Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
This is from my WIP "The Bus to Nowhere"
For those new to this, the rules are simple:
1) pick a project – a current Work in Progress, contracted work or even something readers can buy if you’re published
2) pick six sentences
3) post ‘em on Sunday
See? Easy. Want to play? See the site for information on how to do just that: http://sixsunday.com
If you have a Twitter account, you can add the hashtag #sixsunday to your tweets when you tweet a link to your Six Sentence Sunday post. If you’re a writer (regardless of published/unpublished status) come join us!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
The reason I chose this subject today is that there is a very heated discussion going on between some other writers I follow in regards to some remarks made by Sue Grafton about self-publishing.
Most of you have probably heard of Ms Grafton, the mystery writer of the Kinsey Millhone series (A-Z). The summary of her interview with the Louisville Author Spotlight stated that she thought self-published authors were LAZY. Of course, this started a firestorm among the self-published authors I interact with on a regular basis. Her feeling was that many self-published works needed a good editing, among other things. I agree that some books need more editing, but some books from traditional publishers also fall into this category. In reading, I’ve found many errors by big name publishing houses. Self-published authors should not be lumped all together in one big unworthy group. I’m sure that when Ms. Grafton started out, she also struggled before landing that publishing contract.
All authors strive to be successful at their craft. The readers ultimately decide which books are worthy, no matter how that publishing came about. Some may consider mainstream books classier than the self-published titles, but, along with the good stuff, there is plenty of trash published by the big publishers.
Many of the authors publishing today, through the big publishers, are celebrities and media people, who have their stories ghostwritten by us regular people. Generally, the publishing house gives these people a substantial book advance to get their stories, so I’m sure they would never go the self-publishing route. The big publishers are eager to get these books they consider instant moneymakers, it means big bucks for the publishing house. They’re willing to take the gamble on these books, rather than unknown people like you and me.
Choosing self-publishing is extremely difficult and a lonely road we must travel in order to get our name out there in the marketplace among the jillions of books. It is not for everyone that’s for sure. I wonder how many of the big names would make it without the army of professionals behind them, when they are left hanging out there to get it all accomplished themselves.
The big names may have the prestige of having a big publishing house behind them and perhaps this is worth more than the royalties they receive, but if you have the wear with all to self-publish, you are in control of your own destiny in the publishing world. We are the entrepreneurs who can spot new opportunities, seize them, and use that to make an impact in this new world of writing.
In the course of all this, I read that the NY Times bestseller list is possibly starting to do what the music industry is doing: reporting how many CD’s they contracted to booksellers (record stores), not actual sales to the public. This is not confirmed and has to be checked out, but this could shed a different light on things.
All of this reading and thinking led me to do a bit more research on this. I ran across a few blogs that offered some worthy information on the self-publishing industry. The rumor about the NY Times list will have to wait if I want to get this posted today. After all, I’m supposed to be working on a freelance project right now.
I wanted to summarize what I read on the blogs of Kristen Lamb, J.A. Konrath, and Bob Mayer. These blogs contain some interesting info for self-publishers.
In general, self-publishers make five big mistakes.
1. Jumping in to self-publish before your book is ready.
According to Kristen, many writers don’t understand the basics of a story, or the need for editing. She believes writers don’t spend enough time reading fiction or self-help books about the craft of writing. We don’t understand the role of the antagonist in a story, or the three-part structure of story (beginning, middle, and end).
I tend to disagree with some of this thinking, as most books I’ve read by self-published authors do seem to have a clear idea of where the story is going. The characters do struggle with inner demons, addiction problems, weaknesses and insecurities, or some of those as they deal with the problems in the story.
According to Kristen, the characters faults are the arc of the character and different from the plot arc, where the character tackles the problem, grows, and changes from the conflict. I think most of the books I’ve read do a good job with this. Nevertheless, it never hurts to be mindful of the rules of writing. We do become true artists at our craft by knowing and understanding the basic rules and using those in our writing everyday. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.
