Monthly Archives: January 2012

Why do we do it?

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I often see fellow writers griping about having to write, having to edit, having to re-read. I admit, I’m guilty of it as well. Non-writing types may see our complaining and ask “If it’s so much of a pain in the ass, why do you do it?”

Why do I do it? Why suffer through, especially when it’s not even my “real job”? Because, whining aside, I love it. Now those same people are scratching their heads asking me “Why do you love it? Sounds tedious. Sounds frustrating. Sounds…boring.”  Can it be tedious and frustrating? Hell yes. Boring? Not so much, although I’m not sure non-writers will understand that.

Maybe you think my reason is cliche, what I’m expected to say, so let me go a little deeper.  Why do I love to write? I love the power. Yes, I said power. I live in a world where I often feel I have  no control over what happens to me. Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it karma or bad luck. Whatever it is,  it frequently leaves me feeling helpless, beaten down.  When I write, I have control over my fictional world. I have the power to make things work out the way I want them to (providing my characters cooperate, other writers will understand what I mean). It lets me play out scenes from my own life in ways I wish they would have gone.

Writing provides an outlet. It lets me be the bitch I’m normally too polite to be in real life. It lets me be the pretty girl, the popular girl, the girl has things come more easily to her. It lets me be the hero or the villain or the spunky sidekick.  Does that mean all my characters are representations of me? No. Yes, I’ve been picked on and bullied and had my heartbroken more times than I’d like to remember, but my characters are most definitely not me.  There may be an aspect here and there. They may use a phrase I’m fond of in real life.  They may lust over the same kinds of things that I do, but they’re definitely not me, so please don’t start analyzing them trying to figure me out. It won’t work.

Why else do I love writing? I love that it allows others an escape. Reading is one of my biggest passions and I love to spend a night on the couch, under a blanket, escaping into a world that is not mine.  A place where my issues and troubles take no part.  It’s magical, you know? I love that I might be able to do that for someone else. While I’m kind of shy to have people read my work (insecurities, I’ve got ‘em!) I am so happy when they come back and tell me they enjoyed it, that they’re looking forward to a sequel, that they’re on Team Gabe/Chaz/Judd/Jazz (I am totally having shirts made for people! Heh). It feels good to know I can help others.

Writing is a passion. It’s more than a hobby. It’s time consuming, heartbreaking, amusing, hard work.  Sometimes, I love it and hate it at the same time. I know some of you know what I mean by that. I might grumble and complain. I might opt not to hang out with friends and stay in on a Friday night to write. I might get bald spots from pulling my hair out in frustration, but it really is worth it in the end. To have just one person say they loved it? Kind of makes it all worth while people.

So why do you do it?

Adventures in Promoland: Twitter

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The next stop on our magical little journey of self-promotion is Twitter.  I’ve done posts on Twitter before and most of you probably know I think it’s one of the best networking and promotional tools an indie author can have. I’ve talked about using different clients and how to set columns up and make sure you’re using hashtags, etc., but today I’m going to discuss a bit about the do and do nots of self-promoting on Twitter.

Firstly, there’s the follow/following. Obviously you want a large following so you can reach a lot of different people. That doesn’t mean you should blindly just follow everyone back. I found the way to get the most out of Twitter is to follow people whom you find interesting or could be a help to you and your career.  Besides, do you want to promote your book to bots and Drunk Hulk? – I don’t know that he’d be interested in our writing- Break up the people you follow into lists and then make the important groups columns in the client you use. If everyone is lumped together, you’re going to miss out on tweets and conversations that may be relevant to you.

The amount of people who follow you should help determine how often you can get away with promoting your work. If you’ve only got 50 followers, it’s very likely those people are going to see your tweets often and get annoyed at seeing the same thing over and over. If there’s one sure way to get me to unfollow or boot you to a list of mine that I don’t monitor, it’s the constant spam-like promoting of your book. There’s no exact equation on how many tweets you can send in a certain amount of time, but use some common sense people. Better yet, use your client’s scheduling option to set up your tweets for throughout the day. That way you will know exactly how many times a day you’re going to promote and when. It’s also handy to have tweets set up for overnight. You will hit a whole new group of people from around the world and you won’t have to deprive yourself of sleep at the same time.

