When your first work isn’t your best work, hone your writing as you go.

Floating Donut by Scarce at Wikimedia Commons

Hi there, Readers.

Have you ever hit the send button to submit your work, but then only moments after uttered a Homer Simpsonesque, “Doh! What have I done?”

Few authors will admit it, but I’m going to be honest here, trot out on a limb and present my “Doh!” moment for your perusal. It comes with highs and lows of what worked and what didn’t.

After sending my MS off to the publisher I realized that things were missed here, could have been structured better there. Timeframe might have been made clearer, etc.. Not to mention that my story strayed from the style of conventional books on the subject. I took a risk writing my novella, Stealing Time, in a non-traditional fashion, and wasn’t sure it would play out.

Formulaic lessons of writing generally call for a tidy wind-up in true Spielberg style; hero leading everyone safely over the top of the mountain, sun caressing shoulders, planes flying past in salute, and everyone beaming smiles down on a shining end.

Well, I didn’t want that.

My original goal in writing Stealing Time was to craft it with content and ending that you might find in the comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the original Watchmen. Their work left much to the imagination, some things hidden and simply not explained, and therefore open to delightful speculation.  A current example of the cliff-hanger style I wanted to replicate is Dirke Tiede’s manga-styled, Paradigm Shift. The author keeps me anxious to grab the next copy to see how it ends–or begins–come to think of it. Consider adding his series to your shelves.

But I digress; the desire to write in a way that was familiar to me as a reader, was harder to create as an author. I  ploughed my way inexpertly and inelegantly through my manuscript with plenty of “Doh!” moments. And yes, comments after publication on Amazon reflect those mistakes. Fortunately, most folk who read it liked it, but more importantly, they voiced complaints. What readers had to say provided a place to start in terms of improving my writing, even if it was after publication. So, what did I learn from the “Doh!” factor?

I practiced my art, writing to their demands to bring them an improved experience in the sequel. The readers  became my guides in bringing secondary characters into play, having them better developed, digging deeper into the plot, etc.. But, stubborn to the last, I kept true to my original vision, tried various techniques to explain just enough but not too much, because I remembered something else that shone through those reader comments.

Most of them wanted more.

Though my fledgling novel had holes in it, my goal to create a cliffhanger, something I haven’t often come across, succeeded because my readers liked it. It drove them crazy that it ended where it did. They were startled that not everyone had been saved, that questions went unanswered, that the plot thickened only to come to an end. The outcome? Mistakes of my first book were balanced by its success of keeping the readers engaged, turning the pages, and wanting more.

My point is, your early efforts might not be your Magnum Opus. Perhaps they fly in the face of traditional thought or style. Whatever your personal experience, consider a few questions: Can you know what your best work is if you haven’t yet written it? Moreover, how can a work with mistakes possibly be a success? By all means edit, and edit voraciously, but until you risk sending your book out into the world, how can you know if it will fly with your readers?

The answer lies in how you perceive success, and I have a theory that every book has an audience anxious to turn its pages, even through “Homer” moments.

*If a reads your work, even leaves a negative comment, if they point out where the author lost them, you have a map for your next efforts to impress Mr. Tough-Reader. That leads to working harder and smarter, which leads to higher knowledge and better acceptance from a tough audience.

*When a person takes the time to read your work and leave a comment, even if the comments are mixed, consider how many other books they might have read, and perhaps not commented upon. A great or mediocre response to your book means it is worthwhile to that reader, and their comments are an open invitation to hone your skills and delight them further in future.

*Finally, a book’s influence can be measured by what a reader takes with them when the last page is turned. You may not consider it your greatest achievement, but someone else may have an entirely different opinion. One of my favorite comments for Stealing Time, though not written on Amazon, was relayed to me through a bookclub. The reader said, “It angered me that it ended.” What a great compliment! Why so great? Because it touched off an emotional connect to the story and the characters and left him wanting more.

That’s more than enough encouragement for me to continue pounding the keys.

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Write to Pub Wednesday: Give it Away Free for e-Book Market Visibility

Give it away at a Bloghop!

Greetings All,

You’ve got your book marketing platform built, blog or website in place, buy-links to purchase your e-Book accessible and user friendly; but still you have one question; where are all the customers? Where are the other authors for mutual support and camaraderie in the field?

The answer is: If you build it, you must get out there and mingle and put your work into their hands; then they will come. You can do this on the internet or in person, just as you would in any face to face environment. Once you’ve built an online reputation that is welcoming and shows a genuine interest in supporting your fellow scribblers, they will come. Readers, however, sometimes need a little bit more to sweeten the pot before they come out of hiding.

Let’s face it; people like free. Doesn’t matter if someone is hawking an old stick. The question becomes, “What will it cost me?” And if the answer is , “Here, it’s free!” I feel safe in saying that in a crowd, someone will imagine all the things they might create with that old stick. Polish, carve, paint it, whatever; the point is they will step up and say, “I’ll take it!” But people are like a flocks of birds. We are creatures of habit. That same person may return to see if there is anything else you’re handing out, and so will the crowd in general; after all did you see the fantastic cane that guy made from an old stick? As a new author, or an up and coming author, how about enticing them with a free copy of your book for a limited period of time, or perhaps a gift card to Amazon for visiting and subscribing to your blog?

