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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post by Author G.G. Vandagriff

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by today. I have author G.G. Vandagriff guest posting today. So please help me welcome her as we encourage and congratulate her on her literary journey. Ms. Vandagriff studied writing in an advanced workshop when she was at Stanford, but was discouraged because everyone wanted her to be J.D. Salinger. She eventually began her project while commuting to and from my job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. By the time her three children were born, she had a draft, but knew it wasn't going anywhere. Discouraged, she turned to writing what she read--light mysteries. However, for fifteen years, she had been the victim of bi-polar disorder (a common ailment among writers), and after publishing three books, she became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, she learned enough about overcoming pain, and about life and love to be able to complete her Austrian project. That became The Last Waltz. After two more mysteries, she was able to complete Pieces of Paris. Her new book "The Only Way to Paradise" is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. 

This Writer’s Life with the World of Letters
By G.G. Vandagriff

Publishing and promotion should not be topics that concern you until after you have found your writing voice, and written the very best book you possibly can. Although I had already published eleven books, and even won awards, The Only Way toParadise was three and a half years in the writing, three visits to Florence in the research, several alpha readers’ opinions in the many rewrites, and then, after it was written and published (my first e-published book), I got a professional critique, which caused me to completely rewrite it and republish it!  Now, I know it’s (probably) the best book I can write.

I would never have published a book if I hadn’t found my voice. This I did by learning to do writing practice. Vickie came over on Wednesday night. We used a trigger: first line of a poem, novel, or a piece of music.  We wrote for twenty minutes without stopping or editing, and then shared. This is the way to get into your right brain.  It frees you from your internal critic, shows you what your subconscious mind values emotionally, and strips away trite styles and figures of speech. What is left is uniquely you—what you have to say to the world. My first book started out as a writing exercise.

So, if I’ve published eleven books traditionally, why am I self-pubbing this one? 1.) I have a base of dedicated readers to launch me. 2.) I wasn’t reaching the audience I wanted with my other publishers. 3.) I firmly believe that e-pubbing is the wave of the future. My book will only gain readers. It will not go out of print. I have total control of its contents.

How did I get published in the first place? Luck. I took a college extension class from the head of publishing for Andrews and McMeel.  We had to write a sample book proposal. I put my heart and soul into it, writing about something I was passionate about—family history. I called it Voices In Your Blood. The publisher loved it, and asked that I submit it to her house. I did, it was accepted and “the rest is history.” That was twenty years ago.  The book remains so popular that used copies can always be found on line. I am revising it to go into its second edition at this time. I took another extension course on writing mysteries—my favorite reading material. That writer gave me the name of her agent. I wrote a genealogical mystery with two whacky heroines. The agent loved it, but failed to sell it to the first seven houses she tried, so she told me to write another book. Rather than let that book go to waste, I sent it to a smaller niche publisher. They accepted it immediately and my “Alex and Briggie” series was born. It is still going strong. The sixth book will come out next year, but will be self-published.  I have obtained the rights to all the books in the series and am re-pubbing them myself with newer, more stylish covers and a well-targeted campaign.

In the meantime, I had my epic historical romance, The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War that I had been working on for forty years. I finally felt I had done it justice, so I submitted it to my publisher. That was a mistake. The book won a big award, but the publisher never took advantage of that. The book never made it out of the Western markets. Another book that had taken twenty-five years to write, met an even worse fate. I grew truly disgusted.

Since I do not write books with explicit sex, my chances of success on the New York scene seemed poor, so I did not even try to sell The Only Way to Paradise there. My husband writes an uber blog: The Passive Voice ( that chronicles the consequences of the technological disruption the publishing industry is experiencing with the emergence of e-books, and Amazon. He is a lawyer who works exclusively with authors who have been abused legally by agent and publisher’s contracts. These entities are going berserk under the new realities of publishing, and he cannot believe the things he is seeing in contracts!
So, I’m self-pubbing. And I’m finding that the Internet is the greatest resource in the world for promotion. Blogs and websites devoted exclusively to marketing books abound! It is an exciting time to be a writer. The author has finally found a way to get past the “gatekeepers.”  However, the author must have something really good to sell.
Thank you very much Ms. Vandagriff for guest posting today. I wish you much success in all your future endeavors. 

To follow Ms. Vandagriff's journey visit the following:

G.G. Vandagriff Website
G.G Vandagriff's Blog
Facebook Page
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