Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Writer Beware

Transparency is everywhere in the publishing industry these days. Right?

In the last ten years entire industries have evolved to assist writers. These industries include freelance editors, publishers, formatters, publicists, blog schedulers, conferences, workshops, speakers, web designers, SEO experts, social media experts and sites, stock photo sites, personal assistants, software, hardware, ...and the list goes on and on.

 Wouldn't it be totally helpful if writers had a rating system for these services?  

Sort of a Yelp site that was only for writers... 

Or a maybe a nutritional label that all author service providers had to post on their website? 

Alas, we are not there yet. However, I have compiled some helpful tips on key areas for you to review as you manage the maze of your career and perform your own...

1. Snake Oil and Other Products

Everybody wants a get rich scheme. Everyone wants to be a writer. And for everyone who wants to get rich/publish instantly, there is a person willing to sell you a product to make your dream come true overnight.

Writer do your homework.

Sadly, many writers don't know the difference between self- publishing, a vanity/subsidy press, a small press, an independent press, a book packager, a publishing service,  and a traditional publisher. (Is there a difference between an indie press and a POD press?) 

These same writers are in such a rush to publish they fail to understand who they are working with, and fail to look at the rights they just signed away. 

Everything you ever wanted to know or not know about vanity/subsidy presses is here in this SFWA post. More writing organizations should be publishing information to help educate their members on publishing bewares!

Make informed choices is the bottom line.

Other snake oil:

Writing software that costs a fortune and promises to write your book for you.

Writing conferences and writing organizations that do nothing to advance your writing career.  

Social media gurus who will market your books across multiple platforms for a fee. Check out this Writer Beware article: Beware Social Media Snake Oil.

Publications that offer you the reward of being published with no pay, merely copies of the publication. They tout this as getting you into print and that this will look good on your resume.

Beware of contests and awards that require you to purchase the anthologies that your book, poem or novella appears in. 

Tchotchkes that that have little or no ROI (Return on Investment), but are the latest trend. Unless of course you make so much money that you're simply looking for a tax write off.

Beware free. I am personally not a proponent of free. We could talk free until Mary Connealy's cows come home, but this is my opinion. I don't write or work for free. Please make very informed decisions about your choices when it comes to free. While I do give away books and tithe my time and expertise, the bottom line is still this: 

Writing is a business. The point of a business is to MAKE money.

2. The Professional Expert.

Cheryl St. John addresses the professional experts (though not by this moniker) in her Writer's Digest Book, Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict: Techniques for Crafting an Expressive and Compelling Novel.

"There are a lot of books and articles on writing. Always look at the source. Study the instructor's work. Don't write by anyone else's rules without knowing that the concept behind a rule works and is proven."

I am astounded by the number of writers who pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for books, classes, workshops, memberships and evaluations by people who have no credentials. I'm not saying they have to be a writer, but they should be qualified in their field as evidenced by their body of work and they should only be teaching on that which they are qualified to teach. 

Wouldn't a nutrition label be warranted here? 100 % Baloney? 80 % Malarkey?

Anyone can put up a shingle and call themselves an expert on writing, marketing, SEO, social media, publicity, or horse manure. What are their credentials to do the job? Read their bio and then stop throwing money at non-experts.

Don't take my word for it. Try Forbes magazine: Are You Dealing With A Real Expert Or A Fake? 7 Ways To Tell.   From that article:  "Real experts focus on their field, not themselves." -Lev Kaye

Writer Beware!
Beware empty rhetoric claiming expertise.
Titles mean nothing. 
Avoid herd mentality. 

Avoid herd mentality, UNLESS they are singing QUEEN!
3. The Rules

There are lots of rules out there:

“Show, don’t tell.”
“Write what you know.”
“Kill the internal editor.”


Stephen King's  Top 20 Rules for Writers

Elmore Leonard's Rules for Writers

Need more? Tips from the Masters

After critiquing hundred of manuscripts and judging the same number of contests it's my personal opinion that the one type of writer that is most worrisome is the vanilla writer. The writer who is technically perfect and receives top scores in every category except one. Voice.

They have edited or ruled the voice out of their writing.

Beware: Lest you become the vanilla writer. 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch discusses this in detail in Serious Writer Voice. If you haven't read it, do. 

Beware the rules:  study them, learn them, and then go out and break a few. 

4. Critique Groups

I'm going to admit that this is one of my biggest bewares. Not a fan of critique groups. I've seen myself and others waste a lot of time in different groups where:

non-productiveness is tolerated.

food is more important than writing.

the blind lead the blind......for years.

writing legalism is more important than submitting to an editor or finishing a manuscript.
voice is consistently stomped out of writers.
Be very careful. When you publish, your editor becomes your critique partner. What is important to your traditional or small press editor is not going to be anything close to what is important to your critique group. Know what's important as far as the big picture. If you don't know what a deal breaker is..ASK someone.

Remember that if you wait for your critique partner, or even beta reader to return pages you may slow or stall your career.

I'm not talking about those people who do the final read of our story for typos and glaring inconsistencies. We all have those types of readers or writing partners.

I'm talking about being unable to trust your own writing.  

That said, here are two Seekerville posts on the topic from the archives, which share opposing views. The Art of Critique and CPFs – Finding and Keeping a Critique Partner Forever (or at least for 3 years…).

5. Social Media 

Contrary to what you are told regarding Facebook, Instagram Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads,  Pinterest, YouTube and every other new social media site popping up, the primary job of social media is not to sell your book.   

Social media is all about engagement.  Social media is for building relationships and staying on top of the trends, and nuances of an industry which changes faster than you can Like or Follow or Tweet.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy ads or post or Tweet. It means that social media should be a small part of your arsenal. You should know what your ROI is on any given site where you are spending a large amount of time. If you don't know, you are throwing money and time away.

This line from my 2013 post, The Everyday Author's Guide to Establishing a Book Marketing Plan, has not changed:  If you are spending valuable writing time doing blog tours, setting up Rafflecopters, ad campaigns, Tweeting, E-mail blasting, Facebook parties, and monitoring pricing algorithms, you should at least have data to show that there is a direct correlation to the time spent and increased book sales or VISIBILITY.

How much time should you be spending on social media? You tell me. Ask Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling if they are tweeting, liking, and pinning all day instead of writing. 

Beware: If the time you are spending per day on social media exceeds the number of hours a day you are writing your next book, then consider that you may have a social media addiction.

 Social Media Addiction is a Bigger Problem than You Think -ComputerWorld. 

"The best solution I'm aware of is to visit social networking sites once per day. Schedule it. And keep track of how much time you're spending there." -ComputerWorld

6. Purveyors of Doom

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.

