What I’m Reading This Weekend

So, I’m reading this book by Dan Blank called “Be the Gateway.” Sounds a little scifi/fantasy, right? Actually it’s about reaching out to real readers and sharing your work. I don’t really want to say marketing because that word has such a stigma attached to it.

I have to say it is not the usual stuff you see on this topic. It’s pretty unique. And a helluva lot of work from the looks of it. I think I’m up for the challenge though.

I never thought that gaming rankings, offering endless freebies or other standard tricks of the trade were the way to go. I don’t really want to trick readers. I just want to give them a story that will do something for them, right?

Anyway – do check it out. Be The Gateway is available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Have a great holiday and don’t eat too many hotdogs, those things will kill you.  😉

Annie

The mother of resources post

So a while ago, I read an article about a writer who devoted a page to resources that she wanted to have to hand. It turned out to be quite a list and had several categories. Long story short, I’ve decided to do the same. Following is the current list. And I am adding a page called Resources (clever right?) that will have these links and I’m guessing others as time goes on. Feel free to avail yourselves of the resources, there are some really good ones in there.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I am fooling around with design and trying to learn some basics – hence the many picture posts and this somewhat eerie image for this post. 😉

AUTHOR STRATEGIES/PROMOTION/MARKETING:

http://annerallen.com/your-author-strategy-3-mini-strategies/

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/03/your-biggest-book-marketing-or-platform-building-roadblocks/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/11/08/standing-out-on-the-crowded-shelf-how-to-help-your-fiction-find-an-audience/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2015/09/28/a-12-month-strategic-plan-for-marketing-your-book-before-release/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/10/01/the-6-most-common-marketing-mistakes-made-by-authors/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/08/10/simple-promo-tip-nailing-your-email-subject-line/

http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/3-list-building-tactics-to-attract-subscribers-quickly-before-a-book-launch/

http://www.publishingspark.com/10-things-readers-want-hear/

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-marketing-how-to-create-an-author-brand-case-study-with-jessica-bell/

https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-series-keep-readers-hooked/

THE WRITING PROCESS:

http://writerunboxed.com/2016/07/14/why-its-crucial-to-write-ugly/

http://writerunboxed.com/2016/06/04/in-defence-of-cliches/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2016/03/24/using-close-ups-in-your-scenes-to-get-personal/

https://janefriedman.com/write-love-scene/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/12/02/the-current/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/10/14/magnanimous-2/

BOOK COVER DESIGN/DESIGN:

https://janefriedman.com/book-cover-redesign/

https://jwmanus.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/can-you-create-the-perfect-ebook-cover/

https://medium.com/marketing-and-entrepreneurship/i-spent-30-000-testing-different-blog-designs-heres-what-i-found-8952bf057b8f

AUTHOR TOOLS/RESOURCES:

https://janefriedman.com/listenup-acx-alternative/

https://kindlepreneur.com/wisestamp-email-signatures-authors/

https://janefriedman.com/using-wordpress-author-websites/

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/04/isbn-logbook/

http://puns.samueltaylor.org/

https://reedsy.com/write-a-book

http://www.publishxpress.com/

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-tools-of-the-self-publishing-trade-running-an-author-business-jay-artale/

https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-book-description-generator/

CRIME RESEARCH:

http://www.the-line-up.com/best-true-crime-podcasts/

SOUNDTRACKS FOR WRITING:

https://coffitivity.com/

THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY/INDUSTRY TRENDS:

https://janefriedman.com/myth-print/

 

A lollapalooza of great links to start off the week

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Birth vs Battle by David Corbett suggests that conflict ain’t everything in a story.

The Cyber Exchange Principle from the Writer’s Forensic Blog explains the Locard Exchange – the basis for using forensic evidence in crime detection.

An Almost Perfect Murder by Sue Coletta. Fascinating case study of a surgeon who almost got away with murder.

11 Tips to help you build your online community by Cat Michaels provides sage advice for building your platform.

Do You Know Where Your ISBNs Are? by Joel Friedlander, is a good nuts and bolts on ISBNs plus a free download.

How to write a great love scene by  Jessi Rita Hoffaman, provides some great tips on avoiding the schmaltz and getting to the gold in a love scene.

Who really killed JonBenet Ramsey by Garry Rodgers is an in depth analysis of the case and who the likely killer was of this sweet little girl.

Just for fun – I guess the shelf life for Shades has reached critical mass

And for laughs: Jimmy Fallon does a helluva Trump impression and this made me laugh out loud.

And just to get your week starting off right a little music.

