Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How to Avoid Over-use of He Said, She Said, I Said.

I love to read books of various different genres and styles but one particular thing gets to me and if I'm honest it's an issue which I see over and over again.

The overuse of he said, she said, I said.

Memoirs and chick-lit are my favourite type of books and anything else that's written in first person. Maybe the problem is prone to first person narration but after a while the issue starts to bug me and more often than not I end up putting the book down.

If you put he said, she said, I said after every line of dialogue it becomes tedious and I find it distracts the reader away from the storyline. Instead of focusing on what the book is about the reader is more involved with the actual writing itself.

In most cases you don't have to say who is speaking as the reader should be able to work it out for themselves. But here's a clever little tip that I use and this technique will give your book an added dimension.

Instead of writing he said, she said, I said all the time why not add a line of description to tell the reader what the character is doing. By doing this not only are you avoiding the repetition that these tags can bring but you're also keeping the story in the present tense.

For example:

'But I don't want to go to the park today.' I walk over to the window and point at the rain on the glass.

This way you're not taking the reader out of the story by telling them who is speaking but you're letting the story run its natural course. You're eliminating unnecessary words and therefore making the text a much tighter read.

'But I don't want to go to the park today,' I say. I walk over to the window and point at the rain on the glass.

Which one reads better? You're saying the same thing without the unnecessary words which detract from the story.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Is it a Good Idea to Call Yourself Indie?

Something struck me last week when I was in one of my writing groups. Most writers there call themselves indie when they talk about their books. And although they all write not all of them produce professionally published work.

There is still a lot of stigma attached to independent authors. Outside the writing world people think you only have the right to call yourself an author if you're backed by Penguin or Random House. People think that only those authors can produce such professional quality works.

But this is not true. Indies who are serious about treating writing as a business will be professional. They will take the time to make sure they produce quality books and they will spend the money to ensure a polished result. Their main goal will be to get their book into the hands of a reader who'll think this book is such a high standard they'll have a difficult time in telling it apart from a traditionally published book.

Unfortunately though not all self-published writers are like this. Many can't afford professional editing and cover design. Many still think they'll earn their fortune just by rushing their book and releasing what some would still consider a first draft. And unfortunately it's those kind of people who give the rest of us a bad name.

Trad-pubbed authors will already have a team of people behind them to ensure their book will reach a certain high standard. They will write their book and won't have to worry about finding money to pay their copy-editor as this is already included in the package.

So if you're an indie who takes writing seriously, why go to the bother of declaring yourself as self-published? If you're a writer then your goal will be the same as any other author. And that goal is to publish books.

Readers will look for a book they want to read. If it catches their eye then they will buy it. Readers won't care if you're backed by Penguin or not. If they want to read your book they'll read it. Whether you're an indie or not is not the point.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Success of Failure

Recently I've seen a lot of blog posts about 'failing' as a writer, but to me the only way you can fail is if you give up.

When they first start out failure is in the minds of most writers. They fear they will fail to finish their first book, fail to promote it and fail to sell a single copy. There is such a lot of negativity around this art.

But now I'm going to put a spin of failure. I'm going to turn it round into something positive.

My question is: Have you failed enough to succeed?

No matter where you go or which profession you choose, you're always going to fail at something. It's what we do. After all we're only human - we're not robots.

Imagine you're taking your driving test without taking the lessons first. You're sat behind the wheel of your car absolutely blind with panic. How can you possibly pass this test?

The fact is no one expects you succeed if you haven't had any practise.This is why people go to university to study for their chosen career.

But writing is different. You can have a degree in creative writing or a BA in English but if you want to write you're still going to have to write your first novel.

And that takes practise. If something doesn't work try to reach the desired conclusion from a different angle.

It's very, very rare for any writer to create their first book and have it go viral. Successful writers write books for years without much thanks and then suddenly they find people are buying them.

