I set a goal for myself this year, that I would write one short story a month. 10kish. Thats only 2500 a week, only 333 words a day. Thats nothing, super easy. If I’m focused and productive thats less than an hour of writing a day. So why is it that I’ve maybe written 10k so far this year?
Now granted my life has gone a little bit crazier than I’d expected, there have been some big personal changes, school is crazy, and I’m more than a bit of a workaholic. Recently I’ve realized that writing is the thing I let slip to keep everything else balanced in my life. There are only so many hours in a day.
I’m sad that writing is the thing that I let slip, its one of my greatest joys, watching the characters I’ve dreamed of come to life on the page and dance through countless crazy situations. Its also one of the best ways for me to release stress, losing myself in my stores is one of the most therapeutic things I know how to do.
Here I sit at the beginning of my two whole weeks of summer vacation before fall semester starts up, bemoaning to friends and family that I have so little to fill my now copious amounts of free time (at least in comparison to how crowded my schedule normally is!) so this is me, reaffirming my goal to get some serious writing done. I don’t think its unreasonable to set myself the goal of 10k in two weeks!
I’ll do my best to keep you all posted, and wish me good luck and good ideas!
As an author I have now been e-published by a small indy publisher, in paper as part of the Brave New Girls anthology put together by authors Mary Fan and Tina Closser.
I decided to take a different route with my latest project, a short story titled Milly. I want to make this short story one of many in a series, and the thought of spending all the time involved with traditionally publishing each story did not excited me, so I opted to self publish.
I am lucky that at this point in my writing journey I have come across numerous helpful sources to help make self publishing a viable option for myself. First off I know several editors, both copy and line. Drawing on these friendships allows me to get my books print ready, something I would never be able to do with my own lack luster editing skills. Secondly I am extremely blessed to know several fantastic artists who, being wonderful friends were willing to work with me to create the cover for my story for an amazing rate.
I chose to take the simplest route with self publishing, releasing my story as an ebook on Amazon and enrolling it the Kindle Unlimited program. Kindle made the process simple, guiding me through the upload process with a step by step system.
My goal with Milly isn’t to make money at least not right away. Milly is the first step in gaining exposure as an author, which I feel makes something like Kindle Unlimited so useful to me. I hope that by regularly releasing new short stories I will be able to build an audience that will support the large projects that are simmering away on my back burner. The idea of ‘giving’ my work away for a reduced rate doesn’t bother me, I’ve got my eye on the long term prize.
Writing is a solitary art. Authors spend hours alone, immersed in worlds of their own creation. No one can write their story for them it’s just the author and the keyboard until the bitter end. Isn’t it? Somewhere in the middle of this monumental writing journey almost all authors will hit THE WALL, an insurmountable barrier that seems impossible to overcome. This wall can take many forms. Things from the ‘real world’ like relationships, responsibilities, jobs, or things from within the story world like uncooperative characters, plot holes, and two dimensional villains can all get in the way of finishing the story. Many writers overlook the importance of groups. Being plugged into the writing community is a huge advantage to authors. These types of communities are honing the same skills and experiencing the same problems,they are in the same proverbial boat. Plugging into groups with related interests can become a support network like no other for an author. The benefits that I have experiences from being part of different types of writing groups are amazing. A few year ago I joined my local NanoWriMo chapter at ‘write ins’ gatherings during the month of November designed to encourage us to keep writing, to press on towards the 50,000 word goal. Having people check up on you and encourage you to keep writing is a great motivator. My particular Nano chapter have created an event within the month of November called the Intraregional challenge, where we divide ourselves into three teams and compete for the highest average word count. Knowing that my team is depending on me to reach my quota is an incredible reason to push through that writing block and keep moving forwards. My Nano group is so enthusiastic that they’ve found ways to continue meeting throughout the year. We have our own forum on which to chat, and regular meeting times planned to write together as a group keeping, each other motivated between Nano’s. They keep me excited about writing all through the year. One of the most amazing groups I’ve had a chance to be part of was when I was an active member on Authonomy.com. It’s a website supported by Harper-Collins publishing, where writers post their work and are encouraged to trade reviews, and support each others books in a massive ranking system. The forum boards are full of writers asking questions about research for books, plot complications, word choices, even character naming. The amount of information available to a new writer is astounding. The feedback I received from other members helped me grow my skills at an incredible rate, but writing reviews of others work helped me more than I ever imagined possible. I began to notice things in their writing I disliked, and when I took a critical look at my own writing I was able to pinpoint those problems in my drafts and begin working to correct them. The connections I made on Authonomy were beneficial not only for my writing skills, but the network I built has allowed me to grow professionally. I met the ladies at Morning Rain Publishing there, as well as the authors putting together the Brave New Girls Anthology. The other authors on the site are always willing to review work, or forward twitter and facebook posts. Joining groups has pushed me farther as an author, made me a better, more consistent writer, and created friendships with people who understand my obsession with the written word. Trust me, writing is not a solitary art. So go ahead, go find some people to help pull you over that wall.
