Risk and Reward

So, this is one of those businessy posts, but I’ll be applying it to creative endeavors. I also promise fun Disney metaphors and gifs at the end.

In the business world, you’re taught most choices can boil down to a simple formula. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

To simplify, you stand a better chance of winning the lottery if you spend the money on a ticket (please note, that’s not financial advice to place the lottery.) But, your risk is that you’re out the cost of the ticket.

Similarly, if you want the reward of feedback on your creative work, your art, your knitting, your sassy cross-stitch, your writing, you have to risk getting it rejected.

And if you want the reward of growing your craft and achieving your dreams, you have to risk a lot of rejection.

A lot.

You can only show your work to your best friend and your grandma, and never hear a word of negative feedback, but you’ll never have a fan you’ve never met gush about your work, or meet someone who challenges you to Art Harder as the awesome Chuck Wendig says in his post here.


Risk versus Reward applies to everything.

Publishing options? Self Publishing is All the Risk. All the Reward. If you succeed, you’ll basically get all the financial reward of the work, But you also take on all the risk. The risk of marketing, the risk of editing and not misspelling the word “public” in the most tragic way…

Traditional publishing is on the other end . You don’t have as much risk. Someone else is editing your work, spell-checking your typing, designing your cover, all so that you don’t have to take on that risk. But you do lose some of that reward, both financially, and in the sense that you can’t point to the cover and say, “Me. I did that!”

Neither of these approaches is wrong. There’s no perfect risk/reward level that everyone should work towards. We’re all different people, and we all have different risk tolerance levels.

Disney metaphor, as promised!

Some people aren’t risky, at all. They  know what they like, and they’re happy with that. They might create art, but they also may never share it with anyone. For them, big rewards, aren’t worth the risk.


Some people are driven and brave and perhaps just a little bit wild. They’re willing to work hard, create art, and make a market for it. They’re aiming for big rewards, and willing to take on big risks.


And there’s the people who might need a nudge. They art. They art well.  They dream of big rewards, of Hollywood lights and hardcover books, but they’re so afraid of the risks that they can’t even think about sharing.


Their fear of the risks has grown larger than the risk itself. If you find yourself in this category, maybe…just maybe, take a leap of faith. Put one toe outside your security bubble. You might like the reward.




I wish you best of luck (and lots of rewards) in all your risky endeavors.

Why I YA

I’m not a young adult. Shocking. I’m kindasortamaybe a new adult? I suppose? Although that term makes it sound like we hatch adults out of eggs, rather than the stumbling, chaotic, unavoidable slide toward adulthood that actually occurs.

But I love young adult literature.

I love reading it, I love writing it, I love being part of the YA community.

I’ve been reading young adult lit since before I was a teenager, and I’ll probably still be reading it when I’m in a nursing home. I don’t write t for a high school do-over. My high school career, although mixed and full of some truly awkward moments, made me who I am today. I don’t need to redo it.

Look at TEEN ME! I don't need to re-write that smile.

Look at TEEN ME! I don’t need to re-write that smile.


I don’t read it because I refuse to grow up. Honestly, I’m pretty good at this wine-sipping, business clothes wearing, grad-school attending adulthood thing. And I l enjoy being an adult! (Mostly. Except doing the dishes. And the taxes)


ADULTING! Why would I give up fancy drink time?

I love young adult literature because it captures the core of our emotions.

Even as adults, when we’re set off kilter, freed of adulthood type rules, when we’re tipsy or tired, stressed or in love, we act…well, like teenagers.

Our teen years are when we’re a confusing, exciting, contradictory, tragic, ecstatic mess.  We laugh for hours over dumb inside jokes, and we’ll cry for days over a cruel off-handed comment. We’re not afraid of so many things because we don’t know enough to be. The future is open and bright and terrifying.

To me, YA lit captures all of that, those core moments that shape us for the rest of our lives: first kiss, first heartbreak, first hope, first failure. It’s the comet flashing neon-bright against the unchanging night-sky of adulthood.


