Archive for the ‘Self-Published’ Category

Writers’ Conferences … Good, Bad or Indifferent?

September 29, 2016

fall woods
Michigan Woods in the Fall

My bride and I have plans with some dear old friends in the evening on Saturday, October 8, 2016 … but I’m spending the day at the Ninth Annual Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University.

Rochester WritersI’ve found it to be one of the best one-day conferences around … a tribute to its organizer, Michael Dwyer. I always come away with new, useful information from the excellent presentations … and from other attendees I meet.

I’m also looking forward to the keynote address this year. It’s by Keith Taylor whose poems, stories, reviews and translations have appeared widely in North America and in Europe.

The recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (and also from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs), he teaches at the University of Michigan … where he also serves as Associate Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve attended this conference every year since its inception, trying to discover new ways to market my work. Given my professional background some folks wonder why, and I’m never ashamed to tell them.

I spent 40 years in advertising, public relations and marketing, but as an indie author I find trying to market my own books, particularly on a short (almost non-existent) budget, one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s much harder than writing them. I keep going to conferences hoping to uncover a real clue how to do it.

One of the things I’ve discovered, indie-authors tend to suffer book blindness when it comes to their own work … and I’m guilty-as-charged. Even though I’ve won multiple awards for my fiction, it’s still difficult to know how to go about promoting it.

Don’t Sell … Build a Community
I already know a barrage of “buy my book!” promotions won’t work. There’s so much of it on The Twitter, Book of Face and other social media feeds, it’s become like background noise. Most people skip it.

Yet, you still see independent authors doing this kind of promotion incessantly, looking for a shortcut to sales. I’ve done it myself, more than I care to admit, but it’s time that could have been put to better use by doing the one thing I know really helps … building a community.

What am I talking about when I say you should build a community?

Well … specifically, I’m talking about finding like-minded people and starting conversations, like I try to do here.

Once you find potential audiences and influencers, you have to do something to reach them … and this is the part where a significant percentage of indie-authors drop the ball.

Whatever social media platforms you choose, focus on the people you want to talk to. To be successful, give them something they can use.

Asking questions, discussing common interests, commenting on new discoveries, re-tweeting posts, adding value, entertaining, sharing relevant links and, most of all, being authentic.

Imagine Your Future Readers
When I did the exercise trying to understand who my potential blog readers for indie-publishing might be, I saw people with an obsession for reading and writing. I saw some who just started taking creative writing classes, and others who have kept a writing journal for years.

I saw people who had something to say, but didn’t know where to start. I saw me. I saw you.

When I did the same for my fiction, it was harder, but I have to assume, even though our specific interests might be different, most people read it for the same reason I do … to be entertained.

Then it occurred to me … in choosing something to read I also look for authors that have something to say beyond their books, like one of my current favorite writers, Brad Meltzer. After all is said and done, it’s the real person you will relate to most, not a name on a book cover.

For all you indie-authors out there, to build a community, don’t shove your books at them and treat folks you meet like a meal ticket. They’re people just like you. Get to know them. Show you care. Add to the community.

The Hard Part
It’s the main reason I write this blog (not to hear myself talk, as my bride often suggests). My books are prominent here, to be sure … but you’re only here because you’re interested in things I’ve said about writing and indie-publishing. I hope the things I bring to the table help you with your efforts … and, oh, by the way, I write fiction.

It really is that simple … and hard. It takes time, and you have to be genuine. But ask anyone who is successful and he (or she) will tell you building a community that both cares and invests in one another far outweighs other tactics.

If someone leaves you a comment, they should be able to rest assured you’ll respond to it, with an answer that is both honest and helpful. Don’t pontificate. Be yourself, enjoy the people you get to know, and trust the rest will follow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my questions ready for the conference in October.

Then I’m going to gather the things I’ll need for the book signing event I’ll be part of at Leon & Lulu in Clawson, on October 23, 2016. Hope to see you there.

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On November 19, 2016, I’ll be in attendance at the Readers Favorite award ceremony at the Regency Hotel in Miami.

On December 3, 2016, I’ll be signing books from 1:00-4:00 pm at the annual “Giving Season” event at the Orion Township Public Library (825 Joslyn Rd).

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.
 
If you’ve written an interesting book too, consider submitting it to the Readers Favorite annual contest by using the banner link below.
What do you have to lose?

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Things That Matter

May 14, 2016

early-morning
 
My latest novel, Blood Lake, was just published. You will find it on Amazon and online at Barnes & Noble.

(Whew!) There, the shameless publicity effort is done (don’t I wish). Now on to more important things.

Writing is hard work. The last few months have been hectic, and I’ve quite often been less attentive than I should have been. My bride puts up with me, because she says she likes the way I write.

It must be true. I know it can’t be the money.

