Writing Improvement Software

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Actually, it's 3am Christmas morning, and in 3 hours I'll be buttering up, and salting down, a beautiful Butterball turkey. But, with 3 hours yet to kill, I thought I'd "Zen" out for awhile and pass on my thoughts for the New Year, though it's still a week away.
I'll be wishing for prosperity for so many Indie authors who have opted to maintain their independence from traditional publishing. As I continue to read more and more of these books, it's obvious that too many would not have made it into the acceptance bin.
Why, you ask? Not because they weren't well written, and certainly not because they were bad stories, but because traditional publishers, though they will be quick to tell you otherwise, aren't as up with the times as Indie authors. The new genre catagories that have cropped up due to independent publishing has been amazing, and I can easily imagine a publisher taking one look at the blurbs of some of these books in stark confusion and tossing it aside. If it didn't neatly fit into one of their pre-assigned catagories, it was deemed unacceptable, without further ado.
I suspect that traditional publishing will catch up fast enough, though, and while indie publishing hasn't hurt them too much, yet, it's actually been a boon for them in some respects. It is now easier for them to get the pick of the litter more quickly, and any clever publisher with a sharp eye would be out scouring the web- Amazon and Smashwords, as well as a few others, to see who would be a good candidate for their publishing house.
Self-publishing is hard work, extremely time consuming, and the temptation to throw it all into a publisher's hands just so you can get back to doing what you love most, is ever present. The choice is yours, of course, but for me, I prefer to do it my own way...for now.
The day may come when that is a more attractive option for me, but it's not right now, the suffering is still what fuels my ambition to get it right, my way.
I wish you all a Happy New Year, and a most prosperous one! Chameleon Author

I Did It My Way

When I published Pawn of Innocence, I'd be the first to admit it was flawed. But, as one who had read it over at least 100 times or more, I literally was unable to see the trees for the forest (no, not the forest for the trees). I had no idea what beta readers were, and the closest I came was having a friend of mine read it. She loved it and said it was great. *sigh*
Ok, that wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I already knew that. So, off I went in search of a way to get others to read it and let me know where it was lacking. I knew it had to be, I was simply no longer able to see it myself. I joined Goodreads, and was quite excited to get into the group that swapped ebooks for review. Now you're talking!
As it turned out I got 2 offers. One was not a good experience, the other was very good. I bowed out of further participation, and began looking to Facebook. It was there I found what I really needed. I joined a group called Book Review Depot. I don't mind saying I was a little overwhelmed at first, as I read past posts from the people. Boy, these guys are seasoned pros, I told myself, they really know what they're talking about.
Determined to learn what I could before they found me out to be someone pretending to be an author and booted me, I sat quietly in the corner and watched, soaking up all the advice and info I could. I read the three books I was required to, and was not surprised to find that they were really good stories. What I was surprised to find was that they had some flaws, too, and I realized that maybe they weren't so different from me, after all.
I read some more, and started getting in on the conversations. They made it easy to fit in, and seemed to take to me easily enough despite my often sarcastic humor and brash words. I felt loved.
Then the day came, my book was now on the Active List. For the briefest moment I fretted. What if it wasn't as good as some had told me? What if it was... fill in the blanks, most of it crossed my mind. I stopped that thinking soon enough. I knew it was a good story, what I was actually worried about was the punctuation, grammar, formatting, etc. That, I wasn't completely sure about.
To my dismay, I was getting other reviews in that just loved the story, but had nothing to say about the flaws. Then, finally, the real critical reviews started coming in. If you are familiar with my writings at all, you know by now how rabid I am about honest reviews. The good, the bad, and the truly brutal. They are all priceless.
However, and the whole reason for this blog, I also began getting advice like "that sentence there should read like...". I'll take a hit for bad grammar, to an extent, bad punctuation (my downfall), and sloppy formatting, what I won't take is someone telling me how my characters should talk. Nor how I should word a sentence. I'm no English major, and I'm fairly certain most of my readers won't be either, so, if you want stiff, stilted writing, my books are not for you.
I'm not going to use words you have to keep using your dictionary to look up, or fancy crafted phrases that make you suddenly feel out of place. I live in the real world, and in my world, people don't talk like that. Love it or leave it, but I will do it my way. Chameleon Author

It's Been Said Many times, Many Ways...