So, tell me, why do you YA?

Character Depiction Differences

As a writer, creating dynamic characters is one of my favorite things. I’m one of those writers, who can tell you what the character was like as a five-year-old, what their favorite food is and where they’ll be in ten years. For an extrovert like me, getting to know my characters is as important as getting to know my friends.

But, the funny thing about writing is that all we have are our words. We might blog the perfect fan-cast, but at the end of the day, our words are the only indicators readers have of a character’s looks.

And, sometimes, what the reader sees is very different from the writer’s intention. For example, I remember being so upset when the first Harry Potter movie came out, because in my head, Prof. McGonagall was young, perhaps like Anne Hathaway (Or an older version of me?) In that same series, I, along with other fans, were crushed to find Sirius and Remus not portrayed by hunky dudes.

With my own writing, I’ve witnessed people get get character descriptions wrong, no matter how clearly I thought I worded it. Sometimes, this is important in the case of ensuring the minority characters are not white-washed, but sometimes it’s just funny. As writers, I think we need to remember this, so we don’t get too stressed out about finding the perfect adjective for hair color.

Case in point: my character, Kenzie. His first line of description is, “His grey tee shirt displayed two muscular, tattooed arms. Ashy blond hair shaded intense amber eyes, the stormy sort that made you take a step back. ”

Now, I’ve asked some of my favorite critique partners to pick actors they thought resembled him. All images from Pinterest. Ready?




Scott McKidd!


Keith Moon!


Gimli and Hagar the Horrible merged together!



Gerard Butler!

So, yeah. Every one of these people have read the exact same book, and saw the same character very differently. Pretty cool, huh? (My idea of who should play Kenzie is at the end of this post)

What characters do you picture differently than their film version? Have your readers ever seen a character in your writing totally unlike what you see? I’d love to know!

And my choice for Kenzie.


Robert Carlyle!

Who is reading? Who isn’t?

So, buckle your seatbelts, kids, this post has a chart. But, I, hopefully, will be making that chart, and set of statistics easily understandable. Maybe even useful for writers.

Consider these scenarios:

You might think you’re an average reader. You’re not a rabid book blogger, but you read two, maybe three books a month.

You’re a writer, getting ready for your book launch. You write middle grade novels, so you look at your own family, and imagine them as your target market.

Are either of these accurate? Let’s examine the data and find out!

…hang in there, people. I promise a cute photo of my cat at the end.

Reading snapshot

(Chart from Pew Research, link)

The scary thing. This data is for people who have read AT LEAST ONE book. As in, about 25% of people in the random survey Pew did said they haven’t read a SINGLE book in a year.

On average, the typical American read or listened to 5 books in 2014. The survey did note that “avid readers” who read over 12 books a year were the exception to the rule, and therefore the 5 comes from the median, not the mean, to avoid error. (Math class flashbacks, anyone?)

I’m going to do one take away from each section, and then sum it all up with an overall summary. Remember, keep reading for a cute cat.

1. Gender: Women are reading more than men, in all forms of book distribution. So, if you’re a writer who doesn’t believe in having real, multi-faceted females in your fiction, I challenge you to reconsider, unless you want to cut yourself off from the gender that reads more.

2. Race/ethnicity. We NEED diverse books. It’s that simple. If you try and tell me a race/ethnicity “doesn’t read” I’m going to hit you in the ace with a Statistics textbook

3. Education Level:  College grads are the most likely, by far, to have read an ebook or listened to an audiobook. If you’re targeting that market, those are things to keep in mind.

4.Household income: There is a decent correlation between a greater household income, and the percentage of people who have read an ebook this year. If your book is launching as an ebook first, you may need to tailor your marketing to appeal to that income bracket.

5. Community type: Tied in with the above, we see suburbanites being the most likely to have read an ebook, with urban and rural pretty much tied for having read a print book.

