Tag Archives: Jen Greyson

Why Finding Balance is Impossible.

A Guest Post by Jen Greyson

I’ve recently returned from two weeks immersed in writing conferences—the Superstars Writing Seminar and LTUE—with many of my writing mentors and peers, people I admire both professionally and personally. They’re both phenomenal and I always come away with lots of great nuggets about the business and industry. But this year I came away with something a little different.

While my professional life has been on a solid upward trajectory, my personal life has been headed in the other direction. The day before I left for Superstars, my husband asked for a divorce. It’s been a long time coming for lots of reasons, and I’ve asked for one prior to that day, but it still left me trying to find my feet as I showed up on the first day of the seminar.

For the days that I interacted with the people of my tribe, I was emotionally unable to stay upright. There was no balance in my life. In the same hours I was riding a professional high, my personal life was crumbling beneath my feet, making balance impossible. The juxtaposition had me leaning on the emotional strength of the people around me in an effort to find my footing (something that’s incredibly difficult for me).

The struggle to find balance is a common theme in every life, especially for artists as we often get to add our passions in the “extra” hours of our days after work and family take up the rest.

During the days of the seminar, I realized that I’d been looking at the balance of my personal and professional life through the wrong set of lenses; I’ve always thought balance was a set of scales, but I was wrong.

The balance we seek isn’t finding a way to make the scales weigh the same; the balance is finding our equilibrium.

One of my favorite life lessons came from the last line of Glennon Doyle Melton’s Carry On, Warrior. She said (I’m completely paraphrasing), “Stress creates pressure and we all know the feeling of it pressing in so hard on us that we think we can’t bear another second. We’ve been taught that pressure is bad and painful and uncomfortable, but what if it’s not? Maybe that pressure is what holds us up. It would be a great tragedy to have nothing important pressing in at all.”

Without that pressure, perhaps we’d fall over.

It’s the same with balance. Balance is finding your equilibrium in the middle of a storm standing in raging seas, dealing with the loss of support groups, or support at home, or a job, or financial support, or one of the many forms that support comes in. Our support needs shift and change just like everything else in our life and we are constantly relearning how to find our equilibrium. I think the secret to blending a writing life with a normal life is finding our equilibrium and doing it not by thinking we have to stand on our own two feet 100% of the time, but rather by not being afraid of leaning on the people in our lives when we must.

On the last day, I heard the perfect thing that summed up so much of what I’d misunderstood about how I’d been feeling for the days leading up to the end of the most favorite week of my year. Lisa Mangum (from Shadow Mountain Publishing), when asked about finding balance between a writer life and a normal life, said, “We think the two lines of our lives run parallel to each other when in fact they’re completely interwoven. They criss and they cross and zig and zag, some times they’re very far apart, sometimes they’re very close together, sometimes they’re overlapping so closely that you cannot see one from the other.”

Again, I’m paraphrasing what she said, but within the imagery that came as she spoke was a clarity that there is no way to separate writing from normal life because as writers—probably true for all artists—we see beauty and art in everything we do, whether we’re driving a car, or help our kids get dressed in the morning, or listening to a news story. There’s always a what if, there’s always a story idea that comes from everything we touch and see and smell. Switching out one life for the other isn’t as simple as changing hats or closing our computers and walking out of our office. Being a writer is not something we do—even for those who’ve been able to turn it into a business and treat books like products and not babies—but no matter what kind of writer you are, it is still who we are inasmuch as it’s what we do.

Storytellers were the community builders, they were the ones who drew people together to share common emotions, whether they were telling a thrilling story of a hunt, or a scary story about the woods, or a legend about two lovers. All those stories held one thing in common, emotion and connection. That’s who we are as storytellers, but we must not forget both sides of the story. Too often we focus on the emotion that comes in the telling of the story and we forget about the connection that comes in the creating of the story.

Balance (equilibrium) comes when we search out—and accept—the connection during the creation.

