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.

Writing Update: February 17th, 2017

npa-800pxWow, it’s been over six months since I did a writing update, and I’m really ashamed to say that I haven’t accomplished much writing in those months. I’m not a huge fan of forced writing but I don’t believe in ‘waiting for the Muse’ either. If I did that, I’d be spending my days doing nothing but waiting. So, what’s been going on?

I’ve stopped revising Down Finnegan’s Hollow.  I did a bit of revision to it to make sure certain details were accurate, especially the timelines, but other than that, I haven’t really worked on it. The first draft is finished so all it needs is a good revision, but right now it’s not interesting to me. Maybe because of a new story idea? It came to me while I was reading one of the classic books I downloaded from the Gutenberg Project. That, along with my English thesis research really sparked an idea. It’s going to be slow going on this one; a lot of research required that I can’t get online, but it should be interesting to see where it goes.

Plague novel is really exciting to me right now. I added in the extra bits I needed, and have a solid revision of the first seven chapters. I also managed to connect these novels with the post-apocalyptic novel set in the future, so that’s cool. It’s just a matter of revising the rest of the first novel, finishing it and the other two in the series. The second series is really cool too with a different take on some old monsters.

I did NaNo this year too. Didn’t finish as work picked up and that shot it all to Hell. My novel; a magical realism story. I’d like to see this one in the hands of an agent, as long as they don’t ask me to change it to YA. Nothing wrong with YA, but not every novel on the planet has to be YA. Seriously. Anyway, if you’re curious I posted a short excerpt HERE..

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’m hoping to do an update at least once a month, so here’s to accountability and a new year!

Oh, and have you noticed that I’ve been keeping up with my blog posts. *pats on back*

How was your 2016 for writing?

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.

It’s a WIP! [Un-named Adult Magical Realism Story]

Tim Roth has a funny quote; “The road to Hell is paved with works-in-progress”, and with that in mind I bring you an excerpt from my latest WIP, the as-of-yet-unnamed-magical-realism story.