One of the best ways to earn a following is to reward your readers to be. Post a free excerpt on your blog if it is copyrighted. If you aren’t worried about copyright, post work just for the enjoyment of writing it and inviting people to read it. One of my favorite blogs belongs to a friend, author Nishi Serrano. For a glimpse of a great horror author in action, she posts free samples of her writing a chapter at a time. Essentially, people who visit regularly get to read an entire book for free just for showing up. How cool is that? There’s a cracking good horror tale in the works right now, just scroll down past the fun and creepy cars of horror films, over the pics of cute animals, and there you will find a lovely little tale called the Bilge. I’ve read it and anticipate the next installment with bated breath–and with the lights on. Check it: Author Nishi Serrano

Giving a way a title for free now and then creates interest in your brand. Another way to do this is joining a blog hop or two. Bloghops seem complicated to a noob, but they are simply a way for authors and readers to find each other. A site hosts a bloghop, sometimes based around a theme. Authors prepare a writing or a welcome for the given day and post it to their blog or website. All the sites are linked through the bloghop host, and all authors give away a prize of some sort; generally a free copy of their E-book or paper print book to one lucky hopper.  I participated in a blog hop before my book ever came out! It was fun meeting all the authors and visiting their sites, too. I even won a book myself! Not too shabby. For that hop, with express permission from my publisher, I gave away in advance two copies of Stealing Time. Now that my book is released, I’ll send them their copies as a download. That’s it! I found the bloghops well worth my time. Connections I made through participation in that hop are invaluable. I’m participating in another hop coming this October.

Many authors out there will balk at giving away their work for free, but there are an equal number who swear that a giveaway for a short length of time pumps up their readership and sales; this is true for traditional-pub or self-pub authors, but if you are with a traditional company, check with them first to see if you can. Self pubbed authors can do it whenever they feel the need to stir up some interest in their books! Here’s a site to read it for yourself: lindsayburoker 5 reasons to consider giving away a free ebook.

There is a money guru by the name of Suzy Orman who is constantly saying that to receive money, you have to be willing to release that money back into the universe, you must give back to society to keep the money flowing to you. At least that is the gist of what she says. I believe her. I might not have a lot to offer right now; but I can giveaway a free read every now and then, and I have traveled the long road form writer to published author. It is my mission to give back to all of you who still travel this road and help me have a better understanding of the best in human nature, and to share it along the way. Remember to be nice because you are making connections, not burning bridges; share what you learn, give away a little bit of yourself and your brand, and mingle at the bloghops!

Cheers!

C.K. Garner

Odyl and Facebook Marketing: Worth it for Authors?

Image

For my next act I will gargle peanut butter!

What does it take to get your FB page noticed as an author? How can you market your brand name as an author and make book(s) more visible to fans and potential new readers?

Here is a company that appears to have a solution. Odyl has its eye on authors. From what I can see, it markets not only to the big six, but also to smaller publishing sites and indie authors through a fully integrated Facebook platform. What does this mean for authors? Take a look at what author J.T. Ellison has to say in a guest post on Odyl website. She’s not the only one touting its virtues. I scouted around the web and found several authors using Odyl to boost their visibility and sales.

I’m interested in seeing what it might cost for such a grand scheme. Sent a note to Odyl to have a look at prices and see if they have something manageable for new authors. I’ll let you know the results.  Have a look at the article from AllFacebook.

Facebook Marketing Tool Odyl Boosts Authors

Blog while you write to promote your manuscript, and learn the ropes of publishing before you finish.

Interaction + Sales

Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

>There is a lot of advice about writing out there, but many sites fail to mention that you need to learn the ropes about publishing before you finish your manuscript.  Since I’m a new writer long the path to author, I was concerned when I got to the halfway point that I didn’t know a thing about how to get published once I have my manuscript completed and edited a thousand times.

Then I stumbled across Nathan Bransford’s Blog about Writing and Authorship. Bransford, a former agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd. and now an Author,  talks about what you need to do ahead of time, things you should be researching ahead of your completing a manuscript.  Under the title, “How to find a Literary Agent” you can connect to his straight talk about the work you need to do.  Blogging is a start.

You can read Bransford’s solid advice about how to begin, HERE.  Bransford champions learning about and beginning to promote yourself by connecting with other Writers and Authors and learning about agents before you need them…makes sense, right?  So let’s get Blogging!  Meanwhile, KEEP WRITING.

>My new and first Blog Post about becoming a Writer and eventually an Author

A Scribe or Copyist

C.K. Garner Smarty Pants Writer to Author Blog

Blog, Paper, Scissor is a reference to:

A.)BLOG~My new Blog about writing life, creating my manuscript and the maze I navigate in learning about getting published

B.)PAPER~Getting my story ideas from head onto computer and  printed page, how it sucks my life away and gives me new perspective on living at the same time

C.)SCISSOR~The Godawful amount of editing it takes to build a good story by tightening up my manuscript, and the cuts I make to my social life because I’m writing, researching about writing, and talking to other Writers and Authors about writing