Monday, February 27, 2012

What do you think?

Ever read "proven" writing advice that bothered you so fiercely it created a physical reaction? 

Reading Publish Your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author, I came across this:
"Before you invest your time, energy and money into a project, you need to know whether there is a market for your book. Is your idea valid? Is there a need for this book?"
Not quite squirming but really weary.
Inexperienced authors make the mistake of writing "the book to suit their own emotional or altruistic needs without considering its commercial value. Once the book is completed, they try to find a publisher."
I have an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.
"You've established that there is a market for it. You've decided on a publisher. You've sent out at least one query letter. And you've developed a chapter outline. It's finally time to shift into writer mode."
Now, I'm officially bothered.

The author's pushing a very market centered approach, taking all the magic out of writing. 

As I've said in other posts, I have little say in what novels to work on. They just come to me. They nag and nag and nag until I commit to them.

One short story was adamant about being a novel but I really didn't want to do it because the world building would be a nightmare. The story was insistent. Despite my best efforts, my mind was creating scenes. I was losing sleep. When I finally gave in and committed to turning it into a novel, it stopped nagging me. It's more than a little irritating but I wouldn't want to start a book any other way.

An article from Writer's Digest said authors need to balance between writing for a market and writing for themselves. Okay, that makes me feel a little better but how do you do this? In the end, it's my story, my name is on it. There are certain things I will not change, doesn't matter what people think of them. 

On the other hand, I want to make money off my stories.

How do you create a balance between writing for a market and writing for yourself?

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Tried This Time, I Really Did

I started reading A Game of Thrones then stopped. Started reading Wraeththu by Storm Constantine then stopped. Didn't even make it halfway through. Started Shadows in the Asylum by D.A. Stern then...stopped.

Notice a pattern.  

I can't find any flaws in the story. They got great reviews. The writing was brilliant but after a while, I just got tired of the story. I didn't find them all that interesting which is odd since they're the type of books I'd like.What bothers me is that I've started and stopped reading three new books in a row. It's getting kind of old. It's not me because I just devoured my favorite novel by Anne Bishop and I'm on my way to finishing another in the same series.  

With A Game of Thrones and Wraeththu, I was planning on reading them on the side but- I know myself way better than that. Determined to finish a book this time, I struggled through Shadows in the Asylum but found myself wishing for the end not because I was so riveted but because I wanted to be done with it and move on. It felt like homework. You know- a reading assignment you have no interest in but struggle through because you know the professor will test you on it. 

I learned we writers need to figure out why we liked or didn't like a book. 

Writing this post helped me find part of the answer- why they were just such a pain. I've read many reviews where people said the book didn't get interesting or "heat up" until the middle. I admire people who can stick with a book they don't find interesting for that long. If the story doesn't suck me in within two or three chapters, I'm done with it. It's so important to grab the reader with the first sentence. Reading for me is an escape. If I can't dive into the book immediately and lose my way in the story then, I want nothing more to do with it. This has got me thinking about my first novel. How interesting is my first chapter? 

My problem with A Game of Thrones was each chapter was from the POV of a different character. I really don't like books that do that. Now, I just need to figure out why Wraeththu and Shadows in the Asylum didn't work for me. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another Social Media -_-

It's a good thing I'm a nerd. So, I've been hearing a lot about Pinterest. This is supposed to be a great tool for writers and publishers. Seriously, it comes up all the time! So, Pinterest is now added to the many Social Medias I'm active on. Pause while bang my head against the nearest brick wall.

No, I'm just kidding. Pinterest is awesome! 

I'm a very visual person. When I want a river to be in my story I find pictures, using Google Images, that speak to my story, print them out and staple them in my world building journal. I can now use Pinterest instead. No wasted toner, no wasted paper. Since there's an app for that, I can look at the pictures whenever I need them. I'm also using it to collect covers of Dark Fantasy books. Already, I'm noticing a trend. Big plus, I can link it with Facebook and Twitter so I don't need to remember another password!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Changing the Way We Think As Writers

We writers have our work cut out for us. I went to a panel for Social Media Week called Literature Unbound: Radical Strategies for Social Literature. It gave me a lot to think about, as if my head wasn't full already. The speakers showed us how they were using technology to present content. I love when people challenge the norm.

Red Lemonade- a publisher that works like an online writer's workshop lets you capture, store and share quotes from any text
Open Utopia- a Social Book
Small Demons- a site that wishes to index all books. They also want to open it up so users can index books.

