Easy Reading Is Damn Hard Writing

In recent years, the publishing industry has changed dramatically. Authors are now afforded the luxury of self-publishing across various platforms, and this seems to be the route most seldom taken by writers today. If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you know I’m very opinionated on both sides of the fence about this. However, until one of my many submission requests gets accepted and I have representation for my books, I myself fall into the category of a “self-published” author, and that’s just fine by me.

I recently went through a name-changing rebranding nightmare (term used loosely), and I had to resubmit my updated manuscripts to Amazon and other platforms the books are on. This was good for two reasons – first, I needed to update the book covers so my name change would accurately reflect my last name, and second, it gave me a chance to resubmit the interior as well. I needed to alter the interior anyway since my name was listed in there too, but it also allowed me to update the book contents and make other revisions in regards to grammar, punctuation, etc.

My editor is pretty good at what she does (of course I’m biased), but even she is human and misses something from time to time. I found one or two small things in my first novel, so I adjusted them and resubmitted the files with the new revisions. Upon doing this, I decided to take a quick glance at my second novel, where I once again found some minor adjustments that could be made. This got me to thinking…

Now, bear in mind, I have no intention of resubmitting my files every time I notice something I think could be adjusted to make it better, but on the other hand, why shouldn’t I do just that if the book will be better as a result?

I consider myself a perfectionist when it comes to my books, and although I know my books aren’t perfect, I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and re-reading during the editing process. I typically read the book through about three or four times (yes, that many times) after I get it back from my test readers, who also catch things that they mention to me. Then I send it off to my editor, where the real work begins. After I get it back from her, I read it another three or four times to make sure nothing gets missed. But, ultimately, something always does get missed no matter how many times it gets looked over.

Being a self-published author means I can change anything about my books whenever I see fit to do so. I’ve probably resubmitted my files about eight times each for my first two novels, but when does enough become enough? The answer to that question may be “never”.

Until I hit that magical jackpot and land with a major publisher (fingers crossed), I’m afforded a luxury ‘big-time’ authors aren’t privy to… I can continue to make my book better. Once Clive Cussler publishes a new novel, do you think he reads through the books and says, “Hey, I just noticed there were no quotation marks at the end of Dirk Pitt’s sentence”?

No, he doesn’t, because it’s a logistical nightmare for the publishing company and other printing issues.

And just in case you weren’t aware, even best-selling authors like Cussler, Clancy, and Patterson all have glaring mistakes in their books, so it’s not just a self-publishing dilemma. But those of us who self-publish have the opportunity to do something about it…so why aren’t more of us taking advantage of that?

One of my pet peeves about self-publishing is that anyone can do it, and it seems like nowadays almost everyone does. It’s not that I have an issue with someone wanting to publish a book, but I do take exception to the fact that a large portion of them are put out with no editing whatsoever, which, by my own admission, I probably spend too much time thinking about. I take great pride in trying to put out the best possible product I can, and if this means resubmitting my book files every time I see a comma missing or a run-on sentence that could be shortened, I’m going to take the opportunity to do so.

Am I being to anal about my books? Or am I justified in my own little way for trying to ensure I offer the best book available to my readers? Do any authors reading this ever notice things that could be changed, and do you change them, or are you content with the book that’s already out there and you see no need to change it after the fact of being published?

Creating an enjoyable novel for readers is the goal of every author, but in the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne… “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

 

Updated Status For My Blog Name Change

A friend and follower of mine recently brought it to my attention that she didn’t realize I changed the name of my blog from Chris Tucker to Chris DiBella. This also made me realize I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone on here, so I’m sure this caused some confusion when my posts started appearing in their feed.

As some of you may have noticed by this point, I’ve changed the name of my page to reflect my actual last name. Long story, but I’ve recently had my last name legally changed back to my original family name of DiBella. I will be writing under this name as I move forward with my novels and blogs, but I will continue writing under Chris Tucker for my zombie/horror novels (unless I decide to change that as well). I have reissued my first two NESA novels under my new (old) last name.

Sound confusing? It’s all good. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. Thank you everyone for the support.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?

It seems nowadays everyone is a “published” author. With the introduction of self-publishing, everyone is afforded the luxury of being able to release a book to the world that they have written. With the rare exception, it would appear the days of signing on with big box publishers are slowly dwindling away into obscurity.

