HOW THICK DOES AN AUTHOR'S SKIN NEED TO BE?
Every now and then, you wake up to what you think will be a good day. For an author, that would probably be a steamy mug of coffee, a quiet space to work in, and a full day in which to lose yourself in your characters and story. There you sit, with your fingers poised over the keyboard of your computer, ready to work on your latest and greatest work in progress. A smile graces your lips and you think, today I know exactly where I am going with this chapter. You've spent the night wrestling with twists, turns, and character revelations, and settled upon your course of action. And then (drum roll), and then you decide to peek at your reviews on Goodreads. What a bad idea that can be! You look, you squint, your heart skips a couple of beats, and you feel your stomach sink. There it is, impossible to deny, that dreaded one or two-star review. You feel sick, not only from the standpoint of your ego but because you allow the review to get under your skin. That one or two-star review can literally rip your guts out and reduce you into a babbling idiot. You vanish, poof, and all that remains of the confident author are your insecurities and self-doubts. Forget brilliant prose and those dreams of readers clamoring to read your efforts. Even if you simultaneously receive a five-star review, it is the one or two stars that cast a pall squelching your creativity. You're back in grade school or high school, and that class bully or bitchy girl has singled you out to bear the brunt of their own frustrations and inadequacies.
You ask yourself the question that begs for an answer, why is it that the person who hates your efforts is the one that feels the necessity to expound the most? Even, when they might not have finished your book. They take pen or computer, and rant and rave, until it's a wonder that they just don't explode from their hypertensive efforts. It's almost as if every inequity known to man has somehow been conveyed in the pages of your book. Please, just take a breath, it's a novel; not everything conforms to your sensibilities. There isn't always a happy ending, not for you, not for me, and certainly not in a book.
It's times like these that an author would do well to grow a thick skin, perhaps something like that of a rhinoceros, or better yet a porcupine. Something that protects from the barbs, and sharpened teeth of a mad, frothing at the mouth, rabid reader. It's funny the difference in people. I would never take the time to write a long, laborious scathing review. It would never occur to me. If a book is that bad I just move on, usually without a peep. I don't hate the author or wish he or she ill will. Besides, my time is far too precious. I'd much prefer writing about the books that have moved me, informed me, opened doors for me, entertained me. Ah, but that's what differentiates us, it's the difference between vanilla and chocolate. After all, that is all a review really is, one person's opinion, and very often that person holds no special degree in literary criticism, do they?
I am reminded of what Kurt Vonnegut thought about the matter: "As for literary criticism in general; I have long felt that any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel or a play or a poem is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae, or a banana split."
Now that I got that off my chest, it's back to the book!
Hi Everyone, Here are my five writing tips. Xo -Virginia
1) Create a good title, something readers will remember. An example of that is
"Who the Hell Are You? Alzheimer's the Wrong Diagnosis." This title is apparently about an illness of some kind, but the author gives you a hint as they tell you that Alzheimer's wasn't the right diagnosis. But whatever the disease is, it must be something that is similar to Alzheimer's as the person they are talking about doesn't know who they are. The title piques the curiosity of a potential reader that might have been searching for Alzheimer's books.
2) If you aren't a graphic designer, hire a professional to create your cover. If you search around some new artists will swap with you, their creative cover for your book, for their name as the illustrator on the cover and an acknowledgment.
3) Employ a professional editor - super important tip, as this prevents bad reviews about grammar in reviews.
4) Put together a pre-release/release team made up of fans, friends, and followers in your social network circles to help you with pre-release reads and reviews, as well as shares on release day. Offer a PDF of your book or a proof copy of the paperback in return for their help.
5) Just write! Your editor will help get your manuscript in shape. :-)
1) Do not censor your rough draft.
It is important to write what comes to you naturally. It is too easy to become bogged down in editing as you write, and very little gets written. Let your characters do and say silly things, and put in those melodramatic touches! Then editing is an entirely separate step, to be undertaken after your manuscript reaches full length and ideally after six months fallow time.
