Writing for Television

Since I haven’t written a blog in a long time, I thought I’d start with a snazzy heading. It makes it seem as if I write for television already.  After living in Southern California for about three and a half years, I’ve noticed that more often than not, that’s how many writers present their work: as if they’ve already sold it.

If they write a script and send it to a contest, it is “being reviewed by industry professionals.” In prose fiction we call this “Waiting for a rejection.” I have not fallen into the trap of outward optimism toward my projects, that is tempered only by continual inner pessimism.

Instead, I am doing what I have always done. I write because it’s fun, or because I have something troubling I need to purge, or both. I wrote a novel after I moved here, a short one. I also wrote some short stories. But then I tried my hand at a screenplay. I thought it was utterly brilliant. However, one person tore it to shreds-rightfully so. Two others said something along the lines of “there’s too much going on for a feature.” Okay fine, not utterly brilliant at all. But kudos for me for being excited about it.

One friend pushed me to make it into a television series. This all sounds really cool, but all it means is that I took the feature and spread it over 10 episodes, including a fully fleshed out pilot. I sent the pilot to a friend and he said, “This is really good but there’s no hook.” So I watched a lot of pilots on Netflix, and came up with a hook. And I rewrote. Then the fantastic title I had before Pretty When She Cries didn’t make sense anymore. Nor did a lot of wonderful things in the original feature script. Like the fact the main point was the villainous grandmother figure who I had to soften up for TV to instead make her likeable. She went from being utterly detestable to somehow starring on the show because that’s what will sell, a tough as nails, strong, funny misunderstood matriarch. Or so I’m told.

In the end, I have a pilot and a treatment and a logline and a synopsis. There. Done. Except now what?  Living in the area, I could hit the streets and schmooze like crazy, and probably I still wouldn’t sell it. But I’d have a better shot than my plan now which is to work full-time and occasionally enter it into a contest.

A few months pack I paid to list my logline and synopsis on a website that supposedly sells to producers. Early on I got a notification that ABC had it under review. I was excited but then nothing ever happened. They never asked me for my well written script or the treatment. When later two more movie companies also had it under review, I rolled my eyes. It’s still under review and I don’t think that amounts to anything at all.

I will say writing scripts and writing TV episodes is a lot more fun than writing prose. It all happens so fast and you can “show” so much better than telling. A single action, if written well, can send ripples of fear or angst to a viewer far more than a few paragraphs of well-chosen words to describe it.

It was hard to get used to not using a character’s introspection to relay the story, but eventually that came too.

There are so many channels now on cable, on Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and web series. I keep hearing that everyone is starving for content. I’m jumping up and down and saying “I have content. Look over here!!!!” So far, no one has heard me.

I think in the coming months I will have to double down, get over my shyness, and really work to make connections, or at the very least, go to a lot more sites that help promote these sorts of things. If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

Until then, I will be thinking of the next thing to write, even if it never makes it to the big screen, or the little TV screen or the smaller computer or tablet or phone screen.





I Just Want to Write

thZSAGOAMLI’ve been writing since I was little. It’s the only thing I ever found that I could do all day everyday and still think it was fun. Or at least rewarding.

For years, I’ve been writing like crazy. To date I have five published novels, a collection of short stories, a second collection probably coming out in the fall. I’ve sold lots of standalone stories too.

For my recent  novel-it’s been sometime since I’ve looked for an agent-I’m a little overwhelmed. Back in the day, a person could write a book and sell it. The publisher and /or you would spread the word through friends, or press releases (does anyone even use those anymore)? And then go work on the next book. Sure there were book signings to attend and conferences but that wasn’t the requirement. If you wrote a good enough book and it got into the right hands, and you kept writing good books, that was enough. You may not be rich or number one on the sales charts but it wasn’t about that. It was about the writing, the craft of it. The tap tap tap of the keys and the euphoria and sadness you felt at typing, THE END.th0DTLRKC1

It’s a different world now though. Now it’s about Amazon rankings which can be skewed in several ways to your favor so you can say, “Look I’m number ONE !” even if just for a few hours, and in some remote category (Amish Cookbooks that Feature Deviled Eggs). I’ve been guilty of this myself so I’m not judging. But when did it become about ranking and popularity and how much can you earn in a month if you run a contest or a giveaway?

thSVC34CLQI saw the website for a big NYC literary agency today that stated when I submit my query I also had to provide links to all my social media, talk about how many followers I had and my web traffic. How many copies of books have I sold?

What happened to sending in your book and being judged on the merit of the writing and the concept? The dream of pulling a J.K. Rowling and having your book fall into the right hands and suddenly have everyone talk about what a good storyteller you are? Is that so far down the list of priorities now to publish? I think so, yes.

thUJ37D5A7.jpgNow the writing doesn’t matter nearly as much as Facebook algorithms and Twitter followers and Tweets and Retweets, and podcasts and blog posts. It’s a business. Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. It’s a start. There’s Goodreads and a whole bunch of others that I don’t know about because I JUST WANT TO WRITE.

