IAM Feature…Being a ‘social’ Indie

Guest Feature

Event Feature

No guest author today, just lil oil’ me pondering the value of marketing and social networking for indie writers ūüôā Mel x

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The one thing most writers will agree on, is that you think the writing part is hard…until you release your book and then have to consider how you actually get people to read it! Even over the last couple of years since I released my first book¬†Hope’s Daughter¬†as an indie, I’ve seen the indie writer world change: Goodreads seems to have exploded with people coming to the e-book scene; people are getting more savvy with blog tours, book trailers, well-designed covers…oh and marketing…

No matter how you look at things, everything takes time. When you’re writing, you might give up reading, TV, friends, family…maybe even eating any food that you can’t do with just one hand…but there is an end in sight. Your book has a beginning, middle and end (unless it’s some strange contemporary thing that comes as loose pages in a box that your reader puts together themselves…sorry – I digress) – and when you come to the end of writing the book, edit it and then send it out for the world to see, that part is done.

What begins then is the (perhaps) endless task of promoting your book and getting people to read it. After a while, I imagine some books can gain some momentum and begin generating attention for themselves, but, until you have some reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and co. – until you have a few bloggers reading your book and featuring it on their sites, it can be a very tough nut to crack.

What is tough for any author, but more so for indies, is being your own promoter. If you’re spending time blogging about books or your writing, networking with readers and other authors through websites, blogs and twitbookpindiggit.com then the one thing you’re definitely not doing is writing. Take me for example, right now – the last few hours of free time I’ve had to get on with anything writing related have been spent popping up the guest features for the indie month, posting tweets about the event and now, writing this post. In economic terms, I suppose today, I’m electing to accept the opportunity cost of using my time to do this, rather than the spare hour to progress my ‘Faris’ story.

Does this stuff – Goodreads, blogging, social media – help you get more people reading your books?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

Perhaps a person reading the blog today will say “Hey – I like the waffling style of this person, perhaps their books are equally odd,” then go off to check them out. Or perhaps, I’ll meet another book blogger on here, whose stuff I like reading, which gets me reading other books or thinking about my own writing in a different way, and then I’ll do something different than I might have done before. Sometimes you meet other lovely authors (Mister Talbot is in this group!) ūüôā who become book-buddies and indulge your crazy writing obsession more than ‘real world’ friends might. Plus, it can be worth it for the odd time a reader comes back to you and let’s you know how much they loved reading your book – the positive feedback can make all the time spent cruising the interweb, working out what to post and frittering away good writing time, worth it.

I suppose it all comes back to being about the writing – even if it feels at times like it is completely unconnected (and perhaps even unproductive). So – to help you guys out a little, I’ve shared below some links to interesting blog posts on how to improve your social media stuff as a writer, as well as one for if you want to avoid it altogether. Hopefully then, you’ll find something useful yourself from this blog post and it won’t have been a waste of your time reading it ūüėČ

Links

Duolit SelfPub Team are one of my favourite writing / publishing tip blogs around – I’ve always found their features interesting, useful and¬†real – check them out on Twitter @duolit or online at their site: http://selfpublishingteam.com “Shannon’s the author. Toni’s the geek. As Duolit, we love indie authors, self-publishing, book design, author branding and book marketing. Oh, and Mountain Dew!”

Author Jade Varden blogs on all things writing and has everything from grammar assistance to marketing and social media advice Рtake a look on Twitter @JadeVarden or her blog: jadevarden.blogspot.com With 24.5k followers on Twitter, she must know something! 

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Mel is currently working on book 3 of her indie sci-fi dystopian series, The Ambrosia Sequence, as well as dabbling with a couple of old ideas for children’s books. She launched Aside from Writing in 2012 and blogs here and at her author blog regularly.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog: http://www.melcj.com

Twitter: @melabupa

IAM Interview…with author Jade Varden

Guest Feature

Guest Feature

Jade Varden is today’s featured author – and one of the lovely regular contributors at¬†Aside from Writing. Her ‘Writing 101’ features, which we re-post from Jade’s author blog are a great resource for both experienced indie writers, as well as those people just starting off. She offers advice on everything from grammar to marketing your books, and now you can find out more about Jade and her own writing in our exclusive interview…

Jade Varden writes young adult novels for teen readers. When she’s not crafting mysteries in her books, Jade also blogs practical writing tips for authors who self-publish. Jade currently makes her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where she enjoys reading and reviewing indie books by other self-published authors. Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden. Visit Jade’s blog at http://jadevarden.blogspot.com/ for reviews, writing tips, self-publishing advice and everything else you ever wanted to know about reading and writing books.

