Friday, October 2, 2015

Promotion Is A Necessary Evil

In today's publishing world, promotion is more important than ever. There are two major reasons for this one. First, the market is beyond flooded with authors, and unfortunately, it is flooded by a lot of "wanna be" authors who have just dumped their books out there to "be published." The result of this is the simple fact that finding your book online, among all of the other authors is really difficult. To add to this, with the lack of bookstores out there, authors are simply not going to be "discovered" like they did in the past.

The second reason is that the current reader out there is pretty darn lazy. Unless it shows up when they log into Amazon or a similar site and are told, "Others who bought this book also bought" they will not go out in search of the new projects. This is also seen when you see what people are reading. If Oprah posted the book on her list, everyone went out and read it. In other words, unless you are a major seller, the readers will not find you.

So, it is up to you to find ways to get your book and your name out there.

Let me say first, you need to expect that your writing time will be cut into with this promotion work. This is not something you can just slap together and hope for the best. It does take time.

Let me also say there is no one perfect way to get the word out about your book. Some will say social media, some will say book talks, some will say signings. Guess what? These are all correct approaches.

One of the biggest ways is to simply tell everyone you know that you are a writer and to pay attention for your next book. It is amazing how that simple word of mouth thing works. Let me give you a great example of this one.

Just this last week, I was featured as an agent looking for women's fiction. My inbox was immediately flooded with new projects. One carefully placed mention and BAM! We have promotion. Of course, on a side note, many of these projects are for things other than women's fiction, or for that matter, anything I represent, but we still have promotion.

The point is, promotion is being proactive on your part as an author. You cannot expect readers to come running to you. It is up to you to make them aware of you!

Now get out there and start promoting!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Successful Writing Is All In Your Head

Being successful in writing is not about the number of books your sold, or the number of pages you have written. It is all a head game and it is all up to you.

I am writing this today after a not so great day with my daughter and her horse riding. You have good days and you have bad days in the equestrian world. Yesterday wasn't a good day and it all came down to head-games.

For some reason, which I am sure no one really has the answer for, but I am sure a ton of "experts" will offer up advice for, the jumps were not happening. Now, please know that my daughter and her horse have jumped up to 4' jumps, but today the jumps were not working. When we talked it was all in her head.

But what does this have to do with writing? You are going to be faced with so many different challenges and obstacles with your writing. There will be days when you are not in the mood. There will be days when daily chores scream at you to be done. BUT...if you are a professional writer, you will now that today, you have to perform. You have to sit your butt in the chair and write.

There will be times when you think you can't do it. It is at that moment when you need to tell that voice to shut the "you know what up", go to the other room and quit bugging you. It is your time to write and nothing is going to stop you!

There will be times when you believe your writing sucks worse then a septic company. Tell that voice to follow that other voice out the door. You have work to do.

Getting to THE END is tough. Every writer knows it! But to be successful you cannot quit. So what if your first book didn't sell. It might have been bad timing. The fact that you had 5 agents offering you representation should tell you that you have something.

So today, your task is to get off your butt, get in the saddle (yes, we are back to the horse references again) and start writing.

And, just to let you know, my daughter did create a plan of attack for riding this Saturday and Sunday. She is not going to let that voice get in her head again!

It Was On The Internet, So It Must Be True...Um Not!

I really do hate writing blog posts like this, but when I opened my email this morning, I was once again bombarded with the reminder that maybe it is time to rant a bit. For those of you who read this blog, or for those scan Twitter for interesting articles, I call on you to start forwarding this around.

Here is the situation.

Yes, today's round of emails contained only one, romance/women's fiction submission. The others, and yes, there were a ton today, included for an example:
  • 5 children's books
  • 3 memoirs
  • 4 suspense thrillers similar to Steve Barry
  • 2 narrative non-fictions
  • 1 self-help book
And the amazing part is that this has been the way things have been going in the last 9 days that I have been back open since opening the agency.

One author, who I responded to last week in another wave of "why are you sending this to me" emails responded that "Greyhaus is listed as accepting historical writing." Um, yes, historical ROMANCE!!!

I know for some of you, I am preaching to the choir, and that is why I am calling on you to pass this around to all of your new author friends.