While this isn’t necessarily all bad, there still needs to be some creativity and freshness to the books and storylines we are choosing to release. I mean, how many times can someone write the same old story about a husband seeking revenge for his murdered wife? Or the always predictable romance/erotica novel? Or that action/adventure book with the same plotline as the thousands of others out there?

I, myself, am a part of that last group, as I write a series of my own. While it’s not a series in the true sense, meaning you don’t have to read them in chronological order to get the gist of what’s going on, I do have the same main characters in each book. The action/adventure genre is a widely popular one, so it is a little trickier to come up with plausible, yet entertaining, plotlines. But still, there needs to be some creativity and freshness with those ideas.

I write what I like to call “somewhat historical fiction”. I take an historical account of something and then turn it into something fictional. My first book, Lost Voyage, for example, is based on an account of the Ship of Gold, an eighteenth century steamship which sank off the coast of the Carolinas in 1857. Upon reading about this ship, my “what-if” radar started going off. What if there was another ship no one knew about that was carrying overhaul from the first ship? What if that ship also sank? And since no one knew about it in the first place, what would happen if that second ship resurfaced 150 years later? And what if that ship turned into a battle of life and death for two sides?

These are all things that go through my head when I read things. I’m always planning the next great adventure in my own mind. My second book, Whispering Death, is the same in that regard. I took an actual historical event and turned it into a somewhat fictional tale, while still trying to maintain the integrity of the account I based it on. And that train of thought will be the same for the next twenty (or more) books in this series.

From there, it’s a whirlwind rollercoaster ride of ideas, twists, and turns to write the complete book. My inspiration at that point comes from my main characters, who I base on real people in my life. Having a closer connection to the story allows me to write more freely without having to create a thousand new worlds or personalities. Believe me, if you knew some of these people who are characters in my book, you would understand why I call them “characters”.

My inspiration also comes from hours of research on a topic. Since I use actual historical accounts, I spend an exorbitant amount of time learning about eighteenth century steamships and World War Two bombers. I do this because I want to maintain a sense of realism even though I’m creating something fictional. I feel that if my reader can connect to the story on a more personal level, then they will keep coming back for more of those fresh and creative ideas in the next book. Plus, I get to look a little smarter when someone brings up the topic of steamships…

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you come up with ideas for your stories and characters?

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

4 Tips To Improve Your Blog Writing

We all could spend a little more time reflecting on our writing and which areas we want to improve upon. No matter how perfect we think we are, there is at least one writing weakness that could be worked on.

  1. Keep it simple.

It’s been studied that long form content tends to perform better than short form content. The exception to that, however, is long form content that seems never-ending thanks to the use of too many words and “fluff” content.

When writing blog posts, the point is to get to the point.

If you have enough value-packed information to generate a 1,000-word post, then go for it, but if only 300 to 500 words are relevant to what you are trying to convey, show some restraint and limit your post to an appropriate word count. This will not only make your blog post pop more, it will appease your readers when it comes to knowing they can count on you to tell them what they wanted to know, without the incessant rambling about things that have nothing to do with the original article. With blog posts, it’s not about word count…it’s about content quality.

  1. Proofread, then proofread again, and then proofread even more.

This cannot be stressed enough. No matter how good you think your grammar and spelling are, your first draft is always a rough draft. Even some of the greats like Clive Cussler, James Patterson, and even Tim Baker, should go back and re-read time and time again (okay, well maybe the first two have big publishing agencies to do that for them, but I know for a fact that last guy does it repeatedly on his own).

Whenever you finish a post, get up and take a quick mental break. Take your eyes off the computer screen and go focus on something else, then when you’ve allowed your mind to clear, you can revisit the post to proofread it. This will improve your editing abilities tremendously – or at least one can only hope. It’s not easy for us to catch our own mistakes, but would you rather post something you spent a little time on revising and editing to make better, or would you rather post an article with a bunch of misspelled words and grammatical errors?

Contrary to popular belief, spellcheck doesn’t catch everything. Be your own spellchecker. Now, please feel free to rip apart this post for any grammatical errors.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

Even as I write this, I’m trying to keep my 8-month-old corralled. I get it, it’s not easy to eliminate every distraction, but you can shut off the television and live without Facebook or Twitter for half an hour (trust me, your internet “friends” aren’t going to miss you that much. You have to ask yourself what’s more important – putting out quality content to share with your readers, or checking Facebook every three minutes to see what nonsensical garbage is being posted that has no bearing on your life whatsoever.