So, what does all this tell us? First of all, the push towards diversity in literature is greatly needed, and long overdue. Second, is that “Five books a year” phrase resonating in your head yet? Often times, I think writers tend to talk books with other writers, and forget the average American doesn’t read as voraciously as they do.  This is why word of mouth is so important for books. You have to get your book in front of those people, who probably don’t follow book blogs, or keep track of the twitter-verse.

And as promised, here’s my cat


Business of Art Interview-Nicole Tone!

Hi! Welcome to the inaugural edition of what will be a bi-weekly feature. I’ll be interviewing creative folks of all types, artists, writers, actors and crafters.

To kick things off, I’m interviewing the fabulous Nicole Tone.  She’s a great friend of mine, and an amazing writer. Find her on twitter at @nicoleatone, or subscribe to her blog at www.nicoleatone.com


Tell me a bit about yourself:

Nicole:  I’m an MFA in Creative Writing student, submissions intern, editorial intern, traveler, wife, freelance editor, and book blogger.

How long have you been writing?:

Nicole: I’ve been writing since I was in first grade, but didn’t end up completing a project until last year.

What are some of your  favorite books?

Nicole: White Oleander by Janet Fitch; Wasted by Marya Hornbacher; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; and Looking for Alaska by John Green are among my favorite.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?

Nicole: Do not write what you know, but write what you believe is the truth, especially in fiction.

What projects are keeping you busy these days?

Nicole: I’m currently working on two projects. One, a Women’s Fiction that takes place in Seattle that tries to answer the question of what home is while being wrapped up in classical music, summer weddings, and what if’s with handsome violinists. The second is an urban fantasy that I’m having a blast trying to draft with the help of some really great critique partners.

One of the features of my blog is “the business of art” In your life, have you encountered any challenges relating to business matters and your art?

Nicole: This spring I began my MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University. When I had first researched and applied to MFA programs, my primary focus had been on teaching, and wanting to start an MFA program at one of the many schools in Buffalo (since there are no graduate level writing programs here).However, in the interim, I’ve gained amazing experience in two different internships in the publishing industry.  My focus, and my passion, has shifted from teaching to being a part of the publishing industry. I’m currently offering critiques, and I cannot begin to explain the joy that comes from providing this service to my clients.

So, to finally get to my question, how important is formal education in the publishing industry? Is experience everything? The MFA? Or, is a MA or MS in Publishing far more marketable and necessary?

Great question! If you have thoughts on Masters programs in the publishing industry, please feel free to comment below! Thanks for an awesome interview, Nicole.


If you’d like to be featured on a Business of Art interview, please contact me at carrie@creativelycarrie.com

What I’m Working On

In the last few days, my to-do list and email accounts have been on fire with all sorts of cool things. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m happiest when I’ve got a few different projects going on.



This has been my baby for over a year now, although it used to be called FATHERS, FENDER GUITARS, & OTHER F-WORDS. It’s my young adult contemporary novel,  and it totally rocks. If you’re curious to learn more about it, click on the link above.



(art of DYS-PUNK-TIONAL characters by Giles)

PROGRESSION: a feature-length narrative film, set in Lawrenceville, the hispter-est neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

From the Website: Dubbed “a gentrification farce,” this film features arty young professionals colliding with the fourth-generation locals who watch bemusedly as their neighborhood transforms under their noses.  This film features three soups, two salads, and culminates in a raucous single entree where secrets are revealed, true love is conceived or destroyed, and a baby is delivered on the dining room table. The filmmakers pay stylistic homage to the great screwball comedies of 1930s American cinema, as well as the mannered farces perfected by French New Wave auteurs.

I am the Marketing and Social Media intern for Progression, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work on such a cool project! Stay tuned for more!



photo 2 What began as a procrastinating silly twitter account has morphed into… a silly twitter account used by many people to procrastinate. He’s a cool guy, and far funnier than me. Check him out above, (he’s already been gazing at you with his cerulean, vivid, intense gaze, so you might as well) or find his broken-hearted, lovelorn tweets on @broodingYAhero


Hail to Pitt! Hail to Grad School! Hail to Coffee!


