives me more “aaaaahhhh”, than “fat pillows on shag carpet.”

So…for our writing exercise today, look at the two pictures below.

Which picture creeps you out more?   And why?

exploded view by lucy and bart

"exploded view" by lucy and bart

Dig deep. Find your feelings.

Express Yourself.

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