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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Quality Writing will Sell Itself.

I have read an awful lot of blog posts lately about the importance of quality writing. And seeing as it's so important I cannot believe I haven't blogged about it sooner!

Quality is the life and soul of writing. It is the blood and oxygen of words. Without quality your writing is pointless. Having a quality book is always first on any marketing list. If best selling writers could only give one piece of advice on how to sell as many books as possible, they would say write a great book. That's it. Writers don't need to do anything more. Just write a great book and it will sell itself. But so many authors try to market their book without taking this most important issue to heart. Just because you have written a book doesn't automatically mean it's going to become a best seller.

Amazon has numerous examples of great quality, best selling books that seem to sell like hot cakes with little or no marketing effort from the authors. Many debut books hit the best sellers list and no one can argue that the book is only doing well because the author is popular. I mean, come on, how popular can an unknown author be? They're not Stephen King but maybe they write like him and that's the reason why they're so successful.

Many authors worry about the price of their book and think that if it's not priced at 99c, it won't sell. I had this frame of mind myself for a little while but soon realised success favours the brave and that saying made me put my price up. Now after three weeks priced at $2.99 or £1.90 - it still sells. And it's been well worth the risk.

So, if you're new to writing and fear your books won't sell, I can assure you they will sell so long as you have a quality product to market.

Here's a great blog post by Andy Holloman on this issue:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Write For Yourself

It has been said many times that the older you get the more confident you become. But I am going to play devil's advocate here and say this isn't always the case. Here's why:

  • The older you get the more criticisms you will have faced due to unavoidable life events.
  • The more criticisms you face the more self doubt you have.
  • With every risk you take there's a chance of failure. The more risks you take, the more likely it is you will fail.
Look at it this way. When you were a child how much confidence did you have? Most young children are confident as they have not had much chance to fail. They are fearless because most of them haven't experienced the bad side in life: they do not know what failure feels like and therefore don't have that fear to hold them back. Their own world is limited, and most of what they learn is achieved by positive things like playing.

Here's another common saying: 'You only learn through your mistakes.'
This implies the only real way to learn is to be hurt through failure. Do young people really learn anything until they have been bitten by negativity?

So this is why a writer must write for themselves first. Write your book like no one else will ever read it. Stop worrying what your mother will think, what your editor will say, forget the general assumptions people may make. It is your book that you have written for yourself to read.

Back when I first started writing, I had this thought pattern. And it wasn't because I didn't want anyone else to read it, it was because I thought no one else would bother. I didn't think I would have a big audience. I don't know why I thought these things. Maybe because back then I had no previous experience to draw upon.

So I think that's why my style is so candid. I hold nothing back - so that's why my book reads like I'm just having a conversation. With myself. When I'm just talking to myself there is no need to hold anything back. Why should I do that? It's not like I've been hiding secrets. I haven't got a split personality which neither character knows about. I just talk. I say it like it is. And that's where I think great confidence comes from, so long as you're at peace with yourself. If you like what you say then what's not to love?

Besides, when you write you will always offend someone. It's just how it is. So you may as well please yourself first and write from the heart. And chances are people will agree with you if they think the same.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Word Power

What is the main objective for writers to achieve? What is their main goal they strive for everyday?
Is it to procrastinate away as much time as they can manage? Is it spending all their time marketing and answering emails? No. It shouldn't be.

Although these two things are issues many writers can identify with, they won't achieve their goal if this is how they spend all their time.

The main question every writer should have at the forefront of their mind is this: 'How can I affect my readers in the most powerful way?'

And the answer is: 'Through choosing the most accurate words to describe what I'm saying.'

We all know the power of words in everyday life. They make the difference between life and death. Picture a hospital intensive care unit with two doctors discussing the correct use of drugs for their patient. If one doctor makes an error in their prescription and the other doctor doesn't pick up on it then their patient may die, all because incorrect words were spoken or written.

Words make powerful contracts. Words make wedding vows, and that is a contract recognised in law. Two people promise to make the ultimate commitment to one another until death do them part.

Language is the subject which makes the world turn around. Without it no one could function. Communication goes beyond the subject of words as that also includes body language, but without words we would be lost for the majority of time. Sometimes quite literally as directions wouldn't exist.

