Friday, March 24, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 162

I traveled to Missouri last week to visit my mom and brother, which explains the recent inactivity around here. For me, the worst part of the trip isn't the flight to St. Louis (Hint: I'm NOT a good flyer),  it's the three hour drive down to Springfield. 

However, this time I was armed with an audio book, and the miles just flew by.  I listened to Dreadnought, the third book in the Starship Blackbeard series by Michael Wallace. Not only does this guy know his space opera, but the distinctive British feel gave this book a certain flare that sets it apart.  The voice actor was fantastic, and since all the Audible books in the series are priced at $2 apiece, this is an absolute steal.  If you're into space opera, I can't recommend this series highly enough. 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


10 Ways First-Time Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media

Pronoun. Distribution Beyond Amazon

Writing a Murder Mystery: The Conflict Character

Tension vs. Conflict (Hint: They aren't the Same Thing)

Can Changing Your Book Covers Really Help You Sell More Books?

3 Unconventional Ways To Use Social Media To Effectively Find Your Readers

8 1/2 Tips for How to Write Opening and Closing Lines Readers Will Love to Quote

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pitfalls of Writing To Market

I’ll admit to feeling rather bummed about writing today.

It’s not from of a lack of writing progress. I was pretty darn productive this weekend, making significantly more progress than I expected. And if that wasn’t enough reason to be happy, I’ve attended two critique groups and one SCBWI meeting during the last two weeks, all of which usually psych me up for writing.

No, I’m down because I came across the website of a book marketing guru, one of those people who make their money telling us how to market our books. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but this guy was explaining the concept of writing to market, which basically means picking a hot genre and writing stories in that genre as quickly as you can,.

So he set himself a challenge to write (and supposedly edit) a book in a ridiculously short amount of time—I won’t say how long, but it’s shorter than the time it takes me to finish a chapter for my critique group—and then launch it using his marketing techniques. Needless to say, his book is doing pretty well. I was shocked that anyone could write and edit a book so quickly, so I peeked at his first chapter on Amazon.

OMG! It read like fan fiction written by a high school student. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a high school student) The sentences were overly simplistic, the dialogue was cringe-worthy, and the characters (supposedly trained military personnel) acted like a bunch of squabbling kindergartners. I don’t consider my prose to be particularly good, but even I would have been embarrassed to show these words to my critique group, let alone the public.

And yet the book seems to be doing quite well, which means either the readers of this genre are scarily desperate for anything they can get their hands on, or this guy’s book marketing tricks are capable of selling anything. Has the bar really been set that low? Makes me wonder if I’m wasting my time trying to create a well-crafted story. Maybe I should jump into a hot genre and write as fast as I can too. Heck I wouldn’t even have to attend critique group meetings any more.

The money’s tempting, but that’s not why I got into writing in the first place. I want to write words that make me proud to be a writer, not something I threw together during NaNo and uploaded the next day.

Oh well.  Perhaps I just need to read a few well written books and all will be well again with the world.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 161

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Not as much writing this week as I would have liked. I'm currently beta-reading for another author and since my comments are due Monday, that took priority.  The good news is that tonight I have a crit group meeting, followed by tomorrow morning's SCBWI meeting.  Both of these events usually charge me up for writing, so we'll see what happens when I get a double dose of encouragement. 

The big question is: what plans do my family have for me this weekend?   

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


Book Marketing: Using Amazon Ads to Grow a Newsletter List

Anti-Heroes: Why We Love Them & Keys Ways to Give Them Depth

Writer Struggles: Killing Nice Characters

English vs American Murder Mysteries

The 11 Most Common Questions Authors Ask BookBub

Revision Workshop: Day Three: Analyze the Scene Structure

Descriptions – the Angels are in the Details!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Insecure Writer and Writing Podcasts

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

Because I’ve been watching too many darn podcasts on book marketing! 

For the last several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to podcasts about indie publishing while driving to work. The two I enjoy best are The Creative Penn podcast and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, but there’s a whole slew of them out there. Although they do cover the craft of writing to some extent, most of the interviews are concerned with how to sell more books, and include lots of marketing tips and tricks. And boy are there a ton of them.  Here's a small sampling of topics:

How to avoid the 30 day cliff on Amazon.
Staying exclusive or going wide. 
How to avoid the 90-day cliff on Amazon. 
Bookbub ads. 
Amazon ads. 
Facebook ads. 
E-mail lists. 
Kindle Unlimited. 

The list just goes on and on. 

But what really drives me crazy is that the number one thing you can do to drive more sales is to write as many books as you can, as fast as you can. It seems most of the writers who’ve been interviewed write a book every two months. What the hell? One author pumps them out so quickly she has to have her cover designer create her covers before she even knows what the stories are about. Seriously? I remember one successful author who lamented being a slow writer, which made me feel a little better—that is, until he mentioned it took him a full 3 to 4 months to finish a book. 

The swine. 

I certainly don’t expect to get rich from writing, but it sounds like the hurdles you have to overcome in order to convince more than 100 people to buy your book (not counting friends and other authors) are depressingly high. 

What marketing tactic works best for you? Please, I need to know!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spending Too Much Time On The First Draft

Photo courtesy of Pixabay and Voltamax
I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase my writing speed. Based on what other writers tell me, I spend a lot more time on first drafts than everyone else. There are various reasons for this, but one of the biggies is that I revise as I write. Not full revisions, mind you, but if I know that a sentence or paragraph doesn’t make complete sense, I have to fix them before I can go on. Or if my descriptions sound like bullet lists, my muse refuses to cooperate until I go back and dress them up a little. Or if a logic flaw rears its head…. Well, you get the drill.

I know writers are supposed to speed through the first draft, but leaving behind a big pile of problems that need to be fixed later just seems like procrastination. Better if I fix some of the more glaring problems right then and there while the scene is still fresh in my mind. Now these aren’t my final revisions. Oh no, far from it. But they’re enough to allow me to move on with a clear conscience.

But here’s my problem. After spending all that time thinking about these first draft revisions, I’ve discovered that the resulting sentences and paragraphs kind of get locked down in my head. So when I return later during the editing phase, I often can’t visualize writing the words in any other way, even when I know there’s a problem. I can tweak a word here or there with no problem, but if a paragraph needs to be blown up and rewritten from scratch, it can take days for me to recognize this. The number of hours I’ve wasted staring at a paragraph that isn’t working before I realized a simple reordering of words would solve the problem is embarrassingly high.

So now I’m trying a new approach. From now on, whenever I feel the need to revise during the first draft, I’ll make sure to keep my added sentences short and full of telling prose. That way I’ll have no choice but to rewrite them from scratch.

Will my muse allow this? Only time will tell.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 159

Photo courtesy of José Manuel Botana (Pixabay)

Not much to report this week, writing or otherwise. As usual, I'm stuck on my latest chapter, but this time I can't complain too much since I hadn't spent much time thinking about the chapter beforehand. So tonight my plan is to sit down and work out the complete sequence of events, along with maps to show character movement. And I'm doing this all by hand instead of typing it out on the keyboard, because I think it'll put me into a more creative state of mind. 

I'll be interested to see how well the actual writing goes after this exercise. 

Do any of you find that writing by hand makes you more creative? 

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links! 


7 Tips for Writing a Book Blurb

Growing Your Audience by Growing a Mailing List

An Old World Concept Made New: How Patreon Works for WritersKit with “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me”

Writing an Effective Book Description: 7 Ways to Turn Browsers Into Buyers

How to Start Your Own Publishing Company

9 Statistics Writers Should Know About Amazon

8 Ways to Troubleshoot a Scene–and 5 Ways Make It Fabulous

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