Do a mental turnoff of everything for just a short time. Your writing will be better as a result, and your readers will reap the benefits of the thoughtfulness put into the article.

  1. Try to read more.

I’m guilty of not following this one more, but I do try to read blog posts and books more and more. It helps to not only become informed about other topics, but it also keeps your mind fresh and alert. I don’t believe a writer who doesn’t read can’t be a good writer, but I do believe a writer who reads is able to expand their wealth of knowledge by visualizing the world from the point of view of others.

Your vocabulary will expand and you may even become more fluent with your own grammatical content after seeing the way others use it. More importantly, you’ll learn how not to use grammar and spelling as well. Reading also allows you to get new inspiration and ideas that you may never even have thought about in the first place. Read blogs and books that are in the genre that you like, but also try to venture into new realms in order to keep your own mind learning continuously.

 

There are no two ways to write that work for everyone. Take the bits and pieces of advice from this article (or any others you read) and use them to your advantage. If some of the tips don’t work for you, then don’t use them. One thing is for sure, though…if you don’t at least try to improve your writing, you’ll never have to worry about reaching a larger reading audience, because they simply won’t be there to begin with.

As always, thank for stopping by and Happy Reading!

Making The Case For “Inside Jokes” In Your Books

As authors, we all write for a reason. That reason may differ from person to person, but we all have the common bond that we want to share our words with others.

For me personally, I write because I think I’m a good storyteller who can paint a picture with my words, and I like to try and convey those images into the minds of others in hopes that they find my books enjoyable. Some do…some don’t. I would love to become a best-selling author who does nothing but come up with my next book’s plotline while sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach, but for now, I’ll just settle for the fact that more than a few people are enjoying my creations.

For some of you who have read my books, you know that they contain several personal touches contained within the pages. I like to use characters based on actual people I know, such as one of my main characters, Pat Vigil, my best friend who passed away a few years back, and a certain someone named Tim Baker-something-or-other, a person who has had a major influence on my life since childhood. But, I also like to add stories in my books involving those people. This serves a dual purpose – first, I’m able to create some dialogue for my characters, and second, I’m able to share more of myself within the content – even if only a few people who read it will make the correlation to what I’m writing.

Some would say that it makes no sense to have “inside jokes” that only a few people will get and that it just takes up space on the page, but I completely disagree with that train of thought. As an author, it’s my job to tell a story. Sometimes those stories take on a life of their own while I jot them down, such as when I’m writing my inside jokes. In the case of Pat Vigil, the way I write him in the book is exactly how he was in real life – a smart-mouthed goofball who was the best friend in the world. I like to incorporate things that he and I did together into my stories. I don’t like to think of it as page-filler, but more of an homage to people who mean something to me on a personal level.

In the case of Tim Baker-something-or-other (some of you on here know him, so I’m trying to conceal his name just a bit – yea I know I failed), he and I have shared many funny memories which I think make great conversation pieces, so I incorporate them into my books for others to share along with too. Maybe he’ll be the only one to fully get the joke, but people who know him will also get it, so I’m at least connecting with some of my readers on a more personal level.

Here’s an example from my upcoming novel. For those of you who know this “Tim” guy, you’ll know he has an abnormal fascination with the movie Jaws. And for those of you who have seen our back-and-forth banters on his Facebook page regarding this movie, you’ll also know I like to give him crap about this. So, here is one of those little inside joke instances…

 

Tim walked into the room, in the middle of what appeared to be a heated debate taking place between Mercer and Vigil.

“What are you two jabbering about?” he asked.

Vigil answered, “We were just discussing some of the best shark movies of all time. Apparently, a few of mine don’t even make this bozo’s list.”

Tim smiled, knowing Mercer would agree with his next statement.

“In the annals of history, there’s only one shark movie that can hold its weight in water, no pun intended.”

“Oh, I know what it is,” Mercer proclaimed, taking a friendly jab at his friend with an inside joke. “It’s Sharkna…”

“Don’t you dare say it,” Tim good-humoredly interjected.

Recognizing the partial name of the movie just mentioned, Vigil responded, “Whoa, wait a minute. How does that movie not make the top three for either of you?”

Tim let out a hearty laugh before replying.