But as writers we should keep this point with us at all times. Words are our playground. We can use them however we choose. Whether it's to make someone feel loved or deliberately hurt them, we can achieve both these things by the power of words.

Why don't you make it your new goal to learn a new word everyday? Just one little word every twenty four hours can soon add up to a lot.

Here are some great words I have found in the last couple of years:











Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Raising my Book Price and being Brave.

I have finally done it. I have succumbed to the evil forces of 'peer pressure' (something I very rarely do) and raised my ebook price from 99c to $2.99.

My book, priced at 99c, has sold just under one copy per day for the past year. During this time I have seen countless debates about pricing ebooks, and I have to say I agree with each argument. I understand the pros and cons of high and low prices. People argue 99c is almost worthless for anything other than short stories. Flipping the coin over, however, some people say it's better to price your first book at this price in order to gain a steady readership. Some people won't go any lower than $2.99 because of the Amazon royalties rates.

Having spent a year with my first book at 99c, I often wonder just how many of those purchases are read. I remember Bob Mayer saying in one of his blog posts that people will often buy a 99c book and never read it. He states 99c is an impulse buy, and many people won't bother to download the free sample chapter. Because of this 99c books get more bad reviews.

Having read my 1 star rating on Barnes and Noble, I presume this to be the case. Whoever the person was that gave me that rating (they called themselves anonymous) they obviously didn't download the free sample, and just thought my book was going to be another Lonely Planet travel guide. Have you seen the price of those kind of books? They are certainly more expensive than 99c. The price of my book obviously drove this person to purchase it on a whim and then realising it wasn't what they thought, they obviously felt compelled to give it a one star rating.

Joe Konrath argues that although you may sell less books at $2.99, you'll make more money on Amazon's royalty system. Coming from the U.K. I still think $2.99 is really cheap as it translates into only £1.90. That is ridiculously cheap - you can barely buy a good takeaway coffee for that. Like a few people have mentioned on the Kindleboards it's all about putting value on something. Take that coffee for instance. People will pay four or five dollars for something that'll just take three mintues to make, and only ten minutes - at the most - to consume. I spent eighteen months writing and rewriting my first book. Paid a fee for my copy editor and a fee for my cover, so why should I feel compelled to keep it at such a low price forever? During this year I have received some awesome reviews and this has given me the confidence into thinking: 'Hey, maybe I can write after all.'

But having a successful career is all about being brave enough to experiment with different things. If something doesn't work out then you change things around to find something that does work.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Second Book Finished and Ideas for my Third One.

Last Tuesday at 15.45 I finished my second book. I knew the end was drawing closer but even after another week has passed I still can't believe I am now the author of two books.

However, I am not satisfied with that thought. Even though it's great I have produced that amount of work in a ten month time frame, I still want to dive straight into my third book. I have always been driven with an endless urge to get things done but now I realise that I have to slow things down in preparation to write this elusive third book.

So what's the matter, you might think. Why is the third book going to be any different or harder than the two I have written? Well, here's the thing ...

My first two books have been based on real life factual accounts, but I want my third book to be a complete work of fiction. This time I am going to have to magic the plot line out of thin air, and that's the thought scaring me the most. How on earth do other writers manage to write book after book after book and still have ideas to make all of them work? Can anyone be that imaginative?

I realise some people are and they are the lucky ones. But I have a sneaking suspicion the majority of writers are not like that at all and they have to get their inspiration from other sources. So now is the time I have to use my creativity and think where I could get my ideas from. I also need to study 'How To' books to see how I can weave my ideas into a decent story structure.

So ... where can I look for inspiration?

  • Media stories and other interesting wordly events that may have taken place recently or are about to take place.
  • Family history, and traumatic or romantic events that may have happened. I know several family members who have had an unusual life in some respect so maybe I can base a few ideas from those.
  • The history of where I currently live. I know this town has a few old stories to tell so maybe I can weave past events into a character's life.
  • Think horror and what scares me the most. Films have been made about spiders turning into gigantic monsters. Maybe I could write a story based on a haunting.
  • The contents of my dreams, I think this is the most important one as I sometimes have very strange dreams.
I have already decided the genre of my third book so it's just a question of weaving all my ideas into a good plot. Wish me luck!

As a writer, where do you get your inspiration from?