It can never be stressed enough. That one word you are probably sick of hearing by now: Reviews. Well, read it again, and again, and yet again, until you are fully convinced that reviews are akin to the Academey Awards.
Reviews, from honest readers, and especially from your fellow authors, should always receive your utmost attention. They will tell you exactly- and sometimes in gruesome, heartbreaking detail, what they thought of your book. At this point, there are two ways you can react to this: tell yourself they don't know what they're talking about, don't they recognize a masterpiece when they see it? Or, you can go running off crying like a little school girl, and refuse to face the reality of your situation. Let me assure you, either of these reactions will be your complete downfall as an author.
Learn to accept both criticism, and advice. If you won't, you are simply dooming yourself to failure, and you might just as well throw out that manuscript you spent months laboring over. I can't imagine why anyone would do that, but hey, it's your tea party.

People don't write reviews just to hurt you, or to have something to rag about. They've spent money on your book, and as a customer, they have a right to voice their satisfaction, or disatisfaction. If you've been careful, and you have a good story- doesn't have to be great, even a good one will do, people will have nothing to complain about. But if you've thrown a story together, slapped a dime store cover on it, and uploaded it... boy, are you going to hear about it, and it would serve you right, if that's what you've done.

Readers are vicious, they will tear you up like a pack of pitbulls. They will chew you up and spit you out into so many pieces your own mother won't recognize you. And those are the nicer ones. The worst part is, readers know readers, and they talk. They can either recommend your book, or warn against it. Absolutely no self-respecting author who has a love for their craft would ever want to be in that postion.

Have pride in your work, but just as important, pour over those reviews- the good, bad, and the really ugly, as if they were a precious treasure being handed to you. Make note of what they say is wrong with your book ( typos, grammar, formatting, etc.) and fix it. That is what will make you a better writer, and certainly one people are much more likely to want to read and recommend. Chameleon Author

Information Overload

If you've just published your first ebook, you have probably already begun to look around for the best places to market it. Tread cautiously, or you will find yourself running in circles day, after day. Hopefully, I can save you from some of that.

I published my first ebook in late July, and then, without the slightest clue as to what to do next, I joined Facebook and began bombing the airwaves with news of my book to any group that would accept me. Bad idea, but who knew? Certainly not me. The glorious day finally came that I joined the right group: Book Review Depot. Finally, I knew I had found a place to call my own.

Despite getting a few reviews from other people, I still felt they weren't really being honest. It really wasn't until I joined Book Review Depot that I finally got the criticism I knew my book deserved. What you need as a first time author more than anything are honest reviews, Book Review Depot provided that. But it has also been a gold mine of information. I've learned a lot without ever having to go to 100 other pages, and the members are really good people.
Do make ample use of Twitter and Google+. If you don't know how to use them, please read up on it, or you'll find yourself sitting there like I did, staring at an "empty room" feeling very much like you're talking to yourself. Basically, follow everyone in Book Review Depot, and anyone else you may know, and from just those few connections you'll quickly start getting notices that "so and so is now Following you". Don't panic and start casting nervous glances over your shoulder- it's a good thing! If you aren't already following them, hit that follow button next to their name :)

Join communities on Google+. Be respectful and engaging, and you'll soon find yourself in numerous circles with interesting interactions.

If you don't have a website, you should. I use GoDaddyThey make it so easy to set up really nice sites for very little money. There are many free website you can set up, as well, and if you prefer free over 14.00 a year, that's fine. My website is  if you'd like to see just some of what you can do at GoDaddy. You may also want to consider doing a blog, but this takes dedication at least once a week, and coming up with new content that's engaging and informative isn't always easy.

Last, but not least, most newspapers are happy to run a story on local authors, especially if it's your first book. Talk to the editor at your local paper and see if that's something they'd do for you. Get some business cards and leave them everywhere, and with everyone. When my husband and I go to restaurants, I unabashedly leave one on clean tables we pass. I also know an author that leaves them in genre specific books in bookstores.
Alright, I'm on the verge of giving you my own information overload so I'll close by giving you one more incredible page to comb through that could well help you immensely:  He is also on twitter @NatRusso. Wow. That's all I can say :) Good stuff.
With just the little bit of information I've been able to give you here, you will already be on your way to good exposure for your book, and even more doors will begin opening- go through bravely :)

Chameleon Author