Social media is hard. So is marketing. Using the former to do the latter is like jumping into a rabbit hole for some of us. We want readers to see us as professionals, but we also want to be accessible. Cool even. We want publishers to be impressed by us too. All it takes is a single misstep and we’ve alienated both.
In any industry, be it publishing or anything else, a lot of people believe in the idea that if you act like you’re successful, you will be… eventually. Essentially, it’s similar to the believe that you should only toss positive energy into the Universe so that the Universe gives you only positive things back. I used to think this was a lot of horse shit. I mean, hard work and skill are the keys to success, aren’t they?
In the world of writing, we spend a lot of time talking about the mapping of plot, our audience, and the marketability of topics and themes. But what about the simple art of writing? The passion that makes us put words on paper. The editor of Underground Book Reviews takes an afternoon to talk to a local self-published author in Lexington, Virginia, and comes away with a new take on the art of writing.
…although it’s not a real condition, for many writers, it feels very real. It is smothering, panic-inducing, and, sometimes, paralyzing. However, I still maintain that writer’s block is a fantasy, and it is not something that should keep you from writing.
At the end of every year (or the beginning), I think it’s important for writers (or anyone, actually) to take stock of what they’ve accomplished, as well as how far they have to go. It helps refocus our attention on the important things (like actual writing) and it sometimes allows us to decide what goals we need to let go of.
We’re spinning a tale, crafting a make-believe world where nothing that happens is real. Inside that fiction, though, within that lie we’re telling, we should offer the reader the opportunity to examine the truth, no matter how unpleasant it might be.
The most important part of my editing process, in my opinion, is the line edit. I know this is confusing for some writers. I mean, isn’t all editing a line edit? We read every line, after all. Not exactly. For me, line edits are a massive undertaking and possibly the most intimidating step in my self-editing process. Sometimes I know I’ve made a colossal mess in my first draft, so I cry a little when I know it’s time to edit, because I really don’t want to “see” the mess I’ve made.
Editors are a writer’s best friend, as I’ve said many times. I love editors, even when I hate them for pointing out how awful I am at this writing thing. The work they do isn’t just about correcting spelling errors and chasing down rogue commas. An editor can look for a multitude of unrelated errors in a single pass, and best of all, a good editor will find those errors and give you hell for them. But it’s impossible to do a good job if you’ve handed that editor a steaming pile of first draft shit.
Don’t become emotionally invested in the virtual reality that is social media. (Yes, I know it’s very real, but it shouldn’t consume your real life.) Forget about image. Forget about marketing and being likable. Forget about all the very good reasons you should NEVER lose your shit online.
“Every story has already been written.” Some of you disagree, I know. A few wonder why we bother if all plots have essentially been done. What’s the point if you can’t add anything fresh or original? Because, dear writers, it’s all part of the challenge that is fiction.
The best writing comes from experience, and experience requires us to make mistakes. Learn from them. Instead of looking for the answers from someone else, dive in and find them on your own. Don’t follow others blindly, hoping to find the easy way, because there isn’t one. Sure, lots of people out there say they have the answers, but they have THEIR answers. A lot of them are full of shit too, so there’s that.
As a reader, I used to be VERY anti-novella. I mean, I want the most bang for my buck, so give me ALL THE PAGES. Right? Not exactly. I used to think an entire story couldn’t possibly be told in less than 50,000 words. In fact, many novellas I read “way back then” didn’t feel finished.
Being an indie publisher means you have to do endless self-promotion, and frankly I’d rather be writing. But in the year since my first novel was published, I’ve learned a few simple things I can do on a regular basis to keep my books visible. Here are a few of the easiest tricks I’ve learned, which you can do right from your desktop.
Longevity is a rarity in publishing these days, in both traditional and indie markets, so it follows that a publisher has to do whatever it can to pay its authors. This is why we’re seeing Kickstarters for anthologies, and other crowdfunding campaigns to try to keep the doors open. As an author, I feel better knowing a publisher is able to fund itself, but the sad reality is readers have come to expect shit for free, or for next to nothing, so what’s a publisher to do? How can they stay afloat when they’re fighting a free market?
The general “rule” is to avoid purple prose or fluffy narrative, writers should avoid the use of adverbs and adjectives whenever possible. I say there ain’t nothing wrong with an adjective, guys. Even a well-placed adverb is all right now and then.