Balance is impossible because we can’t weigh the tasks and pressures, taking one kilogram from this scale and adding it to that. Equilibrium is possible. Equilibrium comes from setting our feet, and looking ahead, and being okay with the people who come alongside us and shore us up in those moments when a sneaker wave crashes against the boat and makes us lose our footing.

Jen Greyson:

Jen Greyson was first published by the international publishing house that launched the blockbuster, Fifty Shades of Grey. She has written over 45 published books and her ghostwritten works have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. She writes new adult fantasy and science fiction along with NA and adult contemporary romances. Sign up to receive alerts about her next release: http://eepurl.com/5pAE5

Dispelling the Myths, Part Two

A interview post with Jen Greyson.

Yesterday, I posted the first of my two sit-down posts with author Jen Greyson, author of Lightning Rider and Shadow BoxerHer publishing story began a couple of years ago upon selling her first novel to a publisher—and not just any publisher, but The Writer’s Coffee Shop, the company behind Fifty Shades of Grey. Here’s the interview’s conclusion.

EB: What kind of marketing went into your book’s release?

JR: Press release and a blog tour, social media on launch day. I devoted a ton of time into finding bloggers to review/tour for this book, so both sides worked pretty hard on this launch. I also did a big launch party and the publisher sent me bookmarks and fliers for advertising.

EB: What were your biggest turnoffs in the traditional publishing experience?

JR: In a nutshell, I gave up a lot and got very little in return. I bought into the myth of traditional publishing (though I’m not sure if I can even call this a “traditional” deal, because they were basically a small-press). I figured once I had a contract I’d ‘made it’ and everything would be a piece of cake from there. Boy, was I wrong. I still had to devote a ton of time and energy into sales. As I did the math, it became obvious very early on that I could do the same amount of work as an indie and make a lot more money. (This was a royalty-only deal.)

At the time I released Lightning Rider, NA (new adult) was really gaining traction and the publisher didn’t know how to market NA (or fantasy) because they’d never had one. They were really open to my suggestions, and that was great, but I’d chosen them because I thought they had some marketing “secret.” In the end, I picked a publisher that was a bad fit for my book, but I wanted to be published so badly that I overlooked a lot of red flags.

EB: After the release, how were your sales?

JR: Sales were nowhere near the Fifty Shades numbers I’d hoped for! 🙂 That ended up working in my favor, though, because of a clause I negotiated that specified that if I didn’t sell a certain number of books within the first six months, the contract could be terminated.

EB: Did you take any “missteps” along the way that you would caution other writers about?

JR: Don’t be so eager to get published in the short-term that you overlook the long-term. One book is nothing in terms of a writer’s career. (I’m hoping for another thirty-five years!) It was really hard for me to be unbiased about the deal, and if I’m truly honest, I don’t think anyone could have talked me out of signing with them. I wanted to be published. And because of that craving/desire/crippling need, I wasn’t as smart as I should have been. I wasn’t realistic about what a first book by a first-time author was going to do. I believed I was the exception to the rule.

EB: After having pursued traditional publishing, what are you doing now? How has the experience influenced your career path?

JR: Right now, I’m self-pubbing all my titles, and that’s probably the plan for 2014. Interestingly, the workload hasn’t changed, but my royalty checks have! And because I’m trying to expose myself to readers in a genre dominated by indies (NA), I need to be able to drop titles every three months. I can’t afford to wait eighteen months for a traditional deal—not right now, and not with my NA titles.

I’m definitely not opposed to doing a traditional deal in the future, but now that I’m out from under the myth of traditional publishing I think I can make a much more educated decision. I also have a better understanding of what goes into getting each book into readers’ hands, and I know how to budget and value my own time in the equation.

My path isn’t necessarily what’s right for anyone else. Writers need to do their homework. Talk to other authors who’ve been there, seek counsel, be smart. And in the wise, wise words of James Owen: “Never, ever, sacrifice what you want the most, for what you want the most at that moment.”

Jen Greyson picGuest Bio:
From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk-takers. Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile.

Dispelling the Myths, Part One

A interview post with Jen Greyson.