This got me thinking of my book and how I could use technology to present it in unusual ways. I talked before about Byook and J.K. Rowling's Pottermore but Byook hasn't released anything new for a while and I have no idea what's going on with Pottermore. I'm having trouble picturing this new way of presenting content but we seem to be going in that direction.

Print books aren't going anywhere anytime soon but I can't ignore that almost every time I read PW's E-Newsletter there's an article telling us paperback sales are down while eBook sales are on the rise. The Barnes and Noble in Union Square shrank their music and movie section to create a Nook section and much of the second floor has puzzles and games now.

At this point, there's no denying this is happening or hoping things will go back to the way they were. Your book outside of the print version may be something you'll have to think about. I know I'll probably have to down the line given my brand as a writer and what I know about my potential readers. You can't deny that, if done right, this whole social reading thing could be a brilliant marketing strategy.

I'm still on the fence about it. On one hand, I'm a huge nerd. I love playing with technology and love the idea of Byook and Pottermore but I can't imagine how I'd apply it to my book. All the above sites are brilliant ideas but I still can't imagine books acting like social media. How do you manage the rights for this? It's a lot to take in.

I'm attending a panel tomorrow called Innovative Ways to Build Community Around Books. This will give me more to think about- haven't decided if this is a good thing.

This is definitely an interesting time to be a writer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Social Media Week!!!

Next week is Social Media Week where experts get together to discuss current trends in Social Media. It takes place all over the world and, more importantly, most of the panels are free to attend. I heard about this through my professors but had been unable to go the past two years because of work and school. Since now I have a relatively free calendar, I can attend the panels. I already registered for four and I'm on the lookout for more! I mean, they are free.

ÑLiterature Unbound: Radical Strategies for Social Literature
"This panel talks to a broad mix of those pushing for literary evolution–new ways of creating, packaging and sharing words. From collaborative creation engines like to social clipping services like Findings, these new venues prove that while the containers for literary works are changing, they are offering readers and writers many promising new possibilities to connect."
ÑInnovative Ways to Build Community Around Books
"Join four publishing industry marketers as they discuss specific ways social media is helping them promote books — and what the changes may mean for publishers, authors and readers."
ÑPicture This: How Brands Are Using Image-Based Services
"This conversation will focus on how companies can best use photo-based platforms as a way to convey their point of view and build communities, as well as inspire, create loyalty, and drive conversion. It will also cover the front runners, how to ramp up engagement from users, and will discuss innovative ideas for what’s on the horizon."
 ÑNeed a Job? Know Social Media's Gift and Curse
"The panel will focus on how social media affects the job search process, common mistakes most candidates make with personal profiles, and the best ways to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers."

I am so looking forward to this. Those are some great panels but I'm gonna be greedy. There's one more I'd love to go to but it's sold out. It's Getting Published and Beyond in the 21st Century. There are a few others as well. I've been checking the website regularly in hopes a spot opens but if not, I'm good. I anticipate downloading some great information. Of course, I'll share with you. This is gonna be fun! Now, what am I going to wear?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Get Over It and Develop a Marketing Plan Already

Apparently, spending years writing the book is not the hardest part. Being a writer isn't just about writing. I'm reading Publish Your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry to get a better handle on what it takes to publish a book. She's constantly saying no matter what route you go, you have to do all your own marketing. The success of your book depends on it. I've been reading this advice a lot but was kind of denying it.

I mean, I grew up with the image of writers focusing on their work while the publisher handled all the marketing- telling the author to be here at this time. It's been difficult to scrap that image. Being an writer should be about producing good content. Not anymore. If you want to be a published author you need to promote your book and there's little you can do to get around it.

You can complain about it, whine about how unfair it is or flat out deny it (I know I did and still do) but it's not gonna change the truth. You need to be intimate with both the publishing industry and marketing. Some of you may have checked this about but, I created a Publishing Industry Research Guide. You may find it helpful. The link is also on the left.

Funny thing is, the thought of marketing fills the over-thinking side of me with dread but, the adventurer in me is really looking forward to it. 
With this in mind, I attended a free workshop at SIBL (Science, Industry and Business Library) called Developing Your Marketing Plan. It was more for small businesses but much of what the speaker said could be applied to marketing your book. 

ΠReading reviews of books similar to yours gives you a feel for what the readers like and don't like. You may even find a gap your story would fill. I've done this but not for market research. I read though Goodreads to understand why people like the Twilight series. I still don't understand but I found a trend to why people didn't like the characters. It helped me rethink my own characters. Also, I could read reviews to get an idea of what people view as Dark Fantasy since the genre doesn't, yet, have a solid definition.  