Doom and gloomers don't have a new message. It's the same old one:

"It's harder to get published. Authors don't make money. Historicals are dead. Women's Fiction is dead. [Insert genre here] is dead. Amazon is taking over the world. The ebook fiction market is saturated. There isn't enough time to write.Traditional publishing will disappear, as will print books."

Those of us who have been around the block know a few things that the doom and gloomers choose to ignore.
 It's always been tough to get published traditionally, but now you have options.
Whatever the market trends, a fabulous story will sell eventually.
The market is cyclic. Hang on to what's dead, in a year it will be hot again. 
Writers who consistently produce, are the writers who will be here a year from now, consistently cashing checks.
Amazon isn't the enemy.  
 No one has enough time to write. It doesn't matter if writing is your day job or your night job. That's life. Deal with it.

These are exciting times for publishing. Fasten your seat belts as the publishing models continue to change faster than we can learn new software. Who will succeed in this new publishing landscape? The flexible and the consistent. 

Misery loves company. Beware the Eeyores and instead, make a decision to remain positive and productive.

7. Agents

First a few adages on agents:
An agent works for you. You do not work for the agent.
A bad agent is worse than no agent.
Let's throw out some agent bewares. (Bewares = Red Flags)

Queried agent requests an unreasonable period of exclusivity.
Queried agent requests that you sell a book before she will offer a contract.
Agent doesn't behave in a professional manner and/or requires upfront fees. 
Your agent fails to respond to communications in a timely manner.
Your agent is unable or unwilling to tell you where she submitted your manuscript/s or has failed to submit your manuscript/s.
Your agent does not offer to have career discussions with you.
Your agent is a writer and his/her career comes first.
Your agent has not sold anything.
Your agent has done nothing to advance your career and there is no evidence of effort.
The list of authors who left this agent is longer than the list of current clients.
Agent has nonexistent references.
Agent has no contacts in the publishing industry.
Author has to apprise agent of industry news. 

A final word:

 Don't take my word for anything. It's up to you to do your own homework.

Things to remember as you proceed:
Due diligence is the process of systematically researching and verifying the accuracy of a statement. TechTarget.com
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. 
Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by ("common to") nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without any need for debate. Thomas Paine
Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Where to find help as you complete your due diligence, or if you have problems or questions about a service provider.

The Better Business Bureau

Publishers Marketplace

Writer Beware

Predators and Editors

Authors Guild Member Services-Legal Services

RWA Qualifying Markets  ( & Statement against predatory publishers)

Association of Authors Representatives ( Read the newsletter on their webpage here)

Anything you'd like to add? Your experiences? Questions about any of these resources or bewares? I invite our commenters to assist you.

Please do comment but, please do not use  the names of any real people, businesses or books in the comments unless it is a positive remark. Be kind, but honest.

Comment today to get your name tossed in the tin can for a first chapter critique of up to 20 pages (My expertise is as a writer. I am not an editor.), and to another commenter, a surprise package of books and a tea or coffee surprise -winner's choice. (The books are free here to introduce you to new writers. I paid for the books. They are not really free.) Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.

This post was brought to you by Seeker Tina Radcliffe who strongly suggests that you do as she says and not as she does. Tina's sold seven books to Love Inspired. Her January release is the fifth in the Paradise, Colorado series-Rocky Mountain Reunion 

The views expressed in this post are mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of the other 12 blog members who collectively equal Seekerville.


  1. Thank you Tina! I found your article very informative and encouraging.

  2. I think just like anything, check your sources! Would you, say for example, hire a plumber without first researching that particular company and/or individual? Or a contractor, or any such profession, I think NOT! That would be like letting your 2 year old grand-girl run new wiring in your house, yikes! I can see where it's the same for authors :-)

    Great advice for writers Tina! Has anyone told you lately that YOU ROCK? Please toss my name in the tin can for a surprise package of books and tea/coffee!

  3. Great advice Tina. I love how direct you are! Keeps me on my toes and focused. Thanks for the excellent links. Please put me in for the 20 page critique. I've had one critique from you and it was spot on.

  4. Great advice for writers (and as a blogger too, I find good advice here on Seekerville). Thanks Tina! You're sure on top of things!

    Please throw my name in for the surprise books and tea/coffee. Many thanks!

  5. Thanks, Trixi. Common Sense. A little goes a long way. You are entered.

  6. Terri, you are in! Thank you for the kind words. You know me. Direct is my middle name. I am apparently very literal too. Realized that recently. HA!

  7. Hey, JC Annie. You are in!

    Gotta share the advice. Can't let my peeps mess up.

  8. Go Tina!!! Great tips!!!

    Definitely know what you're signing in a contract and what a vanity press is and when to use one (very rarely anymore, though there could be some instances in the past - like a traveling speaker to sell etc but very rare).

    As for free...I have two free samples out there. Two free books. And they've driven traffic to the others like I never would have believed. Going permafree with those two has been huge for me. I also did a newsletter freebie of a novella for a couple months - TONS of new subscribers that way. But limited time. And as part of a larger strategy but not just willy nilly.

    Last week, There was a blog post open letter to opera and a follow up by an author who is a top selling indie but whose name I can't remember about free. Was a very interesting read.

  9. Hi Tina:

    This may be the best post on writing I've ever read on the internet. I can't wait to read and paste all those links in my Scrivener Writing Project for future instant access.

    BTW: You wrote this:

    "We could talk free until Mary Connealy's cows come home,"

    but I'm not sure what that means.

    Aren't cows already at home on their range? Maybe a rancher can tell us how long it takes cows to come home when they are not in fact at home.


  10. It's a post like this that makes me very glad I am a reader and not a writer. Loads of sensible advise here.

  11. Hmm. Social media addiction... Need to think about that, lol. Loads of sensibility here. Following any of this advice will not cause you to end up in a bad place.

  12. No, doubt about it. Free works.

    I'm simply opposed to it. :)

  13. Vince,
    From the Phrase Finder:

    Cows are notoriously languid creatures and make their way home at their own unhurried pace. That's certainly the imagery behind 'till the cows come home' or 'until the cows come home', but the precise time and place of the coining of this colloquial phrase isn't known. It was certainly before 1829 though, and may well have been in Scotland. The phrase appeared in print in The Times in January that year, when the paper reported a suggestion of what the Duke of Wellington should do if he wanted to maintain a place as a minister in Peel's cabinet:

    If the Duke will but do what he unquestionably can do, and propose a Catholic Bill with securities, he may be Minister, as they say in Scotland "until the cows come home."

  14. Voni, I had to think about that one myself.

    Am I a social media addict??

    Egads. Don't tell the children.