So, how many times are you going to try? You never know next time could be the time you succeed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I10vxL0VJO0

Thursday, 13 February 2014

It's Normal Not to Sell a Lot of Books

I came across this post: It's Normal not to Sell a Lothttp://bit.ly/1eqnq4X in the Writer's CafĂ© in Kindleboards the other week and thought how true it is.

People are influenced by the tales of overnight success many writers seem to have. So when someone decides they want to write professionally they are often stung by the cruel twist of reality. This feeling is made worse when someone asks how well your first book is selling only to be told you have yet to sell even one copy.

Most writers feel embarrassed or even mortified when the book they've worked so hard on doesn't sell a thousand copies overnight. And this is true whether you've just written your first or tenth novel. Sales are not guaranteed - ever. It doesn't matter if you've been writing for a month or twelve years. Sales are so random and unpredictable that if you let things get to you you'll be so miserable you'll have no energy to write the damn book in the first place.

Avoid people who have no insight into the business of writing and publishing for their unrealistic expectations will do you no favours. Just because J.K. Rowling has made more money than the Queen doesn't mean you will too.

So the message of this post is to be happy with what you have achieved. Not many people have the willpower to write even one book, so if you're writing your second then you've achieved far more than the average person.

If you desperately need money go out and find another form of income or hook a rich guy or gal. Don't spend hours wishing you could be Danielle Steel or Dan Brown. You are not them. You are you. Even though their money is nice there's definitely more to writing than the currency you're used to dealing with.

Expectations are a funny thing. When you start writing achieving one sale per month makes you feel like you've just climbed Mount Everest. Then you're selling ten books per month and the following year that goes up to fifty. But once you start selling and you get used to a certain number anything below that just isn't enough.

When I first started writing of course I had big dreams. But now I've learnt to tailor those dreams with a huge chunk of reality. Most books don't sell well and that's fine. Most books don't need to make the best seller charts. As long as writers keep writing I believe their books will one day earn enough to make a living.

If you're serious about making writing your career please remember this. Write as many books as you can and then write some more. Do not get obsessed with sales figures. Keep your perspective at all times. It doesn't matter how another writer is doing. Put all of your energy into you.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My Marketing Results and Why I'm Going to Spend More Time Writing.

As promised here's my blog on my marketing results I said I would do last month. In order to see any significant changes, I've allowed a month to pass from when I first started to advertise.

Are your hearts beating with anticipation? Do you think I'm going to reveal a site that's guaranteed to sell 100,000 copies of your book flat out in a week?

If you are you're going to be bitterly disappointed because I'm now going to say that despite my best marketing efforts with these relevant sites, I have not seen any significant changes in my sales results.

This does not mean I haven't had any sales at all. Far from it. It's just unfortunate that I can't see any direct correlation between sales and advertising.

Advertising with these sites might have had a slight impact on sales, so I'm glad I spent time promoting my book. But the results aren't high enough for me to be certain. One factor in my poor sales results is the sites I've used aren't big or well known. Perhaps I would have had better luck if I had used sites like BookBub. Unfortunately my book hasn't generated enough reviews to submit it to them.

And that's the problem. When you first release a book it can be near impossible to get reviews that are required for so many of these well known advertising sites. It's a Catch 22 situation. You want to use these sites to get the word out about your new release, but unless your book already has a certain amount of reviews you can't do this.

So what's the answer? Maybe I will try to get reviews before my next book is actually published. As of yet, I haven't gone down this route but I figure it must be worth a shot so watch this space.

I think until you have a few books out in the same genre it's pointless to waste your time and money concentrating on pushing just one book. Instead your time is better spent writing. After all, the majority of successful writers have quite a few books and a large proportion write in the same genre. Nothing sells books like writing more books - or so I've been told.

I'm going to listen to this advice from now on because it's all come from writers who have a large number of books.

