Writers, Readers & Self Publishing

Our community of self-published authors is generous with the knowledge they have gained on their writing journey. Here at Writers, Readers & Self Publishing, we will share with you their advice, their experiences and their ideas for writing and promoting award-winning books.  We will also share incites from our readers and others in the field of self-publishing such as editors, designers and successful best-selling authors who graciously share their thoughts and experiences. Our readers and writers have also contributed some fun and interesting stories that we hope you will enjoy!

An Author Needs YOU … yes, YOU!

HELEN HOLLICK I am an author. I know several other authors – some at the very top of the Book Tree, others setting out at grass-root level taking their first hesitant steps into the World of Publishing. Some are mainstream. Some are Indie. Some are fabulous, some are – well, let’s just say their book/s need a little extra polish one way or another to give that final shine. It takes a lot of effort – and hard work – to produce a readable, entertaining novel; especially if you are an Indie Writer with no agent or publishing house to back you up and help with sales and marketing. Being an indie author can be a very lonely occupation. There’s the writer’s block to wade through; the confidence to delete scenes you think aren’t working (the confidence to keep going with the ones that are!) The getting the first draft finished – then re-writing the second, third, fourth (how long is a piece of string) draft. Then there is editing by a (preferably) professional editor – and yet another re-write. The copy-edit. (and then doing the corrections) The proof-read (ditto corrections). Getting it published. Getting it noticed. Marketing and more…

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Controversial Topics in Fiction

R.A.R. CLOUSTON In his book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories,” the English journalist and author, Christopher John Penrice Booker (no apparent connection with the award), expands upon the long-held view of many literary experts that there are only so many basic plots in fiction writing. While I have not yet read his critically-acclaimed book, I could not help but be struck by two things about it: first, that the author has two middle names, an encumbrance that he apparently was saddled with at birth as was I (my parents having had great expectations for baby Robert—a goal against which, I freely admit, I have under-delivered, in large part because of the snooty sticker slapped upon my rosy red and quite commonplace bottom). But I digress… The second thing that caught my eye about Booker’s Jungian-based analysis was that the first basic plot he cites is precisely the one that has dominated my writing in all four of my novels; namely, “overcoming the monster,” or as some authors have interpreted it, “good versus evil.” In my case, I have taken this a step further and restated it as “God versus Satan,” a topic that is certainly controversial to…

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The Holistic Writer: Define Your Mission, Then Design Your Career

Lorraine Devon Wilke I was gathered with a group of writers recently—some with impressive resumes, others with little or no experience—when a conversation was sparked by one of the women in attendance: “I want to be a writer but I can’t think of anything to write about. I keep trying, month after month; I’ll get an idea, and sometimes I even start it, but after a while I fizzle out, bored and disinterested. I don’t know what to do. I really want to publish a book, but how do you know what to write about?” While the rest of the group jumped in with every kind of mental exercise, writing routine, inspirational drill, etc., in hopes of helping her jumpstart her process, I got a little twitchy and went a whole other way: “Maybe writing’s not your thing.” The conversation stopped as if I’d spoken another language. I continued: “I’m being the Devil’s Advocate, clearly, but if after all this time of trying you aren’t inspired and can’t find anything to write about, isn’t it possible this just isn’t your path? Maybe your Muse is better served in another art form, another discipline, say... music. Art. Something that actually compels…

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Living with a Writer

Laurie Boris I was so excited when Stephanie agreed to my request to write a guest blog for indieBRAG. When I looked at her list of suggested topics, one caught my eye immediately: interview my significant other about my writing career. It seemed like a great idea at the time, so I walked down the hall—Paul was in his home office, where he works as a commercial illustrator and website designer. (He designs all my book covers.) I broached the question. He gave me that “there is no good answer here” look. Like I’d just asked what he really thought about my new haircut. But he’s also a great sport, so he agreed. Here’s what resulted. Well, you married a writer. How’s it going so far? How many times have you wanted to run away screaming? We’ve been together for almost thirty years, so I’ll characterize it as “a work in progress.” Screaming? Seventeen. Does Laurie let you read what she wrote? Yes. She lets me beta-read her novels. With great power comes great responsibility. While reading, I have pictures of guillotines above my head. Then I realize I’m not in nineteenth century Paris, so I keep reading. How has…

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Someone Must Die

If you’ve watched more than one episode of Star Trek, you know when Captain Kirk, Spock, and Doctor McCoy step into the transporter with a red-shirted crew member, the “red-shirt” is marked for the chopping block. If laser beams spurt about planet-side, or some poisonous alien flower is blooming, red-shirt is doomed. Why? The answer to that question is an important key to making your fiction work and making your reader keep turning pages. First of all, in a good story, something has to happen, right? If not, you don’t have a plot; you have a still life. The stuff “happening” must affect the character(s), either externally or internally. Character and plot are intertwined. Character drives plot, or at least co-pilots. Plot helps build and show character. How? By letting readers “see” how the characters think and feel. Plot tests them. Plot sometimes tortures them! (Tip: If you don’t know much about your character, toss them into the fire and see what they do.) Alert: Important idea coming up: In a good plot, cost must be involved. If there is no price to pay, if nothing matters, if there are no consequences to your character’s decisions (whether that consequence is…