  15. The most excellent post ever!

    Radcliffe, I support and underscore every one of your bewares!!!! And I know what Carol is saying, it's like using extra worms to lure a school of fish to notice your worms, and they get a sample taste, but you're right, my job as a small business is to make money, pay the mortgage and eat tuna sandwiches so I meet my goals! :)

    One comment: I still see people spending A Lot Of Money working with groups/"schools"/even industry professionals with little or no return on their investment. If someone is offering you a $1000 course.... or a $10,000 package... to help you be a better writer, you better believe I'd be asking to see which of their proteges landed lucrative contracts.

    The Proof is always in the Pudding. Always.

    If there is no return on investment, or very little, and they fool you, that's just kinda your fault.

    Turn around, walk away, sit down and do your job.

    But having said that, didn't stats show a few years ago that like over 85% of people in writers' organizations really like the social aspect more than the work aspect? And that's okay, because not everyone is meant to do this... But darlings, you can enjoy the social atmosphere without shelling out the Big Bucks, can't you????

    Protect your wallet. Please.

  16. WOW!!! What a post!!! This is so extensive and awesome.
    And 80% malarkey...hahahaa, that line made me smile at 6 AM. lol

  17. TOP NOTCH, MEATY POST, TINA! Every writer should bookmark this and read it again and again.

  18. Good morning Tina.

    Love this common sense post! So many great reminders.

    I don't even like social media unless I'm trying to avoid doing something.

    I'm with you on the conferences/organizations/contests. The conferences are great if I have at least a couple of books to sell. If I just need a pep talk, it'd be cheaper to call my critique partner. (Honestly, it is the social aspect I love about conferences. It's fun visiting w/like-minded people.)

    I always thought "until the cows come home," meant they never returned after getting out. If our cows ever get out of a fence, they graze in the ditches or neighbors pastures and just keep going and going. But now I know the rest of the story...

  19. Good morning Tina.

    I love what you said about social media being about relationships. I don't have the biggest numbers on any of my social media. Yesterday was my birthday, and for some reason my son checked Facebook when he got to work yesterday and noticed quite a few people had already wished me happy birthday. So he checked again on his lunch break and this was our conversation when we all met for dinner. Scott and Tim couldn't believe I had over 200 people wish me happy birthday. They were sure I didn't know all the people, so I scrolled the list and told them how I knew each person. High school, church, other writers, and whatever. I was even surprised how many people I had a memory with (online prayer, met at conference, or know from the past/present.) So you're right about me. Social media is about relationships.

    I enjoyed your post today. Thanks for sharing!

  20. TINA!!! Bookmarking, printing and framing this post! What great advice. So many people get into this business without taking the time to learn and respect the art of writing! Everything you said is spot on.

    Thanks for the great advice and keep on rockin' until those cows come home. They always do....eventually. I've had to chase a few down myself.

    And Jackie, it doesn't surprise me at all that you had so many birthday wishes, cause you're awesome!

  21. This post will go in the front of my three, yes three, Seekerville notebooks. This is great stuff and so appreciated, Tina.
    "How much time should you be spending on social media? You tell me. Ask Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling if they are tweeting, liking, and pinning all day instead of writing." Amen! Working full-time, I must guard my writing time. My social media time is spent blogging. From my personal experience, I believe stronger connections are made. Seekerville is a great example of this. Thanks again, Tina...you rock!

  22. Tina,

    I don't mean to scare you, but we think a lot alike! Especially on the critique groups and agents!

    All of this is terrific advice for writers of any stage in their career.

    Something I'd like to add is: If you go to conferences and pay for critique by an editor or agent, keep in mind what they represent. I know someone who works on the same manuscript for years, changing it from a genre(mystery) manuscript to a literary work. This is a story aimed at pre-teens...do pre-teens read literary work? The writer came away very disillusioned after every critique. I know another children's author who stopped writing a historical novel because the editor who critiqued it at conference told her the story was gross. It was about Hugh Glass! The editor worked for a publishing house that published 'mean girl' fiction.

    So my word of warning is: Not every editor can give you an honest critique. Personal tastes or the genre their publishing house publishes sometimes get in the way. Look for conferences/critiques with editors and agents who handle the type of books you write.

  23. Tina, I read this whole article and stopped and paused along the way thinking about my own personal thoughts. I also wondered who penned this wonderful post full of reality. They have a brain, like the commercial says. Smile. It is so good and in depth with information, I've made a copy for my writing reference folder. When I read the credits and saw your name, boy was I impressed. Thanks for giving your time to help other writers be informed about the good, the bad and the ugly. I really admire your style. Happy Tuesday.

  24. Tina, Thank you for this post. I will be printing it out. I have a friend who went through the agony of getting her book back when the publisher went out of business. There is so much to learn and research before you take a leap!

    I will be checking out all the links.

    Please put my name in the can for a critique

  25. Wow! You've rocked it, Tina!! There's so much valuable information in your post, along with a bucket of cold water to douse gullibility.

    This was my favorite warning on so-called writing experts:

    Wouldn't a nutrition label be warranted here? 100 % Baloney? 80 % Malarkey?

    Now I'm cringing that I dare to offer advice without adding the caveat that this is how I do it, but it may not work for you. Thanks for the reminder.

    I love my critique partners. They don't tramp on my voice. More often than not, they're my go to gals for brainstorming and chatting about the story.


  26. Wow Teenster Super great post and really great information all aspiring writers should pay attention to. Not only aspiring but published also. So many of these things I learned the hard way back in the day. Would have so loved some of this info back then. But then again, sometimes we learn best by experience.

    Lost my voice once when listening to an editor I paid for. She rewrote the whole thing. My mother was the one who pointed out that it wasn't my story any more. But I was really anxious to get published so thought I was doing the right thing. So glad I discovered the error in time.

    I have used vanity press but at least I knew what it was and the difference between it and traditional publishers by then. I had a market already. The universities wanted to use Flower For Angela so I did pay to get them published and then resold them to the universities. So if you already have a market, they can be helpful. But like Tina said, do your homework. You don't want to give up the rights. I just needed them printed and that is what I got and what I paid for.

    Again, great post Tina. Thanks a bunch.

    And I think all of us Seekers would agree, the best thing to do to get published and be a success is write, write, write.

  27. Trixi, your comment made me laugh :)

    Tina, I KNEW this post was you before I even got halfway through. You have a definite voice as a blogger, just as you do as an author.

    It's important to do your homework before diving in on something, whether it's which plumber to hire or which literary agent to choose or...that comparison could go on forever. Thanks for the reminder, Tina.

    I'd love to have my name tossed in the tin can for that surprise package of books! Sounds like fabulous mail to receive ;)

  28. Vince, milk cows do come home. The path they tread is easy to see in the pasture. However the expression suggests a lengthy time. I'm sure they made the trip daily. Twice daily?