Î I always saw marketing as promoting your work but I learned yesterday that promotion is only part of the mix. Marketing encompasses Product, Price, Place and Promotion. It makes complete sense, now, that the price of the book and how you're going to deliver it to the consumer should be included in your marketing plan.

ΠAnd, I'm a sucker for some good resources. Thanks to that lovely little Social Network called Twitter along with Google Reader, staying up-to-date with some of these resources is fairly easy.

Drowning yet? I've had my moments where I wished I didn't want a career as a writer. I panicked when I picked up books on getting published and realized all the stuff I still didn't know. I'm trying to figure out how people do this and have a full-time job. (I'm thinking they don't sleep much.) The key is to just do it and not think too much about what you have to do.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Woman in Black

This is the type of horror I love! It's subtle- more focused on atmosphere and characters. The Woman in Black is like literary horror on the big screen. I could almost imagine how a classic horror author would write every scene and how beautiful and chilling each description would be. 

I love horror that makes you think.The movie didn't explain much but gave you hints through documents and dialogues. It's up to the viewer to put the pieces together. They didn't do the work for us. The ending was classic ghost story type ending. It was left to the viewers' interpretation. I wanted them to keep going but it would've ruined the movie.

There weren't many drawn out dialogues between characters but each scene was done in a way that wasn't boring. Everything was put there for a reason- to advance the story. The Woman in Black wasn't big. It didn't have a climatic explosion but it still had me riveted right until the end. 

I was kind of hoping this would be the horror movie to scare me but, it wasn't. I had moments where I jumped but I didn't find it that scary. Being a lifelong horror fan, it gets kind of old- horror movies tend to look the same but, the way they handled this ghost story was brilliant. I couldn't predict what would happen next.

We all know Daniel Radcliffe is a great actor and he was amazing in this movie.

Why can't they make more horror movies like this? From the reviews I've read, a lot of people loved it. So, why is it we get more gory horror movies than ones that are more atmospheric and character driven?

My only issue, it has nothing to do with the movie itself- since it's PG-13, there were a lot of teenagers screaming and laughing loudly and unnecessarily. It was annoying at first but, towards the middle, I was so into the movie, I stopped noticing. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Second was the First

Ever have a story idea that just stuck with you?

You write the story then, months or years later, you reread it's garbage. Instead of using it for spare parts like the others, you start over. You repeat this until you've rewritten the same story maybe four or five times. The characters didn't ensnare you because every time you rewrite it, they change. You fell for the story at its core .

It's strange. I've been working on the second novel in my series, Isolated, far longer than the first.

I mentioned in Characters, Powers and Too Many Drafts, I was working on three novels and never intended them to be a series. But, they take place in, pretty much, the same world just different time periods so, I've been building them together.

The basic idea in Isolated grabbed me, so I kept rewriting and rewriting and rewriting it. Each story looked completely different from the one before it but the core was the same. I can't tell you why this one is different from the other novels I've simply scrapped without a second thought. It just is.

This one is maybe the fourth or fifth generation. It would be interesting to read the others and compare but I didn't keep them and even if I did, I probably wouldn't read them. They were written when I was in high school and early collage- when my writing needed more than a little work.

I wonder if, years from now, I'll look at these stories and go...what was I thinking?! Doubt it. Given the years I've spent fine tuning these novels, they will hold a place in my heart forever. You really don't realize you've spent maybe ten years polishing a story until you sit down and think about it. Time flies.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Almost Done

Only a couple of pages to edit and I'll be done with my first novel! Okay, technically, this is not the first novel I've written but, it's my first potentially publishable novel.  I've been working on this one for at least 7 years. Fortunately, it's now a part of a series so I don't have to say goodbye to my characters just yet.

I still need to get people's opinion on it. But, after today, I'll be focusing more on the second novel in the series. Most of it is already written- on my computer and in 4 or 5 journals. I need to compile everything so it makes sense.

Before I start, though, I'll need to find some way to label my story notes throughout the journals. The last thing I want to do is continually search through 4 or 5 journals just to find one scene. This is why I started using one journal for one story. If it has nothing to do with the story, it does not go in that journal. I'll probably use colored post-its to make finding the notes easier.

Already, I'm creating more scenes in my head. Through this first novel, I've discovered some things I still need to work on so, I'll also be spending much more time examining other novels. I can't wait to work on this next project!
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