Doing Backstory Right and Other Good Reads

 

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I’ve been away much longer than I realized, in my quest to finish the third book in a new trilogy among other highly distracting activities. And I wanted to reassure my three undying fans I still live and breathe. Also have been catching up on my reading and have some nice reads for you.

The Shocking Truth About Info Dumps by Lisa Cron discusses how to do backstory right. And folks, she is spot on.

Scene Structure: Scenes as Segments and Capsules of Time by CS Lakin Good nuts and bolts on scene structure, especially good statements on time in writing.

Beware the Writing Rules Police by Anne R. Allen. Anne takes the writing rules police to task and kicks their butts.

Burnout, creativity, and the tyranny of production schedules by Elizabeth Bear. Hardworking author Elizabeth Bear makes a good case for taking pressure and time off from writing. I totally get what she is talking about here.

Really Going There by Annie Neugebauer makes a good case for the argument that our best stories come from the places we are terrified to write about.

Have a good week everybody – step away from the political arguments on FB – real life is much better for your blood pressure. 🙂

Book Marketing Trends for Authors and Other Good Reads This Week

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I’m afraid I haven’t had much time to devote to blogging lately because I’m trying to finish a first draft of my novel. More on that later. In the meantime, following are some awesome reads for the Indie’s among us. Enjoy and have a great week.

7 Book Marketing Trends Authors Can’t Afford to Ignore. Kimberley Grabas offers some solid marketing strategies, with lots of actionable tips.

Why do we write? Lisa Kron offers a very interesting perspective on the impact that writing, even entertainment writing, can have.

Self Publishing Notebook. Jonathan Kile offers an interesting a funny perspective on indie writing and publishing.

Vetting Vendors: Public Relations Professionals. Naomi Blackburn has some advice on how to hire a PR pro that won’t ruin your PR.

Scene Structure: Understanding the Truth about Character Arcs. CS Larkin gives us a great nuts and bolts post on character arcs.

And just for fun, check out this Content Idea Generator. Who knows, it might be your next brilliant idea.

From conquering fear to business models that don’t react – best reads of the week

It’s been a while since I’ve done a link post – and I think I want to get that back in on this blog. The holidays and general craziness is over for now, so time to get back to basics. Following are some super reads that I wanted to share.

Overcoming Fear by Jo Eberhardt. This has to be one of the best things I’ve ever read on overcoming our own doubts about ourselves. I actually cried as I read this heartfelt and often funny story. Do yourself a favor and read it – it will make your day, put a little bounce in your step and lift your head just a little higher.

THE E-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION IS DEFINITELY NOT OVER (Regardless of what you’ve heard)
Literary Agent Laurie McLean, is pretty sure the ePub revolution is not over and that Indies still have some serious say in the world of books.

75 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers. Yup that’s right WiseInk has 75 resolutions from which to choose that you could conquer this year. I have to admit, there were quite a few I think I’m going for.

9 Ways To Make Your Author Resource Box Sizzle by Publicist Joan Stewart. You know she has some great examples of the mini bios that authors can do for various platforms. Some of them really quite good.

Business Musings: The Reactive Business Model by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’s a long read and there was a lot of ‘back story’ to get to the point but when she gets there, it’s worth the trip. And I couldn’t agree more with her.

As a little bit of further inspiration, I tossed in this trailer for a movie called, “Joy,” which I just saw this afternoon. If you are someone with a dream, I highly recommend the film. One of the most inspirational stories I’ve seen in a long time.

Have a great week.

Annie

The Indie author’s list of new year’s resolutions

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Ah, it’s that time of year when we reflect on the year that has passed and the changes we want to make in the coming year. Typically, losing weight, quitting smoking and/or drinking and having higher self esteem tops the list for many. Though as indie authors, our lists are a might different. Here’s a few that might resonate:

  • Buy, download, read and review every book written by someone who retweeted you on twitter.
  • Write, edit and publish four books by the end of the year.
  • Learn how to write standing up to stop the spread of writer’s ass
  • Stop seething every time that writer you follow on Facebook posts yet another glowing review or quotes herself
  • Stop obsessing over that one review that befuddles you
  • Discover the mysteries of tweeting. Cat pictures only go so far.
  • Learn to make and like a writer’s drink, like bourbon or something manly.
  • Delete the blog you started for your characters (how lame was that?).
  • Force yourself to learn how to use that horrible template from Create Space without throwing your computer out the window.
  • Stop checking your sales dashboard every twenty minutes – get a life.
  • Find something that tears you away from the computer and has absolutely nothing to do with writing.
  • Stop subscribing to marketers claiming they have the product that will make you a best seller.
  • Write better, write calmer, be happy with the stories that belong to you, share accordingly.

How about you? Any special resolutions you have made for yourself? Feel free to share or add to the list in the comments.