  29. Much respect, Tina. Much, much respect. Thanks for speaking the truth in love. Now I'm going back to my writer-mama cave and rethinking my social media ROI. I can't sell a Tweet, but I can sell a polished, page turning manuscript :-)

  30. Thank you, Ruthy. I always protect my wallet.

  31. Connie Queen,

    Judiciously choosing conferences that move your career forward. That is the key!

    I loooove conferences. But mustn't get caught up in the social too much or you are shelling out 1 to 2K to be social. ACK!!!

  32. Great article Tina but one thing missing - the most important thing I have done to advance my writing career, the most important source for information, the most expertise and willingness to share, the greatest encouragement just when you need it, can all be found in one place. Seekerville. Nuff said. No "Beware" signs hanging around here. I love this place.

  33. I second Cindy's comment. Seekerville is one of the best tools any writer can have in their toolbox. Here is about the only social media I need.

    Great links Tina! I knew this was a Tina post first paragraph in. You and Ruthy are the reality check, back o' the head Gibb's smack, kick in the keister encouragement Seekers. The TOUGH LOVE ladies, if you will. You want us to succeed and nurture us along and keep us grounded in reality. No snake oil solutions to be found here. No sireee!

    Greatly appreciated, btw.

  34. And what do I get this morning in my inbox from Pinterest????

    Salted Caramels, Cannoli and other topics picked for you

    Oh, get thee behind me, Satan!!!

    Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday dear Jackie
    Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!

  36. Guard the work!

    You nailed it, Jill.

    When everyone has taken their toys and gone home, that is the bottom line.

  37. Hi Tina:

    Talk about crystal clear!
    As I re-read your post this morning I think I stumbled upon a dual-meaning-sentence! Last night I took this sentence:

    "Let's throw out some agent bewares."

    to mean that the following 'beware' observations about agents were false and should be discarded (thrown out).

    However, this morning, on second thought, the sentence might not mean that at all.

    Did you mean you were just presenting agent comments and that they were not false?

    How about "Here are some agent bewares to consider?"


  38. Dear Leanne, my sponge friend.

    Thank you.

    And you keep soaking up the good stuff, ignoring the baloney.

  39. VINCE,

    Bewares in my world = red flags.

  40. Normally it might be scary that you and I are like minded, Rose, except I think after being around the block I kinda worry if we are not.

    Good advice.

  41. It's funny. I either disagree with or totally don't do at least half of Stephen King's tips, and a few of Elmore Leonard's tips, but I agree with all of yours, Tina. Good job. LOL! Stephen King knows what works for him, and we as writers have to figure out what works for us.
    And now I must go WORK! :-)

  42. Don't be too impressed. Any of the Seekers could have compiled this. We've all got "mature" stamped on our foreheads. I've been meaning to do this for some time, and in fact have put it off for like six months, only because it takes a lot of time.

    So I feel like I can check one more off my list. But I thank you for the kind words Suzanne! Always check out words in a blog post. Writer Beware.

  43. Go with your gut, Wilani. Go with your gut. When we look back at the major missteps in our life, I think we all can say that we had a feeling....

    Follow the lead on those feelings.

  44. Lots of great info, Tina! I hate it when people who want so badly to be published get sucked into something that costs them a ton of money.

    There's nothing like word of mouth recomendations to find trustworthy experts and providers in publishing.

  45. And Janet, if you have found a group that works then you are very, very fortunate. It's a partnership. Too often people are stuck in a group because they are friends and they don't have the courage to leave. Not only are they wasting writing time, but they are wasting submitting time. I've been in some good groups as well as bad. So I know both are out there.

  46. Sandra, vanity presses have their place. I used one to publish a family cookbook.

    But it's all about EYES WIDE OPEN!

  47. Great post, TINA! There are so many things I've been wondering about, and this addressed a lot of my concerns! I'm going back over it again just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Sometimes the simplest things can feel like life-or-death decisions when you're just getting started.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the critique.

    SANDRA, what you said about losing the "voice" is a very real concern of mine. Glad your mother was able to spot it in your work. I recently rewrote the beginning of my book (based on feedback) and now wonder if I should have. So much to learn.

    CINDY, I agree completely, Seekerville is an awesome place!

    DebH, you said: "You and Ruthy are the reality check, back o' the head Gibb's smack, kick in the keister encouragement Seekers." Made me laugh out loud, love it!

  48. Thanks, Preslaysa!!

    Yeah, you should see my cave. Why is it the first 30 K of a novel goes so fast and the last 30K...um, not so fast.

  49. Voni, yes, the social media tip was definitely something to seriously think on!

  50. Hi Tina:

    So you mean that if an agent exhibits any of the mentioned 'bewares' we should take that as being a 'red flag'. That's good.

    BTW: I posted a comment on your 'cows come home' answer and it's out in cyberspace somewhere but like in the past it will probably show up some time later today. This may be happening to other commenters. It will be fun to check the posting time.

    I'm with you BTW on 'free' books. While it is true that 'free' books can provide an advantage for many who use the approach, it can also, at the same time, have a damaging effect on the interests of authors as a whole. In this sense it can be both good and bad.


    P.S. Isn't "Beware of Bewares" kind of like asking, "Who Will Watch the Watchmen?" Besides if you are beware of a beware, is that not like having two negatives equal a positive? In other words, if I am being beware of a beware doesn't that mean that I am not being wary?

  51. Thanks, Cindy R.

    Writers who are willing to learn. The flexible ones. The pretzels. The consistent ones like you.

    That's who sells! Time and time again too.

    So many of the Villagers are pretzels!!! Love you all.

  52. LOLOLOLOL, on the floor laughing. You are such a devil's advocate, Vince.

    It's a tough job, but I guess someone has to do it.

  53. DebH, well, I guess it's good to be known for something. And gee being one of the in-house butt kickers isn't a bad thing.

    The pay isn't all that great, but the perks are terrific. I get to watch Villagers make that first sale and cheer!

  54. Jill, that's so cool that you print posts and save them in notebooks! Thanks for letting us know that. :)

  55. Thanks, Melly. And once again, it boils down to...go with your gut.

    I do not quack too often, however. School of Hard Knocks graduates rarely do.

  56. You are in the can, Laura! Thanks for the very nice words.

  57. Missy, I sooo agree. It just kills me when I see someone's dreams burst and their pocket book emptied. When patience and persistence would have done the job for pennies. Wow. Alliteration!!

  58. Hey Tina!
    Like so many other commenters I knew this was your post fairly early on, it has your recognizable "voice" and that's a good thing.

    Thomas Paine's definition of common sense not withstanding, common sense is not as common as it used to be, so your "around the block" take in response to the purveyors of doom was excellent.