Another no-no? The direct message thanking for the follow while pimping your book at the same time. Drives.Me.Crazy. I know I’m not alone too. Many of my other  friends have complained to me about that. I am more likely to buy a book from someone on Twitter if I get to know the person first. If you’re shoving your book at me in the first second, I’m not going to be interacting much with you and probably won’t look into your book. Just being honest folks.

When promoting your book, don’t be scared to change up the wording of your tweet. Add parts of reviews, a piece of your query, a pitch, a hook, whatever might catch people’s attention. Changing it up could catch the eye of someone who previously ignored another tweet. Besides, if you’re tweeting the same thing over and over, people will get bored and annoyed and perhaps unfollow you. Who wants that?

Also, don’t forget the hashtags people! There are plenty of publishing and book related hashtags that you can use to help your promotional tweets reach an audience beyond your followers. There’s #ebook, #indiepub, #indieauthor, etc. I haven’t had a chance to research and try them out yet, but I am sure there are tags out there specific for Nook and Amazon Kindle users that I think will be very helpful. Here’s a good article that lists a bunch of tags you can use: click here

Finally folks, remember, there is more to promote than just your book. Promote your website, your author webpage (Facebook or otherwise) and yourself. Talk to others, ask questions, comment on things.  Personally, I am more likely to buy someone’s book if I’ve talked to them some. Maybe I like their sense of humor or their  personality. Maybe something they said resonated and interested me. Those are the things that prompt me to check out someone’s work. If I like what they have to say, I will probably like their writing as well. Be sure to re-tweet things you like and help promote other authors too. They may be kind and return the favor.

Using Twitter can really help build your fan base and sell books. Just be smart about how you use it and don’t abuse your followers with spam. Take advantage of the hashtags and help promote your fellow indies. I don’t think you’ll come to regret it.

The Perks of Writing Partners and Groups

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Some might think that writing is a lonely solo kind of career. That authors lock themselves in a room for days on end or escape to a log cabin in the middle of nowhere to write.  Well, those things probably do happen. One needs focus to finish writing a novel, but once that rough draft is done it’s time to re-enter the land of the living.  This is the point where a good writing partner or writing group come in handy.

So maybe you’re asking “Why would I even need a writing partner or a group? I am (S)He-(Wo)Man, queen/king of writing! I need no help!” While that may be true (hey, I don’t know the level of your writing skills) I say a partner and/or a group can only help.

A good writing partner should be able to help you through the initial rough draft writing if you’ve explained your ideas and the plot to them in detail. Of course you can always turn to them for general questions on point of view, questions on locations, foods, weapons, fighting styles, grammar,  etc. If your partner has the time, you may want to send them a chapter at a time to get their thoughts on what’s going on (I would hold off on asking for editing type read throughs until the rough draft is complete). That back and forth between you and your writing partner can be really beneficial if you find yourself stuck, unsure of where the story should go.

When it comes time to beta read, a writing partner is one of the best people to turn to. They know you. They know your writing style. More than likely, you’ve discussed aspects of the story and characters with them as you were writing the rough draft. Also, you should be able to trust them to be honest with you and let you know if something doesn’t work.  They’re less likely to come back with cruel comments about your writing.

A writing group is a bit of a different kind of monster.  When you belong to a writing group, you’re mixed in with a bunch of different kind of writers. They don’t necessarily need to write the same genre as you, but I think it can be helpful. Groups tend to meet on a monthly basis and people get together, talk about their current projects and more than likely do a reading of a scene or a chapter.  This is helpful for several reasons.

1) Instant feedback. You’re not sitting at home refreshing your email waiting for a beta reader to get back to you with notes.

2) More than one opinion at a time. Not everyone’s going to love your work. It just might not be their kind of story, but that’s important for you to hear as well. It’ll help prep you for possible bad reviews later. Also, all those different opinions may help you to see something someone else may have missed or didn’t think much of.

3) Practice selling yourself. No. No. I’m not talking about standing on the corner hawking a $25 dollar…well, you know, but selling your work. Convincing people your book is interesting and that they should want to buy it. As someone who gets tongue tied talking about their novels (see the last blog post!) I find this part of belonging to a group is a huge help to me.

4) Public speaking.  I know a lot of people have issues with speaking before a group. To read a chapter of your work in a public place where the people of your group, and anyone else standing around, can hear you can be an incredibly daunting task but it can be a great confidence boost and prepare you should you ever have the chance to do a book signing/reading.