Note: I am offline for a few days, but will happily respond to any comments on my return. In the meantime, have a happy and safe holiday.

Annie

The Unvarnished Truth – Do We Want it?

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Porter Anderson wrote a very thought-provoking post on Writer Unboxed the other day: Truth Be Told? Truth Is on Thin Ice.

He opens with a formula for ‘authenticity’ as developed by branding expert, Marc Ecko, which is this:

Authenticity is equal to your unique voice,
multiplied by truthfulness,
plus your capacity for change,
multiplied by range of emotional impact,
raised to the power of imagination.

And then Porter uses this formula to springboard into the main topic, which is truth in publishing. And poses these questions:

How good are you at truthfulness? Why don’t we tell the truth more in publishing? And especially in writing?

He answers them in part by using his own experiences from an event called Author Day that he put on in London. Long story short, during the conference things were said that were kind and encouraging, afterward criticism was launched from the same people that was not so kind.

And then he makes the point that many of us have made. We say things that we don’t mean about books we don’t read, to be nice. Or write reviews that a more glowing than they should be, and so it goes. And it’s of course, something that all of us have done. We have our reasons. Maybe to be nice. Maybe to avoid conflict. Maybe because we’re worried that if we are totally truthful, someone may turn around and do the same to us. And each person has their own version of truthfulness, and some versions can be quite devastating.

The Truth Bureau – are we ready for it?

Ultimately, Porter suggests developing what he calls the Truth Bureau. A group of anonymous readers who agree to give the unvarnished truth about books that are submitted for their critique. The books of course would be anonymous too, with no clue as to the author or any other identifying data that might give a clue. This would then ensure that we could learn the real truth about our books. It would possibly be set up as a service for which authors would pay. All from the view of course, of improving their work.

I found this to be a very interesting idea. Certainly on the face of it, there is a lot of potential to opening the doors of truly improving our work. And I don’t know any writer who is serious about their craft who doesn’t want to be better than they are. It’s a natural desire for any artist to strive for improvement – otherwise, you are in essence just phoning it in. And what writer worth their weight in words wants that?

Of course there is the bugaboo of having yet another thing that we indies must pay for. And you can’t swing a dead cat (sorry cat lovers) without hitting some guy with a service that guarantees he will realize your writer dreams. There’s even one guy out there promising people he will make you a best selling author on Amazon – even if you hate to write. Think about that one for a minute. Gives one pause, doesn’t it?

The other main stumbling block, I believe to something like the Truth Bureau is I think, human nature. We can be quite cruel to one another, especially when anonymous. The Internet is teeming with trolls and flamers and people who love to visit their hatred on poor unsuspecting strangers. The whole review system online is problematic. There are so many concerns people have; if they are authors they know that whatever they say online can be found and used against them; writers are cautioned against responding to negative reviews; and conversely I’ve seen writers attack reviewers, which only ends up making people think twice about writing them. And the list goes on. And what’s to say that people wouldn’t sign up to be an anonymous reviewer just to get their hate on?

Likely a service like this would have better oversight than Amazon, where anybody can lob hate bombs with impunity, but there would still probably be damage done before they were removed from participating.

What about a co-op?

Personally, I do like the idea of a Truth Bureau because it has great potential to help authors and thusly readers. Perhaps a co-op of writers and readers who are not completely anonymous but instead are committed to truthfulness. With a list of criteria to follow in their critiques, to avoid the feedback from becoming personal would work. The names of the authors could be left off, so that wouldn’t act as influence and perhaps the reader picks a genre that they read and gets a choice of 3 or 4 titles to choose from. Or perhaps I’ve just described a critique group. Not sure.

I do agree with Porter though, who I believe to be one of the good guys out there, telling the truth as best he can. We need more truth online in general, and in publishing specifically. The current review system is broken. Is is unpoliced and you honestly have no idea what you’ll get. Good. Bad. Hate. Love. It’s all up for grabs. And a crap shoot at best.

In the meantime

But in the meantime, given the way things are currently I will probably still continue to give overly nice reviews. Sorry but I’d rather be safe than sorry. Even with authors I don’t know, I am ever aware of the fact that if I’m too honest I will be attacked whether by the author or their fans or someone else. So, for now, I won’t write the unvarnished truth. Is this wrong? Perhaps. But in my experience, it is the rare person who wants the total truth about their creations. And sometimes a little truth goes a long way.

What about you? Are you totally truthful in critiquing another’s work? Are your reviews/critiques overly nice? Short and sweet? Any ideas on how a Truth Bureau could work? Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments.

Note: I’m offline for a few days but will happily respond to any comments when I return.

Annie