Friday, November 25, 2011


Hello. My name is Steven. My name is common enough that I spent some time searching for a usable pseudonym. (Really, I've been to parties -- not family parties mind you -- where I wasn't the only Steven Black on the guest list.)

I am an amateur writer. I like to write. I have a day job. I would like writing to be my day job, but I am willing to wait until I can write my stories for my day job before I leave my current job.

I've settled on using the name "S. W. Black" for my writing. I don't know that I'm happy with it. I don't know that I'll actually end up using that name for all my writing. It is what I'm using for now, though. We'll see whether I use it when it gets time to actually publish something. Considering my past two NaNoWriMo novels have been a YA Fantasy (with fairies and magic) and a SciFi/Horror (with zombies) it may make sense to draw some separation between some of my work.

I am a polytheist and this will come through in my writing. Not preachy, mind you, (I don't pretend to have any particular answers), but my characters are non-homogenous. They're not all straight, they're not all the same ethnic background, they're not all the same religion, etc. The goal is to be varied and realistic. Whether I succeed or not on that account makes the difference between whether I write crap with mostly (or totally) stale lifeless characters or whether every character comes to life for the reader. I won't know my success on that account until I get something edited to a point I can start looking to get it published.

I try to be realistic. Once I think I have something edited to the point I can start shopping it around (since both novels I've written so far have been for NaNoWriMo they need serious editing) I expect to get a lot of rejection slips. I'm hoping I can get 100 or more a year for the first book, then move on to shopping around the second book.

Specifically, the order is:
  1. Edit a book to a point I feel comfortable shopping it around. This means one required rewrite, followed by a brief friends/family read and some additional edits. Included in this, any NaNoWriMo novel meant for an adult market needs a wordcount bumped up to at least 75K (from the NaNoWriMo "winning" count of 50K).
  2. Start shopping the novel around. Shop one novel a year. Try to get 100 rejections or more in a year. Once I get to this stage, perhaps I can find someone else who is about to start shopping their novel around, then we can see who can get the most rejections in a year.
  3. File and ignore most of the rejections. When someone mentions specific advice that makes sense take that advice -- but in the next novel. Unless someone wants to buy the novel currently being shopped around it gets no additional edits. Previous novels never get additional work -- unless someone wants to buy them.
  4. While shopping the last novel, work on a new novel. Get it rewriten and edited. That will become the novel being shopped around the following year.
  5. There are no sequels until the first in the series is bought. Until someone bites on the first of a series, any work on a sequel is a waste of time.
  6. At any time if I need I break I can write a short story. The caveat is that the short story needs to tie in to either the novel currently being shopped around or the current work-in-progress. The short story becomes a method to bring people in to an existing world of mine. The short story becomes a marketing tool and has value even when given away for free.
  7. Don't spend too long shopping short stories around. If they don't have buyers give them away, either as text or read-aloud.
  8. Keep it up. Write every day and work on increasing the rejection count.
  9. I should expect it to take at least five years of solid writing before any of my novels are actually sellable. It might be less. It might be more. Maybe the fifth novel I write won't suck. Maybe I'll actually be a real paid novelist before I get my 475th rejection letter. We shall see.
 That is my plan. It incorporates advice I've heard from a number of places over the years. I think it is realistic.

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