You wrote a story, published it, but now what? It’s out there for anyone to see, but who is anyone? It’s a big world, and everyone is shouting their loudest to be heard. How can you stand apart from that cacophony? Its not actually about shouting louder than them.
Here’s a few tips on how to reach readers.
1. Focus in on your target. Who is going to read your book, Who is going to buy it? Are they the same person? (Not always!) How old are they? What sort of jobs do these people have, do they even have jobs? What sort of education do they have?(Elementary, Highschool, College ect.) What gender does your book appeal more too?
The more detailed description or profile you can build about your potential readers the more ways you’ll discover how to reach out to them.
2. Marketing Mix (The 4 P’s)
Price is something you don’t always have control of, but setting a good base price is a solid starting point. You want to be on par with the rest of your market. If your book is much more expensive than other works in its category it is less likely to be purchased. In the same way under cutting your competitors may make your book look unprofessional and people may wonder whats wrong with it.
Product is obviously your book, but make sure it’s bringing its A game. Have a strong blurb on the back, and make sure your elevator pitch is as perfect as you can make it.
Place is the locations your book will be sold. You want to make sure your book is in a place where people will get a chance to see it. You may be able to convince independent stores or small local shops to try out a few copies of your book, make friends with these people when ever possible, because the more you can get a copy of your book on their shelves the more chances people will have to notice your book. Remember who your target is and try to find places that would appeal to them.
Promotion is a big one, and brings us back to that screaming world. Now that we know who to talk to, we can ignore all the people that wouldn’t be interested in the product anyways, so tune them out and concentrate efforts on selling to the people who are already predisposed to buy. Find ways to connect with these groups of people, either via social media, or by contacting local groups and searching for opportunities to talk with them. Attend as many public events in these areas as possible (For example, as a science fiction/ fantasy author I attend Ad Astra and SFContario to meet other authors and readers in my genre).
3. Spread the news.
With the introduction of social media we’ve seen an explosion of guerrilla marketing campaigns, where the fans of a product take over and run with a message. Try to build a loyal fan base that are willing to share and reshare your work and posts to others in their lives. Don’t be scared to ask for reviews. Start a list of people willing to receive an e-newsletter from you. Do your best to be active and available to fans on social media. We’re living in a world filled with incredible technologies that allow us to connect in amazing new ways. Take advantage of it when ever possible.
The biggest tip I can give you on how to market yourself as an author is to remember that you as an author aren’t just selling people on your book, you’re selling them on who you are as well. Always try to put your best foot forward, keep your social media sites clean and professional, try to build connections with your fans, and just be real.
You’ve spent months, nay years, on your manuscript. You’ve antagonized over every word choice, crafted each paragraph into a masterpiece. No character has ever suffered like yours has, no author has better portrayed their pain, anguish, and finally their triumph. Your work is perfect. Its done and a publisher had accepted it. You’ve never felt so great, so validated.