    I respect your views on the subject of free, but as a reader I sit the fence which position is best for me. As a reader I enjoy the opportunity to read new writers without risk of wasting money (or time for that matter) and have since bought many books by authors I had a free sample book from. But back to common sense, I agree with your stand that says writing is a business, to make money. In the changing publishing world I hope there is room for both. Don't shoot me, LOL, I'm usually more decisive.

    I'm laughing at your leave a comment section too, "The books are free here to introduce you to new writers.." you made my point for me, then, "...I paid for the books. They are not really free", also my point, whatever we enjoy for free someone,else most likely paid for. Can you say feeling a little guilt here?

    Then your disclaimer that your opinions are your own, not necessarily those of the other Seekers had me smiling again. Like some controversial program you didn't want any of you friends to take the blame for. Tina you are such a jewel. If ever I wrote anything, I would trust your advice and expertise implicitly.

    What a great post all around!

  59. I love the go with your gut idea.... it's a writer's creed that we all ignore now and again and usually live to regret it.

    Tina, what a nice thing to say, that any one of us could have written this based on experience, but I'm here to say not with the crisp panache you applied.


    And for all o' youse wondering, it is STILL A GUESSING game on the mainland. And agents aren't real sure about which you should do and where these days either, because the jury's deadlocked.

    There's good and bad on both sides of the fence, so I'm keeping one foot on each side and pretending I'm riding a big ol' horse. I'll plod along, publishing in multiple ways. A farm girl understands the foolishness of having all her eggs in one basket. One change...



  60. Well, Tracey, don't feel too bad. I found many good authors that way as well. And the same is true of the public library or used book stores. I just think free has gotten a little out of hand, to the point where free is expected.

    The same could be said of blog posts.

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a buy the author a cup of coffee link on her blog. You know, I always hated those. But recently I had a light bulb go off, and if I link to an amazing post on an authors blog and they have that cup of coffee paypal link...I now buy them a cup of coffee. Because I now appreciate quality posts that have helped my journey as a writer.

    Thank you, for the very nice words.

  61. Tina, preach it! This is THE best info I've read in a lonnnng time. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  62. Tina, my two cps aren't a group. They're individuals with opinions I respect, but if i don't agree, guess who wins? :-) Gotta say that rarely happens. I'm so close to the work, sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees. They offer a step back.


  63. Thank you so much for all the links and advice, Tina!! Your thoughts on negativity had me nodding. It's easier to think "doomsday" than to move forward in hope and joy. No one forces me to write. No one owes me anything. I choose to pursue this, and it fulfills me.

  64. I've never seen or heard of a "buy the author a cup of coffee" link before and can see why you would hate them. It seems a tad forward, I prefer my coffee gifts (all gifts actually) to be unsolicited. I do agree with you it's nice to express our appreciation to those who have blessed us in some way and I have bought the occasional cup of coffee or gift, just because. Renewing my 2016 appreciation gift giving card right now ;)


    As a reader, I'm just as likely to pay 99 cents for a book as I am to download it for free. To me, 99 cents is free when compared to the value of my limited reading time that I have available to read any book.

    However, I am 10 to 100 times more likely to start reading a book I paid even 99 cents for than I am a free book. That's because I download free books 'just in case' they turn out later to be books that I just must have. (This happens and when it does I just want to kick myself which is not good for a writer's moral.)

    Back when I worked a lot on political campaigns research showed that a voter who contributed even one dollar to a campaign had a far great chance of getting to the poles to vote than a non-contributor. It was thought very important to get even the smallest contributions. I think this principle applies to an author's books as well. Get the reader invested in the book.


    I'm trying to get this comment in before the cows come home and the debate ends.

  66. Excellent advice! The PR firm I worked for was acquired by a "publisher" at the top of those beware lists, so I have seen firsthand how people can take advantage of those with big dreams.

    I also love your point about how others can steal your productivity. Sharing this post! <3

  67. Vince, if we don't get the comments in before the cows come home, we'll find ourselves put out to pasture.


  68. Oh my gosh!

    Oh. My. Gosh!



    What generosity!

    Thank you!

    Nancy C

  69. This post is full of great information. Beware: If the time you are spending per day on social media exceeds the number of hours a day you are writing your next book, then consider that you may have a social media addiction. This is so true! And to do your own research. Will be keeping this post!!

  70. Amen, Jill K. Great thought I saw on tazaandbelly.com..

    I am an artist when I allow God to use My hands to create His work.

    Well there is no doom and gloom in that.

  71. ABOUT CPs and Critique Groups

    I just read all 109 reviews of Julie's, "Isle of Hope", as part of my upcoming post on Review Writing, (I'm home, unable to work, and have some time on my hands) and doing this reveals that novels really only 'exist' when they are being played in a reader's mind. At other times novels are like sheet music. They are waiting to come alive in a reader's mind.

    As such the book the author wrote can be very different for each reader who experiences it! In an important sense: reading a book is a performance art!

    If this is true of readers reading a book, then it is also true of CPs and critique groups when they critique that book.

    So as Tina might say: "Beware and take care."

    I much more favor one or two trusted CPs over any group.
    'Group Think' is often more of a problem than it is a solution.


  72. LOL. I agree, Vince. $$ = Committment.

    So no free dates, ladies.

  73. Thank you, Laurie. I know you are an expert at your job, so this is high praise.

  74. Nancy C. Who are you speaking to? Me?? If so, thank you.

  75. Thanks, Sally. Social media is my weak link.

  76. Well said, on the sheet music, Vince.

    And on the herd mentality.

  77. Tina Radcliffe said...
    Nancy C. Who are you speaking to? Me?? If so, thank you.

    Well of course I'm speaking to you. Sigh.


    Wonderful post Tina.

    Nancy C

  78. Possibly the best blog post ever written.


  79. Vince I think your observation that you're more likely to read a book you PAY FOR is excellent.

    So many times I see an interesting looking free book and download it. Why not?

    But never read it!

  80. What a great post, Tina! And thank you for the quote. :-)

    You are so right about all the additional and even important tasks that writers do, which make up a part of their business, but can become a burden or take valuable time away from writing. This is something I have to evaluate all the time.

    I have never heard that an editor is a critique partner, so I found that concept interesting. My very first editor was one of my best teachers, and I love her for it to this day. My critique partners are my sounding boards. Brainstorming with them is one of my favorite parts of writing. Their eyes pull me out of some corners I write myself into. I don't have the same relationship with editors.

    I started out in a time when there wasn't google or yahoogroups or even email, so all interaction and information was at conferences and in local groups. We've come so far in that time, but perhaps it has made us lazy in the learning department. I learned by trial and error, by reading, by submitting really bad stuff and having it rejected. I bought three copies of my favorite book and highlighted it to understand dialogue, narrative, sentences, etc.. The first contest I entered called me on grammar. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but sometimes I think there is too much information out there. It can be useful and we can sure learn--I've learned to use software and how to chalk paint and all kinds of things by watching YouTube videos...but there's something to be said for learning hands on.