“That comment alone tells me all I need to know about you. That movie shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Jaws.”

“Jaws?” Vigil replied. “It was alright, but it’s like forty years old.”

“Alright,” Mercer stated with a laugh. “Let’s move onto another subject before someone gets slapped.”

 

This snippet serves to create some banter between characters, but it also lets me share parts of my life with my readers. Sure, it’s an inside joke between Tim and I, but it’s also just a funny little back and forth between friends in the book. You don’t need to personally know us all to fully get the joke, but you also don’t need a deciphering manual to enjoy the story.

This is where some authors get lost with adding these sorts of references. This particular dialogue has nothing to do with the story itself, but it serves as a comedic moment where I’m able to show the bond of my characters.

Do I think this story is hilarious? Of course, I do…but I guess I’ll leave it up to my readers as to whether or not they find it enjoyable as well. And for the record, I personally believe Tim is a HUGE closeted Sharknado fan…

You can read the rest of the story in my upcoming third novel, Blood Dawn, scheduled to be released later in 2017. For now, you can get caught up on the first two installments in the NESA series by CLICKING HERE

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

The Great (or lack, thereof) Social Media Experiment

A lot of my opinions aren’t among the most popular, and that’s okay. I’d rather speak my mind (hopefully it comes across tactfully) than follow the herd and go along with what I consider to be the status quo.

I’ve recently been conducting my own little social media experiment. And while the results aren’t shocking (to me, at least), they are doing wonders for my ego when it comes to proving the point I’m trying to make. I post a lot of comments about how society is being dumbed down on a daily basis. The evidence is all around us. And the biggest culprit of this massive crumbling?…Social Media…

For example…I recently lost a few hundred Twitter followers over the course of one night (482 in just under six hours to be exact). My crime? Unfollowing them. Nothing more.

Now, in all fairness, I sometimes say or post something that doesn’t sit well with someone, and I suppose I can understand someone unfollowing me for those reasons, but my number of Twitter followers hadn’t changed in several weeks. As soon as I unfollowed about 1,600 people, the proverbial claws came out and I suddenly lost a bunch of followers because people can’t handle the social media rejection of not being followed themselves.

We’ve become a society that is so enamored with what other people think of us and how many people want to “follow” us, that our obsession with this desire overtakes any rational thinking. We’re so concerned that thousands of people might actually miss out on every single thing we do in a day, that we post every little thing we do throughout the day, just in the hopes that someone will see and “like” it. I purposely unfollowed those 1,600 people on Twitter for my little experiment. Why? Because I wanted to prove my point. And oh did I…

We’ve become a bunch of butt-hurt crybabies, just like the ones we tell our own kids to steer clear from. When your kid comes home and says, “Mom (or dad), this kid at school always whines about every little thing and all he cares about is being popular.”

What is usually your response to this? Well, I’ll tell you mine… I tell my kids to stop hanging around that kid and find a new friend that doesn’t complain so much and who doesn’t care about racking up a large amount of friends just because he wants to be popular. We tell our kids that there is more to life than being popular. But then we get on social media to see how many “likes” our stupid little memes have gotten in the past ten minutes, or how many friend requests we have from people we don’t even know. We’ve become a society that only cares about being popular – and it sucks.

So, the next time you tell your kid to go find a new friend because of how their current one acts and that there’s much more to life than being popular, take a look in the mirror and swing that judgmental pendulum back around at yourself for a few seconds. If you don’t like what you see, make a change and do something about it. I did.

As an author who is trying to build up my brand and spread the word about my books, of course I need social media. I’m not naive. I know I need a bunch of followers if I’m going to reach the masses eventually, but at what cost does this all come? If I don’t follow you, does it mean my books are lesser in quality? On the flip side, if I do follow you, does that make my books better to you because you feel you have a connection to me because I follow you too? Both questions can be answered with a yes, but only because this is what we’ve become.

Do I want a million followers? Hell yes. I’d be lying if I said anything less, but does that mean I have to follow a million people of my own in order for that to happen? I’m not one to play by society’s rules. There’s a saying – you can’t win the game if you don’t play the game – but I’m not willing to play it like that. Maybe I’m wrong (it’s happened once or twice in my lifetime), but I don’t see the need to get caught up in what I consider to be the downfall of society.

