Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands, and there is no knowledge that is not power. Jeremy Taylor

Carolyn Brown's writing tips

writing
Carolyn Brown
Contemporary Romance Historical Romance
7 months

#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.

    • georgiarose 6 monthsAuthor
    • Thanks for sharing Carolyn, I've found some really useful tips here and love the index card idea - definitely using that one!
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    • kimbeall 6 monthsAuthor
    • What I would like to obtain is Distribution, since I've already swallowed the bitter pill that I will always be the only person on the marketing team. Still, there is no way I am going to be able to drive to every single Barnes & Noble in the US to peddle my books to them, and that's what I want to see: my book in every Barnes & Noble, as well as every independent bookseller. Yes, I am aware some people believe bookstores are going the way of Blockbuster, but for the present, there are still millions of dollars of books being sold in bookstores every day and I want to be part of them. Bookstores HATE having to deal with Amazon, which treats them like competition instead of colleagues. I'm just wondering if there is any such thing as a real book Distributor with which authors can work to get their book distributed to places other than Amazon POD.
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    • cjdarling 7 monthsAuthor
    • I've been doing all those things for years, and still almost never make any sales, though I get excellent reviews from the few sales I do get. My question is, how do you get an agent? How do you get someone in a position to help you to take a look, take an interest, make an offer? We write because we love to write...it's an addiction that has to be fed. LOL But so do the hungry mouths around the table. How do we bridge the gap between published author and successful published author?
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      • carolyn 6 months AuthorAuthor
      • Getting an agent is often one of those Catch 22's. You have to have a few good sales for an agent to be interested in representing you, but to get into the bigger publishing houses, you need an agent. Building up your readership is step one. That brings in more sales. It took me years to get an agent and then it was only because she had been my editor previously when I was writing for Avalon. It certainly wasn't because I had sales big enough to warrant getting a foot in the door with her. I hope that helps!
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      • shanagorian 7 monthsAuthor
      • Start advertising on Amazon Ads (sponsored product ads) if you haven't already. They really sell our books! You don't need an agent! :) There are plenty of blog posts and courses to learn how to do Amazon ads if you need help but the best way is just to dive in and spend $5-10/day and take all their suggestions on the keyword bid amounts. (PS. I am just another indie author who's tried everything and finally found what really works.~All the best to you)
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        • peytongarver 7 monthsAuthor
        • Carolyn, Thanks for sharing so openly. I really need to look into the Amazon Ads. I really have no idea how to do that! I'll definitely start figuring that one out! :)
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        • cjdarling 7 monthsAuthor
        • Am I looking at the right thing? They're going to charge me $39.99 every single month for the so-called privilege of selling books on Amazon...which I'm already doing through KDP...and then they want to charge me additional fees for sponsored ads?? I don't think so!
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        • olgagoa 7 monthsAuthor
        • I suppose it helps only 3-5 months and then it stops. I never reached bestseller rank with these ads. Sometimes it is just wasting of money.
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        • cjdarling 7 monthsAuthor
        • That's a good idea, and I'll definitely check into it...but what about if you're on a budget that doesn't allow spending $150-300 a month?
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          • olgagoa 6 monthsAuthor
          • I agree. They charge about 50 or 70 or 100 dollars in a month. I suppose with expenses that writers spend through editing and publishing books this is not a helpful method.
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          • rdurrett 7 monthsAuthor
          • I'm in the same position with 6 novels, a children's book, and many short stories, all who have nice reviews. I've tried Amazon Ads with very little success. I've become very frustrated with my promotion. I just can't get the word out on my own. I can hardly bring myself to write knowing how unlikely it will be read. On the other hand, I can't not write. Good luck in your efforts. Please post if you have success with the ads. It would be great if you checked out my web page: ritadurrett.com
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            • carolyn 6 months AuthorAuthor
            • Have you tried hiring a publicist to do some promoting for you? There are lots out there and they do a fantastic job.
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    • Deanie 7 monthsAuthor
    • All great suggestions, Carolyn. Congratulations on your great achievements.
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    • WandaLuthman 7 monthsAuthor
    • Congratulations on holding the #1 position on Amazon for 5 days!! I'd love to know your secret on how you achieved that.
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      • carolyn 6 months AuthorAuthor
      • Sitting my butt in the writing chair and producing books when I wasn't making enough money to hardly even need to turn it in for taxes each year. Write, write, write. One will make it big one of these days and you'll have all that beautiful backlist that your readers will want to read every one of!!
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    • kingsmill 7 monthsAuthor
    • All five points above are useful. My approach to #2 - file stuff - has been to use the end pages of the manuscript to list characters (and other pesky details) as I add them to the story. Then I start the next book in a series with those pages at the bottom and keep on adding. I add on the top, not the bottom. But I have just learned from you that I should add more relevant detail - great point! (blue eyes, has grey cat, etc.) Thank you Carolyn!
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    • caligilbert 7 monthsAuthor
    • Great tips Carolyn. I too write everything in notebooks. I have so much, but then again, I have about 16 books in my HEAD to add to the nine I've already published. :)
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      • carolyn 6 months AuthorAuthor
      • Get those 16 ideas out of your head and in an "ideas" folder so you won't forget a single one of them. Then write all 16 of them!!
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