So, those are all the things keeping me busy and mostly out of trouble. What about you, folks? What are you working on?


Social Media Sites Are Like Shoes

Have you ever seen someone enter the room, wearing an amazing pair of shoes, badass combat boots or dangerously high stilettos? The shoes add so much to their personality, to their style, and you find yourself craving the exact same ones, to borrow some of that pizzazz.



(Yes, this is a.gif post)

So you try on a pair, and they chafe, or give you clown-feet, or make walking impossible.

Othertimes, you’d really be happier wearing a pair of Converse, but your friends will insist you should wear heels or else this first date is doomed to feel,

Social media platforms are a lot like that.

It’s easy to see someone effortlessly chatting away on a v-log, or engaging with thousands of people on twitter, and to think, oh! I should do that.

Or perhaps, you feel pressured to be on tumblr, favoriting bath bomb giveaways (even though you don’t have a bathtub) or making a book review blog (even though you only read a book a month, and half the time they’re old classics no one wants a review of)

But guess what? It’s silly to shove your feet into shoes that don’t fit, and it’s just as silly to force yourself into a social media platform you don’t enjoy. How many times have you stumbled upon an abandoned blog, left to wither after five blog posts, or heard people complain social media sucks away all their time?

Social media sites, at least, for many writers and artists, are an important tool for networking, business growth, and socialization, but they should never add to your stress levels.


1. Determine how much time you want to spend, per week, on social media.

Five hours? Ten hours? Five minutes? None and you want to contract it to someone? None and you want to be a mystery? 24/7?


2. Decide why you’re using social media

Is it to recommend books to other people? As a platform to advertise your art commissions or freelance editing? A place to share story snippets and communicate with other artists?

Each choice may lead to a different platform, different ways of communicating with followers, and different choices in shared content.

giphy (1)

3. Define your target audience.

Once you know WHY you’re using the social media, it’s important to know WHO you’re hoping to engage. For example, many writers/agents/editors hang out on twitter. If you’re hoping to find beta readers or to learn more about the querying process, twitter is a great place. But, if you’re content with a small, dedicated group of readers/responders, a long form platform such as a blog may be better for you.

It’s also important to note ages change. Facebook is no longer the realm of the young and hip.If you’re looking to engage with teen readers, it’s not your best bet.


4. Set a schedule/plan

Social media, by its nature, is addictive. We’re conditioned, as humans, to respond to reward stimulus, and as you probably know, few things are more exciting on the net than seeing that little flag pop up, alerting you to notifications.

Once you’re done with your social media for the day, block the site, log off, turn off the wifi, whatever it takes to break away from the glowing screen.


Now, you’re ready to strut in your social media shoes.


Let’s Get Down To Business

Is the song from Mulan stuck in your head now? If so, you’re welcome.

This won’t ever be a blog where I post nitty-gritty writing tips. Commas and I fight enough as it is, without me dragging new people into our battles. However, as a person with a business background, and in the process of my Masters with a concentration in marketing, I will occasionally share my thoughts on the business of art.

I love picking apart data, so expect posts where I flip percentages and ratios into handy facts for querying writers.

I’m also a wizard in excel, so I often run pricing comparisons for various freelancers, or help people re-organize their data into something more accessible. If you ever have an excel question or want a pricing comparison run to check your freelancing costs against others, I’d love to share my knowledge.

Plus, my background is specifically in finance, so I’m a huge proponent of budgeting, and teaching people to understand financial lingo. Eventually, I’d like to get a sample budget sheet set up for free use. I see budgeting as a way of achieving freedom from stress, fear and confusion. Everyone, from a part-time worker student to a lawyer can benefit from understanding their cash flows.

For all you I’ve put to sleep, I apologize. Here’s a picture of a cat who is equally amused by my spreadsheets.