Writers, weird? Not a chance. We’re creative, inventive, alive with ideas, and energetic. Do we want to share our stories? You bet. Just let us out of our cubbies and we can’t stop talking. Is that weird? Not at all. We’re happy to be with “real people” for a while, rather than constantly chasing after our imaginary characters … making them do things we’d never do ourselves. A friend once asked me to dinner. I allowed how I needed the time to finish a chapter. She replied, “Well, you can always bring your little friends with you.” A beautiful mind? Not.
Writers find stories everywhere. We listen in on conversations, play hide-and-seek behind very large plants, and wonder who and what is just around the corner. We travel to exotic places, observe the landscape, architecture, horticulture, and spectacular sites. We’re like sponges, soaking up the world around us and feeding it back to readers in neatly packaged stories. My husband accuses me of an imagination on steroids. I see it as a wonderful gift from my mother … an ever-fertile mind.
Then, there are days when my imagination-on-steroids has vanished. Writing comes hard. My ideas aren’t clear and my sentences are suspect. I’m distracted by a zillion other things that can easily consume the day. That’s when I look at the hulking beast to the left, and know he’s right. It’s a good day to write and I should be writing!
Ah, I love those days when I write so much and so fast that my fingertips bleed. Agatha Christie knew the feeling, and so do I. But wait! I have a hang-nail. Let me snip that ragged little bugger. Now file it – both your rough fingertip and the nail too. Oh no! More blood on the keys. Band-Aids, where are you? Ideas are boiling over. I can’t capture them fast enough. The phone rings. Let it go! I’ve nearly finished my novel!
The fun is over. I’ve written the first draft. Now the real work begins: revising, editing, and tightening the manuscript. It hurts much more than bloody fingertips. I remind my editor that I spent the past year researching my novel and crafting it into a star-studded novel with beautifully phrased paragraphs. Now he suggests I delete some? He says they don’t carry the story forward. They’re irrelevant. A dagger to my heart! I slam the laptop closed and walk away. I march around the neighborhood gesturing, castigating my editor. I fume. Editor be damned, I’ll do it my way! No, I’m paying too much for his advice. I yield, and delete.
With a finished and highly polished manuscript in hand, I submit it to one more critic – the Grammar Nazi – the proofreader. She is like a dental hygienist … scraping here, digging there, flushing and flossing everywhere. “I see blood!” She says. “I should never see blood! Now rinse and spit! You must do better than this,” she reminds me. “Next time, I want consistency. Use the Oxford comma, insert spaces before and after ellipses, italicize foreign words — sometimes. And your spelling,” she screams, “it’s atrocious! Don’t you hear the difference between bizarre and bazaar?” “No,” I confess. Damn the spell-check!
I’m in love with my novel. I press it to my bosom. Warm tears run down my face. I hug my book and dance around the house. I smile everywhere. People smile back. “This is good,” I say. “This is very good.” I imagine the breakout novel—when my novel makes it big—securing a three-book advance from a major publishing house. A movie contract is in the offing. There are rave reviews in the New York Times. Readers in India, China, Japan, Europe and the US clamor after it. Millions of books are sold. STOP! Remember your roots. What started you down this path? It was the love of writing, wasn’t it? Never forget.
My right and left brain sing with joy. Both sides are happy. I’m a new generation “flower child.” No narcotic, mind-bending drug or alcoholic wonder drink can beat this feeling. I’m on a “high” of my own making. I’m a published writer. My husband introduces me as his wife, a novelist. People ooh and aah. Friends say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” I say to them, “can you write a page a day?” They answer “yes.” Then I add, “in 365 days you’ll have a novel.” Oversimplified? Yes. But it’s a beginning for anyone seeking the wonderful life of writing and the abiding pleasure of creating something for others to enjoy.
Now, join me while I read…
By Pamela Boles Eglinski, novelist and member of Write Brain Trust
Check out her books here.
by Dane Zeller
Wanna buy my book? For writers, that really is the reason we blog, post on facebook, tweet. We build our “platforms,” so people will like us…and then… buy our book. We’ve got this all wrong.