I look at it this way…Would Stephen King, Clive Cussler, or James Patterson be as popular as they are if they had started writing books in the past five years? Absolutely not. Their writing ability and talent would still be there, but I wonder how they would fare with their sales as newly published authors if they chose not to get onto social media and follow a bunch of people simply because it’s what society says you must do in order to reach a certain level of “achievement”.

Social media is a double-edged sword. I hate it, but I need it. Finding the delicate balance between the two is becoming more difficult by the day. I’ll probably go back and re-follow some of those people I unclicked. I didn’t mean to delete everyone necessarily, but I don’t need to see thousands of little cat pictures cluttering up my feed from people I’m not interested in. If I unfollowed anyone here, please let me know and I’ll remedy that. I don’t mind following people I have a genuine interest in. That is what social media was supposed to be about in the first place. We’ve just turned it into what it has become today.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

How Not To Fail At Writing A Book

I know what you’re thinking…Why go with such a negative sounding title when I could have chosen a completely different play on words and made it sound much more positive? As you’ll see, I wrote it that way for a reason.

I could have easily titled it, “How To Succeed At Writing A Book”, but the truth of the matter is that even if you follow the steps below, you’re not guaranteed anything in the form of success, sales, or fame. On the other hand, if you follow the steps below, you will unequivocally and most certainly not fail, because no matter what, you can’t ever consider something a failure if you put forth your very best effort when it comes to publishing a book you’ve worked so hard on.

Hopefully these steps serve as a beginning guideline when it comes to helping you achieve your writing and publishing goals…

Step 1: Write The Damn Book

This seems like an obvious step in the process, but there are plenty of people who never even accomplish this task. It might be because life just gets in the way, or they become too overwhelmed with the stress and fear associated with writing, but whatever the reason, if you don’t at least finish the book, you can’t ever begin to succeed as an author. Okay, so I’ve solved this problem for you…the rest is up to you.

Step2: Create A Compelling Book Description…And Memorize It

There’s this little thing called “The Elevator Pitch”. Essentially, it’s a 30 second sales pitch you create to impress someone, primarily for a job interview, but it can easily be transferred into the realm of creating a memorable book description. If you can develop a clear-cut, concise description of your book and confidently present it to a potential reader in 30 seconds, you are statistically setting yourself up to generate more sales. Write your book description on a piece of paper (or type it), and read it out loud repeatedly until you can recite it word for word without missing a beat. Then, just start telling people about it. If you can do that, you’ll be ten steps ahead of the competition.

Step 3: Market Yourself And Your Book…Even Before The Release Date

Don’t wait until you release your book before you begin promoting it. Build up your brand far in advance and get people excited about the release of your book. Odds are that people may not get excited about an unknown author they’ve never heard of, but if you become sociable and charismatic with people, they will remember you, hopefully enough to give you a chance. You may even want to consider setting up a free giveaway in order to generate some buzz about the upcoming release. Most importantly, market and brand yourself in a manner which reflects on how you want potential readers to perceive you.

Step 4: Make Some Sort Of Attempt To Edit The Book

This is always a touchy subject in the self-publishing world. There are so many books that get published without one second of editing going into them, and nowadays even ones that have been edited seem to still have flaws. Let’s face it – editing services are quite expensive, especially since most authors won’t ever make back that initial investment from sales of their book, but that doesn’t mean you should forego the editing process altogether and put out a crappy product. If you can’t afford an actual editor, find someone who can at least help to tighten the book up. There are far too many piranha editors who will charge you for an edit, but don’t know what they’re doing, so it can be difficult to swim through those murky waters to find the right person who can help you. You should be willing to spend some time, either on your own (although I don’t recommend this), or with someone you trust, to put out the best book that you can for your readers. They’ll most definitely appreciate it. And while they’ll never compliment you for having a properly edited book, they will most certainly blast the errors all over your review page if you don’t make any editing attempt at all. So, pick your poison with this one.

