Of Writers and Prose: WARNING! YOU’RE LOSING MONEY BY NOT DOING THIS ONE THING!

Quill-And-Ink-Line-Art-300pxDid I get your attention? Of course I did. No one can resist clickbait and if you say you don’t fall for it, I call bullshit because you just did.

Just like clickbait, writers need snappy titles on their blog posts to attract potential readers. It’s hard enough to come up with original material on topics that have been done a gazillion times before, but trying to put your personal ‘spin’ on them can be even harder. Maybe that’s why writers have let their blogs fall by the wayside over the last couple years.

When I first started blogging way back in . . . (I can’t even remember) people blogged about all sorts of things, and then someone realised you could sell more books with your blog and (I feel) it went all to hell from there. Just about every writer out there started their own blogs and wrote about writing and their books. It became more about the number of subscribers and ‘hits’ than making a connection and or discussions. Naturally, people got bored of re-reading the same stuff, stopped reading and suddenly . . .

BLOGGING IS DEAD!

It isn’t dead. It just got bored.

I’ll admit, in the early years of my blogs (at one point I had three), I was one of those people who wrote only about the industry, and then I read an article about how writers needed to expand topics and attract readers who weren’t writers. We were trapped in this bubbled known as the ‘writing sphere’ and in order to to increase your readership we needed to step OUTSIDE of the sphere.

Wait? You mean promote to ACTUAL PEOPLE?

Here is where a new age of blogging begins; a renaissance even. Blogging was once about important global conversations that had to be said; opinions that needed expressing. Now it’s personal. It’s about the smaller, but just as important events that happen in our lives. Non-writers read books too, but we need to connect with them on a different level; a more personal level but that doesn’t need to be a scary thing. You don’t have to blog about every part of your life, but we should include other aspects of our lives on our blogs. Hobbies they like, or shows/movies they watch. A multi-topic blog can (in theory) bring new readers; readers from OUTSIDE the writing sphere. This is where our audience waits for us. Let’s connect with them again.

Of Writers and Prose: Do All Stories Need Romance?

Quill-And-Ink-Line-Art-300pxI once had a beta ask me when two characters were ‘getting together’. It caught me by surprise because I had no plans for any romance to take place between these two, and I didn’t think I’d written anything to suggest there would be. Naturally, I started playing around with the idea that maybe a romance should happen. After all, romance is a big seller and there’s nothing wrong with a little nookie every now and then, right?

Uh . . . maybe?

Look, I have nothing against romance (I used to DEVOUR Harlequin novels), but I don’t/can’t/won’t write it (I’ve tried), and I HATE it when it’s forced on characters simply to make a sale. Romance in a non-romantic story needs to be organic; a secondary element that doesn’t overshadow the plot. Is the main character in your crime drama falling for a suspect? That’s an awesome tension-builder and can cause conflict between them, but you need to remember why he/she is there – a crime. I’m not a fan of any romance in zombie/end-of-world scenarios either, at least not during the mayhem that reigns supreme in the first few weeks/months of said apocalypse (don’t get me started on the whole Carol/Daryl thing). For me, the idea that life as we know is on the verge of going bye-bye is NOT a good time to hit that ol’ charm button for another survivor. Would YOU be thinking sex during an apocalypse?

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, just realise that if romantic feelings do occur between your characters, make it valid and not something you think will let you sell more books or list your book in more categories. Allow them to flirt a little or look longingly when they don’t think the other is looking. Better yet, if they do end up getting close, have them in a platonic relationship. Two people who become good friends is just as good as plausible as romance. As a matter of fact, it might be a breath of fresh air.

Of Writers and Prose: Putting ourselves into our novels.

Quill-And-Ink-Line-Art-300pxI finally watched the last two episodes of THE CROWN. In the ninth episode where Churchill is having his portrait pained, he gets into a rather deep discussion with the artist about his work. Churchill, trying to find some fault with the man and his work, cajoles him on the bleakness of one print in particular. The artist agrees, stating that it was painted during a mournful time in his life; right after his infant son died and then retaliates by pointing out that Churchill has painted one particular scene a multitude of times; a pond located on his property. The artist says he sees something in the way Churchill painted the water; something painful; emotions that lay deep under the surface. Churchill clams that he paints it often because he cannot get the look of the pond just right; that it eludes him. After a fashion, the statesman acknowledges that he built the pond short after his own young child died, and realises his own grief may be the reason he constantly paints this particular scene. It’s a beautifully poignant moment.