I think it’s safe to assume most authors would jump at the chance to work with the publisher behind Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most successful book titles of the past few years. For author Jen Greyson, this was the dream scenario—and it came true! I had an opportunity recently to sit down and ask Jen a few questions about her experience working with the publisher. Read on, and come back tomorrow to hear the rest of the story.

EB: First of all, Jen, could tell us about your first book?

JG: Lightning Rider is about Evy Rivera, the first female time traveler, but she has no idea that she comes from a long line of lightning riders—travelers who use lightning to cross dimensional chess boards and affect history. In fact, none of her living family knows. Their mentors lost them about six decades ago, but they haven’t been looking for a girl… because there’s never been one. Evy’s a badass, complete with lightning bullwhips and an attitude to match. Her first historical alteration takes her back to ancient Spain where her fate tangles with a Roman warrior set on conquering northern Spain. Together they must work to defeat a legendary man in order for Spain to fall. The Roman teaches her how to handle her lightning and there’s more electricity between the two of them than any of her weapons. Her mentors don’t always tell her the truth and Evy has to figure out the hidden agendas before she unmakes the wrong history. (The sequel, Shadow Boxer, is also available.)

EB: How did you attract the attention of your publisher?

JR: After E.L. James landed her seven figure deal with Random House for Fifty Shades, I went looking for the publisher that made it happen. I found the tiny Australian house, The Writer’s Coffee Shop, and send my manuscript in. They loved it and I was really excited to learn the marketing techniques they used to make Fifty Shades a household name.

EB: Talk about the initial contract you received from them, and your initial reaction to it.

JR: The initial contract was surprisingly simple and didn’t have a lot of the clauses I’d heard horror stories about. They asked things that I didn’t agree with and because I’d attended a Superstars Writing Seminar and read a lot of Kris Rusch’s blog, I knew that I could push back on the terms that needed adjusting. But I was also willing to give up some things in order to gain their marketing team.

EB: What did you do next?

JR: I consulted with my mentors about several of the terms and they suggested some new ones to include. I already had a list from reading How to Be Your Own Literary Agent and Kris’s blogs/books, but knew that the negotiation process was critical and I needed to ask for everything I wanted in the first swing to begin the back and forth. Because they were an Australian house, their paperback prices were super high, so we did an ebook only deal. The negotiations were all handled via email with some back and forth. In the end, I was happy with the final terms and it was a fair negotiation with lots of back and forth.

EB: How difficult overall was it to negotiate these clauses? A lot of people believe that first-time authors have no leverage and therefore can’t negotiate much of any significance. How does your experience stack up against that?

JR: I was under that myth too! And honestly, had I not gone to Superstars just a few months before, I’d have signed the original contract. I had my eyes opened at that seminar and really understood the positioning I had and was then in a mental place that I treated it like any other negotiation/business deal I’d have done in the non-publishing world.

In my experience, I was able to ask for what I wanted, and for the most part, got everything I asked for. The publishers were willing to negotiate nearly all the points I wanted. There were also a few that I had to willingly give up, so it was a typical business transaction where each side met in the middle.

I was working with a very small boutique/indie publisher. I would imagine every publisher handles things differently, so my experience may differ vastly from what someone might find with a different house.

Even with this publisher, the negotiations for book two did not go as smoothly, and I ultimately did not accept their second contract because I didn’t feel the terms where acceptable. We negotiated for a couple months and couldn’t come to an agreement… so even with the same author, same publisher, the experiences were vastly different.

Come back tomorrow for the interview’s conclusion.

Jen Greyson picGuest Bio:
From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk-takers. Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile.

Editors: Freelance v. In-house

Jen Greyson
Author, Jen Greyson

I’ve had an opportunity to work with both an amazing freelance editor, Joshua Essoe, as well as an in-house editing team for the boutique publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop (of 50 Shades of Grey fame). Beyond my own experience, there are still a myriad of relationships depending on the size of the publishing house and skill of the freelancer, but I wanted to share my experiences with each to let authors know what they might be able to expect.