In an earlier blog, I talked about Austin Kleon, a poet who creates his poetry by taking a New York Times article and marking out all the words that are not part of the poem. What’s left is his poem. He calls that “stealing like an artist.” I don’t care for his poetry, but I will follow his lead by stealing from Simon Sinek, a person who appeared on Ted.com with an idea worth stealing. You can see his entire speech here but, for the impatient among you, I’m going to provide the short summary below.
Sinek asks the question, “Why are some people good leaders?” Another version: “Why do some companies dominate their industries?” Simon cites The Wright Brothers, Dr. Martin Luther King and Apple Computer as examples. Bear with me, I’ll get to this book publishing/selling thing real soon.
He says those three leaders all follow the same strategy, and it is a strategy that is directly opposite of everyone else’s. Everyone else, according to Sinek, talks about what they do, how they do it, and then why.
Here is an example:
1. What: Dane Zeller self-publishes a book.
2. How: Zeller builds a platform using social media to build relationships with people who read.
3. Why: He does this to sell his books without having to go through traditional publishing channels.
According to Sinek, there is one major difference (well, maybe more) between Dane Zeller and Apple. Here it is: Apple starts with the “Why”, not the “What”.
3. Why: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.”
2. How: “The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.”
1. What: “We just happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?”
This simple change of the order of things makes a world of difference. Sinek’s simple point is: “people don’t buy what you make, they buy what you believe.”
I challenge all of my writer friends to change your order. Here is mine:
Why: I want to make people laugh, cry, and discover. In other words, I want to entertain.
How: I want to help strangers find my entertainment in any way I can.
What: Novels, stories, blogs, readings, power points and anything else I can think of that will prove that I entertain.
The lesson: if you focus on the “Why”, it changes how you think of the “How” and the “What”.
Writers, what is your “Why”?
What is your purpose? Your vision? Your “Why”? Those are first, and your blogging, tweeting, facebook posts all should follow upon that discovery.
Dane Zeller entertains here.
When I first decided to spend my time writing, I read everything I could on writing. Five years later, I still try every few months to read a book on some writing technique or on what other writers say about life as a writer. Most recently, I read Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers, by Carolyn See…
One of my writer friends has told me numerous time to try and make things easy for my readers. I am beginning to understand what he means. John Evison says, I always think about the reader. I’m trying to create an effect for the reader and sort of engage them in a sort of collaborative dance.”
Is there any doubt that writers care how readers respond to there work? In order to do that we need to know a little bit about how people read.
Some of us pick up a book and reads it straight through. Others wander along, relishing poetry or prose, educating themselves, not wanting the book to end or maybe not waiting until it does. We read at different rates, for different reasons, and about different things.
Jessica Love in her article about reading fast and slow reminds us that it is important to understand the reading mind, because the manner in which people read has real consequences.
I’ve heard that some people speed read ‒ 2500 words per minute. I’m jealous of those folks. There is so much in the world that I’d like to read. The question is how much do speed-readers retain? Are they actually reading and understanding every word or are they skimming? What we as writers don’t want are people who “read without directed concentration, who skim, or even just step hurriedly across the surface [for they are] missing much of the real point of the work.” (Sven Birkets ‒ “Reading in a Digital Age” (published in the Scholar in Spring 2010),
Scientists who have run controlled tests say that 500 words per minute is probably the most anyone can read with word identification and no backtracking. The rest of us read about 250 words per minute with a reasonable degree of comprehension.
Fast reader’s minds wander less than slow readers but slowing down helps us remember better. Yet…… slow…..down……two……much……and……things……..don’t…….make…….sense.
Though most of time we want our readers to hum along at a smooth clip, we want them to read at a pace comfortable enough to ponder an important point. There are many things that slow us down ‒ awkward writing, unfamiliar words, strange names, and unpronounceable places.
Peculiar fonts and weird cApiTAlizAtiOn decrease our speed, but somehow the brain eventually adjusts to oddness though we may miss the point of its use.