Step 5: Generate A List Of (Trustworthy) Test Readers

This is always the most fun part for me. Why? Because it means the book is finished! Remember Step 1? Well, if you’re at the stage of looking for test readers, go ahead and congratulate yourself on being one step closer to publishing. Test readers can give you invaluable insights when it comes to your story, how it flows, how your characters develop, how it all comes together at the end, and so much more. Your test readers are not – I REPEAT, ARE NOT – your editors. They aren’t looking for misspellings and grammatical issues (however, if they point them out to you, it could help when the actual editing begins), but instead they are looking for story structure and that it makes sense and it’s a good book from beginning to end. Something I always do is promise my test readers an actual signed copy of the book once it’s published. This is just a little incentive for them helping me out and being a part of the process for me. When you begin the marketing phase of the book, you should already be reaching out to people to see if you can find qualified test readers. And by qualified, I don’t mean your mom. I love my mom to death, but according to her, I should already be selling more books than James Patterson. So, no, she would not offer the most unbiased opinion. You want unbiased. You want people to tell you where things are slacking, and you want them to be brutally honest with you. If you can’t handle the feedback during the test reading phase, imagine how you’re going to react when you get nothing but 1 and 2 star reviews because you didn’t want to take things to heart that could have made the book better.

Step 6: Release It To The World

Holy crap, sound the trumpets and roll out the marching band! You did it! You’re finally ready to publish! Are you excited? Well, you should be. If you’re not, throw the book in the trash and find another line of work. Okay, well don’t really do that, but you should be thrilled with the fact that you just wrote a damn book! And, if you’ve followed the outlined steps listed above, you probably have a book that’s not too shabby in its own right. Now it’s time to share your book with the world. Publish it on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, or whatever other platforms you use, then go back up to Step 1 and do it all over again for the next book.

As with many things in life, writing a book is not an exact science. What works for me, or others, may not necessarily work for you. Some of these steps might help you along the way, but then again, you may discover that tweaking them as you go works better for you. These are just things that help me, and I hope they will help you as well.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

 

Have The Courage To Write Badly

I know what you’re thinking… “Chris, are you nuts? What do you mean I should write badly?”

No, of course I don’t want you to write a bad book, but you should be willing to put forth the effort to write badly.

Still confused? It’s okay, I am too…

What I’m referring to is finishing the first draft of your book. We sometimes get caught up in the small details when writing our books that we tend to forget our first draft is just that – a first draft. I’m pretty sure none of us has written a book and then just published it. When we type that final word, we all know the real work begins and we are in for a long haul of editing, rewrites, more editing, and even more rewrites.

So, why spend so much time fine tuning your book when you know it won’t even come close to being a final product? I’m perhaps the biggest culprit of this. I’m not ashamed to admit it, even while I’m typing this and trying to tell you to do the exact opposite of what I do. But, I am trying my best to take these words to heart myself and apply this to my writing.

I think it’s important to get through the first draft as quickly as possible. For me, I’m setting a goal of a thousand words per day for my novels. That gives me thirty thousand words each month and approximately a little less than three months to complete the first draft, which is about seventy to eighty thousand words.

What do I mean by not being afraid to write badly? I mean you shouldn’t be afraid to put words down on paper that might not make the final cut. You should be focused more on completing the book than detailing it as you go. Again, I am totally guilty of doing this myself, but I try to convince myself I’m doing it in a way that is best for the book. I do a ton of research while I write my books, both before and during the writing process, so sometimes I’m not able to glide along freely nonstop for an hour or two.

Here’s an example…after reading a snippet of Lost Voyage, a friend asked me, “How the hell did you learn so much about eighteenth century steamships?” I replied that I did a ton of research for it. My point is, I wasn’t able to just jot down ten pages of material and plug away at it. I needed to slowly approach it and take the time to get everything right as I was writing it. I know what you’re thinking…it sounds like such hypocrisy on my part, right?

As you can see, this poses a dilemma for me when it comes to following my own advice. Believe me, I’m trying, but we should all be willing to write without fear. This may seem impossible, and it’s okay to have a little fear. It’s what motivates us to strive to be better writers, but too much fear can cause you to curl up into a ball and never complete your book.

So, how do we find that middle balance? It all comes back to taking the plunge and writing whatever you can, as fast as you can. You can’t wait for the good moments to just come to you. You have to be willing to create your own moments and finish the book without fear of it not being the perfect product. It won’t hurt you to write a chapter or two that ends up being garbage, but it could hurt you if you spend two months writing those chapters because you wanted to have the perfect wording every step of the way.

Once an idea pops into your head, go with it. Don’t get caught up in miniscule details. If you do, you’re likely to lose your ideas and forget where you wanted to go with the story. Sometimes, the best writing you do comes from the first ideas that pop into your head. Don’t lose that.