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What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I have really long nails! I spend a lot of time on them, every Sunday, and they usually look terrible by Wednesday. I think people would find that surprising, because I type all day long. It is difficult to write books on a flat keyboard with long nails, but I’ve totally mastered it. This is why I have to work on them every Sunday. If I skip a week, they get too long and start getting stuck in-between the keys!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? Some flint, to make a fire. A good, sharp knife. And a flare.

How do you react to a bad review? No review is bad. Someone took the time to read my book, at least in part, and then took even more time to share their thoughts. This is valuable to me. I read the review, maybe I grimace a little, and I try to absorb it. I take in the information, and maybe I’ll keep it in mind the next time I’m working on a book.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? Speed. Super-super speed.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Because I know you won’t be able to predict what’s going to happen in it.

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published? I got a piece of fan mail. Fan email, to be precise, but still.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be? Gone With the Wind. Guess who I’d be.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? ¬†Read what you‚Äôve written. Read it until you‚Äôre sick of reading it, then read it some more.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?

The 1930s United States. Clothes were still very stylish back then, and laptops didn’t exist but electricity and indoor plumbing did. Then my love of Jimmy Stewart would be much more relevant.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?¬†Since I was 9, a writer. Before then? A ballerina. Sometimes I regret giving it up. I might have made a better dancer than author.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? I’m in all of them. Little pieces of me are scattered throughout my books, and I think some of them would surprise my readers. A lot of the really crazy stuff my characters do is actually stuff that I do.

Hidden talent? I can answer any Star Trek question you ask me.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? Catching Fire. It comes out in November, and by that time I will have a handcrafted Mockingjay necklace ordered from Etsy. Wait and see.

Favorite quote from a movie?¬†‚ÄúAfter all, tomorrow is another day!‚ÄĚ

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Check out Jade’s Deck of Lies series – out now!

Jade Book

Want to know more about Jade Varden and her writing? Check out the links!

Official site   Official blog   Twitter   Kindle Store

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/jade-varden

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JadeVarden

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5414964.Jade_Varden

Writing 101…Anatomy of a Scene

Words are the stock and trade of every writer, but some authors get¬†too¬†caught up in their own words. When you’re writing out a scene involving any sort of character action at all — even when it’s talking — you also have to work out the logistics. If you can’t put yourself inside of every scene and picture exactly what’s happening, you’ve got a real problem.

 


Get Back Inside the Box

The environment the characters live in is just as important as the characters themselves. Your characters are only extraordinary or special when compared to everything else around them. How they move is just as relevant as how they think. That’s why you’ve got to think about your books three-dimensionally, not just the way they read on the page.

Just about every room in the world is shaped like a box. Some boxes are bigger than others, some substantially so. Some are elongated so they’re more rectangular in shape. Some are enclosed with walls made of plaster, others with windows of glass. Put yourself inside a room with your characters. In that room, you’re the¬†only thing¬†that doesn’t take up space.

Envision each scene as you write them, and see yourself and your characters inside that box together. In most cases they will be standard human beings who must stand upon the ground, so remember that. Is there also furniture in this room? Maybe they’re going to have to move around it to get to one side of the room or the other. Are there other people in this room? Where are they standing? What needs to happen so that the characters may complete the actions the scene requires?

You’ve always got to think about their actions. If you have two characters who are supposed to be talking at a party, don’t have them standing and shouting across the room at each other. Don’t allow me to picture it playing out this way. Explain to me where they’re at in relation to the rest of the party. Are they in a corner, by a window? By the buffet table, off to the side? Maybe they stepped out onto the balcony, or into a back room.

