Posted by Sabine on June 29, 2012
There was a time when you only saw an author during a book signing. Now, authors are everywhere; guest blogging, blogging, interviews, giveaways, shelfari, goodreads, twitter and facebook. You name a platform and the author would have some kind of presence.
Building an author brand is becoming more and more vital to the survival of writers, and it is not only the self-published ones who are putting in a huge promotional effort, but digital and traditional publishers require an author/writer to have some kind of a web presence before publishing a book. Agents and publishers will check out a writer’s website, facebook, twitter or other platforms before signing them to ensure the writer knows the basics of web promotion and brand building.
Of course the ones who are doing well, sales wise, are those are spending an equal amount of time writing the next book. On Amazon you can clearly see that authors who have better sales ranking are the ones who have more than three books up for sale, have a reasonable price and a good cover. The ones who are doing great who are doing all that and spending a reasonable amount of time selling their wares to the readers.
An author is just not a writer anymore, but a marketer and promotional campaign planner, all rolled into one. And those who can’t digest that change in the traditional role of the writer seem to be slowly lagging behind.
The changes in the publishing industry are not just confined to the publishing giants or agents but the writers have also evolved according to the new market rules and distribution channels.
Happy Writing and Selling!
Posted by Sabine on June 22, 2012
Here is presenting a great guest post by a fellow writer, Andy kaiser. His own blog on Writing, Publishing and Technology is a fabulous resource for writers.
My name is Andy. I’m a writer. That is, I think I’m competent enough on a keyboard and I have a body of work large enough to justify the title. I’m also an author, where I’ve self-published multiple titles in multiple formats, and I have a traditional publisher kicking off a new series soon. Yet, I’m still figuring out the industry, the methods and overall madness surrounding this weird but fascinating career.
The below tips are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about writing and publishing. If you have time, frustration and sanity to spare, then you can probably stop reading. Otherwise, I hope my experience can help.
Don’t work on newer, “better” projects. Any creative person will have new projects and ideas flying everywhere. Dedicate your focus to one project at a time. Commit to a project when you start it, make sure it’s what you want to do, then finish it before starting something else. When you’re slogging through one project, anything new seems instantly more interesting, and possibly more important. It’s not. Certainly log new ideas so you can pursue them later, but if they’re not directly part of your project, then they’re not as important as finishing what you’re currently working on. Finish what you start.
Your method should be an invisible part of the process. Some writers write with Microsoft Word. Others use OpenOffice. Some dictate. Some write longhand and electronically transcribe it later. Some create with writing-specific software like Scrivener. Pick the process that works for you, and keep at it. Get to the point where you’re so good at whatever writing method you choose, it becomes second nature. You should be such an expert with your tools that you never notice you’re using them.
Don’t read so much. While the “read anything and everything” is great for learning about the method and structure of writing, don’t forget to live life. Observing what’s around you will unearth ideas and story fodder. Overhearing conversations, visiting a particular place, trying a new activity… The world is wonderful for not only generating story concepts and characters, but it gives you authentic examples to effectively communicate ideas and emotion. Direct experience is powerful.
Have a thin skin. You need to be empathic in order to write well. Without an emotional core, you’re a technical writer, communicating ideas with no emotion behind them. It’s good to get emotionally involved with your story and characters. You can wear the thick skin later. If you’ve done your job as a writer, your reader will feel what you feel. When you write, get emotional.
You are not just a writer. You are also an editor. You are a marketer. You are your own agent and advocate. Don’t depend on others to do this for you, even if it’s specified in a contract. At worst, you’ll need to be ready to step in for the failure of others. At the very least, you’ll still improve your final product. No one cares about your career as much as you do.
Inspiration is not a show-stopper. Don’t wait for a good idea to strike you. Don’t wait until you’re “in the mood” to write. …Or rather, you can do these things if you’re a hobbyist writer. But if you want to write for a living, or have to crank out material on a deadline, or are working with others, then you can’t wait for inspiration. That method is too spurious and undependable. Write your words. They could be brilliant, or they could be junk. It doesn’t matter, because if you write words, (1) you’ll be that much closer to finishing your work, and (2) even if the writing is horrible, at least you’ll have something to fix. Write regardless. Don’t wait for inspiration.
Expose yourself to all advice, then be willing to drop it. Yes, there are best practices and recommendations to follow, like the basic structural and procedural rules about writing effectively. You need to know grammar, the difference between active and passive voice, why to use and not use adverbs, the “show, don’t tell” philosophy, and other rules that give you the ability to communicate well. But, when you’re crafting your art and developing your process (How do you write? How much? How often? When? What brand of caffeine do you require?), writing is so incredibly personalized. What works for most may not work for you. Get advice on various methods and recommendations, because it may be helpful. Or it may fall away as useless. Whatever sticks is what your brain wants to do. Experiment to find writing methods that work. No one else can figure this out for you.