2) Start a sequel before you finish the first book.
This is a strange one, and not what people hoping to be authors of stand-alone masterpieces want to hear. However, EVERY one of my tales has begun to spawn a sequel before I was half way through. This has a number of advantages.
* You know what your characters would do next, even if you were never to write second volume. (This may help with motivation & wrapping the tale up.)
* Envisioning your characters with futures will help you flesh them out as well rounded.
* Staring a sequel may actually help you generate details of setting to go in the original story.
* The sequel is there if you ever want to write it!
* If you do write a sequel the seeds are already sewn and some minor characters and incidents that become important in future volumes have been woven into the tapestry.
* Refusing to let your mind wander into sequel territory may well stunt your vision. Therefore, even if you don't want those extra words, and the work of writing an entire second book - I advise you write a few chapters that your muse dictates when the creative juices are flowing. Definitely don't beat yourself up for starting another project before the present is finished sort of thing!
1) Blog and Social Media Links
Create a blog or website well in advance of your book launch, and keep your followers informed of your progress. Remember to include information on your blog/website and social media links at the end of your book.
Ensure your book is of the very best quality, by enlisting a professional editor and book cover designer. It will pay dividends.
3) Keywords and Categories
Choose your categories and keywords for online retailers carefully. Try to find categories that have smaller numbers of books to boost your rankings. Keep a close eye on your progress, and tweak as necessary.
Keep your prices in line with your competitors. Readers will not buy your book if you charge too much. Regular discounted offers will increase sales.
5) Read and Review Books
Read and review other author's books, and post to your blog/website, social media, BookBub and Goodreads...
It will come back to you in many ways.
1. Get it down the first time nonstop without going back to edit or even worry about the spelling.
2. Decide who is the MC and then how many other voices you will need to make this story complete.
3. Keep a list of all your characters, the spelling of their names, and a page of information to refer to as you write about them. Things like, descriptions of their hair, eyes, physique, favorite food and drink, pet words they use, etc.
4. Date the start of your story, write down the main characters' dates of birth and any important dates that might be mentioned based on when the characters are are born so you're consistent with the timing of events.
5. Keep a list of questions or things to check on before sending your ms to your editor.
1. Just write. Once you've begun to start writing what you want written, the nagging in your head will stop.
2. Write for the love and the craft of the art. Publishing has become an overrated success circus.
3. No one is going to teach you how to write. If you’re interested in technique or some technical skill, choose a more suitable occupation.
4. If you want to improve your writing, read and draw inspiration from among the greatest writers who have lived and are no longer here.
5. Get someone to read what you have written. He or she can see things you can't see and offer constructive criticism.
#1 STAY FOCUSED
There's always, always something that can distract you from sitting in your writing chair. The grandkids want you to go play in the snow. The doughnut in the kitchen is calling your name. It takes a lot of self discipline to get a book written. You are your own boss, so you have to keep reminding yourself that if you don't get a book written, you are not going to get it published.
#2 NOTEBOOK, FILE, SOMETHING
Keep a notebook, file or something to refer back to concerning your characters. If Tommy has brown eyes on page four, blue eyes on page sixty and brown eyes on page two hundred, your readers will scream at you. I'm old school. I still use a notebook and a pen for my rough outline ideas. On the first page of that notebook I write the ABC's down one side, and then I start a list of my characters. You really shouldn't have characters with the same first initial. It's confusing to your reader. Also hero/heroine with sound alike names (Lisa and Lane) will stump your reader. Especially on series books when I need to remember the hero from book one when I'm writing book seven, I buy one of those little recipe card files and keep it right beside my computer. Each character, even the dogs and cats, gets an index card (filed alphabetically by first name) in the card box. That way all I have to do is find the card, and presto hero in number one was six feet two inches tall and had blue eyes. Some folks like to do this on the computer, and that's fine, but once I lost nine thousand words by shutting the wrong window and not saving. So it's old school for me.
#3 EDIT! EDIT! EDIT!