Gail McKoon suggests that readers are likelier to make a correct inference about a pronoun’s referent when the pronoun appears in a slightly longer, more engaging passage rather than a shorter, less engaging one. If a passage is too short to engage readers, (three short sentences) then pronouns—usually understood so effortlessly—are often not matched with their referents.
I’ve only touched on a few of our reading idiosyncrasies. If you write only for yourself then learning what accommodates readers becomes unimportant, but if you indeed wish, as John Evison does, to collaborate with your reader than we need to keep trying to figure it out.
Beth Lyon Barnett
GETTING STARTED WITH AUDIO BOOKS
PREREQUISITE: Your book must be listed on Amazon
BENEFITS: There are NO FEES if you select a 50% share of potential royalties
Follow these steps:
1. Go to www.acx.com.
2. Click “Join” on the top-left and follow the steps to create an account.
3. Click on “Add Your Title” on the top-right, search for your title, and then select “This Is My Book”. (please note that in order for your book to appear here, it must be available on Amazon as either an ebook, paperback, or hardcover)
4. Choose whether you want to narrate the audiobook yourself or look for a narrator.
5. If you chose to upload it yourself, please go to the “In Production” tab and upload the audiobook. If you are looking for a narrator, continue to step 6.
6. You can either search for a narrator by going to “Search” on the top-right or wait for narrators to contact you to audition for your book.
7. Once you found the best narrator, you can send them an offer and then begin production. The producer is responsible for producing and uploading the audiobook.
8. It pays to have the narrator of your book audition the first few pages or a chapter. In the audition for my book, the narrator needed correction on the accent of two characters and the pronunciation of the names of others.
The three narrators I’ve worked with so far are excellent and willingly accept suggestions for improvement.
9. Once the final audio is uploaded, you can either approve it or request changes from them. Once it’s approved, it will come to us for our QA process and then go up for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in about 3-4 weeks.
To get a better understanding of how ACX works, please visit http://www.acx.com/help/how-it-works/200484210
Contact me if you need help: email@example.com
Every author needs a platform. You’ve got to blog, once a week, if possible. Build a following of readers. Today, we follow the blogging of One Monkey Typing Publishing. If desperate, they interview characters in their novels. Or, they will interview one of their authors. Here is an example of the on-line questioning of Hamlet Monk, author of “Hobo Soup.”
O.M.T: Welcome to our on-line interview, Mr. Monk.
H.M.: Glad to be here, sir.
O.M.T: Tell our readers a little about your background.
H.M.: I used to be a part of a very large writer’s project, called “Searching for Billy Shakespeare.”
O.M.T: I’m familiar with the work.
H.M.: I worked for them for a long time. A very long time. I felt I was just a cog in the wheel, so I branched out on my own.
O.M.T: And that resulted in your very first book, “Hobo Soup.”
H.M.: Yes. It was much different work than what I had done at the Billy S. project.
O.M.T: Tell us about “Hobo Soup.”
H.M.: It’s a lifestyle book, you know, how to get through the day in ten easy lessons.
O.M.T: And it’s targeted to…
H.M.: Homeless people.
O.M.T: Homeless people?
H.M.: Yes. They need advice, just like the rest of us.
O.M.T.: That’s…uh…a…very unique niche market.
H.M.: I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if homeless people have e-readers, and access to amazon.com.
O.M.T.: Well, no, my wondering was more on a fundamental level. Do they have money to buy your book?
H.M. Oh, heck, yes. Don’t you see motorists handing them money on the street corners? They’ve got lots of cash.
O.M.T.: And how specifically would they benefit from your book?
H.M.: The first chapter, for instance, gives them the recipes, including the one for hobo soup.
O.M.T.: And that would be….
H.M.: Five pounds of coffee grounds, used. Four quarts of water. Twenty-three packages of Splenda, or similar ingredient from McDonalds. Fifteen individually wrapped packages of soda crackers from Denny’s. One towel. Bring water to a boil, add ingredients, simmer for three hours. Strain through towel into individual cups. Makes sixteen cups.
O.M.T.: What? That can’t be very clean. Where do they get the grounds? Who provides the towel?
H.M.: The towel could be a problem.
