Tag Archives: pleasing your reader

Using Obscure Facts in Fiction


Did you know that “If you travel with a lot of cash [governments] just seize it and assume it is illegal. This is commonly called Policing for Profit. They have transformed the drug laws of money laundering into tax evasion claiming anyone with a foreign account not reporting that money is engaged in money laundering and they get to confiscate everything you have and you go to jail for up to 25 years,” says Martin Armstrong, economist.

In my upcoming novel Dead with Envy, similar obscure money laws play an important part in the story.

As an author, I found it fun to do the research because what I discovered was new to me. As a reader, I am equally fascinated when the writer teaches me something I didn’t know.

 

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Music To My Ears (Eyes)


A writer begs to be read and appreciated for his craft, his art. Today I was lifted from a groveling place on the ground to Cloud Nine by author Shelton Keys Dunning.

A while ago, Troy P invited me to write the ending to a short story called “The Reunion.” Three writers preceded me in contributing to the story line. The author that started the tale was Shelton Keys Dunning.

To make a long story short, in the comments on my post “Writing Changes,” Dunning wrote words that made me giddy. I have to share them here:

I saw your potential in storycrafting when you finished my The Reunion on such a perfect endnote. I’ve been a fan ever since. I’m truly looking forward to purchasing everything you do!

If you are a writer, you know the weightiness and import of those words to my soul. It means every agonizing hour spent trying to get it right is worth it.

Shelton Keys Dunning, I pray I never let you down. And know this, if I screw up once (or twice), I will drive myself to fix it the next time around. For you! For readers like you who make the writer’s agony all worth while.

I love you. Thank you for lifting me up!

And, Troy, thank you for inviting me to write in a different venue, allowing me to reach out to a broader readership than this blog affords me. I love you, too.

I look forward to the day I can pay it forward and help out another writer. Helping each other to grow and expand is what it is all about.

Hints for Using Twitter by Guest Author Shelton Keys Dunning


My recent remarks about learning to use Twitter sparked a terrific response from author  Shelton Keys Dunning (https://twitter.com/SheltonKDunning). Thank you, Shelton, for sharing helpful information for writers everywhere:

When my editor told me I needed to do the Twitter thing, I thought, what’s she smoking? I made fun of Twitter, calling those that used it twits. But she introduced me to another platform Tweetdeck (Twitter, only better) and I actually find I like the format better: http://www.tweetdeck.com

There’s also a Tweetdeck app for your smartphone that is set up the same way. You can break up your follows and topics into handy-dandy columns and set up alerts and what not. It’s fairly user friendly, but if you run into any trouble let me know. A good hashtag to follow for writers if you haven’t already come across it is #amwriting

I’m happy to see you in the Tweetsphere. I’ve only been here for a year so I’m not an expert, but it is fun if you know what to look for.

Tips for a Better Blog from Janine Russell


Re-posted from Janine Russell’s blog at http://sitdownatatypewriterandbleed.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/an-amateur-bloggers-tips-for-creating-a-better-than-amateur-blog/

Creating A Better-Than-Amateur Blog

When I surpassed 50 followers, I wrote a post thanking all my readers for listening, and got a lot of feedback. I got asked how I created a blog that 50 people thought was worth reading in just 2 months, so I decided to make this post. (Not that I think my blog is super great or anything. Cause I don’t. I just try to make something that I would want to read.) So here are some ideas that might help take your blog to the next level.

blogger Janine Russell

Actually, I liked that thing I just said. Let’s make that #1.

1. Make a blog you would want to read.

This is your space. You have freedom to make it something that is 100% uniquely you. So don’t be afraid to change things that aren’t working for you to make it better. I’ve redone my “About Me” page, which should be quite simple, about 10 times. And I will continue to do so until I’m happy with it. This step will also help you figure out who you are writing for. Knowing your audience will help you write posts that those people will find interesting.

2. Feel what you write.

When I’m creating a post, it usually takes no more than a few minutes to fully formulate it (and maybe you can tell? I hope not.). That’s because I write about things that are important to me, or that I’m passionate about, and it all flows out very naturally. Don’t be afraid to infuse your personality into your style of writing, either. This isn’t a grade 9 essay. If you’re trying to struggle through a post, why are you writing about that topic in particular? Is there something else that really spikes your interest instead?

3. What are you trying to accomplish here?

Come up with an overall theme. It doesn’t have to be too specific. If you are just writing about whatever comes to mind, and sometimes it’s really dull, your readers will be able to tell. Even a very general idea, like “travelling” or “food” or “parenting” will make your blog flow better and keep you focused.  And you don’t want your blog to seem bipolar or schizophrenic in its content. (Metaphorically, of course. I mean don’t try to do everything at once. You might have two very clear themes, which would make two awesome blogs. Putting them together, though, might make your blog seem confusing and overly broad. A blog about schizophrenia would probably be really cool.)

4. Look around for inspiration.

There are so many awesome blogs out there! Check some of them out! And don’t be afraid to like things and leave comments. It’s an easy way to possibly bring traffic into your site as well from people with similar interests. Notice how people are using titles, pictures, videos, menus, categories, etc. and how those things make the blog unique or easy to navigate.

5. Watch your tone.

I was reading one blog where the person was just bitching about things. And as good as it feels to get that stuff off your chest every once in a while, it isn’t too pleasant to read. Reading hate just spikes my blood pressure and gets me all worked up. I do that enough on my own, thanks. So think about how you want your work to come across, and speak accordingly. Swearing too much is also a no-no because it makes you sound rude and uneducated. (But like all rules, there is a time and a place for swearing, depending on what you blog about. If I see a cookie recipe riddled with curse words, I will flip a table.) AND TRY NOT TO YELL. IT IS ALSO VERY UNPLEASANT.