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Building an Author Platform

Contributed by Florence Osmund As an aspiring author anxious to get published, you may be tempted to plunge into the profession by first writing a book. That seems logical, but there’s this thing called author platform to consider that can affect your standing as an author, and the best time to start building one is before you start writing. An author platform is a continual plan of action that conveys your expertise and credibility to others and is essential in building a successful writing career. Platform is your visibility so that others know who you are and how to find you and your books.   Think of building a career as an author like building a house. The first thing you need to do is start laying a foundation—a platform for you to sell your book. Just like a house, your writing career needs a solid foundation in order to last long-term. Without it, your career could become shaky or tumble altogether. Some people have built-in platforms—celebrities, politicians, sports figures, wives of celebrities, wives of politicians (I think you get the picture). If you are one of these people, you can stop reading now. But if you’re just an ordinary…

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Coping With Negative Reviews

It’s natural to react when you’re criticized. When you first see a one- or two-star review, you may feel a sinking or burning sensation in your center. You may be hurt and discouraged and blame yourself Oh no—this reviewer thought my book was (dull, unbelievable, too descriptive, depressing, etc.) It must be that bad.” Or you might be hurt and angry and blame the reviewer. How could that person hate my book? It’s had nothing but good reviews until now. They have to be either an idiot or a troll.” The safest response is to step back and make a space for reflection. Get in touch with your core self, the wise part of you that realizes you’re still valuable and whole. I know of an author who panicked over a two-star and recruited friends to write reviews. She got caught. The unreflective reaction backfired. I’ve read blog posts by authors who have argued with reviewers and giving in to this gut reaction also backfired. One even went so far as to stalk a troll who was attacking her. Needless to say, this only increased the author’s suffering. I’ve been an actor and a choreographer, and am currently a professor…

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Promote your published book by blog marketing

1. Host articles in your blog site and keep it active The blog is your content home base. Readers may access your blog post from myriad channels—social media, comment thread, backlinks, search—but they should all end up in a blog site. Don’t host your articles in external sites—for example, Tumblr, LinkedIn, or Facebook—because you don’t own these platforms, and you can lose your materials once these sites fold up or close your account. Instead, register your own domain and have it hosted on a paid server. There are three critical advantages for this: What about free blog platforms? They’re good at increasing your audience reach, but, again, you don’t own the site so you risk losing everything one day. Instead, use these third-party sites as complementary platforms—for instance, posting a synopsis or shorthand version of the full-text article in your blog. Same thing with your social media pages: post teasers, tweets, and backlinks in these channels to drive traffic to your blog. 2. Talk about topics, not your book Learn from content marketing experts: HubSpot and Content Marketing Institute are two top experts in inbound marketing (getting traffic from content instead of ads). When you check their websites, they talk…

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SELF-PUBLISHING: MAKING LITERATURE BETTER!

"Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature" cried one blogger recently. And he is not alone in his thinking: the vast majority in the traditional publishing world agree with him. But while this view is an over-simplification of a complex issue, there is a bedrock of truth beneath this topsoil of hysteria. The literary world is undergoing an upheaval unequaled since the invention of the printing press. For nearly five hundred years following its first appearance in the fifteenth century, only those authors whom the gods of publishing deemed worthy ever saw the fruit of their labors printed, bound, and made available to the reading public. And while the appearance of so-called 'vanity presses' in the mid-twentieth century made it possible for others to have their books published, the enormous expense associated with this approach placed it beyond the reach of all but a privileged few. However, the advent of print-on-demand technology in the late 1990's changed everything, and from that point on nothing will ever be the same again in the world of book publishing. The good news is that now literally anyone can publish a book. The bad news is that now literally anyone can publish a book. And the…

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Harlequin Fail

Joe Konrath kindly permitted us to share this article with you that he posted on his blog in 2012. It is a great follow up to Bob’s May 28, 2013 post on indieBRAG’s Blog https://jakonrath.com/index.php Harlequin Fail This is a guest post by my friend Ann Voss Peterson. But it's more than that. It's a call to arms, a cautionary tale, and a scathing exposé. Don't believe it can be all those things? Read on... Ann: In this world, there are a lot of things I can't afford to do. A trip around the world, for instance, although it would be amazing. Remodeling my kitchen. And until recently, sadly, braces for my son. There's one more thing that I find valuable and enjoyable that I can no longer afford to do, and that is write for Harlequin. I published my first novel with Harlequin's Intrigue line in August of 2000. My twenty-fifth was released in November, 2011. I had a lot of fun writing those books--taut, page-turning, action-packed romantic suspense staring a myriad of different heroes and heroines and a boatload of delicious villains. I had four editors during that time, and all of them were great to work with.…

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