O.M.T.: I’ll bet. We’ve been talking with Hamlet Monk, author of “Hobo Soup,” lessons for…
H.M.: Wait a minute, I haven’t explained yet where they can pick up the book.
O.M.T: …for daily living.
H.M.: They can google…
O.M.T: Next up, a review of the self-publishing book, “The Last of the Literary Agents, Gatekeepers without Fences.” Thanks for reading.
Looking for a marketing tool that works? It’s not free, like Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn. It’s not all that expensive either. But it could net you more partisan followers than electronic “social networking.”
It’s a postcard.
I remember when people called it a “penny postcard.” Now it costs 33 cents to mail.
Frankly I avoid Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and organized messaging. I’m neither that “friendly” nor in want of remote contacts.
I prefer face-to-face engagement with people to talk about my book. I don’t see that as friendship. I see it as a chance to encourage people to read my book, whether they buy it or borrow it. That’s why I wrote the damned thing. For people to read.
Back to the postcard—
I’d ordered business cards from Staples. A pushy clerk enlarged the thing to show me what it would look like as a postcard. “I don’t need postcards,” I said.
“You’ve paid for the art work, and postcards will be ‘on special’ till Friday.”
“What do you mean, ‘on special’?”
“You’ll get 500 for the price of 250.”
“What am I going to do with 500 postcards?” I asked, not getting an answer, of course.
To shorten the story, I returned on Thursday and added postcards to the order. I’d figured out what messages I’d send to whom and how they must all be handwritten.
I designed each set of messages to initiate personal appearances, whether in someone’s living room or at a retirement home or in a learning institution or in a church or on the radio.
The invitations began arriving nicely. I’ve since spoken to as few as half a dozen people and as many as the tens of thousands some radio stations claim are listening.
Obviously I’m a great believer in word-of-mouth promotion of my book by people who’ve endured a whole hour of my addressing them and answering their questions.
Postcards and personal appearances are what work for me. Are they “cost effective”? Who knows, and who cares? I’m having a lot of fun. I hope you will, too.
By the way, I follow up each appearance with a handwritten “thank you” to the host—on a postcard.
by Dane Zeller
I bought Tim Dorsey’s novel, “Orange Crush,” at the SandBar, a drinking establishment just off Massachusetts street in Lawrence, Kansas. I didn’t go to the bar on a Sunday afternoon for the drinks, although I had one or four of them. I went to this skinny building to meet and listen to Mr. Dorsey, an author I didn’t know.
The crowd was already thick when I arrived. I sat down at a table nearly full of people, all discussing their friend, the author. I bothered them for information: was he local, and which one of his books is his best? No, he’s from Florida, and yes, “Orange Crush” was his best.
I bought the book from the Raven Bookstore, employees of whom were hawking his books at the bar.
Before long, the event was started by a woman with the Lawrence Public Library, evidently, a co-sponsor of Mr. Dorsey’s appearance.
Mr. Dorsey talked for thirty minutes. He told stories and answered questions from the audience. He answered questions about his books and characters that only committed fans could ask. He did not read from any of his books; he didn’t need to. He was funny and clever for every one of those minutes.
Conclusion: this was not a gathering of facebook friends or linkedn associates. These were not twitter followers. They would be better classified as readers.
Where were all the social media tools in this sale? My writer friend, Pam, a friend of the library and a friend of the bookstore, emailed me a heads up and a map to the Sandbar. She thought I might be interested in a funny mystery writer. You could say that social media was involved then, in my book purchase. You would be correct, but you would have to explain why I chose hers, and not the other 87 book recommendations I got that day.
But, what about Tim’s outrageous website that shows photos taken of audiences at his book appearances? The page showing tattoos of his protagonist’s name on the arms, legs, and thighs of his fans? That communication happened after I bought the book.
Obviously, his was a traditional book tour. Social media is involved in it, but only among people who trust each other. Building a platform in this manner is face-to-face and belly-to-belly. And therefore, social media only supports the effort from deep in the background. Think about how you purchase books when you’re grinding out your “platform.”
Dane Zeller hangs out at One Monkey Typing.