My biggest issue has been with editing errors, but I find these in all books, whether traditional or self-published. In my mind, you can never edit enough or have too many eyes view your work. Many authors fall short in this area. I can’t ell you how many books I’ve read with words missing, extra words left in, missing punctuation, etc. This is quite annoying, but is fixable if you have a good story.
2. Self-publishers jump in before they know the business side of business.
I’m with Kristen here. There is some expense involved with editing, formatting, and book covers. This is all-important stuff, and depending on your time and expertise, you may be able to accomplish some of it yourself, but it is still probably worth a second set of eyes before you submit those files. The first thing a reader sees is the cover so it is important that it be eye catching and reflects the books contents.
After all this is finished to satisfaction, there are still tax issues to consider because you are in business for yourself. In addition, don’t forget about copyrights for your book.
3. Self-published writers believe if they write it, they will come.
It may be fast to get your book out there on the market, but there is still A LOT of work to do. How will people find you? There are tons of books out there. You had better be ready to venture into the world of self-publishing because hours of work lay ahead of you unless you are already on the NY Time’s bestseller list and people know who you are.
Not only do you need a well-written book, but also you need to be prolific writers. We must work our butts off on social media. Self-publishing is not for everyone. We need a big platform for success, not having the NY Times behind us. We have to spend many hours working in getting our name out there and be willing to sacrifice almost everything to achieve that dream.
4. Self-publishers misuse FREE
I couldn’t agree more with this one. There is never any need to give your work away unless you have another goal in mind. This act needs to serve our longer-term business goals, as Kristen puts it.
This is something to think about in a serious way. If a reader downloads a free book and they like your work, they are likely to go back and purchase some other titles. We have nothing to gain by giving away a freebie IF we have no other titles for sale. We have no idea if that reader will even leave a review of our book once they’ve read it.
For this reason, you can only do so much marketing. It is IMPORTANT to keep writing. We all need to have multiple titles if we are entertaining the thought of giving away free books.
Kristen goes on to mention the use of bundling to give away free books. That way it is a win for both the writer and reader. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a believer in giving away any of my hard work for free, but it does make sense to offer a book for $4.99 and give away a freebie with that purchase, perhaps a short story. The reader will probably jump on that in a minute. This way your work retains its value even with the free status, so it is a win-win situation. You could also say something like this, buy two books at $4.99, and receive free shipping, etc. Doesn’t this make sense?
5. Don’t be guilty of shopping one book to death.
Personally, I see this done all the time. I follow many writers’ threads and I get so sick of the same messages in, my inbox on a daily basis. Yet, I know these fellow writers are desperate to get their message out there.
According to the aforementioned blogs, we should never write one book and then push the hell out of it without sitting down to keep writing. Pomos and blog tours, etc. are good, but the only thing that will sell more books is writing more books. You can’t promote to death until it becomes a spam issue.
The thing to remember is that it takes a few books to get your name out there. One thing in the self-pubs favor is that they own their own schedule and are not under the control of a traditional publisher; therefore, it is easier to get more books out there quicker. Supposedly, it still takes a minimum of three titles, but the ability to offer more than one title should enhance your success.
It is vital to keep writing. The more you write, the better you’ll get at your craft. Once people discover your work, and if they like what they read, there will be multiple books for them to choose from, thus enhancing your success. This will also help you to maximize the FREE tactic, as discussed earlier.
What are thoughts on this? Please check out the other blogs for writers I mentioned. I found a lot of useful info there and tried to share a summary with you all.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Today people are in a hurry thus making way for the short story and flash fiction to become popular. A short story is usually less than 10,000 words while flash fiction is between 500 and 1,000 words. Micro fiction is also popular with a maximum word count of 300. This of course doesn’t work well for me, as I tend to go on and on, unless I’m writing a very short blurb about some cat escapade, so it would be quite a challenge for me to fit it all into this word count. Word choice is absolutely a paramount consideration. Everything here definitely has to be “show, don’t tell,” which it should be anyway, but I tend to get too descriptive to write any coherent story in 300 words. I think even 1000 words would be pushing it.
