Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Five things I've learned about writing...

Hello everybody!

I'm sorry that I've been away so long.  To be honest, this summer hasn't been as relaxing as I had hoped.  Between getting Book Two: Betrayal in the Highlands ready for release (hopefully in September), writing Book Three:  Blood in Snow, and actually working for a living...things have been a bit busy.

At any rate, rather than write a completely new post, I'm going to be a lazy ass and re-post an interview that I did for Jaye Viner on her wonderful blog WRITE CASTLES IN THE SKY.  Thanks to Jaye for having me on her blog and promoting Riddle in Stone!!!  Please check out her stuff!

I'll try to come up with something more original next time!

1.      You have to study the craft of writing

It always amazes me how many people “want” to write a novel.  As soon as I mention something about my first book, Riddle in Stone (shameless plug), they nearly always say something like, “You know, I think I’ll write a novel someday. I have several really good ideas!” 

What amazes me even more is that people seem to think that, since they can write an e-mail, they can write a novel—as if a novel was just a REALLY long e-mail! 

What people don’t realize (and I had to learn the hard way) is that writing is a craft. You have to study it. You literally have to approach writing as if it is a job or you’re learning a new language. You have to read other authors and examine why their stories work or why they don’t. You have to read the “how to write books” and join online writing communities. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, but without knowing the craft, it doesn’t matter how much time you spend typing away or how many good ideas you have.  You probably won’t get published. 

2.   It’s all about marketing and promotion

Nearly every publisher that my agent approached wanted to know about my “marketing plan.” Even before they read the manuscript, they wanted to know how I was going to promote my book.

Silly me, I thought I was the writer and that they would take care of everything else.  But that’s not how it works—at least, not for new writers.

New writers need to market their own books. My publisher will make sure my book is on Amazon and Goodreads and so forth, but I have to get online and talk about my story. I have to beg and plead for people to read and review it.  Otherwise, it doesn’t sell.  (By the way…PLEASE read and review my book! J)
Most days I spend far more time promoting my books than I do writing them!

3.   EVERY sale, every review, every blog post counts!  

My publisher has contracted me to write three books. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll publish them.  They published the first book and are getting ready to publish the second (Betrayal in the Highlands…another shameless plug!), but there won’t be a third book unless the first two sell well. 

And sell “well” really doesn’t mean thousands upon thousands of copies.  Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of getting another book published is a few dozen copies sold. 

So if I want to keep writing (and keep my main character alive), I must write something worth reading, but I also have to make sure the readers know my book is out there. That’s why I need people to review my book and talk about it on their blogs, facebook accounts, twitter, and so on. Otherwise, all that time in front of the computer, typing away goes for naught. 

4.    Writing is a team support

I’m not the most social person in the world.  I feel uncomfortable around people, especially people I don’t know.  That’s why I love writing so much. It enables me to sit in my darkened office, basking in the glow of my computer screen, all alone.

But I’ve learned that writing really is a team support. It took a huge (and growing) number of people to get Riddle in Stone published and selling. There’s my agent, my publisher, the wonderful people in the art department that made my book’s cover (By the way, the cover sells the book. Make sure it’s good!). There are also the many people who read and edited the first drafts of the manuscript.

But most of all, there are the readers.  The readers tell me what they like and don’t like. I ask!  I can’t become a better writer without listening to what they have to say…no matter how painful that might be. Even negative reviews can help me improve!

There are also the people who are willing to mention my book on their wonderful blogs and the people who read those wonderful blogs! As I said before, writers can’t continue to publish if people don’t buy their books.  That’s why we need people to champion our stories and to write about them on the internet.  We can’t promote our books by ourselves. We need you!

5.   You can’t please everybody

Finally, I had to learn that all books have their critics, even the classics. Nobody likes everything.  No matter how hard I try, I’ll never write something that everybody enjoys. Some people will always HATE my work.  And that’s okay. It doesn’t reflect on me personally or condemn my soul to hell. All I have to do is keep trying to become better.

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