When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to grow up to  be a writer. I didn’t want to grow up and do marketing for a living. I work all day at bank job and when I get home, I want to immerse myself in fiction. Not more accounting stuff and schmoozing and looking at spreadsheets and learning the best methods to sell more Kindle books than last month by doing a Countdown or paying Bookbub to let me give away more free copies because eventually it will pan out…

thZVQUA00LBut it seems without doing all these other things, you are destined to fall into obscurity. I truly respect the people who do write well and also market like crazy and make a lot of money. I just wish that we could go back to just writing what we love, and being good at it, and letting good prose do the work.

On that note, I will go write because that is my favorite part. If I am never number one, or a household name I want to believe it’s because I didn’t write the Great American Novel, not because I didn’t Tweet enough. I hold out hope that someday we will go back to writers  writing, just for the sake of writing because that’s what we were born to do.




How to Waste Money on Marketing

Two years ago my first book came out. It was not the first book I had planned, but a story I wrote for my daughter. I met a small publisher at a conference who was looking for YA books so I thought, why not?

The book came out in July 2010 and by March 2011 I had my rights back and was on the lookout for a new publisher. That’s another whole story I won’t get into. Suffice to say that the book is republished now and in better form, new title, new cover, new content. But while I was pushing The Man Of Mystery Hill I spent a crazy amount of money on marketing. And really, none of it made me a cent.

I’d like to share some of my “great marketing ideas” with you, so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

First, there was the url. I already had a bunch of domain names but decided I needed http://www.abbymcnabb.com. This would point to a new page in my already cumbersome website. I have since shut off the auto renew on the domain but I’m stuck with it for a while. Not a lot of money but it started the tally.

Next came the new business cards. I put the new web address on there, a picture of me and a cover of the book. Now that I’ve changed everything, the cards are useless. Vista print doesn’t charge a lot luckily. I  bought some postcards of the book cover. Also useless. Then there were the large posters bonded to white boards that cost way more than they should have, but I was excited. This was my first book after all.

I paid for ad space in print magazines, split with the publisher. I don’t think there was much benefit to that. Next came the tattoos. That’s right, tattoos containing the book cover. And honestly, what’s more fun than 5000 tattoos? I’ll tell you what, the $175 I paid for them to now sit in a drawer. Up goes the tally.

This book originally starred a 4th grade girl. In the new version she’s in 6th grade. I thought on it and decided that Mood pencils would be super fun. Especially if I had 500 of them. Honestly, what’s more enthralling than 500 mood pencils that change color in your hands and sport the abbymcnabb url? The money I blew on them, that’s what. And up goes the tally again.

But I was still so eager to sell this book. I was booking signings for at least once  a week, sometimes two. I was going to make a ton of money and all the cash I was putting out for giveaways would come back to me (foolish girl).

I think the bears were the last straw. I got it in my head that if I bought little bears wearing t-shirts with my book cover on them, that would be about the best thing ever. And honestly, they are adorable. When I opened the box of 100 of them (after shelling out about $375) I was thrilled. I gave away about half  to get people to buy my books at events. Of course my royalty was way less than what I spent on bears. What was I thinking? Now they are in a bag. Buying new t-shirts with the new cover will cost as much as new bears and I’m kind of all set with mini plushies.

The new version came out in November 2011 and I’m very pleased with it. This time, I’m going free and low-cost marketing. The jury is out on how successful that is but at least I learned from my mistakes. I hope you can learn from my mistakes too.

Happy selling!


Don’t forget to check out my AMAZON PAGE  and my new NOOK PAGE to see all my fiction currently for sale.

The Glory of Facebooks Ads


A few months ago someone told me about Facebook ads. I am leery about anything that charges per click, since there’s no control over how much you can spend. She said however that you CAN decide a limit. The exposure is AMAZING and it’s so cheap it’s scary. I’m going to list a few stats below, as well as the content of my ad. I highly recommend doing this.

On Monday, I placed the ad using my book cover as an image and this as the content  Stand By Me meets X-Files: coming of age YA novel about a girl who …


I picked the tags “paranormal activity, Middle school and science fiction.” They suggested elementary school so I took that too. My target audience is 9,819.580 people. Yes, that’s a real number.

You only pay per click. All the times it shows up on someone’s page, is free. They asked for, I think, .51 per click but there was an advanced button to set your own price. The range was .34 to 1.01. So I picked .34. Silly not to right? I then set a maximum of $30. That’s about 90 clicks.

It’s been 72 hours now and I’ve had 8,609 individual pages my ad has been shown on. The ad has appeared on those pages 25,208 times. I’ve had only 12 clicks and have spent $3.65. They are charging me .30 per click, less than I bid, not sure why. This is set to run for a month or until I reach my limit.


They have a cool graph that updates constantly and it’s fun to click on throughout the day so you can see how your advertising dollars are being spent. I cannot say enough about this painfully cheap research. I don’t know if it’s affecting my sales, if those 12 clicks turned into 12 sales, but 25,208 is a lot of subliminal advertising.

I can’t imagine how high the numbers will be by the time I reach my $30.

Good luck! I hope you try it.


Tracy L. Carbone’s novel The Soul Collector is available on Amazon. Please check her main Amazon page as well to view all her fiction work.