Once I subtract the cost of any advertising I do (as an indie author, it’s something I have to do … no one else is going to do it for me), design and print giveaway bookmarks, rack cards, posters for book signings … and whatever else needs doing, I only make enough profit most months to buy her a nice dinner out … maybe.

So, why do I do it?

I like to write, and I’ve got stories to tell. How many stories? To paraphrase one of my favorite old-time sci-fi writers, Isaac Asimov: “If I found out I only had a few weeks to live, I wouldn’t complain…I’d just write a little faster.”

I’m already more than 11,000 words into my next book (number seven). Not bad for someone who only got serious about publishing six years ago.

You’ve heard my lament before.

I’ve written since I was seventeen, and when I retired from the nine-to-whenever-I-got-done marketing job I had, I thought writing novels would be a nice sideline. Something to occupy my time.

When I had the first one almost done, I went looking for an agent, since I knew the Big Five publishers (Penguin-Random House, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster) wouldn’t talk to me without one.

Most decent smaller ones wouldn’t either. After two years, with no agent willing to sign me, I said the heck with it (actually, my language was quite a bit stronger than that) and decided to become an indie author. That was in 2012.

shelf unbound awardI haven’t looked back. I’ve written one book every year since, with the exception of 2013 (that year I wrote two). With one Readers Favorite Gold Medal (and one Silver), a favorable Kirkus Review, Five-Star reviews from reputable review houses for all my books, and a “Notable 100 Book for 2015” from Shelf Unbound for my novel STREET LIGHT … I’m not rich, but I’m pretty happy.

I attribute the modest success to paying attention to the factors that make for good storytelling. I learned how to write dialogue. I learned to show the story, not tell it … and those are probably the two biggest things new writers need to learn.

Now I need to figure out how to get my name (and my books) better known. I’m still working on it .. and I’ll let you know what I find out.

I still urge every wannbe indie writer out there to keep writing … and keep reading. Me? I’m going to pay attention to my bride for a while, because she deserves it (OK, I’m going to keep writing, too … I never said I was perfect).

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My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. My latest, BLOOD LAKE, was just published. Look for it. You might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

**********

Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

What Storytelling Techniques Do You Use?

February 16, 2015

word magic

Storytelling is at the core of who we are as human beings. I’m convinced we’ve been doing it since our Neanderthal beginnings. Still, as ingrained as it may be to the human psyche, it takes a concerted effort to do it well.

There’s a difference between just relating a story, and telling an engrossing tale people will remember. It’s something every author, whether traditional or indie, needs to understand.

Sadly, many wannabes overlook some of the basic techniques.

Set the Stage
When you’re writing fiction, it’s important to set the stage. Tell your readers the place and time the story takes place. They need to know enough of the context so they can understand the story.

It was late August, 1962, when I first saw Albert Parker. After all this time I still remember the year quite distinctly. It was my second teenage summer and, like discovering I had a sexual identity, it was a part of life’s first great transition. I had been waiting months for something special to happen, something magical. Something like having Marilyn Monroe show up on my doorstep.

Show, Don’t Tell
One of the most important lessons to learn as a writer is how to show your story, instead of just telling it. Give us a visual example and make us see it and feel it.

All our senses contribute to a story and help make the experience realistic, as well as entertaining. Use that knowledge, and appeal to all of your readers’ senses.

The day started as a humid, hurt-your-lungs-on-a-deep-breath morning. A blistering sun was rising over the railroad switching yard at the far end of the street. Its red-orange glare filtered through exhausted-looking trees, while sinuous heat ribbons shimmered over motionless freight cars, their rusty shapes defined like so many slumbering beasts.

I was already sitting on the curb under a big oak tree, trying to find relief in occasional humid puffs of air. A battered gray panel truck pulled up across the street, and signaled its stop with a tortuous squeal. An angular middle-aged man slowly unwound from the driver’s seat. Garish sunlight lit the edges of his hair. It made halos of his tight, graying curls and gleamed brightly from the center of his balding crown.

Plot and Conflict
I won’t spend much time talking about plot, other than to say it’s important to construct one because it’s true, even if you want to break or bend the rules, that there should be a beginning, middle and an end to your story.

More importantly, what’s the conflict? What leads up to it? How will it be resolved? You need to make sure to keep the tension going and leave the audience wanting more with each chapter. However, readers should feel satisfied when the story ends, so don’t forget some sense of closure.

Point of View
Also consider point of view. Would the whole story, or even just a chapter, have a more emotional appeal if it was told through the eyes of a child? How would multiple points of view affect the telling of the story?

From my earliest memory all our neighbors said they were glad I wasn’t like my big brother. I never knew how to answer them when they said that. Albert was always there for me. What was wrong with that?

Use a dynamic character. This is a character that is changed by the conflict of the story. Readers love to see the reformed sinner find his way to something akin to success or redemption.
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