Monday, June 30, 2014

Are You in Love With Your Writing, or Are You In Lust With It?

By Gamal Hennessy

I’m coming out of my summer break from posting and I wanted to jump back into the craft with a few thoughts on a writer’s relationship to their writing.

Before I start, please understand that I'm not an expert on self-publishing. I don't even refer to my business as self-publishing. I call it independent publishing because it implies that I publish outside the traditional publishing system. ”Self-publishing” implies that I do everything myself and that's not true. I have a lot of formal and informal help with my books that make them better than anything I could do alone. I want to acknowledge that every time I talk about this business.(See What is the Difference Between Self-Publishing and Independent Publishing?)

Anyway, I've only been in the game for about two years. As of July 2014, I’ll only have one novel, eight short stories and one anthology to my name. Because I don't have a book publishing background, I spend a lot of time reading and learning about the business. Some of my education comes from research. Most of what I've learned comes from making my own mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes, so I guess I've learned a lot.

I share what little I know through my newsletter, The Independent Publishing Network. Every week I explore the minutiae of an industry that is changing every day. People have told me that information is really helpful, but if I had to boil down all the details of what I know into one piece of advice for a new writer, I would say treat your writing with love instead of lust.

Now what the hell does that mean?

When a person falls in love, they offer their time, energy and creativity to the loved one with enthusiasm. They bring the best aspects of themselves to the process. They make an effort to keep the relationship going, because they want it to last as long as possible. They are always looking for new ways to express their love. They are proud to display that affection in public. Part of what defines the lover is the person they are in love with.

A person in lust wants to get something from the object of their desire as quickly as possible. They are often single minded and ruthless in their pursuits. They jump from target to target, never taking the time to establish a bond or relationship with anyone. They often repeat a scripted pattern of behavior with each new target. They often act in secret or with a certain amount of shame. They are more defined by their hungers than their connections to others.

All this might seem very abstract, but the concept of love vs. lust has concrete applications for an independent publisher.

  • A writer in love with writing wants to publish as many books as they can in their lifetime. A writer in lust with writing wants that one book that will give them money, recognition, sex or whatever it is they are really after.
  •  A writer in love with writing writes about things that they are passionate about. A writer in lust with writing writes stories that they think are "hot" or take advantage of a pop culture trend.
  • A writer in love with writing takes time to learn their craft and find their voice. A writer in lust doesn't want to invest time and effort because they think writing is fundamentally easy. (It’s not.)
  • A writer in love with writing uses social media to make connections with readers and other writers. A writer in lust with writing uses every social media post to scream "please buy my book"
  •  A writer in love with writing reads a lot. A writer in lust with writing is only interested in other writers when he's trying to sell them his book.
  • A writer in love with writing will start on a new project soon after the current one is done. A writer in lust with writing checks the sales figures on their book every thirty minutes instead of writing, hoping they'll see a magical flood of royalties.
  •  A writer in love with writing will experiment and try new things to improve both their writing craft and their publishing business. A writer in lust with writing is looking for that one gimmick or magic bullet that will make his book sell.
  • A writer in love with writing takes pride in their catalog and tries to expose it to you as many people as possible in as many ways as they can. A writer in lust with writing will reject independent publishing as dead after the first book fails because their book isn't a bestseller.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

I'm not trying to imply that I haven't committed lustful thoughts and actions (both inside and outside of writing). As far as the writing is concerned, the things I’ve done based on lust have been some of my biggest mistakes.

I'm not saying that writers in lust always fail and writers in love always succeed.  I am saying that when I started loving the process of writing I had less stress and more fun with the experience. You may or may not become the next Stephen King. If you love what you're doing, it won't really matter.

Have fun.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Minor Media Blitz for A Taste of Honey

by Gamal Hennessy

In the grand scheme of things, it amounts to a tempest in a very small teacup.

Over the past two weeks since I’ve released A Taste of Honey critics and other authors have weighed in with their opinions of my first novel. The feedback for the book is not only gratifying, but it’s telling me I’m on the right track.

Writer’s Alive,

The author’s at Writer’s Alive have years of creative experience, an international perspective and  a passion for the craft. After they read an advanced copy of A Taste of Honey, they invited me to sit down for an in depth conversation about both my creative process and my support of independent publishing. I didn’t join the discussion until about ten minutes into the show, but if you’d like to hear the sound of my voice, you can listen here.

The Girl in the Blue Mask

The Gal in the Blue Mask is the home of Meghan, a writer, editor and critic with a broad appetite for fiction of all types. She originally found my work when I released Smooth Operator and when I announced the release of A Taste of Honey she requested an interview for her website. You can find the interview here and you can also sign up for the contest where we plan to give away several copies of A Taste of Honey.

What the Critics Have to Say

The early reviews of A Taste of Honey show that people like what they are reading. Critics can be harsh, especially on Amazon, but so far I’m getting reviews like this:

“This could easily be made into a motion picture. Gamal has quite a talent of creating some intriguing characters and keeping you from putting the book down.”
William Masters

“Catching your breath is tough between the suspense, steam and mystery, and as the stakes got higher I was more and more impressed with Hennessy's perceptive understanding of female sensuality and what goes on in our heads.
Chloe Halston

“Gamal is a very talented story teller, he has a unique ability to be able to throw me into the middle of the environments he creates, and the minds of his characters.
D. Johnson

“If you enjoy a thrilling, erotic, story of desperate lovers, spies, treachery, lies and love, you will want to pick up a copy of A Taste of Honey. You won't regret it.
E.P. Scott

A Step in the Right Direction

From an objective point of view, I can see that my work has a long way to go before I reach my marketing and publicity goals (See The Quest for Ten Thousand Fans). No, I didn’t get interviewed by Oprah or Jon Stewart. No, my book wasn’t reviewed by the New York Times or the Paris Review. But everyone has to start somewhere and few of us start at the top of our craft. This may only be a tempest in a teacup, but it is my tea so I’m going to savor the taste for as long as it lasts.

In order to celebrate all this good press, I've decided to lower the Kindle price for A Taste of Honey for one week. Read it now and find out what all the fuss is about.

Have fun.