Andy Kaiser is the author of Superliminal (Dev Manny, Information Technology Private Investigator series), Waking the Dreamer (Transhuman series) and the upcoming Ghost in the Water (The League of Scientists series).
Posted by Sabine on June 15, 2012
Those of you who have ever gotten your books edited by a professional editor must be familiar with the pain of editing. I would compare it to tooth extraction. A good book needs an editor to make it great. No matter how much I edit, when I see the comments made by my editor, I always realize how much better the story is with her input. Of course, those red marks and crossed out words nearly give me an ulcer.
Here are a few tips on how to make the experience easier:
1) Read your editor’s comments and close the file. Initially you will think she is not right, or is being too harsh. Take a few days to think about her input. Decide how you will make the changes she expects you to make. Once you open the file again, you will be better prepared to handle the editing process.
2) If you don’t agree with something, make a note for her giving your reasoning.
3) Take it slow. Do the edits chapter by chapter. I prefer to do a chapter or maximum two a day because no matter how much you prepare yourself, it’s never easy to make the required changes.
4) Always do the editing twice. First time you need to no t think too much and follow the directions, and in the second edit go through the story to see if all the changes are consistent and everything matches up.
I love the feedback from my editor. I hate the feedback from my editor. Her editing makes the story better – ALWAYS – no exceptions. However, emotionally it’s hard to accept the changes because no matter how much you distance yourself, the story is still your baby – and it’s hard to accept criticism.
If you like this post, you may like to read:
To edit or not to edit
How to sell your story?
Posted by Sabine on June 8, 2012
I recently read a post at Writer’s Beware Blog that highlighted and analyzed the results of separate surveys done on traditionally published versus self-published authors, and while the survey samples were small, I have no doubt the results would be accurate even if thousands of authors were interviewed.
10% of the self-published authors earned 75% of the money. It’s pretty much the same statistic for traditionally published authors.
The business of publishing remains the same, regardless of the format of the platform. Authors who work hard, produce more books, consistently improve their craft and have the luck to write in a genre/style that resonates with a big audience earn more money. In every genre, there are authors who make millions and authors who barely break even.
Self-publishing allows you greater control over the final product and the marketing campaign as well gives you, the writer, the freedom to decide if you wish to produce ten or two books in a year. Traditional publishing provides you with immense editorial support. It also has access to distribution channels, especially in terms of physical bookstores. No one has yet been able to prove that one form of publishing is better for ALL authors as compared to another. Authors who have taken an initiative have made money from self-publishing and there are others who are doing well being traditionally published.
As a writer, you have to decide on your writing and career goals, and then decide the best course that will help you achieve those goals. It’s important to choose your own path, and to have the courage to follow the path you feel is right for you. Don’t be afraid to make some hard decisions. You might want to hold on to a manuscript for a year or two, if you are confidant of selling it to a publisher. Yet, at the same time, you may decide to self-publish an entire series, making them available at a low price or even free.
Those who have made it big are the ones who had the guts to choose a path less traveled.
Posted by Sabine on June 6, 2012
I read ebooks on an Ipad but recently I have toying with the idea of buying a dedicated e-reader because they are lighter and easier to carry in a handbag, or while traveling. To see which one works best, I downloaded the free Nook and free Kindle app on my Ipad. Much to my astonishment, the kindle app was pretty much useless. I live in what kindle defines as ‘Asia and Pacific region’ and most of the books are not even available for download in my region.
To my surprise, even the free books on Amazon are not available in this region. Hence, I have reevaluated my decision to buy a kindle.
That means I will buy a Nook. The new Nook touch with glowlight seems to be a great option for reading. Of course Nook store doesn’t have as many ebook options as kindle store. Not only that, an ebook takes forever to come into the Nook store. My publisher put up The Black Orb, my fantasy e-novella, for sale on Amazon in October 2011 and the book appeared in the store within three days. Opposite to that, the same novella appeared recently for sale in Nook store AFTER SEVEN MONTHS.
My advice: before buying an e-reader, find out if it is the best option for you by either trying on their free apps on your tablet or borrow a friend’s devise for a few days to see if it works according to your requirement.
In case you are looking to try an interesting high fantasy/adventure story, you can read the first chapter of The Black Orb on Uncial Press website for free. All formats for different e-readers are available from their website.
