In some ways I am hopeful this blog gets fewer hits than my normal postings. I see at least twenty to thirty of these kind of ads/offers/scams (and yes, dirtbag authors who write books to their own compatriots to make a quick buck before enough writers realize it’s just the same old rhetoric.
I am working on a longer book than the one I have out to help writers (and lest you think I am attempting to pimp myself or my book here, if you honestly don’t want to spend the $1.99 the book costs, put your email in the comments and I will send you the MOBI file, free of charge. I only ask that, if it does make your book better, you tell others about my book). Later this year, I want to put out a book to assist new writers in navigating the shark-infested waters of self-publishing, from day one to day ????
Until then, I try to share bits and pieces here on this blog. Why would I give away “trade secrets”? Because I believe—no, I KNOW—there are plenty readers out there for all of us. Readers aren’t like car buyers. They don’t buy one unit and keep it for 3, 5, 10 or 20 years. They buy a book, read it, perhaps buy another book or two from the author if available, but they are always looking for new talented authors to read.
So why shouldn’t we help each other? I wish there had been someone when I started who wasn’t telling me to buy his GREAT BOOK on how to become a bestseller (which was really a bunch of crap about getting Twitter followers and scamming the system). When I finally did run into a few honest, hardworking authors who also understood that the only way to survive and get out of the jungle and to the readers was to join hands, THEN I really started selling some books.
So I figure if you’re reading this—or at least many of you reading this—are relatively new to the “selling” part of writing. In fact, some of you reading this may have been at this for some time with some not so fantastic results (I sat on my first book for 90 days before realizing no one was going to buy it unless I climbed aboard the Marketing and Branding train.
Lesson Number One: Writing the book is the EASY part. By far. I hate to burst any bubbles out there, and I am not saying your book, it’s quality, and your writing are not intricate in your long-term success. What I am saying is that long-term is a long way off. Write a great book. Make sure it is polished and proofread and edited as much as you can before putting it on the digital shelves (because the hundred nails in the coffin are a hundred people that complain in the reviews that the book had tons of typos, terrible editing, bad grammar, and horrible dialogue). You can’t afford that kind of bad press, and the worse news is that there are plenty of n’er-do-wells out there on the big, badass Internet, just waiting for your book to hit the shelf unprepared.
Lesson Number One.Point.One: Make sure your book is ready, and then check it again. And perhaps again. Walk away from it for a week or two. Sit down in a hot bath (or wherever you do your reading) and try to read it just as a reader would—open every page; read the dedication; read everything. Mark it up as you go along, but only the egregious mistakes or typos. You really want to read your book as a reader would (but of course you need to use the time to identify mistakes to be corrected).
Lesson Two: If you find you are not able to get into the book for all the errors, typos, plot changes you’d rather make, your book is not ready. It’s okay. We never really feel like they’re ready, but reading it, you’ll know. If you’re HONEST. Don’t skip over a crappy part and pretend you didn’t see it. You’re only hurting yourself (and the poor reader who coughed up $2-5 for your book and will be telling every person he or she meets “don’t read I.M.A. Writer—he SUCKS!”).
Lesson Three: Be patient. Be the kind of patient you never thought you could be. Sign up for yoga or meditation classes or just sit in a dark room and practice not worrying. Very, very few independent authors experience overnight success. Oh, you’ll feel sometimes like they all do. Why? Because they’ll tweet how great they are; they’ll blog about reaching the Top Ten on Amazon (for an hour, during a sale). Don’t let it get to you. Their success or failure has nothing to do with yours. It takes time for the bulk of us–especially the talented ones. Because the ones that rocket to the top for a day? Most I’ve read STINK.
Lesson Four: A reiteration of #3. Do not let others’ success or failures affect YOU. You will succeed on your own tenacity, willingness to learn, acceptance of constructive criticism (and the ability to separate constructive from unconstructive), thickening skin, and your ability to write prolifically. Which leads into…
Lesson Five: As an independent, you need more than one book out there. That doesn’t mean you should wait to publish until you have more than one book, but don’t expect one book to carry you to the Promised Land (actually, there is no land promised to us—that comes later in the list: Try not to have unrealistic expectations, particularly early on). Stephen King can write one book every 2-3 years. He’s a household name. YOU, on the other hand, even if brilliant and entertaining as heck to a bunch or readers, will be forgotten in 3-6 months. Ergo, you’re going to have to pump out some books. Consider breaking down that 300,000 tome into three 100,000 word tomes. Consider novellas. One of my books (not even called a novella) in one of my series is 30,000 words. I’ve never seen a complaint; in fact, it’s always been one of my readers favorites. Which segues to the final lesson for this posting…
Lesson Six: More is not necessarily better. In fact, in writing, more is almost never better and is almost always worse. Don’t spend 50 pages describing the forest. Yes, show don’t tell, the Golden Rule, but show as efficiently as possible or you will lose your reader. Don’t use twelve dollar words where a one dollar word will do just as well. If you had to look it up, so will most readers.
That’s it for today. I am going to try and blog a bit more about the constructs of the industry, what works and doesn’t work, and here’s a little hint: I’m doing it to kill two birds with one stone. I would like to write these, let’s call it a chapter at a time, and also have some good fodder and a foundation for that longer book I was talking about. So if you keep checking in, you can get whole book digested, once again, for nothing. I don’t write my “be a better writer” type books to make money; I want to get them into the hands of the really decent writers out there who just need a bit of help, either with their writing, navigating the processes, or both.
Beyond that, dear reader/writers, WRITE ON!
The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.
Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.) For those who enjoy and/or revel in the utterance of profanity, the author reserves the right to substitute “fish” for “fuck” without fear of repercussion, mental reservation, or purpose of evasion.