Please keep in mind this is a WIP. There are bound to be error in grammar and what not. 😛

~~~~

It was another couple of days before the doctors released Jolene from the hospital. She still had the headaches, but after a several M.R.I.’s the doctors concluded it was just the result of a mild concussion, but it didn’t help alleviate the grief she still held on to. She lay on the couch and stared at the television. One of the afternoon talk shows that pitted mother against daughter, or something like that. Jolene wasn’t paying attention. She couldn’t shake the knowledge that his act of kindness toward her caused his death. If she’d just been sterner and insist he not do anything for her, he’d be alive. She glanced at the time on her cell phone. One-fifteen. They’d be talking over his usual bowl of soup and toasted cheese sandwich right about now, and then he’d leave her a toonie, tip his hat and go home. That’s what should happen. Not this. Not him in a grave. She rolled over onto her back and closed her eyes. The flashes of multi-coloured lights were still going off, but they weren’t as bright as before. She focused on the faint colours. It still relaxed her, made her feel good. Just like Mr. Nithercott used to do.

The sound of keys unlocking a door brought her around. Lilith strode into the small apartment with a plastic bag in her hand. Her long black duster was soaked and drops of water beaded off her shoulders and back and made a wet line to the galley kitchen.

Jolene caught the scent of food. “You brought food back from the restaurant?”

Lilith pulled back the hood of her sweatshirt as she placed the plastic bag on the counter. “I thought it would be nice to have, like you know, a wake for Mr. Nithercott.” She pulled out a medium size, round take-out container. “I got some soup from the cooks and a couple cheese sandwiches.” She turned to Jolene and her face dropped. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying? I thought you’d like this?”

Jolene wiped away the wetness from her face. “I do. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Lilith pulled off her coat and hung it up on a hook by the door. “I thought, maybe if you’re up to it, we could put some flowers on his grave?” She sat on the far end of the couch. “We can catch the number seven there and back.”

Jolene nodded as she swung her legs over the side of the couch. “Thank you.”

Lilith shrugged. “I know you liked the old guy and it isn’t right that you didn’t get the chance to go to his funeral.” She paused before standing up. “Poor guy didn’t have many people there.”

“You went?”

Another shrug. “I thought someone from the restaurant should go.”

Jolene followed her out to the kitchen. “Did any of his family show up?”

“None that I saw.” Lilith poured some of the soup into a waiting bowl. “Just a bunch of really, nicely dressed people. “ She rested the take-out container on the counter. “Do you think he had money?”

Jolene opened the sandwich containers. “No idea. If he did, he never talked about them.” She froze at the sight of the sandwich. The white bread toasted to a nice light brown; small beads of ‘cheese sweat’ dotted the small portion that overlapped the bread and the slight aroma of grease floated up from the container. She stared down at the sandwich, remembering his smile, the way his mouth moved when he ate.

Her stomach growled and she picked up the sandwich. “I am so hungry.” She bit down into the toast, savouring the sharp flavour of the cheese. She took another bite, bigger this time and the third bite she was stuffing as much of the toast into her mouth as she could.

“Whoa. I thought you didn’t like Swiss cheese?”

“I don’t, but I’m so hungry.”

Lilith held open the second container. “I got them to make you a normal cheese sandwich. I was going to eat that one.”

Jolene stopped chewing and looked down at the remaining half. “You want it?”

She got an indigent look shot her way. “Half a sandwich?”

Jolene grabbed the food and headed out to the living room. “Too late. Times up. Mine now.”

A Company of Writers: Writing Tools and Programs

Quill-InkThere are many useful tools and programs that writers can use, and in this post I’ll take a look at ones for writing, script writing, and comics, as well as other useful tools.  When I first started writing, my computer came with a Word Processing program but as I ventured into the publishing sphere, I quickly learned that it was limiting software. Since then, many new programs have been created with three coming out on top; Microsoft Word, Scrivner, and for Mac users Ulysses. Scrivner is the only program that can be used on both and all come on multiple platforms so you can use them on computers, laptops or on your phone.

Ulysses and Word have demos but you must buy the program to keep going.

Get ready. This is a long list.

 

Ulysses:

https://www.ulyssesapp.com

Computer program – $63.00 + tax.

Phone App – $34.99

Pro:

-works with to WordPress and other self-blogging platforms

-syncs to Dropbox

-accessible through Voiceover

-Similar to Scrivener in ways but more streamlined due to less features.

Con:

-is only for MacOS/Apple phones and tablets. Could be a problem if agent/publisher doesn’t have the same program.

 

Office Word:

https://products.office.com/en-ca/home

Word: Three programs, different prices.

Office Home: $99 per year/$10 per month (7 extra programs)

Office Personal: $69 per year/ $7 per month (7 extra programs)

Office Home and Student: One time purchase of $149.00 (4 extra programs)

 

Pro:

-used by the majority of the industry.

-allows for in-document editing

 

Con:

-expensive investment

-only for PC/Microsoft OS

 

Scrivener

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/index.php

Free trial and one-time payment of $40

 

Pro:

-able to categorize scenes, characters. Especially good for large, complex projects.

-overall cheaper writing program than the others.

-does have a mobile app for ipad/iphone.

 

Con:

-learning curve. Can be overwhelming for a new writer.

-does not have a mobile app for android; writers are restricted to laptop/desktop.

 

Google Drive

 Pro:

-free

-simple platform/easy to use

-can do a limited track editing

-auto save

 

Con:

-must have a google account to use

 

Corel Word Perfect

Pro:

-pre-loaded program in older Windows OS computers.

 

Con:

-not loaded in Windows 10 computers.

 

Screenwriting:

Final Draft:

http://store.finaldraft.com/final-draft-10.html

Latest edition: $249.99 [US]

 Pros:

-Industry-standard fully loaded.

-Capabilities for collaboration, and co-writing.

-Index card formatting and other editing tools

-Available on Mac and PC

-Available app for iPhone and iPad

-Can work offline

 

Cons

-Really pricey

-Regular updates to program, but very little actual change.

 

FadeIn:

http://www.fadeinpro.com/

Latest edition – $49.95

 

Pros:

-Has many of the same features as Final Draft

-Simple learning curve

-Online support and community

-Can work offline

-Has app for android

 

Cons:

-Occasional updates, not much change.

 

Celtx

https://www.celtx.com/index.html

Free

Pro
Free version, or paid by prescription

Access to writing community that is constantly growing and adding new features and templates

Allows for creation of “studios” for large, collaborative projects.

Pre and Post production support and templates for all aspects of screenwriting

Also available as a free app.

Cons

Cloud based. You have to have account.

You have to add studio members to collaborate on projects.

Some features only available on the higher pay end.

 

WriterDuet

https://writerduet.com/

*NOTE – I haven’t used this yet, so if you have let me know how you like it*

Lots of different formats.

Really simple interface.

Collaborate with other writers.

Available at a free trial or with a monthly subscription

Connected to screencraft.org, and offers discounts on their competitions and screenwriting services for paid members

Cons

Cloud-based
Not as intuitive with shortcuts as other screenwriting software

 

Comic Books:

Making Comics – suggested by  Kingston Writer’s Group member Kristen

http://www.makingcomics.com

 

Explore Storyboarding:

https://www.amazon.ca/Exploring-Storyboarding-Wendy-Tumminello/dp/1401827152

 

Writing Tools:

Thesaurus.com

Save the Cat! [screenwriting book] –

Pacemake – https://pacemaker.press/ helps you set wordcount and writing goals for individual projects based on your own pace and schedule. GREAT for motivation.

 

Storage

Dropbox – free online cloud program; can buy more space to upload more. Can share with other Dropbox members.

 

Google Docs – free online program. Restricted to Google users only.

 

 

Of Authors and Prose: Serializing vs. Free

Quill-InkI’ve heard some complaints from a few friends of mine over the fact authors are now serializing their books. For those who don’t know, instead of putting out a whole book, they publish it chapter by chapter for .99 cents per chapter. This is mostly happening on Amazon in their KU program, and quite frankly, I can see how it’s annoying.

Now, before I go any further, I’m not going to tell anyone how to run their writing career. This post is strictly my opinion.

Even if this serializing sounds like a good idea, you should know that readers are beginning to balk at the idea of constantly having to pay to read each chapter. Not only that, some books are over twenty chapters so by the time you’ve finished reading that epic fantasy, a digital novel will cost you about the same price as a hardcover. I’ve also heard complaints that the program has been flooded with poorly written shorts, making the task of finding something good to read even harder. Yeah, I saw that coming.

Is it good for authors? Well, that all depends on the author. The writer who only publishes with Amazon can put their books in, but writers who use other platforms as well (like myself) would have to pull our novels from other places and solely publish with Amazon, PLUS (and you need to know this) there is a double-standard. Authors with Traditional publishers can keep their books in as many outlets as they want. The exclusivity is restricted only to self-publishers.

Now comes the comparison to free. Free is a marketing tool and I’m having a difficult time seeing the Kindle Unlimited and serializing as the same thing. I’ve always advocated an author getting their books in as many places as possible and I have to wonder how effective serializing is, as not everyone in the world has a Kindle, and Amazon has tough competition in Europe with other digital retailers using their own ereaders. The KU program works on the Kindle app too (so I’ve been told) and you can find that on their website.

Amazon opened the door for authors to get their product to the world. If more people break their books up, I can see KU being filled with nothing but shorts and chapters.

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