You can, however, use the tips here when novel writing. In short stories, there is still a beginning, middle, and end. You must deliberately choose every word to enhance the story and cut all others. Here are five techniques to use for setting a story into a small word count, or for using to create individual scenes in novel writing.
Choose an idea. When you’re writing a short story, there is no space for impressive plots and subplots. One small problem or situation will take all the word count. You will have a few characters in a short story and maybe the main character and one or two others in flash or micro fiction. This will still work out for scenes in your novel.
Start the story with action. There is no time for back-story. Dialogue is a good place to start with some emotion or important conversation in the middle of some action. This will hook the reader.
Immediately raise a question the reader will want answered. This is a way to invest people in the story from the first line.
Focus on a theme that will set the mood. It is important to have story continuity and not go off rambling. The story needs to be a picture of an event in time with all the pieces fitting together.
The ending is just as important as the beginning and should be a surprise, or a shock. Whatever you choose needs to sound logical to the reader, even a twist must make sense. The reader will be satisfied and glad they read the story if the ending ties up loose ends, answers questions and makes an impact.
Focusing on one event and using word choice is essential, but you can see how this technique can be a benefit in novel writing. Keeping everything short and to the point will add excitement and impact to your story.
What do you think? Comments welcome.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Well I was going to get back to more info that is useful for writers, but I thought this deserved a mention. It is the least we can do to spend a few minutes in contemplation of an author’s life when they move on to the next plane.
On Monday, Maeve Binchy did just that after a brief illness in a Dublin hospital. She was in the hospital for a serious heart condition in 2002, but her cause of death wasn’t disclosed.
This was a romance author so maybe not all of you know her. Romance isn’t a genre I gravitate to either, but I do have one book by this author, Nights of Rain and Stars, published in 2004. I always do a short review in the back of my books after reading them, I’ve noted, “This is different writing, but an enjoyable story with a happy ending.”
Upon hearing the news of her death, I decided to do a bit of research into her life. It is always a sad thing to hear about someone with so much talent leaving us. I was surprised to learn how successful she was.
I would like to note that Maeve Binchy was a former teacher and journalist for the Irish Times, later moving to London to be their correspondent, selling over 40,000 books in her lifetime. This was way beyond her expectations when she published her first book at the age of 42. While writing her books, she continued to write for the Irish Times until 2000.
While in London, she met her future husband, a broadcaster named Gordon Snell, who is also a children’s author. Soon after they married in 1977, they moved to the village where she grew up. They had no children.
She was born in Dalkey, a small village outside Dublin, the eldest of four children. Many of her books are set in an Irish village and depict human relationships and their resulting crisis. Plots and subplots meander through her work that invariably ends with acceptance and growth.
Two of her novels and a short story went on to become films. Circle of Friends, (1990), based on her college days and a coming of age story is set at the University of Dublin, stars Minnie Driver. Tara Road, (1999), stars Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams and is about two women, one American and one Irish, who swap houses for the summer in hopes of dealing with recent tragedies. How about You, (2008), a short story about a bunch of sour souled retirees living in a house in Dublin when a vivacious young woman shows up and changes their entire outlook on life. It stars Vanessa Redgrave. Besides this, two of her books were made into TV movies, Echoes, a 1988 miniseries, about small town Irish life and The Lilac Bus, in 1900, about travelers on a bus to Dublin.
Now I don’t know about you, but some of these sound interesting. It may be worth looking up the books when I have more reading time.
Her eighteenth novel, A Week in Winter, is scheduled to be published later this year.
She considered herself a writer of books that would appeal to people on vacation and thought she was lucky to live in the time of mass-market paperbacks.
She lived her life with the positivity depicted in her books.
Here is a brief quote she gave in an interview to Australia’s Illawarra Mercury newspaper in 2000. “I don’t think you’re happier if you’re thin, or beautiful, or rich, or married. You have to make your own happiness. My heroines do not become beautiful, elegant swans; they become confident ducks and get on with life.”