As artist, writers pour their hearts and soul into their work so it’s not unheard of that pieces of our lives, emotions or experiences also end up in there too. Even our hobbies can be added to give our characters a more realistic feel to them and possibly connect with readers. Sometimes, like Churchill we unconsciously add details about our lives into our work. For example, I worked at several restaurants in my youth and therefore I understand that particular world and what goes on behind closed doors. Just about all my stories have a scene where the characters are eating or at a restaurant. Even my short stories have a brief moment of foodie love in them. These are easy references that I am knowledgeable about, so I have no problem including them. This is how we make our characters more ‘real’ or three-dimensional. Every writer has some real life experience they can include in their stories to bring their characters to life and connect with readers. Bad experiences as well. Last summer I got into a fight with a bus stop sign and had a nice trip to the hospital via an ambulance. You can bet that at some point, I’m going to use that experience in a story. Everything about that day it etched into my memory; the way I felt, the ride, even my experience in the emergency room is still fresh. My only regret is that I should have asked the nurse to take a picture. Apparently I looked like I’d been in a horror movie.

Life experiences can add a world of colour to our stories, no matter what genre you write. Don’t be afraid of including even painful experiences. Chances are you’ll connect more with your readers, and in the end isn’t that what we all want?

Of Writers and Prose: Promoting Yourself, Not Your Work.

[DISCLAIMER] First of all, I’m not an expert at this and I’ve never claimed to be. This is just my perspective and how I view the publishing industry.

Quill-InkI read a blog post a few months back claiming that Twitter was no longer a viable option for authors to promote their book. You can read the article here.

http://www.justpublishingadvice.com/poor-twitter-growth-is-bad-news-for-self-published-authors/

 

No shit. It never was.

What struck me about this article is that it equates statistics for Twitter with readership and author visibility, and while no new growth may be bad for Twitter, that doesn’t mean it’s bad for authors. I understand what the article is saying, but to compare Twitter with writers is LITERALLY comparing apples to oranges. As a writer, I know my books aren’t for everyone and depending on the genre, writers will have a limited audience. If you look at Book Bub’s genre listing, you’ll see that mysteries top the chart compared to YA, which agents are constantly looking for.

EXISTING accounts/readers are the ones that authors need to focus on. EXISTING readers tell other readers about your book; WORD OF MOUTH. Companies are notorious for offering sign up deals and discounts to NEW customers instead of rewarding their ESTABLISHED customer base. Imagine there were no freebies or low-priced books. What do you think would happen if an author offered a discounted price to ONLY NEW READERS? While you must look at your books as a business; this is where the business model for companies and the business model for readers MUST branch away. The approach cannot be the same.

So what’s an author to do?

Yes, we need new readers, and we find them by connecting with them via social media, but here is where I see a lot of writers going off the rail; they don’t connect with their readers, they talk AT them, instead of TO them. A while back I helped a writer from my writing group try and understand social media. He has a book coming out and his publisher is all over him about getting ‘out there’. Over the course of an hour or so, I explained how you can use social media to HELP sell your books; because that’s what it is – a TOOL (I’m pretty sure I wrote a blog post on social media tools, but I can’t find it).

Authors must keep one thing in mind when promoting themselves and using social media; it’s about being social. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your work, but like the linked article states; Twitter is no longer a viable option for authors to promote their book.

And it never was.

Of Writers and Prose: To the market with your book. It’s Easy and Cheap. Trust me.

Quill-Ink[DISCLAIMER] I’m not an expert at this and I never claim to be. This is just my perspective and how I view the publishing industry.

Last month I wrote a rather long post on, well it was supposed to be on selling your book and the whole thing kinda got away on me. I’ll try to be more on topic this month. You can read the post HERE.

Marketing your book is easy.

It is, really.

Seriously, I’m not messing with you.

If you have your book on Amazon or Smashwords or one of the other ebook or POD sites, then you have a purchase page generated for your work. Guess what. That is known as the ‘MARKET’; the place where readers go to buy your work. If you want to ‘market’ your work, then you put it where it can be purchased.

It’s. That. Easy.

As I said in my last post, MARKETING and PROMOTING have become synonymous with each other when they are clearly two separate entities, and that’s where the confusion and frustration set it. Writers who say they don’t know how to market their book are really saying they don’t know how to promote it, and that’s another post altogether, but first we need to understand the difference.

Markets include brink and mortar bookstores and online retailers; it about how you get it into the reader’s hands and where the public can access it. Some writers like to keep it simple and have it on just one outlet. Others, like myself, have their book in as many places as possible. I believe the more places my book is found, the bigger my market, and with each new market I’m increasing my ‘potential’ audience. Some people call it ‘target’ audience or ‘target’ readers. I prefer to call them ‘potential readers’. Using the word ‘target’ denotes competition and despite what it looks like, authors are not in competition with each other. I’m not a target and I don’t like to be labelled as such. I doubt anyone else does either.

The biggest mistake I see with writers is not having any book links visible on their website. More than once I’ve clicked on a writer’s blog or website and all I see are paragraph after paragraph about their books, but nothing showing me where to purchase. If you have more than one book, you NEED to have them all on one page so a potential reader can view them all. Don’t put a link to one book on your Twitter account. Not even if it’s a free one. Make it as easy as possible for them to find ALL your work. Like this:

http://darkeconteur.weebly.com/books.html

All my books. All the markets. Period.