6. Not everything you write will be a goldmine.

I have done a lot of posts where no one liked it, and that whole day just became a big crevice in my stats report. That’s good, though, because now I know what people don’t care to read about, or maybe it was the style of writing that pushed people away. Making mistakes is a good thing because it gives you feedback you can learn from. Even the best writers write terrible things sometimes.

7. Post often.

I follow a lot of blogs, but some of them only get updated once a month or so. And now I’m questioning why I’m following them since they never say anything. Also, after a few hours your posts get pushed down the list and replaced by newer ones, so posting often increases your chances of bringing in new readers. You don’t need to post every day, but if you can make some sort of schedule where you’re posting at least once per week, your readers will hang on to hear what you have to say next.

8. Tag smartly.

I was definitely guilty of not doing this when I first started. Tags are a good thing to help people who would be interested in your blog discover it. Think about what you might search for, though, and use only those tags. For example, if last Wednesday your dog got sick and you had to take it to the hospital, don’t take it “Wednesday, dog, sick, hospital”, but instead using things like “dog lovers, family” etc. No one is looking for posts about Wednesdays.

9. Don’t be afraid to say what you mean.

Some of the best posts I’ve read are about things that people are hesitant to talk about. A little bit of controversy can be a good thing if you’re able to do it respectfully and not attacking people who have conflicting views. It will keep your blog interesting, and make people want to hear what you have to say next. Don’t be afraid to shake things up once in a while.

10. This is not a diary.

Well, actually some might be, but those are the exception. You don’t need to give all the details of everything you’ve ever done,

Anthology Sales Update


Without any serious marketing as such,  Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe (Hmmmm. Is that singular or plural?) has sold 35 copies of the anthology to date.

And there are two reviews written and posted on Amazon.com. Reading the reviews was exciting. It gave insight and feedback to us on our work.

The sales break down like this:

Amazon.com 34 copies sold

Barnes & Noble 1 copy sold

Several copies have been purchased by the dining patrons of the Desert Rose Cafe. Owner Rose Harris reported there is a lively interest in the book and how the group came to publish it.

Perhaps, in the near future, there will be a “Meet the Writers” event, which may garner a bit of newspaper coverage. That event, or a complimentary newspaper article, may yield a couple of more sales.

What can be done now to sell books?

I have to buckle down and prepare press releases. All of the writers group members need to promote the book on their own social media, blog or web site. This year, I postponed sending out my Christmas letter. I want to write a New Year’s letter and include a promotional blurb in it about the book. Next, I need to put on my thinking cap to figure out other ways to exploit the “local writer” designation.

In sales, they teach you to sell first to family, then to friends or acquaintances, then to neighbors or the local market, then beyond. Until a writer has established himself, the likeliest buyer is someone who knows him or knows of him.

Finally, I need to utilize the “store” component here on WordPress. Obviously, visitors to this site should be able to buy the book.

The lesson in all of this?

Sales don’t magically happen for an author. To sell books, an author has to promote his or her books. That means getting creative so that whatever selling the writer does is effective and affordable.

Writers hate marketing. However, it is a necessary evil, especially for the new author.

Don’t overlook the sales that can be generated by friends or family. Word of mouth is always the best sales tool. A person who reads and likes your book is the most credible advertiser. Ask for help to promote your book.

I would love to hear from other independent authors about the success you’ve had selling your books. Please share the lessons you’ve learned, the mistakes you’ve made or the tactics that have succeeded. In what venue did you sell the majority of your books? Where did things fizzle? What was hard? What worked well?

Talk to me.  I am all ears.

As a Writer, What If I Am Just Average?


On WordPress, I continue to be amazed by the collection of talent. Sometimes an author’s writing floors me with its power, cleverness, raw emotion or beautiful use of language.

I am none of those things. I am a nerd who can correctly string together a series of words. As a writer–as a word artist–I am average.

How then do I expect to compete in the commercial marketplace? The same way an average employee competes in the workplace. By showing up. By giving my best effort. And like a tidal wave, by sheer volume. A dose of self-promotion is important, too. If I don’t market, I won’t sell. (Please don’t stop reading here. The best of this post is yet to come.)

I’ve said this before and I will say it again: throw enough at a wall and something will stick.

Part of succeeding as an average writer is finding my audience. I do that by writing in all the ways that appeal to me–short stories, haiku, flash fiction and novels. (In 2013, I hope to add internet content to the list.) Then I analyze. Of those things I like to write, what are people reading?

I need to look at my statistics. What do statistics tell me about what readers like in my work? Is it my true confessions? Is it self-improvement or how-to articles? Pop culture? Or factual pieces? Humorous stories? The off-the-wall?

Success is finding the match of my abilities with a need in the marketplace.

Ask the reader.

So I am asking you right now. What do you like best about this blog? Why do you stop by? Is there something which you’d like to see more often? Any answer is a helpful one. Silence hurts. So tell me something, anything, that will make this blog a better experience for you. Even if it is what you don’t like. Say, “Fay, dump this. Keep that.” Bring it on. Help me get better.

For me, that’s what it is all about. The best part is serving, helping, pleasing you, the reader.

The next best part is getting good enough to earn a paycheck! But that’s another post for another day.  🙂

Turning Your Manuscript into an Audiobook


Turning Your Manuscript into an Audiobook.

My daughter is a busy lady. She was telling me recently about several books she wants to read. She lamented that she doesn’t have time.

“Now if the author put the book out as an audiobook, then I’d buy it and listen in the car.”

Bingo!

I forget that audiobooks are another avenue for reaching the public. Like paperbacks or e-books, it’s another version to sell to broaden your audience. Sell more by releasing your book in an audiobook format.

Click the link at the top of this post for more information.