After a full year of Writer’s Spotlights, there have been some fabulous authors and books come our way. Each of them brought something to the table for the budding and established authors in the M3 Readers. Let Claret fix you a cuppa while we have a recap. Let’s go sit by the front windows and watch the birds.
The most common piece of advice was to just write. Whether you are scribbling on the back of a receipt or pounding a keyboard, write every single day. The authors who deviated from this advice only veered slightly left to say: Schedule a time to write and keep it.
The bottom line to this advice is treat writing as your primary profession. You want to make a living from your writing. Do you expect someone to just arbitrarily begin sending you checks? If you are not committed to doing your job of writing your (story, manuscript, screenplay), you will never get it finished and sell it. When you need a table, are you more likely to buy lumber or furniture? How about your reader?
Just so you know, this advice is the difference between writers and authors.
A Close Second
Story editors are first. These are your beta readers. They will overlook the typos (read find them for you), but they will tell you if your story derails. Beta input it crucial to the development of your story, fictional or factual. Beta input can easily turn a novel into a series once you realize how many questions you left unanswered.
Line editor comes next. Most authors feel like they have been bloodied after line edits. If they do not, the editor failed to point out where the changes were made. Line edits include nuances the beta reader may have missed being caught up in the story. When your line editor is done, the note pad beside the book may be as long as the book with elements to check on throughout the script.
Do not be surprised if you have to go through line edits more than once. Regardless of how many times you do it, realize the most important fact of line edits: Corrective measures for your script are not a character assassination.
Regardless of how much of yourself your poured into your script, your editor is not telling you personally you are (a failure, inadequate, needing improvement). Your editor is going to make your script the best it can be for the reader. Did you write your script for yourself or your reader?
Copy editor is next. Remember all those typos everyone who read the story overlooked? They really are not a bad sign. Your story was engaging enough for the typos not to trip the reader hard enough for them to stumble from the book to grumble. Your copy editor has not read your story.
What? How do copy editors find mistakes? They cheat. They skip to the end to read it first. Did I mention? They read in reverse sentence by sentence.
Last is your layout editor. All of the pretty formatting you did to have the chapter headings and page numbers precisely right is all exactly wrong. Your word processor was not designed to format for print. It has no idea how to format for ebook. These two facts are the reason why some publishing houses still require paper manuscripts. It is often easier to scan them and let software handle the problems than it is to try to undo what you have done to them.
You may think, when you submit it, your manuscript is perfect. There is an entire team of editors who was not at any of the staff meetings of your characters in your head. They are going to tell you all the things you have assumed you made clear, which mysteriously never made the manuscript. Without them, it is still just a draft.
What good is writing a book if no one buys it? It is the equivalent of it remaining in your WIP folder until your hard drive crashes. Publicists gave you really good ideas this year about how to market your books.
Press releases need to be targeted to the publication distributing them. Play to your audience. Define your audience. Every time possible, expand your audience.
Social media campaigns are not the equivalent of begging. Interacting with your social media audience is as important as interacting with your blogging audience.
Reviews can make or break you. Having a few under your belt at release time is a great thing. Never getting another one is not. Having four and five stars is terrific. Having three one stars in a row, not so much. Having friends and family give glowing reviews is great. Only having friends and family give reviews is not. Reviews make good social media links.
Doing it all yourself is possible, but chances are you will never write anything else in your career except tweets and status updates. Networking with other authors is crucial to the success of your marketing. Networking with book sellers is just as good, but only if your book is actually in print and available through trusted sales channels.
Reciprocity is a way of life. If you are not reading and reviewing, your name is not in front of enough potential readers. Giving good reviews entices readers to click on your name to see why they should trust you. What better way than having a book of your own for them to peruse?
In that same vein, opening your social media to the promotion of others ensures you are not pounding your followers with nothing but plugs for your work. You are not really a spammer, are you?
Consistency is the key to a writing career. This is your profession. Ply your trade. Blogging is one of the easiest avenues to keeping your name appearing before readers. Come close. Here’s a secret. Blog readers read books. If your blog is professional, stays on some target and appeals to your audience, in time, readers will take the plunge from the free reading they get on your blog to the books which pay you for what you do.
Freebies are a matter of debate. Everyone wants something for free. If you are only blogging the excerpts from your book, you are giving it away, just as much as offering a free download. Experience proves giving it away increases total number of downloads. Free downloads water down the profit of the book offered for free.
If your free book is good, readers will be enticed to buy the other books you have to offer. Hence begins the debate. What good is giving away your book for the sake of total downloads if you have nothing else for readers to buy? Consider this carefully.
Would you rather be a best-selling author with millions of copies of free books floating around or a successful author selling a modest (or obscene) amount of books to support yourself? Discuss it with someone you trust who has business experience… not your mother, unless your mother is in the publishing industry.
Over the course of 2013, the Writer’s Spotlight will continue to shine the light on authors with new books on the market. You may see a shift in the questions to better represent different information from the 2012 interviews. The line up of authors is very different from those you saw in 2012. In that diversity, M3 hopes you will find answers which would have otherwise eluded you behind the industry cloak.
What was the best piece of information you picked up from an author this year? Is there a question you would like to ask an author? How many books did you read this year? Are you looking forward to the new books coming out for the new year?
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