I'm not knocking these advertising sites but I do believe I am not far enough along in my career to get the most out of them. To be a known writer you have to write more than one book. Then your readers will be more likely to take a chance on you because they will get to know your writing style and the book's content. Readers are more likely to take a chance on a writer who has a number of books.

Of course I could be talking a load of fluff for who am I to know what really sells books?

I'll wait another couple of months before I advertise again. Maybe my change in book cover will have some impact but who knows? Only time will tell.

This is where I'd love to hear your experience. What works for you when it comes to selling books?

My goal is to have readers who are loyal and committed just like my two dogs.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Do you have to be Emotionally Connected to your Writing for it to be a Success?

I've given this question some serious thought now while the excitement and anxiety of releasing my book has finally settled down. And I do believe this topic will generate a mixed response.

Some writers write what is in their heart and therefore their main focus is to write stories that they want to write. But other writers only write what they think will sell.

I am a writer who writes from my heart. That doesn't mean I don't consider my readers when I write these stories. Quite the opposite: my readers are my pivotal focus. But I think writing from the heart is far easier than writing what I think will sell.

There are two main reasons for this:
  1. I don't have any experience of writing sci-fi, paranormal romance or dystopia because I don't read these sort of books.
  2. I am not about to start chasing the trends on the off chance I may get rich, famous or hugely successful. Again there are two main reasons for this. Number one: I am never, ever that lucky and number two by the time I have written books in these genres another genre will be hot. I figure I may as well stick to what I know I write well.
The stories I tell always have a personal connection and I believe this passion is what carries the readers through. If I don't write with this connection, I don't honestly know if there would be a story to tell. I know a lot of writers are like me and they basically write about something in their life experience.

This isn't always literal of course. Writers could just write fiction with only a vague element of truth but their stories often come through from some sort of life experience.

What do you think? Are you a writer who writes from their heart?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A List of Book Promotion Sites



Before I get into this post, I'd like to wish all my followers and everyone else an extremely Happy New Year. May all your wishes and dreams come true during these next twelve months.

If you're a writer like me here is a list that might make this year your best yet. I know the number one goal for many authors is to write as many books as they possibly can and for them to sell like wildfire.

Now writing books may seem hard but I can assure you that getting people to buy them is so much harder. As a writer you may feel like most of your work is over once you have a finished product to sell but in fact your work is only just beginning.

I've seen established writers argue that the best promotional tool you can use is to write another book. And although I am not arguing with that advice, I think it would be a shame to ignore all the book promotion sites.

When I first start to market my first book I really struggled. There's an overwhelming amount of advice out there and most of it is conflicting. This daunts a novice writer who is only just starting out on their exciting adventure, and for some they'd rather bury their head in the sand rather than face any promotion.

If you're a new writer starting out now then I think your journey into publishing may be even harder. There are so many books out there now that cyber space is becoming increasingly swamped. This makes visibility so much harder, and many writers will claim that simply tweeting about your book amongst your followers who are probably trying to do the same thing is more than a little pointless.

So if social media sites aren't working then what does work?

The key to making sales is to get your book in front of the eyes of readers. This sounds so simple on the surface but finding these people can be tougher than you first think. There are hundreds of book clubs out there dedicated to specific genres but most of these clubs do not allow promotion of any sort. So it's a Catch 22 scenario. You want to find readers but when you do you can't mention your book to them. How do get round this obstacle?

The trick is not to hound readers yourself but to find sites that have newsletters sent out to their plethora of subscribed readers. You upload your book onto their site and you have your book mentioned in the monthly/weekly/daily newsletter. Some sites are free but some are paid. I know many writers swear by BookBub - http://www.bookbub.com/partners but this is the dearest site I've found so far.

So, here is a list of sites that I've promoted my books with. In a month I will report any increase I've seen with sales - fingers crossed there will be some significant findings. As my followers know I have just released my third book so I'm trying desperately to promote that.

I hope you find these sites handy.

Once again Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you find my post useful. I'm off to eat a cake like the one shown above this afternoon.