You should write your ass off and never look back until you’ve written you’re entire first draft. If you do this, you will have one hell of a body of work to either fine tune, or maybe even better, you may have written a much better story than you could ever have imagined because you simply rode that tsunami wave of adrenaline and emotion and you surprised even yourself.

So go ahead…write badly. Write so badly that you finish your novel in two or three months. Sure, you may spend another two to three months fine tuning it all, but at least you’ll know where you stand a lot sooner than if you took a year to write it because you wanted perfection from the start.

Besides, fear isn’t such a scary word if you use it as an acronym…Forget Everything And Run.

Forget about Everything being perfect And Run your ass all the way to the finish line. You might not win the gold medal, but you’ll sure have a leg up on the rest of the competition. These are, of course, just my opinions. I hope they help to serve as some sort of guidance, for you and me….

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

 

Making A Case For Not Publishing Your First Book…Yet

I can’t remember who told me this, but when I was getting ready to find an editor for my first novel, Lost Voyage, someone told me I might want to consider not publishing until I had two or three more novels to release. Of course, I laughed this off and wasn’t even going to consider it as an option. This was, after all, my first novel and I wanted it out there for the world to see.

How was I not supposed to publish it?

I now have two novels available, with a third in the works to be released later this year (maybe, as you’ll read further down), but I’ve recently found myself reflecting on those words which were said to me two years ago. I’m now realizing what those words actually meant and that they might not have been as crazy as they sounded. I was so excited about releasing my book and was about to become a first time self-published author, and I just didn’t have time to listen to that nonsense. But, maybe I should have. And maybe so should you.

Now, I’m well aware that more than ninety percent of you will disagree with me, and I can’t fault you for that. Self-published authors get so caught up in how fast they want to get their book out, that they often rush everything and overlook many things along the way. For me, the biggest thing I’ve overlooked is that I don’t have a huge following – yet.

I know more and more readers will come as the years pass, and I’m also aware that you can’t grow your following unless you put out more books, so I know this will sound like a complete contradiction considering what I’m about to say next, but I don’t necessarily know that I want the masses flocking to buy my books yet.

I can hear you all screaming through the internet… “Are you crazy?!?!”

Well no…okay, maybe a little, but I’m really rethinking my whole publishing outlook for the next few years. As happy and proud as I am to have two novels published, this is also my downfall, and I’m really wishing I would have waited until I had a few books done before releasing any of them. So, I’ve decided to reformulate my publishing strategy.

Gone are the days (or they are extremely rare) of massive publishing contracts and worldwide exposure for authors such as myself. Add to the fact that the society we live in now has the attention span of a gnat with ADD, and it’s easy for an author like myself to get lost in the mix and forgotten about. With only one or two books out, it’s hard to keep a loyal following, no matter how good a self-published author is.

With my novels, I will have the same main characters in each book, hopefully for the next twenty years. It is my biggest hope that everyone loves these characters enough to want to keep reading them, but how long will my fans wait until the next book gets released before they become too anxious or lose interest?

There are millions of self-published authors nowadays, many of whom are content with just putting books out. I, on the other hand, take a different approach to how I view being a published author. I want this to be my career. I want to be able to get paid to write books. There’s nothing wrong with someone doing it for reasons other than this, but I’m transparent about what I want out of this. If I don’t build a following, however, this will never happen. And I don’t believe I’ll build the following that I want simply by putting out one book per year over the next ten years.

So, how do I (or you, if you’re interested) combat this awkward dilemma I am faced with?

The answer is to simply not publish – until you have enough books to keep readers engaged for a while. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s what I’ve decided to do, at least on a much less significant scale. I still plan to release books for writing competitions and such, but I’ve set a goal for myself that I hope will help me to build that huge following I seek.

By the end of 2018, I plan on writing eight more novels. That will give me ten in total. This way, when someone reads a book or two of mine, they can immediately dive into the next one, or eight, if they so desire. For me, this is the way to build my loyal fan base of readers who won’t lose interest while waiting for my next novel. Then, I can pump out one per year and still have those readers coming back for more. And I’m going to go even one step further down the crazy path and make my first novel available for absolutely free in an effort to bring in and entice new readers to give me a chance.

The difference in this strategy is that the loss of interest I mentioned earlier now becomes anticipation about the next book. My point is, they will have ten books to read and become loyal to me, as opposed to reading the two I have now and then having to wait another year for the next one to come out.