There is a lot more to Underground Book Reviews than just great reviews and books. We’re a gateway to blogs and articles from high-quality authors. You could browse Underground Book Reviews for hours, finding tips on writing, author resources, and enjoyable articles on many subjects. This week, Talpa brings you five members from the UBR Community of Authors.
Other than reading obsessively, I’ve been keeping my promise and surfing the internet so you don’t have to. Here are a few blogs and articles, plucked fresh from this week’s interwebs, and brought to you by Yours Truly, Underground Book Review’s official spokes model. You can thank me later.
You know what book I’m reading now? Not yours, that’s what. Because you haven’t finished writing it, because your too damn busy looking at cute cat videos and getting pissed off at someone else’s political posts. I know that’s harsh, but too many of you indie authors are surfing the net instead of writing your next book. Don’t worry, I have good news. Talpa is here to help. From now on, I’m going to surf the internet for you.
To be clear, I’m not paranoid. I’m not an ageing comedian baffled at college kids (yet.) I’m not going to use the term SJW (except for just then, obviously.) I am not gunning for political correctness. What I am talking about are people, on all sides of the political spectrum, who isolate a phrase or word from its context to make a judgement on a work as a whole, or the character of the author as a whole.
Writing dialogue is tricky. It needs to sound realistic, but it can’t be too realistic. We all want our characters to sound like real people, but when people talk, there are a lot of unnecessary words tossed around. As writers, we have to carefully craft what our characters say so that the words seems effortless, but yet serve a purpose. So how do you create killer dialogue that seems effortless and does its job? Read on.
Well, writers, we’re in the home stretch of National Novel Writing Month. If you find yourself running out of steam at this critical point, don’t fret. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate for a minute before you proceed towards the finish line. If you need a little boost in momentum, here are some tips to sustain your creative energy and keep your word count on the rise through our final days.
It seems like fiction has a shit ton of rules we’re supposed to follow. Actually, there are so many, it’s tough to keep them all straight, so we never know if we’re breaking them or not. You probably are, but that’s okay. Sometimes you should break those rules, because it’s the only way to write something truly spectacular.
Point of View, or POV, is important in writing. We may think, oh, I just like using this, so that’s what I always use and it’s okay, because I’m comfortable with that and being comfortable is best. It’s not. Every piece of writing requires a particular POV. Your choice may be comfortable for you, but it doesn’t mean it’s the POV that’s “right” for the piece you’re writing.
And yet, and yet, they spit on us still, those high fallutin’ types. Those snobs who snatch only the best of what we love, and call us sad for having loved it. Those trend watchers who invented the YA genre so they wouldn’t have to admit they liked kid’s books. Those phonies who’ll shun the time traveller, but gush over The Time Traveller’s Wife.
I believe that every one of us has a novel inside them. We can all write a story, and we can all find folks who will love it. However, that doesn’t mean we all should publish.
Style is a complex element in fiction writing, because it’s mostly subjective. There is often no right or wrong, so it’s hard to tell if your style is “good.”
As a writer, I’m torn. I enjoy the discovery that happens while writing, as many of us do. I delight in letting characters develop organically, based on decisions they make and conflicts they create. Part of the joy of writing for me is having surprises happen along the way. But sometimes that’s the hardest way to write.
I’m going to talk to you about keeping motivated in writing. I feel I am qualified to do this, as I have put off starting this article until just now, three days before my dead line. I am no stranger to procrastination, demotivation, temporization, or indeed any other kind of ation. Yes, especially that one.
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, people DO judge it exactly that way. Your book’s cover is its packaging. It’s often the first promotional element your readers see. As such, you should want to make it the best damn packaging possible.
Grammar is hard. I know. I unintentionally break grammar rules all the time, although I try very hard not to. God, those wretched commas. There are some grammar rules, though, that professionals should never make. Yet, I see you making them.
Most writers I work with struggle with plot more than anything else. If you’re like a lot of them, your book idea might be built around one central intriguing event. So you’ve got a bold/clever/exciting event: now how do you build all of the scenes around it to create a whole novel? Read on, my friends.
Brand might seem like a word a marketing executive says before she eats a live baby or however it is they work their terrible magics, but if you’re an author and you’re shilling your books then you have a brand whether you realise it or not. Social media is your platform, how you behave on social media, how you are perceived on social media, is your brand.