Then the editor gets a hold of it. You’re not worried though, its perfect right? You’ve poured your life into this manuscript. No one could ever improve upon your masterpiece. The very soul of the main character is trapped between the pages of your story. Time passes and you grow more worried, what could be taking the editor so long, there are no changes that need to be made, no way to make your work better, you should know, you’ve lived and breathed this work. Thought of nothing else for months. Dread builds as you wait for that manuscript to return safely to you.
Red, it comes back a sea of red. You can’t even see your original work through the layers of red pen. Nothing is untouched, no carefully crafted phrase, no perfectly executed scene. Your work has been butchered, massacred without any consideration for the artistic attributes of the piece. You’re mad and you haven’t started reading yet. Already you’re convinced the editor hates you, this is a personal vendetta. There is no way your work, your masterpiece needs that much work. No, this is just them taking out their angst on your beautiful work.
Stop. Walk away, go do something else for a while, heck, take a day, or a week. Take as much time as you need to come to terms with the sea of red because its there, and yes, your manuscript probably does need that much work. I’m speaking from experience here, I’ve had my own sea’s of red. When you’ve achieved the right attitude come back to those edits and read them carefully. Learn from them. Don’t just accept or deny the changes, really try to look at what they’re doing, are you making the same errors over and over again? I consistently forget the apostrophe in it’s. Look at the wording that they’re changing, are you overusing words or phrases? I inevitably add words like just, only, then. (having wrote this I looked back over my draft of this blog and noticed several words I now need to cut…)
Bringing the right attitude to your editing is key. Don’t be bitter and negative, they don’t hate you. They probably don’t know very much about you. There’s no motivation to their edits beyond improving your work, and bringing your story to a better level. If you can just accept their criticism you’ll be amazed at how these edits can transform your manuscript into a sleek story, with great flow and pacing. Accept the learning experience and take the chance to improve as an author.
If you bring a great attitude to the edits not only will your work improve, but those editors will be much happier to work with you a second time. In my discussions with editor friends their most common complaint isn’t bad writing, its bad authors. No one wants to work with a whiny brat that wants to fight on every point, and you do want them to publish that second novel in your series right?
I submitted a piece to the Brave New Girls (BNG) Anthology in November, and I am proud to announce my story has been accepted as part of the publication. Writing short stories for anthologies is an interesting process for me. Anthologies give you a scope and a dead line to write, and expect you to stay inside of those restrictions. It doesn’t matter how good your story is, if it’s not on time, or what they’re looking for, it will not be accepted.
I suppose some authors may feel chafed by these restrictions, but I find they provide the framework in which my creativity can flourish. For the BNG anthology they were looking for a story featuring a female protagonist aged 14-17, portrayed in a tech-savvy role. I created Elizabeth, a Cinderella type character with a knack for hardware and mechanics. I found it easy to make many decisions about the character because the anthology guidelines were clear. This was not to be a romance, the girl should solve her own problems, she’s the hero of the story. So Elizabeth became a quiet, introverted character that never thinks to ask others for help. Even if romance was to walk up and smack her in the face she probably wouldn’t notice it. She thinks she has to go it alone.
The deadline scared me at first, there was lots of time from the moment I heard about the anthology to when submissions were due, but for me generating the idea and direction of the story took time. I toyed around with several different plots and characters before settling on Elizabeth. That overhanging deadline kept me moving forward.
It gave me motivation to start, and keep writing. Writing on a deadline is a good sort of pressure. Without it I may not have pushed forward and finished the story. When you’re writing a story with no deadline or submission guidelines your imagination can take you anywhere. However with endless time to write, and endless possibilities to write about, it is up to the author to keep themselves motivated and moving forward. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else set the backdrop for you, then let you fill in the details for yourself.