    The market predictions have always been poor. This is dead. That is dead. if I'd bought into it, I'd never have submitted anything. It's like the killer bees. They're always coming.

    Kudos on a great blog.

  81. Also Vince, I'm not really sure what 'until the cows come home' means.
    No doubt something western!!!

    But Tina is teasing me because I'm posting on Facebook about our new calves being born, so the phrase is appropriate!!! :)

  82. Hi Janet:

    You wrote:

    "Vince, if we don't get the comments in before the cows come home, we'll find ourselves put out to pasture."

    But is that a bad thing?

    A writer put out to pasture has more time to write. Besides walking in an open field can do wonders for one's creativity.

    Fear not the pasture. Fear the absence of the pasture and forget not to stop and smell the alfalfa. : )

  83. "Eeyore"?

    To quote Oscar Wilde:

    "The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

  84. Hi Tina:

    I'm reposting a part of my vanished milk cow post since we are talking about bovines.


    That makes sense.
    Back then, when the phrase was coined, people with cows used the common pastures. The cows were not at home but out on 'the commons'. Mary's cows, I'm sure, are not on common pastures.

    (The closing of the common pastures caused massive upheavals and drove the masses into the cities and helped create our modern urban world. Much the same thing happened with the end of the small Roman farmer and the closing of the open range in the American west. The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

    Thanks for your answer. Things make more sense now. I learn something new everyday I come to Seekerville.


  85. SUCH a great post, Tina. I loved your writer beware things. And can I just say, I never thought we'd get into a discussion about cows coming home? Ya just never know where a discussion will go here in Seekerville. :)

    I'll definitely be coming back to this post. Checking the "experts" body of work and expertise is so important. I'm glad you mentioned this. And, I loved your links. And, thanks for your words on critique partners. I've gone back and forth in my mind about being in a critique group. Your insights really helped me. Thank you for that!

  86. Jeanne T. There is nothing inherently WRONG with critique groups. But the problem is really finding the right match. That could take years. And once you establish a relationship people get really offended (unlike you on FB) if you tell them it is not a good fit for you...so people stay in a bad marriage for years. OOPS, Freudian slip..I mean, bad critique group. hehehe

  87. Thank goodness for the peanut gallery, and the side bar conversations around here, or things might get boring.

    And hey, on those days when our guest bloggers fail to show up, that peanut gallery has saved our day. More times than I care to think about.

  88. Yes. To the KILLER BEES analogy.

    Cheryl, to this day, I tear author books apart when I want to write in a different genre and see how it is done. I tell people I critique to do this.

    It is the single best way to learn.

    Get a blue marker and a pink marker.

    Highlight first mention of internal and external conflict.

    Mark POV.

    Note opening hooks and ending hooks.

    And on down the line.

  89. Do you have a checklist for that process?

  90. I should expound on the editor becoming your critique partner comment. Too many writers become bogged down in the YOU CAN'T DO THAT mentality of a critique group, when it just is not a deal breaker. In that vein, your editor is your critique partner.

  91. I don't. But I should.

    Mostly I focus on those things. Let me think what else.

    H/H first meet.

    So right now I am targeting a FOR ME book in my spare time. Target is LI Suspense.

    So the meet is really important to note.
    All the points of Michael Hauge's Six Stages will be noted.

    I have, probably 40 LIS with different authors and am tearing them apart. Analyzing them.

  92. That said, this process is probably more helpful in detail for series books where there is more "structure." However in general it's helpful across the board, especially a new writer who needs to be able to spot, GMC in a book. Or wow, the stages of intimacy.

    Okay, Cheryl, let's write a book on this.

    LOLOLOL. No...I leave that to you. You're about 50 books ahead of me. Great idea though.

  93. Wow this was sooo helpful!!! Thank you!!!

  94. I'm re-emerging from my writer-mama cave with a question, Tina. What is the difference between a vanity press, a book packager, a small press, a publishing service, and an independent publisher? Is it annual revenue and their distribution reach or something else?

  95. Check the link on the vanity press in the post. They explain it perfectly. Do check out what RWA says about vanity presses.

    A book packager is a person who comes up with a concept and sells it to a publisher and then finds writers to write it. You see this often with series books-you know all those kids books in the library with twenty books in a series on a topic. Non fiction. But this would be true for fiction for like Sweet Valley High. The authors get a flat rate.

    Here's the SFWA link for small presses. I think of them as traditional publishers in with a small number of product. SFWA SMALL PRESS

    With Indie presses the line starts to blur.

    The Independent Book Publisher's Association says this about the Independent Publisher:

    An independent publisher can be a self-publisher, author-publisher, do-it-yourself publisher, or “traditional” publisher.
    An independent publisher can be brand new or in business for decades
    An independent publisher can have 1 title or 10,000+ titles
    An independent publisher can work out of his/her home or a high-rise office building
    An independent publisher can have 1 or 500 employees

    What sets an independent publisher apart is his/her commitment to publishing as a business. Along with that comes the dedication to publishing excellence, which includes creating and delivering to the reader professionally designed and edited products—whether 1 or thousands of titles, whether via POD, offset or digital, whether on an e-reader, iPad or smartphone.


    Note. There is no right or wrong. There are just OPTIONS.But you should know what you are getting into.

  96. Thank you, Tina, for your detailed explanation. I'll be reading those links and saving your answer. Guess I have more reading to do this afternoon.

  97. This is an amazing post, Tina! Just absolutely filled with words of wisdom and spot-on warnings! I wish I could stick it in front of everyone who ever approached me for advice about how to get their work published.

  98. My pleasure. It's quite an interesting industry we are blessed to be part of.

  99. Well now you have it, Myra. And now we are printable. So when they come to you for advise, you just send them the link.

    I should get royalties on this. hahahaa

  100. Advice. OMG do not let the Grammar Queen see that. She is freelances as a deputy in the Typo Police.

  101. I did it again. She freelances. See how terrified I am of her???

  102. Probably Sweet Valley isn't the best example for a book packager product as this series did start with an author. But the concept is the same.

    The book packager is the middle man. He comes up with the idea, or the publisher does but give him the job of finding the writers and fine tuning the concept.They give him the money and what he has left over after he pays writers is his split. So he will generally pay low and always a flat fee.

    The book packagers I am familiar with in Christian publisher do it as I stated above. Barb Scott would be a good resource on this topic.