If you get an agent's name from a "secondary source" take the added step and go directly to the "primary source" that being the agent's website. Then, get this..... READ! See what that person represents and if that original source was correct.

Yes, these secondary sources (Query Tracker, Water Cooler, Agent Query...etc.) are really trying to help you. Their intentions are good. But the information is only as good as the people inserting the data and collecting the information.

Now, I do know that some of you will say that going to the website really doesn't help you. "The agents are not specific as to what they want." That again is false. Sure, they might not be saying the exact plot of a story involving a particular set of characters taking place in Helena, Montana." But they are VERY clear as to what they acquire and what they don't acquire.

Look, the prestige of being able to say you got rejected 300 times before being published only works if all of those people said that individual story was garbage and then you made millions of dollars off of the sales of it when one publisher took a chance on it. Being rejected over and over again because you submit it to people who don't acquire your genre is not a sign of success. It is a sign that tells most of us that instead of writing, you might want to take the time to learn about doing your research correctly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is Your Character Likeable?

I find a lot of times, I will quit reading a novel for the simple reason that I hate the character or both of the characters. I understand that the author is trying to set up a situation where that character maybe goes through some sort of change during the book, but frankly, I cannot get past my dislike of the character.

It is beyond crucial that you as an author find a way to make your character someone the readers can relate to and can at least like. If you don't do this, we will quit reading.

One of the things I have often found in romantic suspense novels in particular are the heroines who simply do stupid things just to get them into a situation where the hero has to save her. When I see things like this, my first thought is "Give me a break. She deserves to be locked up or getting in trouble." I really never even want to see the hero save her.

The same thing happens with many romances where the author is trying to go for the Beauty and the Beast trope. There is nothing wrong with this trope, but frankly, if he is that much of a jerk in the beginning, the readers will want to do everything in their power to find her another guy. Heck, any guy will do as long as he is not with this jerk. Again, not the thinking you want for your readers. They will give up.

I think an easy approach to take when writing your stories is to ask yourself if you would even want to be in the same room as your characters. Would you invite them to a party? To dinner? For the romance side of things, would you want this person naked and in bed with you? You can keep some of their smaller character traits, but make sure that you still keep the person likeable. Even if the person comes across as cold in the beginning, make sure to give the readers a justification for why the person acts this way. It doesn't have to be much, but it needs to be there.

I remember reading one historical romance in particular where the hero was a complete jerk. He treated everyone poorly, he had an attitude and so forth. I want to say (it was a while ago) that he was even a thief. I really liked this particular author's writing but frankly, this guy was really turning me off. It wasn't until roughly chapter 4 that the author finally revealed that this was all an act because he was working undercover. Really? Had they told me that in one line in the beginning of the book, I would have been fine. Sure, the heroine doesn't need to know, but the readers do.

So, your homework today is to really examine your characters.

  • Are the heroes jerks?
  • Is the heroine whining all of the time?
  • Is she that much of a social misfit that no one would like her?
  • Is the hero someone who is far from attractive (both physically and emotionally)?
Then you might want to fix those characters FAST!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Power of the Writing Notebook

All writers have different ways of approaching their writing. But the one things that seems to be common among all writers are the journals and notebooks they keep. I told one of my authors that I was blogging on this so she sent me a notebook she actually started before she started doing this professionally.
She told me she started some of this writing as early as high school. None of these are actual complete stories, but as describes it, "story starts."
She also has a notebook where she keeps other lists. These might include lists of names, historical events she might write about later, or even story ideas.
In Monica Wood's book, THE POCKET MUSE, she describes a notebook she keeps of words. "It's a tiny spiral notebook with lined pages, six by four inches in which I keep lists of words. Not phrases,, not quotations, just words." For her, this is her go to guide when she is writing. The simple process of writing those words down that she discovers in other novels she reads eventually adds to her vocabulary.
I was recently at a writer's conference and the other key note speaker spoke of a notebook she keeps with her all of the time. I believe she said she kept it in her purse. This notebook was for great phrases she thought of when sitting in traffic or before appointments. In her case, there were a lot of similes and metaphors. Again, this is a "go to guide" for her when she is writing and stuck on what to describe the room her characters are sitting in, and so forth.
So what writing notebooks do you keep? How do you use these to insure your daily writing goes as planned!