If you can’t picture it as it’s happening, you’ve got to change the scene until you¬†canpicture it. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to picture it as the reader, and I want to picture every single scene.

 

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog in 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her debut novel Justice and sequel The Tower are available now! Read our review of Justice here.

Writing 101…Sell More Books

It is a truth universally accepted that a reader in possession of a good book must be in want of¬†another¬†good book, and as a self-published author this is the mantra you must adopt. After your book is written, and published, and promoted, there’s only one thing left to do: write more. Want to sell more books? Then start¬†writing¬†more books.

You’re Only As Good As…

What’s your favorite song right this minute? What¬†was¬†your favorite song, one year ago on this day? Do you even remember? Most people probably won’t, for one simple reason: there’s¬†always¬†something new. There’s a new singer to hear, a new food to try, a new show to watch, a new book to read. No matter how remarkable or fantastic your book, eventually it will be eclipsed by another. Just ask J. K. Rowling, and 10 millionTwilight¬†fans, how quickly the tide of the MTV movie awards can turn against you.
Unless you write a book that becomes the basis of a religion, or come up with something wildly popular like the¬†50 Shades¬†trilogy, chances are darned good that your book won’t be self-sustaining. You have to promote it constantly, and after just a few months it’s already going to be old news anyway. The best way to keep your books, your brand, fresh is by offering¬†more.
So, you’ve just got to write more books. In this business, you’re only as good as your last book…and even that isn’t going to last too long. People are always looking for what’s next, so in order for you to keep your name out there and keep readers interested you’ve got to give them¬†what’s next.
  • Don’t¬†take breaks from writing. When you’re done with a book, great! Drink a glass of champagne, high-five your friends, pat yourself on the back, and start thinking about your next project. Get to work on it immediately. If you need time to rest and relax, give yourself a week between books. No more. It’s time for what’s next.
  • Don’t¬†stop promoting. Continue to promote all your old books.¬†Re-releasethem with new covers and new extras; make them fresh and exciting again. Do this in-between promoting whatever your next book project is.
  • Don’t¬†forget to tell your fans and reviewers. Whenever you have a new book coming out, make a big deal about it. Tell all the people who have reviewed you in the past. Offer them free books, tell them you’ve got something else they’re going to like. Do cross-promotions so your existing fans know you have something brand-new for them. “Did you like¬†Red Heat? Then you’ll love my new book,¬†Cold Wind.”
  • Don’t¬†fail to use your new books to get new fans. There’s no way your last book appealed to everyone you wanted to target. Try again with this new book. If you gain brand-new readers, they might go back and read some of your older books while they’re at it.
If you’re only as good as your last book, then make that work for you. Make it work by producing new books and changing your reputation. If your work is very high-quality, well-written and well-edited, you¬†will¬†gain new readers and¬†sell more books. Writing more books will make you more legitimate as an author, and will show that you’re committed to your craft. Readers like that, and they like having a lot of reading options. Give it to them, and you’ll sell more books.

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog in 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her debut novel Justice and sequel The Tower are available now! Read our review of Justice here.

Writing 101…Ask Three Questions…

Writing a book is incredibly difficult. Writing a great book is practically impossible. When you sit down to write yours, ask and answer three questions. If you break writing down to its simplest form, you’ll find it’s really not so difficult after all. Master the basics, and all the rest is just polish.
Three Questions
Every novel, no matter how thick or complicated, revolves around three specific questions. Ask them, and make sure you know the answers, when you’re writing yours.
  • Who?
Every novel needs at least one main character. Juggling more than one main is hard, but it can create a very rich and engaging story. Make your main character(s) interesting and identifiable, and your readers will enjoy finding out about them.
  • Where?
¬†Every book has a¬†setting. Research yours to make it real and rich on the page. Readers want details. What’s the weather like? What are the buildings like? What do the rooms look like? Good descriptive writing paints a picture without taking over the entire book — remember that no one wants to read your rambles about the way the curtains hang. Strike a good balance, and use the detail to add to the story instead of allowing it to swamp the story.
  • What?
You don’t have a book if you don’t have a¬†plot. Stuff needs to¬†happen¬†in your book. Allow the readers to get to know the characters through specific events. Readers want to be put inside the story; they don’t want a story told to them. Use plot to make your book happy, funny, exciting, sad — any emotion you want to evoke.
If you can answer three questions, you’ve got what you need to start writing a book. It’s the idea and the imagination that matters. Mechanics will come later, after lots of editing and hard work. Once you’ve found your three answers, the really hard part is already over.