    BookEnds Literary Discusses it here in this really, really good post Book Packager

  103. Great info, Tina. Thanks for posting!

    Glad you mentioned agents. A young woman started appearing at GRW functions years ago, claiming to be an agent. She took on clients, lots of them, folks who were eager to snag an agent. Problem was she didn't have experience. She just decided to be an agent and started attracting hungry-to-sell writers. She never sold a book, that I know of, and lots of people's dreams were detoured while she handled their careers. The good news is that she didn't last long. Eventually, she tired of being an agent, left Georgia and moved on to some other profession.

    So, as you mentioned, buyer--or writer--beware.

  104. Yeah. For sure, Debby. If it quacks like a duck....

  105. Hope everyone is watching their Twitter feed: BTW you can watch it on your phone without actually going to Twitter and wasting time.

    2/17/16 Emily Rodmell ‏@EmilyRodmell 3 hours ago-Less than a week until we announce our big editor pitch opportunity for inspirational historical romance authors. Who's excited?

  106. Tina what this made me think of was a writer's session at a conference just LOADED with marketing advice. And taught in an encouraging and exciting and uplifting way so taking notes like CRAZY.

    And then I went and looked the author up who taught it and realized he/she had no books. No contracts for future books.

    He had a few OLD books and I asked around why he/she wasn't still writing.
    Answer, poor sales of those old books. Now he/she can't get a contract.

    So what is all that marketing advice worth then if it didn't WORK!

    Truly Let the Buyer Beware!!!

  107. LOL. I have found this time and time again, Mary.

    We have to do our own vetting.

  108. Tina I was scratching my head and looking for a good description to show my appreciation for your post. I was pretty sure that telling you I felt like I'd just been taken to task by a professor wouldn't seem complimentary- although it would be meant as a compliment. Or to thank you for lightening my load and alleviating concern that comes from all the voices screaming from my email (I just went through three days of ignored email and unsubscribed from all of those blog/newsletters wanting me to buy courses). Simply stated I really appreciate the advise you gave in this post. And I will go to each link you recommended and will read - but Ruth said it well - your post was written with crisp panache. Love it. Thank you

    Oh and just for the record- last week a big truck pulled in to the neighbors and took all the baby calves away from their mommas who complained for 2 days- loudly. Talk about hoping the cows would come home – or in this case the calves - or maybe the mommas would go to somebody else's home. . .?

    And (big gulp) would you put my name in for your critique, please?

  109. Oh, my gosh Barbara. Mary Connealy tells us in vivid, painful detail about calf separation week at her place. She has to sleep while they cry!! It's just so mean. Waaaaaa~

    And thanks for the nice words about my post.

  110. Great info. Totally agree on the vanilla writing. And the agent beware only confirms that I have an awesome agent.

  111. So glad you have an awesome agent, Tracy! Congratulations!

  112. Somebody said go with your gut. Not only beware, but be AWARE.

    I'm so laughing about the cows and the pasture, and picturing Janet and Vince eating alfalfa. lol

    Another way to look at the phrase "until the cows come home" is that milk cows are allowed to graze all day, but in the evening, they generally come to the barn to be milked. So, someone would be able to do other things until the cows come home, then it's time to milk.

    We owned a dairy, and those Holsteins wanted their feed at exactly 3:30 in the afternoon. About 3 o'clock, some of them would start grazing toward the barn, and by 3:15 or so, they'd be standing at the gate, waiting to cross the road to the go in the barn. They could have skedaddled when they got to the road, but they never did. (It was a dead end farm road used by us and our neighbors, so there was no danger of traffic while all those cows were crossing the road).

    Even though most of our cows couldn't wait to get to the barn to get their feed, there were always a few that we had to round up. In the hot summer months, the most difficult ones would wade out into the pond and refuse to come out. That's when the Catahoulas came in handy. They'd swim out and chase the cows out of the pond. Ever seen a dog latch on to a cow's tail so they could hitch a ride out of the pond? lol

    I wonder what lessons we could apply to writers over those cows that just couldn't be bothered to get to the barn EVEN with the promise of feed?

    1. Pam, I had no idea Catahoulas were used with dairy cows. A lot of ranchers we know like them or a dog with some Catahoula breeding for rounding up cattle when coming in off the range in the summer and fall. They're great for getting through the brush and getting the cows back to the herd heading home!

  113. Oh, Pam, that is a great story.

    We are all going to have that dog scene in our books next.

  114. Very informative post, Tina. And the cows cracked me up. I'm a born and bred city girl who now has cows grazing outside her living room window every summer. I try not to let them know, but between us, cows are scary creatures. Give me chickens and horses, any day.

    I liked the stress on consistent writing. I have found that social media can be too addictive. Particularly FB, so I periodic have to go on a fast from it. Time is too precious too waste. And about the time...I have had several people tell me, "I could write a book if I had lots of spare time." Because I have so much. Three teenagers and their activities, hubby in politics, church ministry, full time job...It's more about making a choices about what I want to accomplish.

  115. Exactly, Dana! All about choices and btw, congratulations on your recent three book contract!!

  116. 124 comments.




  117. Hi Pam:

    Great info on dairy cows. I think it would be fun to see a writer use the term "when the cows come home" literally. At one time that might have been the fact rather than a turn of phrase. I just wonder what was happening each day at 3:15 that the cows took as their alarm clock. Something was happening.

    Also, you wrote:

    "I wonder what lessons we could apply to writers over those cows that just couldn't be bothered to get to the barn EVEN with the promise of feed?"


    "Man does not live by bread alone" or "Starving artists are more motivated -- that is, starving writers are easier to cow."

  118. I've always thought of my editor as my critique partner. Once I was signed, I didn't use anyone anymore because an editor has their own particular way of looking at things, and their desired read.

    Why waste time?

    Doing that helps keep my book production where I want it to be, and if a middleman tells me something to change and I change it, and the editor doesn't like the change, who wins?

    No one.

    I think we need to believe in ourselves enough to know that they BOUGHT YOUR WORK. Which means they don't hate you.

    So sure, sometimes they want revisions... sometimes they don't. But the thing is, that happens in either scenario, so I grab hold of the "let's get it done" mindset.

    This could be related to "New York Minute" syndrome.

  119. Laughing at Vince.

    Barbara Fox, way to be courageous!!!!! Go you!

  120. I am a lot like a hungry cow. Besides round shape. I write to pay the bills. I love writing, but I still write because I want to be kept in alfalfa.

  121. Thanks for knowing we can handle the truth.
    At least there is always something new to absorb each day of this writing life.

  122. Tina, thanks for this comprehensive blog post!! I am one who was confused early on by too many "cooks in the kitchen" (critiques and contests)-all well intentioned help of course! And a possible agent, when I sent her a requested synopsis, told me Amish was on the way out. So, newbie me, trusting her (from a very reputable agency) threw it out and started another story! Imagine my surprise when I saw LI asking for Amish stories!!