When you’ve piqued a reader’s interest, they’ll click your link and the first thing they see should be your books. I know Instagram won’t let me post the book page link, but I can post the web page link. Go figure. Make sure all the links work too. As savvy as we all like to think we are, mistakes can and do happen. Do this with all your social media sites. If you are solely on Amazon, make sure you have the links to all Amazon sites. The four main English ones are .com, .ca, .uk, and .au. If you do good sales on the other markets, say Germany (Amazon.de) include them also, and again don’t link to just one book. You should have an author page for each Amazon site with your books neatly along the top or down the length of the page. USE THIS LINK.

Remember, you’re trying to make this as easy as possible for potential readers. If a reader has to click more than twice to find a market with your work, he may abandon the whole idea altogether.

Of Writers and Prose: How the ever-loving $#%^& do I sell my book?

Quill-InkFirst of all, I’m not an expert at this and I’ve never claimed to be. This is just my perspective and how I view the publishing industry.

A writing friend of mine wrote this blog post last month. I’ll give you all time to read it. It’s a very interesting read as it shows the frustration that every author, especially new ones, are experiencing with publishing right now.

https://loveslastrefuge.com/2017/01/06/i-am-the-poster-child-for-failed-branding/

I’ve known Nya/Diane for several years and I feel her pain. The genre she writes has taken a really big hit over the last several years with indie publishing houses closing and pirating. It’s frustrating to see all that time and effort you put into a book go down the drain, and to be honest, it’s made me leery of any publishing venture outside of doing it myself.

The biggest concern is that with all the new writers publishing books, the digital landscape has become congested. Clogged even. What’s a new author to do? Hell, what’s a mid-list author to do? I have six books out and I barely make enough to buy one of those expensive coffees you have to order in a different language, but that’s my fault. In the last year I’ve done next to no promotion of my work. I’ve been too busy with school and Job That Pays to give any attention to my writing career. It isn’t that I don’t know how to market myself, or that I feel it’s hopeless; I just haven’t put any time in to doing it.

Some marketing terms that are bantered around the industry leave a bad taste in my mouth. For instance the phrase ‘target audience’. I hear this A LOT, but to me a reader isn’t a target. They’re not to be hunted down and pummelled with links to Amazon sites. Readers deserves our respect, and we need to treat them that way. Instead of throwing book links at them, why not connect with them through hobbies or other interest. Many new writers only connect with other writers, and while that’s good for learning the ropes, it’s the connections outside of the writing bubble that we need to make.

Whatever way you plan to publish, make no mistake, it’s a business and must be treated as such but promoting yourself and your work isn’t, and it shouldn’t be viewed that way. Promotion is about you; making a connection with people. There is a difference between promoting your work, and marketing it.

Marketing: noun

  1. the act of buying or selling in a market.
  2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the        producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising,    shipping,storing, and selling.

Vs.

Promoting: verb (used with object), promoted, promoting.

to help or encourage to exist or flourish; further:

            to promote world peace.

2. to advance in rank, dignity, position, etc.  Education.to  put ahead to the next higher stage or grade of a course or series of classes.

4. to aid in organizing (business undertakings).

5. to encourage the sales, acceptance, etc., of (a product), especially through advertising or other publicity.

 

I put these two definitions up to show you the difference. It’s very subtle, but it’s there. Think of it this way, MARKETING is your Amazon or blog page with your books; the site where readers can PURCHASE your work. PROMOTION is the act of bringing readers to those sites. With the rise of digital publishing, these two terms have blurred. Yes, they are connected to each other and they may seem like they’re the same but MARKETING is not PROMOTING, and PROMOTING is not MARKETING.

I think this is going to require more blog posts.

Of Writers and Prose: New Year Challenge

Quill-InkHAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wow, wasn’t 2016 a real bitch? Not sorry to see that year pass.

I was quite the slacker in 2016.  My blog posts were low due to work and school; May was my best month, but I’m hoping to change that this year especially since I found that Office has a calendar template. I did not know this. Now I can schedule out my posts and what I’ll blog about. I’ve got enough topics to bring something new every other day, from Monday to Friday. Also, work will be slowing down so I’ll have more time to write and blog.

Here’s a peak at what topics I hope to blog about:

Mondays: Of Writers and Prose –writing and writing related topics.

Tuesdays: A Wiccan Journey – topics related to my Pagan and Wiccan studies

The Other Realms – topics related to supernatural, paranormal and the like.

Wednesdays: From the Garden – seasonal posts about the garden and/home-made                                            recipes.

Adventures in Restaurants – there are so many restaurants in Kingston and I                             want to visit them all

Thursdays: A Dark Kind of Beauty – give me eye shadow palettes or give me death!

50 Shades of Red Nail Polish/Nail Art – you’ve already seen some of this. I plan                         on doing more!

Fridays: Writing Update

Movie Night

 

This is the base of what I want to blog about. It works out to be around eleven or twelve posts per month. That’s not too bad. I have a pile more other topics including hobbies and the CatPack, but they can be occasional.

This is my 2017 challenge!

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