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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Is Your Writing Career A Success?

Writers are extremely creative people and we write because we love the process. Creating books takes a lot of time and energy so if authors wanted a get rich quick scheme, they certainly wouldn't use this career to achieve that goal.

Many authors, even moderately successful ones, have another job to supplement their income and I think this is why so many writers feel a failure because they are unable to live off their writing alone.

But surely a successful writing career is more than making millions off one book alone? After all, money does not make one happy, it only guarantees a better class of misery.

However, every writer has to start somewhere and no one can say you won't achieve the fame and fortune of Stephen King some day.

So how do you know if your books are successful?

  • Are you only a success if all your books are Hollywood films?
  • Are you a success if every book you write turns into a film but the critics all hate it?
  • What about if you only sell one book per month but only receive 5 star ratings?
  • What if you sell a hundred copies per day but only receive low ratings?
  • Are you successful if your writing is technical genius but everyone hates it?
  • What if your writing is full of errors but everyone loves it?
There's no 'right' answer here. Everyone has their definition of success and what it means to them. My definition of success has been achieved because I have accomplished everything I have set out to do. I have written and published two books and I am currently writing my third. I have received both high and low ratings for these books but I still receive fan mail from people overseas and now I have a regular income from my writing.

So, are you a successful writer?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Do You Feel Like A Writer?

More and more writers are taking the self publishing route than ever before. And there are even some like myself who have yet to venture down the traditional publishing path. The argument of this post is not which path makes you more bonafide, but when is it appropriate to call yourself a writer.

I spent over a year writing my first book. It was a mammoth task! Back then it was the biggest project I had undertaken but when the time came to hit the publish button with Amazon Kindle, it was also the biggest achievement I had ever accomplished.

It was also the time when I thought it appropriate to call myself a writer.

At last I had a finished product, something that I could see, and something which I could sell online. A finished product that had been professionally edited, a product that was of professional quality. And it was only then did I think myself worthy of that title.

When writing, I really struggled with that title's concept. I felt a bit of a fraud to call myself a writer because I had no finished product to show as evidence that's what I was doing. I did all this work without ever feeling like I had a right to claim that title. But when I worked on my second book I couldn't stop telling people that I, Laura K. Watts, was a writer.

Many people write during their entire lifetime but some never publish anything. Their main purpose is just to write for a hobby. But my goal in life is to one day make a living from my art. I realise this goal is not going to happen overnight but I hope that the time will come where I'll be able to make a living from my books.

When did you feel it was appropriate to call yourself a writer?

See you after a week in Scotland!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Take A Holiday From Social Media

In just over a week's time I'll be taking a well earned break in Scotland. Spending seven days in this beautiful part of the world fills me with joy but the concept I won't have an Internet connection makes me even happier.

As a writer I spend an awful lot of time on social media. But I often wonder how much of that time is wasted and would be better spent if I just focused on writing. My American friends and fans all think that if you want to be a best selling author you have to build your audience first. Networking is crucial to them and if you aren't willing to talk to anybody then you may as well forget it. And while I respect that opinion, I often wonder just how true it is.

I network with plenty of people from the Americas but I always sell more books on the Amazon UK site. Being British myself I can safely say we don't place as much importance on social media as other people do in the world. And it doesn't matter how many people I talk to week to week my sales for the month always seem to stay the same.

So, in your opinion how effective is social media? Do you find a sudden increase in sales the moment you network, or do you have to endlessly promote before you see any difference in sales? Or, like me, do your sales stay the same from month to month no matter what you do?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

4 Character Types Every Story Must Have

I am having immense fun creating my characters for my third story, my first fiction book. And as I'm over half way into my second chapter outline I think I have most of my characters well established.

But last week I started thinking about the roles of these characters and I realised they must have an essential part to play in the story. It's no good for a writer to create characters just because they sound nice, bad characters need to exist too because they help drive the story forward. A writer needs to examine the layers of their characters to give them a full dimensional image.

So with this in mind I came up with four essential character roles.

  1. The protagonist. This is the most obvious one because it's the main character. In my book my protagonist is Caitlin O' Connor, a young woman whose life is turned upside down because she's suffered a brain trauma. I will create plenty of emotional conflict for poor Caitlin to go through as I want people who have suffered accidents themselves to be able to relate to her. In my book Caitlin realises although she had a pretty decent life before, it's not the life she wants now. But how does she go about changing it?
  2. The antagonist. I've decided my book will have two antagonists feature in it. Caitlin's husband will be one, and also Caitlin's sister who spends the majority of her time siding with her brother-in-law. The antagonist's role is to create as many problems as possible for the protagonist.
  3. The comedy character. To add a bit of light relief for when the story gets dark, I have created Paschal, the Pomeranian dog of Caitlin's sister. Pomeranians are real characters anyway so I thought who better to give this role to. Plus, I aim to appeal to dog lovers out there because I am one myself.
  4. The romantic. Although I am a bit of a cynic myself, I realise people would like to believe in a happy ever after. So I have created a character who is now perfectly suited to Caitlin, but not in an obvious way.
So, what about you? Do you have any more essential character roles up your sleeve?