Is This Blog For You?

An experience last spring started me thinking about writing a blog for people who write, or want to write, novels while pursuing another career or profession.

Buyer's Remorse…

I was in Austin, Texas, waiting for an airport shuttle in the hot sun. And I wasn't otherwise feeling great. I couldn't shake a cough I'd gotten weeks before, my shoulder bag was filled with law student papers to grade, and I was starting to feel some buyer's remorse.

008My destination was a two-day writing/self-publishing conference. I'd done something I never did in my life as a lawyer. Before researching the people hosting the conference, I paid the registration fee and bought my plane ticket.

Why?

Joanna Penn, an author/entrepreneur whose podcast taught me a ton about publishing over the past two years, was speaking. I wanted to meet her in person. Also, I figured if she was involved, it must be a worthwhile event.

The night before my flight, though, I listened to the Self-Publishing Podcast by the three authors hosting the conference. And thought, Oh no.

Info And In-Jokes

The hour-long podcast episode included some information I found useful.

The rest struck me as mainly inside jokes and infomercial. Plus, it was all jumbled together, so I couldn't simply fast forward to the content. Don't get me wrong, a lot of seminars of any type could benefit from more humor and fun.

But here I didn't get the inside jokes because I wasn't a long-time listener. And my sense of humor on the rest differed from that of the hosts.

Careful Time Management

Most of my living is made as a lawyer. One who usually has more work than I want and struggles to carve out time to write and for a personal life.

So whether I'm listening to an hour-long podcast or attending a seminar, if half of it is giggles and digressions, I'd rather be working on my own writing, getting my legal work out the door, or doing something fun that's unrelated to either.

As I stood in the hot sun outside the airport that day, I wondered if I'd taken four days off of work (counting travel time) for a spoonful of information.

What Professionals Look And Sound Like

Finally, little of the podcast fit with my idea of how professionals act.  And I wanted to learn from professional writers and marketers.

My idea of professional is drawn from the legal field. And law is a client service business. Most of my clients are corporations. A Fortune 500 company is unlikely to hire a lawyer who chortles through a presentation, says “like” a lot, or repeatedly goes off on tangents.

Too many stories about your pet or your spouse or what you had for breakfast and the client is wondering if this is how you always work, mentally tallying exactly how much each tangent costs, and thinking about hiring a more focused attorney.

Because I need to meet those standards, I usually look for them in the people I choose to learn from.

But that view can cut out a lot of people in the world of self-publishing and writing. People willing and able to share useful information.

A Kindred Spirit

I wasn't the only one concerned. Another woman waiting for the shuttle and I introduced ourselves. It turned out she also was an attorney. She signed up for the seminar based on a friend's recommendation.

Like me, she later listened to one of the podcasts and was having reservations.

Happily, our concerns proved to be baseless. The next morning the hosts started by saying they knew not everyone who attended was a long-time fan. They promised to keep their banter to the first half hour. Which they did.

A Learning Experience

That half hour of banter included not only jokes but the hosts' experiences starting and growing their publishing business, all of which I found useful.

The remaining speakers each day also gave detailed and entertaining presentations on writing, marketing, and self-publishing. The presenters and attendees were upbeat and excited about their work. I felt inspired and better-informed when I left.

The other attorney/author I had met at the airport felt the same way. We were both glad we attended.

Yet both of us, had we listened to the podcast before committing to the conference, probably would have skipped the entire experience.

And so this blog.

This Space Is For You If…

Many attorneys, business people, and other professionals have called or emailed me over the years to ask me about writing and publishing. I'd love to think it's because they loved my novels. But most contact me without ever having read them.

Instead, what interests them is that as a writer, lawyer, and adjunct professor of law, I probably have similar ideas to theirs about what indicates success or professionalism.

We also likely have similar constraints on our time.

If in addition to writing, you're also pursuing another career (be it as a lawyer, a stay-at-home parent, a business person, or another professional or pursuit) your time is limited.

So my goal is to share with you what I learn in a quick, clear fashion.

I listen, read, and put into practice as much as I can about marketing, publishing, and writing. While I can't promise to have all the answers, I'll share what I find most useful and include links if you want to learn more.

If you have topics you'd like me to cover, feel free to post them below or email me at [email protected]

Until then, wishing you a productive, not-too-stressful week,

L. M. Lilly

5 thoughts on “Is This Blog For You?”

  1. One topic I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on, as both a lawyer and writer….hopefully I’m articulating the question right.

    Let’s pretend I have written a book. It’s ready to be published and I actually have a publishing house that is going to publish it for me, as soon as I sign the contract.

    what should I ask for regarding rights to my work? I’ve heard stories of writer’s not getting any revenue from publishing runs in Europe, or audio books, or e-books, or if by some miracle someone wants to make a movie out of the book.

    what would you advise a newbie writer to ask for to make sure they get everything they deserve?

    1. So first the lawyerly disclaimer – without knowing all the facts, I can’t give legal advice or specific advice on negotiations. Also, I’m not a transactional lawyer (meaning I rarely create or advise people on contracts). Speaking as a author, overall, writers need to carefully read any contract and be sure they understand what rights they’re agreeing to turn over to the publisher and what, if any, obligations the publisher has under the contract. It’s also important to check for how long the publisher gets the rights. If there’s no time period or it’s forever (sometimes written as “in perpetuity”), many writers would want to negotiate for a short time after which the rights are returned (revert) to the author. After that, it depends how important being published is to the writer and what’s being provided in return. It also depends whether the author will actually do anything with the rights to audio or film etc. Finally, the author should look at the compensation structure. If a writer is granting the publisher all rights to film and audio and not getting a percentage of the revenues, the writer might want to retain those rights.

      The reality is, though, a new author may have little bargaining power. That’s why some authors say they would never do a traditional publishing deal or that they’d only agree if the rights sold were very limited. This view has to be weighed against the likelihood that the author will pursue publication and production of the work in other form on her or his own.

      If a writer is concerned, it’s worth seeking legal advice about any contract. Some states, including Illinois, have non-profits that work with artists on just these types of situations, such as Lawyers for the Creative Arts: https://law-arts.org/ You also may want to listen to the podcast episode on The Creative Penn where lawyer Helen Sedwick is interviewed: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/10/06/legal-helen-sedwick/ I haven’t yet read Helen’s books, but I’ve heard they provide good information and advice for authors on contractual issues.

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