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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Feeling Real About Writing

As indie authors we can sometimes feel like we are just writing for ourselves. It seems surreal to put our work online for people to purchase internationally, even though we do have proof this happens as we check our weekly sales.

From time to time this feeling does occasionally bother me. I do countless hours of work each week and yet I feel the only person who knows this happens is myself. Now I'm not complaining about lack of recognition here; the people buying my book obviously know I'm a writer, or a serial traveller. Or maybe a bit of both! But as indie authors I think this is a feeling common to many. Because we are not liaising with people on a daily basis - agents, designers, publicists and publishers, we can sometimes question our own workload as we have no one watching over our shoulder to check all our daily tasks are completed.

Whilst writing, I can spend a year or so having no contact with anyone outside in the real world, apart from my friends and family. And the only time I do have contact with someone who works in another profession is the time when I am hunting down an editor and cover designer. This is totally different from my past jobs: working in a hospital I used to have daily contact with at least fifty different people, or sometimes more.

Having to network with people is increasingly difficult when you work in such an isolating job. Obviously, as writers, we need to network with our target audience so I spend a quarter of my time socialising with people I will never meet. And in my future works of fiction, I will write about people who don't exist and events that have never occurred.

So I guess what I am trying to say here it's no wonder things can feel a bit surreal from time to time. We make money from people who live overseas and potentially don't have contact with. We network with people who sometimes we don't even know the gender of, and we work day after day without seeing anyone else.

But there is one huge plus point to all of this. As indie authors we work for ourselves and this means no one else can ever let us down. The only person who can do that is ourselves.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Do you Write Balanced Reviews?

I touched on the subject of receiving reviews and how beneficial they potentially are back in the summer. As authors, we think about receiving reviews and worry if we don't. To us, they're a very important matter, and I know I worry sometimes just how my reviews and potential reviews are affecting the sale of my book.

But in this post I am going to talk about something a little different but it's still connected to the issue of reviews. We know we like good reviews, we should all love balanced reviews, and most of us probably hate nasty/bad reviews.

So, as writers reading other authors books, does this affect your ability to write reviews yourself?

I don't write that many reviews at the moment because I am trying to focus on getting my second book finished and at three quarters of the way through, I'm almost there. But since becoming a writer myself I am almost scared of writing any review. Will my review affect the authors sales in a good way or in a negative sense, and do I want to have this responsibility of potentially affecting things this much? Thinking these thoughts has now made me a better person because I am always conscious of how everyone else will read what I have written.

Now I am not saying because of this fear I will only write glowing reviews despite me thinking a five year old could have written something better. Where possible I try to make all my reviews balanced and written in a fair way. I will never leave a review which is totally nasty and personal though as I don't think this is a very professional way to be. Online you have always got to consider how you want to come across and remember that at a click of a button, anyone can read what you say. And usually if you say something bad it will probably come back to haunt you as there's a good chance it will remain there forever, unless someone in power has the ability to take it down.

I know some people love to leave nasty reviews (I'm not saying these people are other writers, although some may be) but I don't think I could ever be one of them. If I really don't like something then I will say so but there are certain ways you can do this and still be fair. To me it doesn't ever pay to be nasty. I try to follow Sibel Hodge's philosophy: 'Treat others how you would like to be treated.'

So before you write that next review, think how you're likely to come across. And if you're ever nasty, be prepared for the consequences. Remember you're likely to turn people against you, lose readers, and be the potential target for revenge.

How important do you think it is to maintain a professional online presence? Have I missed something vital out or do you agree with most things I say?

Merry Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Does Genre Matter?

Last week I found a blog post on the subject of specific types of genre. I thought it looked so good that I decided to share it with other writers in the online community. My thoughts were right about the blog because it generated a lot of interest. People seemed very keen to discuss the issues surrounding book genre, and I must admit there is a lot more to the topic than I first thought.

I've noted down this post so I can use it in the future should I ever find myself struggling with genre issues again. After spending several months in the writing community, I have noticed a lot of confusion about the certain category authors books fall into. Some swear blind it's a romance while others will argue it is a chick lit.

But this is the beauty of self publishing. Just the other day I was reading a blog about Darcie Chan's major success at becoming a best selling author with her first book. At first she decided to try the traditional route of getting her book published but many agents and publishers turned her down because her manuscript had no specific genre. To become published the traditional way you have to have a clear idea of where your book will sit in the market place. Publishers need to know what genre the book is so they can market accordingly. In the traditional publishing world this makes a lot of sense. After all there really is only room for one specific genre for each book. But in the self publishing world, authors can market the book themselves however they want. If the book has elements of romance, chick lit, mystery and a bit of paranormal activity thrown in, they say so, and if the story sounds good people will buy it anyway. It is a proven theory this works because it's worked for so many authors like Darcie Chan. Amazon's Kindle has a section where you can list each category/sub category if you choose to self publish with them, making it easy for readers to find your book when they do a search.

The issue of not having a specific genre worried me at first with my book, and that was the main criticism of my editor. Of course I could always have re-written my book with a particular genre in mind but I wanted to be brave and see how it would sell through the kindle. And so far I have received several good reviews off people who have never met me, so my book can't be all that bad.

What do you think about genre, is it an issue you struggle with? Do you think mainstream publishers place too much importance on the subject? Or do you think genre should be scrapped altogether?

Anyway, here is the link to the blog on genre:

Darcie Chan:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Are you a Successful Writer?

As I've mentioned before in my previous blog posts, I am hoping to write fiction after completing my second book. When I first set out to write my first book, I bought several books about the art of memoir writing and followed the tips given as best as I could. I also bought some books on writing in general and made sure I read a few books in the style that I wanted to follow.

Now I think it's time for me to begin that whole process over again but this time I'll have a whole new approach in mind. I want to write the very best book I can so I plan to read everything that I can possibly find. To be a successful writer I think you have to go through several processes first. The first one is to research as much as you can about the art, the second is to read books by authors who have already accomplished this. But I know there are many people who don't agree with this. Some people will not read any books about how to write novels because they are overwhelmed with the amount of information they give and they don't always agree with the advice that's in them. Other people say that you can learn to become a successful writer by just reading books by successful authors. As long as you pay attention to the story structure and the style of writing, you are more than half way to following in their success.

As always I am completely open minded here to both arguments and will try any other technique I think may be helpful. I do like to read books that I think I would like to write, but there's only one thing I am cautious of and that is subconsciously copying the odd sentence here and there. When you read something again and again you are very likely, in my opinion, to have those words come up when you're not actively thinking of them. Then you run the risk of mistakenly thinking that they are your own. To try and control this problem I will not read anything while I am writing. I will read before and after my latest work but never during.

So here is my plan of action:

1. I am going to attempt to write my first fiction draft before I refer to the 'how to write fiction books' again. Then I'll be able to see what my weak points are and what I need to work on more.

2. When I read my next fiction book for fun I am going to take more notice of the story and try to figure out how I would improve its potential weaknesses.

3. I will take one section of the book at a time and focus on that particular issue instead of overwhelming myself by trying to do everything at once.

I hope my plan of action here will help get me started writing a fiction book. What other ideas and tips have you found to work in your case? Please share