Posted by Sabine on May 30, 2012
I don’t quite recall my first fantasy book. Perhaps it was Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway Tree” that introduced me to the possibilities of magic and fairies. In any case, I love reading fantasy, especially high and epic fantasy – and that’s why I enjoy writing it too.
Here is what I like about writing high fantasy/adventure stories:
1) It’s amazing to create a new world according to my own vision.
2) I love making a set of rules for magic and figuring out its weaknesses and strengths.
3) High fantasy usually involves a quest, and that means traveling and showing the world I have created to the reader. The protagonist goes on a journey, discovers her own strength and weaknesses and becomes a better person.
4) It’s interesting to invent new species, giving them characteristics and bringing them to life.
5) It’s amazing to write about the possibilities of magic and fairy creatures.
6) Many high fantasy stories have male heroes but I like female protagonists because I can identify better with them, and it’s fun to make a girl do adventurous stuff. For example, Aria in The Black Orb has to rescue her brother and fight the evil queen.(You can buy it from Nook store, Amazon as well as Uncial Press site)
I have loved reading Terry Brooks books, as well Tolkien, David Eddings and Terry Goodkind’s epics – and I hope that my new series that I am working on turns out as good as the books I have enjoyed over the past decades.
If you are a writer, I would recommend that you write in the genre you love reading, because that will give you the double pleasure of enjoy a story as you create it yourself.
Posted by Sabine on May 25, 2012
So the exciting news is that The Black Orb, my debut high fantasy e-novella is now available for sale at Barnes and Noble Nook book store. You can buy it here. The novella has been out at Amazon for a while now and can also be bought at Uncial Press website. Since this is turning out to be a sales pitch, I might as well tell you all that it’s got great reviews at Amazon as well as goodreads with an overall rating of 4.12 out of 5.
Here is the prologue of the novella:
The old man stood in front of the heavy oak doorway. It was close to high noon but the rays of the blistering sun barely penetrated the thick canopy of the trees that hid the ancient stone structure from prying eyes. The door was covered with creeping ivy. Dusting off mud from his cloak, he stepped forward and muttered the words that had not been uttered in over three hundred years.
“La Khatam Duan Ma Yuan Veil.”
A shudder went through the earth beneath him in response to the magic he invoked.
He suppressed the urge to flee.
“La Khatam Duan Ma Yuan Veil.”
Once again, the earth beneath his feet shook restlessly, almost as if to warn him not to proceed.
Ignoring the knot of fear that wedged itself in his stomach, he repeated the same words a third time, setting in motion a sequence of events that might lead to his eventual death. The doors started to pull apart, leaving an opening big enough for a grown man to squeeze through.
He walked inside the Tomb of Issar, the long-forgotten God of War. When he emerged, the sun was nearly down. In the faint evening light, he glanced at the treasure clutched in his hand and broke into a fast run, towards the clearing where his horse was tied.
The hunt had begun. And there was not a moment to lose.
You can read the first chapter for free here. I am happy that all those who have read the novella have given it a rating of 3.5-5 stars which really makes me believe that I have a future as a novelist. Thank you to all those who have bought the novella, and taken the time and make the effort to leave a review at Goodreads or Amazon.
Posted by Sabine on May 23, 2012
Writing is a solitary activity, and it’s creative; both factors predispose writers towards feelings of depression. However, there are a few aspects about the business of publishing that make the writers even more prone towards feeling low at unexpected times.
Some of these factors are:
Loss of control over the publishing process
A writer can control his daily, weekly and monthly output. He can choose to improve his craft, work on his sentence structure, grammar and even hone his imagination by doing creative exercises. He can make himself more disciplined and committed. However, he can’t control agents and publishers’ response time and rejection letters. If you write the best story of your life, polish it to perfection and it gets rejected after six months of waiting, it’s bound to get you down.
Here’s how to fight this syndrome? Always begin work on a new project before submitting the last one. As you immerse yourself in the joys of writing, the waiting period to hear about the previous manuscript and the inevitable rejections will sting less.
Once again, this is out of a writer’s control. Some of the best books have had low sales, some picked up and others never did. Once the book leaves the writer’s hand, he loses any influence over its future. Now it’s the readers who decide. Sometimes the writer may believe that a better price or a greater marketing push may save the book, however, that’s in the publisher’s hand.
Here’s how to fight it? Always make your own marketing plan even if you are published with a traditional publisher. Decide on the things you can do on your own; twitter, facebook, blog, goodreads, shelfari, interviews and guest posts are some of the many ways you can keep on promoting and marketing your book long after the publisher gives up.