Your rough draft is finished. Now it's time to edit, edit, edit. Have someone else read your manuscript, and don't take the constructive criticism personal.
#4 WALK AWAY
If you begin to feel overwhelmed while you're working on those edits, get up and walk away from them. That's when it's all right to leave the writing chair. Take a walk. Pet the cat. Get your mind cleared so you can go back to the edits with a fresh outlook.
#5 START A NEW BOOK
Your book is finished, is in the agent's hands or the publisher's, now what? You start another book! This is the WRITE, DON'T WHINE! phase. Don't whine that it's taking so long to get your book published, or that you've got rejection slips. Write another book while you're waiting. When that first one does sell, you'll have a new one in your hands to sell.
1. Write. No seriously, just write. You can't become an author without writing something.
2. Focus on getting your thoughts on the paper. You can tidy up afterwards.
3. Challenge yourself. Set word counts to push yourself to do more.
4. Get someone to proofread your book. You'll be supprised to see how many things you miss.
5. Hire an editor for your first books. It makes a huge difference.
1) Start with an elevator pitch to yourself. Is the story intriguing? Is there an interesting protagonist and challenge? Do you want to know more?
2) Commit to finishing the story. Once you begin a plot that drives you to write it, let nothing stop you from completing that last draft.
3) Don't show anyone your first draft. Whether it's to your editors or your beta readers, always put your best foot forward. Besides, they probably think you're a genius and most first drafts will dispel that notion.
4) Challenge yourself. Give yourself a word count and stick to it. Write in a genre you dislike, just to see if you can do it. The lessons you learn while doing this make you a stronger writer in the genre(s) you enjoy writing.
5) Never write to the trend. By the time you write your story and get it edited and published, the trend's already moved on. Instead, #bethetrend!
Always hire a professional editor and proofreader. Most new authors feel that with programs like Grammarly they can just edit their books themselves, which is a great tool to clean up an outline. But it is important to also hire a professional editor to really polish your book and make it the best it can be. Readers always know when a book wasn't edited properly and this can affect the type of reviews they give the book once it's published.
Write, what you want. The whole purpose of writing is that 10 writers can be given the same outline of a story and come up with completely different and fantastic tales. We don't need more folks writing to market. We need people creating and telling a story with their own unique voice. Sometimes those stories will fall "within market" sometimes on the "borderline" and sometimes totally "out of the grid".
All of this is great and needed. Don't let others (writers/editors/readers) control your story or your creative process. Listen, learn, adjust...but at the end write the story YOUR characters are telling you.
If you don't have talking voices in your head, leading you off your outline every once in a while...or even often, then your not doing it right! You can be a great writer, be 100% true to you and your characters and still make money (if that is your most important goal-who doesn't like money?)
I feel-a great story and some good marketing will always make you a winner, even if you don't follow the crowd. Stay YOUR course, do the WORK, and have fun! Also remember is a LONG race in the writing business.
Market early-and this can be free Social Media, FB Groups, etc Also you can start playing with ADS. Start small and work your way up once you know what you are doing. I often do $1.00 day for 5, 10 15 days. AMS $1.00 a day netted me a profit in sales (minus what I paid for the sales) in my first year of advertising.
1) Write. Keep writing no matter what. Writing is like a muscle. It has to be used to develop.
2) Your writing will change as you do. Your voice will evolve as you grow, so accept that your first book will be very different from your tenth or even twentieth.
3) Be open to suggestions. Reviews (good and bad), beta readers, editors, and fellow authors can all help you become a better writer. Some things may not be what you want to hear but listen. You may hate having to change something in your manuscript but try it and see what happens. You can write in a bubble, but you can't publish in one.
4) Write what you want to write, and don't follow the trends in genres. Writing something because you think you will capitalize on whatever the hottest genre is will turn out to be a mistake. What is hot today, could have turned cold by the time you publish, so write what you want to read. Chances are, you will find readers who want to read it, too.
5) NEVER, EVER GIVE UP!! The only person who will believe in you and your book IS YOU! Accept that there are days you will want to walk away, but always vow to keep going.