    Anyway- l'll be saving and printing this posts also!! Thanks!

  123. I have two negative remembrances in all of this. The first is that I still remember when I was soliciting an agent and mentioned that I'd already received requests from publishers. The agent that I responded that I should get in touch with her to negotiate the contract if/when an offer was made.

    The rest I don't want to talk about.

  124. A Few Good Men
    written by Aaron Sorkin

    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to them.
    Jessep: You want answers?
    Kaffee: I want the truth!
    Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
    We use words like honor, code, loyalty...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a *** what you think you're entitled to!
    Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
    Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
    Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
    Jessep: You're *** right I did!!

  125. Oh, Kathryn, I hope you saved that Amish story on your computer.

    Love Inspired is having a historical pitch on Monday.

  126. Walt, sorry for the sour taste in your mouth.

  127. Tina, I second the commenter who said earlier she knew this was a Tina post. Love the spot on honesty and common sense.

    But I disagree with people about one important point. Eeyore is so much more optimistic than people give him credit for. Who else is happy when his friends notice him and give him birthday presents. He gets excited over a popped balloon and a useful jar. There's a reason I love and identify with Eeyore so much.

    Seriously, though, thank you for some plain old honest truths. Writing is what writers need to do. Yes, the social media can be fun but it is not priority number one on the writing schedule. Pages, either newly minted or freshly revised, are always tops on my list (and I do keep a list now because thanks to you (& since this is positive, I can use your name!), I love the system of organizing my writing priorities and I now use a timer to try to help keep me on track).

    Please put me down for the chance at the critique. And I am keeping my fingers crossed there will be a similar announcement for Love Inspired (contemporary), not just the historical section.

    Happy writing and reading everyone.

  128. An Eeyore fan! Tanya, you made me chuckle.

    He is adorable, but a steady diet of Eeyore and his self esteem issues is long term troublesome.

    You are in the tin can!!! And you can submit to LI anytime, you know. Hint Hint.

  129. Wonderful advice, as usual. Thanks, Tina!

    This post goes into the "print and display in prominent area to be seen on regular basis" pile.

  130. Glad to be of helpful kick in the tush service, Kathryn.

  131. Tina, you are SO SMART (you really are). Just another reason you're my hero. :)
    This post is excellent and a keeper. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with so many. Now....if I can just find out where to purchase alfalfa, I'll send you some. *wink* (couldn't resist - - your alfalfa comment made me LOL!!)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

  132. Fun,fun! And I immediately went into head bobbing when I read the comment about Queen. Wayne's World has been a big influence on me...

    Thanks for the great post. :)

  133. LOLOLOL, Lyndee. Love that. I've watched that video four times today. Someone has a Queen addiction.

  134. My my my, Seekerville is hopping on this chilly Tuesday!

  135. I was trying to be good and not respond until I got my words done for the day. Just finished so here I am to say Thank you, Tina for this wonderful and enlightening post.

  136. You are very welcome and kudos to you, Cate for getting your words done. I am going to go take a nap now and then get up and get my words in. he he

  137. Laura Conner, Thanks for the comment and I pray that you will have someone come along and help you. In my experience, people do arrive in my life just at the right time. Stay close to Him. smile

  138. Great conversations today Tina. This post was obviously timely for many.


  139. Tina,
    Fantastic post with invaluable advice! Definitely will be keeping this one on file!

    Please put my name in for the book drawing!


  140. Thank you both Sandra and Edwina!! Edwina you are in the drawing.

  141. Thanks for your post, Tina! Glad to read your take on critique groups. I'm hesitate to express my opinion about them (same as yours) because I'm usually outnumbered. Early on in my writing endeavors, at a writers conference, we were instructed to get into groups and critique one another's writing. As you wrote -- the blind leading the blind. That impression of critique has stayed with me.

  142. LOL. Hey Jo! Like minded thinkers UNITE!!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  143. Lots of good advice. I like the idea of using a timer, one more tool to add to my arsenal to keep me on task.

  144. Thanks, Deb! Anything I can do to keep me focused I agree with too.

  145. I would love to be in the drawing for the books and tea surprise.

    A random aside . . . .When I taught 1-4th grade I loved the part of the writing process where the students helped each other with their papers. But, we always talked about how in the end it was their work and they had to decide what to listen to and what to ignore. First graders seemed to know instinctively what to listen too and it lessened by 4th grade.

    Thanks for your post.

  146. I have such a Tina crush. THANK YOU!
    Wonderful informative bookmarkable post. Busted me on several... /sigh/

    RE: Writers Groups

    We have a few in our group who are *serious* about writing, but most are not.
    I truly value the input of those who are.

    Thank you everyone for the investment of time here also.
    Seekerville is the best. YES!

  147. Thanks, Becky, OhioHomeSchool.

    Choices. Informed choices. That's what it's all about.

    You are in the drawing.

  148. Thanks, KC!

    Yeah, finding a committed Crit Group isn't easy. It's harder work than writing.

  149. Oh my goodness, Tina, this post was worth the wait!! Honestly, this post needs to be shared and tweeted, which I will do as soon as I am done here.

    YOU SAID: "Wouldn't it be totally helpful if writers had a rating system for these services?"

    LOL ... yes, it would! I especially like the Conference Value Facts meme -- WOW, if only!! If only it truly existed and if only I knew how you made that meme ... :|

    YOU ALSO SAID: "I'm going to admit that this is one of my biggest bewares. Not a fan of critique groups. I've seen myself and others waste a lot of time in different groups ..."

    As much as I want to be a fan of critique groups, I'm with you. I learned the hard way that allowing nonprofessionals (like myself at the time) alter my voice was NOT a good idea. I even had a paid critique at ACFW by a professional writer that tried to change my voice, and I just couldn't do it. Besides that, as a truly anal individual, I found myself spending HOURS critiquing other people's work instead of writing, so it was a lose-lose proposition for me and I quit and never went back. Not with unprofessionals anymore. I would gladly do a crit group with the Seekers, but none of us have time. :)

    Off to FB and Twitter to share this gem.


  150. LOL ... I obviously thought this post was SO good, I raved about it twice!! ;)

    Sorry ... still pretty foggy, apparently!


  151. It's okay, I deleted one. Go get better, but thanks for the kind words.

  152. Hi Tina! Thank you for sharing, I'm saving this article in case I actually decide to make the leap into book review blogging. I'd love the chance to get acquainted with new authors through your giveaway so toss my name in the can if you please :)

  153. Tina, Thank you for this super post! I'm going to save it and nibble a bit at a time. Excellent thoughts about what is truly a resource, and what will bog you down or make you go a direction with your writing that's way off base. So much here to thank you for.