This isn’t an easy decision to make, and who knows if I can write eight more books over the next two years with a house full of screaming kids and a new one due in June. I want nothing more than to have millions of readers, but my long term goals and aspirations far outweigh any short term ego-related motives I may have.

I’m aware this strategy isn’t for everyone, but there is some common sense logic throughout this post. Would you rather write a book a year for the next ten years and maintain a minimal following or would you rather hold off publishing for two or three years until you were positive you could keep your readers engaged for a longer period of time by having eight to ten novels readily available for them? For me, it’s the latter.

And who the hell has time to write eight books in two years? So, I get it if you aren’t on the same page with me on this one. This, as with all of my posts, is based on my own opinions and reflections of what I see can work best for me.

Hopefully it will help a few others along the way too.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!

 

Relationship Marketing – You’re Doing It Wrong!

As a self-published author, building strong relationships with your readers can go a long way towards contributing to your success. This statement probably seems pretty obvious, but are you building the right relationships with the right people?

A while back, I posted about how I decided to opt out of virtually every Facebook “networking” group I was a part of. Why did I decide to do this? Because, these groups just didn’t work – for me anyway. I’m sure there are plenty of you who are in some of these groups and will argue this, but for me, it wasn’t worth investing my time to get nothing in return. Ninety nine percent of these groups are just authors who post their own books, usually about ten times per day, and they do nothing to try and network except to reach out to other authors and ask if everyone else would share their posts and buy their books. When you ask them to do the same, what do you get? Crickets…

I quickly realized that less than one percent of the people in these groups are actual readers looking for new books (this isn’t scientific data, but more of an observational data compilation). So, how were these groups really helping me to network if there were no readers in them? It can be argued that being a part of these groups is a great way to build relationships with other authors who can help spread the word about you, but the reality for me was that other authors weren’t looking to buy books to read. And as for all of that love-sharing they say they’ll do? Well, they really only want to push their own material. This is fine to an extent, but I ask again, how was this helping me to network with the targeted audience I intended to reach – potential readers of my books?

It just wasn’t.

Anyway, long story short, I left all of these groups and began focusing on different avenues to promote myself. There are groups set up specifically for readers who are looking for new reading material, but these groups are so inundated with postings that it’s easy for your book to get lost in the mix. So, I also opted against joining these groups. Instead, I concocted a crazy plan – I went out and found readers who like to read in my genre. I know, it’s crazy right? I actually went directly to the source and networked with the right people for me.

I reached out – both online and offline – to people who like action-packed thrillers. But wait, it gets even crazier…instead of selling my books, I just gave them away. Yep, that’s right, I didn’t charge a penny for them. And I didn’t lose any sleep over it. Why? Because I was networking.

I was meeting and talking with people who liked my style of books. I asked a local bookstore if I could stand in front of their shop and hand out my novels. I told them I wasn’t trying to take away sales from them, but rather just give my book away for free to fans of the genre. They obviously had no issue with it since I wasn’t taking any business away from them, and in the process, I was reaching my intended audience.

Did it work? Well, that depends on how you measure success. I was able to make a few sales of my second novel as the result of giving away the first, so I’d say it was a success. The best part of it all was that I wasn’t a minnow in a big ocean of other authors in all of those Facebook groups I came to loathe. I was the Great White shark in a pond of my own.

Networking isn’t about how many people you know. It’s about how many of the “right” people you know. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game when it comes to how many potential readers we can reach if we just keep joining group after group, but unless the right people are seeing you, what good is it doing you to join all of those groups?

Quit waiting for everything to come to you. Put in the effort and go out and find your readers, unless of course, you like being a minnow. If that’s the case, then my Great White ass will gladly devour you along the way. I don’t say this because I think I’m above anyone, but I do say it because I plan on being very successful as an author and I would love it if more came along for the ride. I never look at a fellow author as my competition, and of course I’m not serious when I say I want to devour anyone along the way. But, I will be the one who paves my own path, not anyone else. So, lighten up and take it how it was intended – as a joke to insert a little humor into your day.

My only exception to the author competition rule is when it comes to an Ike versus Vigil battle (inside joke – bonus points if you get the reference, and if you do get it, the first person to comment on it will get a free book via Kindle. My first or second novel, your choice). See? There I go networking again. It’s really not that hard, people.

As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!