Tim Grahl, the book-marketing guru, once said that the X factor in being successful is whether or not an author believes in their book. When I believe in my book, then I speak about it with enthusiasm to anybody and everybody. I’m not embarrassed to ask folks to buy it because I know they are getting a great value. Said value could just be entertainment, and that’s enough.
No one feels bad for paying for a movie. We fork over the ticket or rental fee happily to steal away from the world for a couple of hours.
Books are no different. Asking someone to buy your book is giving them an opportunity to enter a fantasy world or to learn something new or to peek into someone else’s life and reflect on their own.
You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers.
Never doubt it!
You, as a writer, are providing a valuable service to readers. Never doubt it!
Still don’t believe me? Think about your own reading habits. Why do you read books? Aren’t you happy to support the authors who share the gifts of their words by purchasing books, borrowing them from the library, leaving ratings or reviews, telling friends about them?
Having good books to read is always important, especially in a time when the world’s needs are so great. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have reading material right now. Keep writing and sharing your stories.
After my first round of developmental edits and revisions, I was ready to receive beta-reader feedback for Love Letters to My Body. I wanted to make the task as easy as possible for me and my readers.
First, I identified what my ideal readers looked like. Then I made a list of everyone I knew who fit into those descriptions, and who might be willing to give me specific feedback. Once I knew WHO I wanted to ask, I turned to the questions of WHAT I wanted to ask and HOW I wanted to ask.
Trying to manage multiple email threads felt daunting to me, and I also wanted my beta readers to have the option to respond anonymously. I turned to Google Forms to create a survey.
Dot, dot, dot. Does anything stir your curiosity more?
I recently heard someone call ellipses drama dots, and now I want to rename them. Drama dots sounds much more intriguing.
Figuring out how to use ellipses correctly comes with its own kind of intrigue.
Here are four ways to use an ellipsis in your writing.
When writing nonfiction, sometimes a quote is needed to lend credence to an idea or to illustrate a description. The ellipsis can be used to indicate that the writer has chosen to omit something from the quoted material, usually to maintain brevity and to focus on one idea.
If you’ve ever been in a play, or even read one, then you know stage directions are included in parentheses to tell the actors where to go and what to do while onstage.
Stage directions are also important when telling a story. Readers need to know where characters are located in a scene as well as what the characters are doing.
But too many stage directions will bore a reader into skimming.
How do you find a good balance?
1. Keep it clear.
If a scene begins in the main character’s house and ends in the empty lot down the street, make sure you’ve written how (walking, driving, teleporting) and why the main character changed locations. Clarity is especially important in a busy scene, such as when characters are fighting or on the run. Every movement counts.
Last week we talked about writer’s block and viewing it through a different lens. Sometimes all you need to do is shift your mindset.
But in case that’s not enough to get the words flowing smoothly again, here are a few practical tools.
1. Consider writer’s block a luxury.
Writers, such as Tim Grahl (Running Down a Dream), Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), and Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), have all written a variation on this advice. Goldberg even suggests that you open a notebook and write “I don’t know what to write” over and over until you’re bored enough that you begin to write something else.
Beta readers are early readers who give you feedback after you’ve gone through developmental editing.
Who to enlist: Readers in your target audience (the type of reader who would enjoy your book). Who is your ideal reader?
How many readers: 5-??? This number is up to you. The more beta readers you have, the more feedback you have to sift through. You want a large enough sample that you feel confident in the feedback, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed by the amount of feedback.
When to enlist them: After you’ve finished developmental edits and big-picture revisions.
Where to find them: Ask folks you know (these people don’t have to be close to you; they just need to like the type of book you’ve written). If you have a newsletter, ask your subscribers who would be interested in beta reading for you. This is a great way to engage with your fans, but remember that you can (and should) be picky with your selection. Say yes to the folks who regularly engage with you.
You can also reach out to local book clubs; check in with a local writing group; or hire a professional.
Someone once told me that cursing indicated a poverty of language. He’d been in the Navy, so I imagine he’d gotten his fill of swear words. If you agree, or don’t write in a genre where cursing is appropriate, then skip this Teaching Corner.
I know many writers are swearbears, though. Nothing can make a writer cuss louder than an unexpected Word update just when they’ve hit a writing groove and all the words are flowing easily.
How do you spell $%^#@?
And sometimes, characters curse, too. The basic swears can be found in most any dictionary. But there are so many creative options that aren’t found in Merriam Webster. And Urban Dictionary can make your eyeballs bleed. So how do you know when to hyphenate or close up that compound swear word?