5) A look into the competition.  If you have writers of the same genre in your group, it can be helpful to see what they’re writing about and their style. Certain markets are flooded with similar types of books. Right now we know the YA market has a large amount of vampire and werewolf books. Perhaps you might think to work on that old manuscript about humans who turn into unicorns instead of the vampire book to have something different out there.

These are just a few of the highlights to having a good writing partner or group to share your work with. No man is an island, folks.  Don’t be scared to share your stories. Just remember, if they help you, they will probably want help in return. It’s a good system. Make it work for everyone.

Tongue Tied

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Once you tell people you’ve written a book, the first question that’s going to pop out of there mouth is almost always “What’s it about?”. Seems a logical question, no? You’d think, since I wrote the book, edited it a million times, wrote a query/backcover blurb, etc. that it would be an easy question for me as the author to answer, right?

Umm…wrong. For some reason, whenever I’m asked that question, I get all tongue tied. My mind goes blank and I start to stutter. Why can’t I  explain what it’s about? I just don’t know.  I think, on one hand, I feel like I’m bragging if I start rambling on about my story. On the other hand, I’m concerned about the looks I’ll get when I tell people I wrote a story about a girl who cheated death twice and the Angel of Death who saved her life. I can only imagine what people must look like when I tell them I wrote a story about a love triangle between two hot guys and a girl who wears clown makeup.

I don’t do well with face to face stuff as I am not a fan of being the center of attention.  It makes me blush! It’s one of the reasons I love all this online web-related promotion. I don’t have to see people jeer me! Yeah I have to read it, but at least if it makes me cry, no one is around to see.

I’m sure a lot of it just has to do with confidence, something I know I lack a lot of. It also seems to be a writer type deal to have a lot of insecurities about our work. As I’ve said before, art is subjective and not everyone is going to like what we do. I can accept that, but I don’t have to take it head on and face to face. I’d rather just tell them to look it up! I’m sure, given time, it’ll become easier but for now expect a blank look followed by a rambling explanation that is all over the place.

Adventures in Promoland: The Blog Tour

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The next stop on the journey through Promoland is at the wondrous place called the Blog Tour. A blog tour is a fantastic way to reach a larger audience. To reach several difference audiences.

Here’s how it works: You find someone to host your tour. There are companies who will handle it, like Novel Publicity and bloggers, like the lovely Bree over at The Magic Attic who will do it for free. Now you may ask, why would you pay for a tour when you could have one for free? Well, it really depends on how much exposure you want. While Bree has an excellent following and record for hosting blog tours (which is why I’m using her for my own!) Novel Publicity has an extensive audience and blogger roster. When the owner of Novel Publicity, Emlyn Chand, ran her own blog tour, she had enough bloggers to run the tour for TWO MONTHS. That’s 60 some odd days of your book hitting a new audience. That’s a hell of a range. Companies that hold tours also have more resources at their disposal than some of the bloggers may have. It will really depend on your budget and the reach you want with the tour.

Once you decide on the route to take, the person or company holding the tour will contact bloggers and ask if they want to participate. A schedule will be set up and digital or paperback copies of your book will be sent to the bloggers participating.  They will read the book and start preparing their posts.

The posts can range from reviews to interviews to guest posts and whatever else they can come up with to help promote your book.  When the blogger posts, you can then help direct traffic to their blogs by tweeting the information or posting it on Facebook. It’s nice because while you’re getting your book out there to new audiences, you’re also helping the blogger up their traffic and they get to read a book for free. Yay free books!

To make the tour even more interesting, the bloggers can offer giveaways of your book in digital or print format. You can sign the paperbacks before sending them out or offer a Kindlegraph for the digital versions. Also if you have other swag, bookmarks, pins, posters, etc. they can give those out as well. Who doesn’t love free stuff?

Another thing you can ask of the bloggers on the tour is for them to post their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and/or Barnes and Nobles. That will help those browsing the sites  be more interested in your book and the more reviews you get, the higher your ranking goes. It’s a win!

A blog tour is a great tool to help you reach an audience you may not already have, to build your fan base, to make new friends with other writers and bloggers. Yes you may have to put out some money, but the amount totally depends on you, which is kind of a great thing.