One of the biggest differences is the number of passes on a single work. When I hire a freelancer, money is a big part of the amount of time he can spend on my work. Unfortunately, my checkbook will only allow him one pass, so he has to hit everything in one sitting-plot issues, line editing, copy editing-the whole shebang. When I send it to my in-house team, money is still a factor, but now it’s on their side as to how many passes they can afford in overhead.

For my first book, the initial in-house edit focused on the overarching plot. I sent in a polished manuscript and after a couple weeks, I received a 10-page evaluation addressing suggested plot changes, crutch words, character inconsistencies, etc. I then had a few weeks to fix the issues and send the revised manuscript back. My freelancer addresses the same things as that evaluation, but he tackles his evaluation and in-line comments about my misspelled words and comma misuse, at the same time.

After that content edit, the house editors send me the line edit. From here, my in-house editor and I will work for a few weeks passing the manuscript back and forth until we get a clean copy (for me, 10 passes total). Then my copy editor gets to take a pass (I’m lucky in that I have a fantastic copy editor and she doesn’t hack my stuff to death–I’ve heard horror stories where sometimes the copy edit is worse than the line edits) and we work to get another clean copy (4-6 passes). Then a final proofreader gets to take a fresh look and be a final set of eyes, more passing around (2-3), and I sign off on a final copy.

Beyond the three editors working on the manuscript, there are also the other departments to consider, as well as the other books the house is launching. All those people and factors can play a part in the book’s final form.

But really, besides the amount of time and hands that touch the manuscript when comparing freelancers to in-house editors, everything else is the incredibly similar.

The good, the bad, and the horrifically disfigured.

However, and this is a big one — Not all freelancers are created equal and anyone can start a publishing company these days, so it’s incredibly important to do a huge amount of homework no matter which path to publication.

My pursuit of TWCS wasn’t accidental. Random House had just
paid seven figures for the rights to 50 Shades of Grey and the Greyson_evy_darknew adult genre was on the rise, in part due to the college age of the main character. My characters haven’t quite fit anywhere other than new adult, and I wanted a smaller publisher willing to go to bat for me and my characters without trying to force them into a different genre (like every other agent and editor I sent it to). TWCS had first-hand experience of launching a mega-hit and I wanted to take advantage of all that in marketing my book, Lightning Rider.

My decision to hire Joshua was just as purposeful. He’d already edited work for NYTBSA, David Farland, and other fantasy authors. Finding a freelance editor is easy-finding a GREAT one is tough. Before spending money on an editor, it’s always wise to ask for them to review a few pages and see if their style matches. Research the genres they work on and find one that works on what you write. Readers have very specific expectations whether they’re reading fantasy or romance or thrillers. If the freelance editor doesn’t know what those expectations are, you may end waste a lot of time and money.

Not all edits are created equal.

Whether I’m working with a freelance editor or my in-house editor, one thing remains the same. I’m the only one who can tell the tale. It’s up to me to make sure my characters are represented on the page like they are in my head. I know best how they react in certain situations, what their voices sound like, and I get to fight for them to make sure their story is told in the best way possible.

Both my freelance editor and my in-house editor have suggested changes that I didn’t agree with. Most of the time I can see where suggestions make a better story, or when grammar rules takes precedence, but sometimes . . . sometimes there are places where I’m unwilling to bend because I know where the story goes beyond this book, or when a simple word change in a bit of dialogue changes the tone so it’s no longer that character’s voice. I know where the story started a decade ago when these characters were children and their backstory took a major hit.

Sometimes, knowing when to ignore advice is as important as taking it.

From the moment she decided on a degree in Equestrian Studies, Jen Greyson’s life has been one unscripted adventure after another. Leaving the cowboy state of Wyoming to train show horses in France, Switzerland, and Germany, she’s lived life without much of a plan, but always a book in her suitcase. Now a wife and mom to two young boys, she relies on her adventurous, passionate characters to be the risk- takers. Jen also writes university courses and corporate training material when she’s not enjoying the wilds of the west via wakeboard or snowmobile.Her debut new adult fantasy, Lightning Rider, releases from The Writers Coffee Shop on May 31, 2013.