No matter how great the book, some readers will not like it. Art is subjective, and writing is an art. Hence, everyone is entitled to have an opinion on it. Accept from the beginning that you may receive some bad reviews, and you may not always agree with the reviewer’s point of view or feel he has not given attention to the book and is misquoting you. Accept it! Move on!
Here is how to fight it? Never engage in an open dialogue with any reviewer. Don’t comment on their reviews unless you agree with it. If you are really upset about it, make a list of all the points in two columns, good and bad – and then tick the ones you actually agree with. This will help you improve your future work, and will rationalize the whole process.
Why self-publishing is good for your ego?
The making of a writing career
Posted by Sabine on May 18, 2012
A few weeks ago, I read a post at The Creative Penn blog that questioned whether self-published authors are happier than traditionally published authors. While thinking about it, I chalked up a list of things that make me happy being published with a traditional or digital publisher:
1) Not having to worry about editing as I know they will make sure the book is as good as it should be. Having the opinion of an experienced and competent editor who has worked on similar books at every stage of editing, marketing and publishing would relieve me of a lot of unnecessary tension.
2) Not worrying about designing a good cover,
3) Not worry about getting an ISBN,
4) Not worry about book formatting and uploading on various sites.
5) Having the stamp of approval from others in the same business.
In comparison, here is a list of things that would make me happy should I choose to self-publish my books:
1) Having complete control over pricing, royalty rates and publishing dates as well as having the ability to use price changes as a marketing tool available to me,
2) Designing a cover to my liking,
3) Not having to see another rejection letter in my inbox. No matter how much we tell ourselves, each rejection letter, sent for whatever reason, is a kick on our ego. Honestly, if I never saw another ‘this manuscript doesn’t match our publishing criteria’, I would be a happy writer.
4) Not having to do research on agents and publishers, preparing partials and full manuscripts and submitting to them,
5) Not being dependent on others for my career choices.
At the end of the day, every writer needs to make this very personal decision as to what would make them happy. As you can see, each option has the ability to make your content, but at the same time, it is possible only if your expectations match the results. Self-publishing for the right reasons would make you happy, and traditional publishing for the right reasons would also make your happy. Before making this decision, go through this list, and mark each item that is important to you. Whichever choice matches the expectations your have from your writing that is the best option for you.
Also, remember sometimes it is ok to make mistakes. The process of publishing is also a journey, and the only thing that matters is not to repeat the same mistakes.
Posted by Sabine on May 16, 2012
For the first time, I am presenting a guest post by another writer. Margaret Jules is a freelance writer and here are her unique tips on how to develop ideas for fiction writing:
There are lots of people who often dream of writing a fiction book of their own. This may seem a lot easier but majority of them give up very shortly just because they are not able to develop new ideas for their fiction book. Developing new ideas for this task is something that will bring favorable fortune for a person who is putting efforts in this task. Getting ideas is surely not as easy as it seems but this doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Basically the ideas are something that one cannot achieve by just thinking while sitting at a place in silence. For this, one must be creative. Here are few tips that can help in this matter.
Get ideas from your own life
Getting ideas from the story of your own life is something that can work quite well. Even the people who live a boring life can have lot of things in their life that they have already experienced and some of them can be excellent for the outline of any fiction book. The prime benefit of adopting your own personal story is that it is something with which you are more familiar with and this can easily provide a great touch to your story beginning. Most of the time what happens is that writers worry to start with their personal life but there is one thing that must be remembered and that is no one can become a writer until he/she learns to handle this fear.
Take ideas from other books
There is not anything wrong in taking ideas or references from other books. Others books are great source of inspiration and can highly help a person in developing new ideas for his/her own fiction book. Even the best selling books of the world have been re-written several times in the past. Also many of the famous writers of the world take their ideas from the previous work of other authors. It really doesn’t matter which type of fiction book you are going to write, something that can make this work easy for you is to read some other books before starting your own efforts.
Something very useful – a journal
Make a habit of keeping a journal along with you that contains some of the interesting things you see daily and also consider all those things that make you smile in a day. The biggest source of such things is television, games, and internet. In case you hear some interesting lines or some unique words it is better to note them as they can also be very useful in the development of new ideas.
Don’t try to be perfect
If you try to be perfect surely you will end up exhausted very soon. For creative writing, write for a fixed amount of time and correct the mistakes later on. Also you have to keep one important thing in mind and that is not to discuss your ideas with anyone.
Developing ideas for fiction book is not difficult if you always remember that ideas are always around you – and you simply have to pay some attention to your surroundings to collect them.
About the writer of this blog post: Margaret Jules is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She spends much of her days blogging about technology and bornrich. In her spare time, she enjoys developing New Ideas, ecofriend, and avoiding her laptop.