A virtual launch party is an online event where you promote your book. It’s like a regular launch party (which might be held at a library, bookstore or bar/restaurant-type of place), but you get to do it from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, or naked. Whatever floats your boat.
As I tried to answer this how do I do it question, I realized it’s not really that amazing. Not even impressive. First, I get up early, stay up late, and second, I follow a few “rules” that help keep the words flowing.
By now you know that if you’re going to be in this self-publishing/indie publishing game, you have to find ways to promote yourself. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a publicist in your corner, you’re going to have to put on your self-promotion hat and cook up ways to get the word out about your work. The good news is, everyone’s on social media. The bad news? Everyone’s on social media. We have to make you stand out.
While the big time players are charging rhinos, we Indies are rabbits— we’re small, we’re fast and we’re constantly reproducing. We can whip up a transgender vampire litRPG before a bunch of marketing executives can discover whether kids are still saying ’On Fleek’ or not. (They’re not.)
How is removing all of your books from Amazon, the largest retailer for most indie authors, benefiting you
Be careful with your politics, because pretty soon you’ve got preachy prose and two-dimensional characters. Clever satire becomes bitter sarcasm. The warm handshake of wit becomes the finger wag of admonishment. Worst of all, it’s a one way ticket to a derailed plot.
Today, with so many books being published and so many being promoted online, we authors have to find a variety of creative ways to promote our books to get them in the hands of new readers. So how do you make your book stand out of the crowd without being annoying? How do you start promoting when your book launches? Read on.
Luck is only part of this story. The rest is about perseverance, research, and partnerships. After my hiatus (those years my book lived in a folder in the guts of my laptop), I got serious about fixing the flaws in my book. I found some great resources and a top-notch beta reader—and found a great publisher just a few months later. Can you replicate all of this? YES. You have a story. What are the top three things you can do to get your manuscript in a publisher’s hands?
If the title sounds very “businessy,” it’s because it is. Authors spend enormous amounts of time writing a book, but usually screw something up during the publication process. Writing groups, if run properly, help us avoid the big mistakes, improve our craft and, maybe along the way, make some money. If you’re going to form or join a writing group, remember the purpose is to help you write better, edit better, better covers, better sales, better everything. That just doesn’t magically happen, it takes a plan.
There’s a lot of advice out there from people who haven’t surfed the wave of mass popularity, and aren’t household names, and in many ways this advice is more pertinent to you and I, the indie author. After all, there’s a lot of luck that goes into being a megastar, but becoming an artist in your own right is all about you- the work you put in, and the way you educate yourself.
Some writers pen plot-driven tales, while others, like me, prefer to let the characters shine. Some of us achieve a balance between both plot and character, where both are equally important. Whichever way you write; characterization is always crucial to creating a memorable story.
In adulthood, bullying simply becomes more refined, and we have to deal with it in different ways, because you can’t get your mama to tell his mama what a dick her kid is being. You may live by the old advice to ignore a bully and they’ll go away. You’re a grownup now.
If you’re planning on using current technological implications to shape your future world, then Future Stress is something that is bound to affect you— now so more than ever. So how to deal with? Booze? Well, yes, but also other things…
This column, the follow-up to my last column, delves deeper into suggestions for how you might design and use your author website, including suggestions for design and blogging.
Say you’re a musician. A good one. Damn good. You dream of being a rock star, of people finding special meaning in your words, of listening to what you have to say, of snorting cocaine from various parts of your body. Maybe you get there, maybe you sort of get there, but more likely you don’t, and realise that you probably never will. So what do you do? Give up? No. Maybe you start busking, maybe you join a covers band, maybe you become a session musician. You’re not a rock star, but you’re getting paid for what you love, and that is as much a dream as any of us can hope to achieve.
The implication, made by other writers primarily, that creative minds are predisposed to mental instability is irritating, and it’s insulting to those actually suffering from mental illness. Writers are not crazy. Crazy is not a requirement for success in this industry. In fact, I imagine it’d be a hindrance, but that’s just me.
To me, writing is art. Fiction is a powerful form of creative expression. My goal is to be original and fresh. I want readers to say, “Wow, I’ve never considered that before” or “Day-um! I can’t believe she went there.”