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog in 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her debut novel Justice and sequel The Tower are available now! Read our review of Justice here.

Writing 101…The End of the World

Lots of people believe the world is going to end, and lots of that can be blamed on good fiction. A good story can instill fear in an entire population. Once upon a time, back when the TV didn’t exist, a nationwide panic was created over a radio program. The public literally believed that Earth had been invaded by an alien population.¬†That¬†is good writing. The end of the world can make for a great topic — just ask the Mayans. We’re still talking about them 2,000 years later.¬†A good story is pretty powerful stuff.

The End of the World as They Know It

 
Writing about a catastrophic, world-ending event can be a heady experience. You can make it thrilling, you can make it sad, you can make it frightening and horrifying. That’s the power of the pen: you can do anything you want. But some writers take even¬†that¬†a little too far. Because you can’t just end a world out of nowhere. You’ve got to lead up to it, a little.
Before you can end your fictional world with some sort of catastrophic event, you have to make me care. You can’t just end an entire world without making it an emotional experience. Should I be glad this world is ending? Maybe it’s a horrible place filled with villains. Should I be sad? Was there a hero or heroine I just can’t help but love, someone who must now die along with all the rest? Should I be frightened and horrified? Maybe your world ends in a way that could make¬†my¬†world end, and maybe that scares me. Let me get to know the world before it ends, and meet some of the people who live on it. Otherwise, I’m going to be yawning over your descriptive passages and rolling my eyes as lifeless body after lifeless body is consumed by lava (or whatever).
To make the end of the world matter, you’ve got to add the human connection. And put some structures or natural wonders on the world while you’re at it. I’m going to feel the loss of a beautiful world more keenly than an ugly one.
And when you finally end the world, or write about your catastrophic event, do itspectacularly. Describe the screams, the smells, the pure horror of the event. After all, the end of the world isn’t something that happens every day.

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog in 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her debut novel Justice and sequel The Tower are available now! Read our review of Justice here.

Writing 101…Stepping Outside Your Genre

Self-published authors have to work hard to build up a fan base and to establish themselves as “real” authors in the eyes of their readers. That’s why stepping outside your genre and writing something completely different can be pretty tricky and scary business. What if you go out on a limb…and lose all of your fans?¬†

Outside the Box

After putting all that time and effort into building up a fan base, stepping outside that comfort zone with a totally different book is a brave thing to do (some might say foolish). While some of your fans may stay true, others may be turned off because they aren’t fans of that particular genre. That means you’ve got to start all over again, and start targeting fans in your new genre to find the readers that will be interested in this new book of yours.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s not all that different from all the marketing you’ve already done. You should re-focus your efforts with every new book you release, whether it’s in the same genre as your others or an altogether different one. Stepping outside your genre actually gives you a unique opportunity to gain an even bigger fan following, and reach out to readers you mightn’t find otherwise.
Don’t ever be afraid to make a change. One of the joys of self-publishing is that you get to do whatever you want, write whatever interests you, and let your own skills as an author develop and grow in any way you like. You don’t have to answer to anyone, uphold contracts or write sequels you aren’t really feeling. If you have to do some extra marketing to get more readers, that’s just something that comes with the job.

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This post originally featured on Jade Varden’s author blog in 2012.

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Author Jade Varden is a regular guest contributor on Aside From Writing. The Writing 101 features originate from her own blog  at http://jadevarden.blogspot.co.uk where you can see more of her thoughts on writing, as well as her own books. Her debut novel Justice and sequel The Tower are available now! Read our review of Justice here.