Monday, January 6, 2014

5 Things A Writer Should Kill For

That's right, I said 'kill.' Hey, don't look at me that way, you were the one who had clicked on the title to get here.

As for that snazzy title, I have no regrets. Especially since I am a writer by day and a serial killer by night.


Me on weekends

Kidding... but that sounds like a great idea for my next mystery novel. The bloody suspense would constantly ask the reader not who had done it, but whether it was real.

On the last page I would tell the reader that I had gathered their mailing address through them downloading my book and that I was on my way to their place for a "quick book signing." Emphasis on the quotation marks. 

Now how fun would that be? 

I tell you, not as fun as winning a huge race. 

However, since the time I had beaten over 200 million long tailed swimmers to the egg, I have gone on to accomplish other great feats. One of them has been writing and becoming a god of fictional universes. 

Although I am not the next Stephen King, at least as of yet. I have been able to discover some interesting things about the craft I have come to love so much.  Such as, all writers can learn from each other no matter where they are in their careers and you can always have fun with narrative voice, for instance, just reread the beginning of this blog. 

But I want to share five things that I have discovered that a writer must have, no kill for if they must! Since a successful writer is a well equipped one, they should have:

1. A Website

You thought I would say a computer? Well, who doesn't have that now a days? But surprisingly most writers either don't have a website or they have a crappy one. 

You need to have a professional looking website and, yes there's more, and you have to make sure it has your voice in the content and brings value to its visitors. 

First, I had made the mistake of not having one, then I made the mistake of having a crappy one. Let me dive into how crappy. It just marketed my books. Nothing else. Great, right? 

I am not saying the website you are now looking at is a work of art, but it has come a long way and I have a growing subscriber list that tells me that it does bring value to people that come to it. 

The thing is when you have a professional website that brings value to your reader and on top of that has your voice in the content, you are letting the readers know who you are as a writer and your professional presentation is further increasing your credibility with them.

So when it comes time to market your book people will be more willing to buy from you because you are a familiar written voice that screams professionalism. 

2. A Subscriber List

RSS feeds are pretty weak tech, no cross that,  pretty lame. 

It is not as versatile nor as powerful as having a subscriber list. Don't get me wrong, I have an RSS feed of this blog on my Amazon author's page, but the issue with RSS is when people sign up to use it through your site you cannot see who they are nor can you gather their email addresses. Even if you could, you would have to use a separate program to create e-newsletters to email market to them. 

E-newsletters? Hell yeah, I say. One of the purposes of having a website is to build a following and one of the key purposes to having a subscriber list is to be able to reach out to the established audience when it comes time to launch your book. 

I'm not saying it's spam time. Most of my e-newsletters have nothing to do with my books, but you better believe they are always about new features or articles on my website. Again, I'm always focused on building that value. You knew what I was going to say. 

You just want to make sure you have the option to email market to the audience you have built. If you can't communicate with them, then what's the point of it all?

You want to keep them in touch with you as a write, all the projects you are working on and you want to do so in a professional package (e-newsletter). RSS feeds are not the way to go. 

3. Active Chapter Links

One thing I hate is formatting my manuscript for e-readers. It can be so tedious that I just want to head over to my readers' houses for a "quick book signing." 

One thing I just couldn't get write, I mean right, forgive me for trying to be cute, was I couldn't get my chapter links to work. 

'Why bother, Andre?' you ask. 

Well, I am all about bringing v- You know. The V word and I don't mean Voldemort. Yep, I said it. 

People don't see value in a product if it is not convenient. So having a functional navigation system is key to that V word when it comes to ebooks. 

Also, and I should put this in bold too, other professionally published books have functional chapter links. Your goal as an indie author is to make sure your book looks as professional as traditionally published books. 

Not to fool the reader, but because you need to remember who you are competing with for attention and how attention is won.

Now take that professionalism to your book cover. 

4. A Writers' Circle 

As I said before, writers are always learning. 

Just because we write alone doesn't mean we have to learn alone. I should copyright that and slap it on a t-shirt. 

There are plenty of forums out there for writers, so take advantage of them. Just be careful with the ones that ask for money. Make sure they are bringing that V word to you first. 

Hey, wouldn't you just know that I have a Writers' Circle on this site, right here?

I sure do and it only costs five payments of $19.99! I'm joking? Well hell, if you want to pay me I won't stop you. 

The important benefits from a writers' circle are that you can not only learn from other writers about yourself and your own writing, but you can form partnerships that can lead to collaborations. You can also find out where to get the best book covers and who can help you with that pesky ebook formatting. 

And much much more! Okay, infomercial off. 

5. A Willingness To Destroy What You Love

Way back in the day, when Facebook didn't exist and my flip phone was considered cool, I had a creative writing professor. Yes, I went to college. 

I remember him saying that after you write your first draft you should delete the first few pages of the first chapter automatically no matter what.

The point is when you create your first draft of your manuscript it is like meeting someone for the first time. There are a lot of things you don't know yet about it such as the best starting point of the story. Not to mention a first encounter is usually filled with awkward moments and you don't want awkward sentences to remain in your manuscript when you hit the publish button.

So relax.

After all, I think all writers should be able to destroy their stories. I am not just talking about deleting 10 pages from your first chapter to create a more intriguing beginning, I am talking about the ability to erase entire drafts from your computer hard drive without backing them up.

Sometimes the best place to restart is from scratch. If you can gain this ability then you can successfully work with a professional editor who wants you to take out those scenes you had worked so hard on, but they just don't really fit with the development of your protagonist.

I say start small. Delete the first five pages of your first chapter and read your story from there. How does it read? Is it better? Did it turn out that  you didn't have to spend so much time on building up the first chapter? That you could have gotten to the point much sooner and the story still makes sense?

I have used this exercise countless of times and while it has faded the ink on my delete button, it has also given me more experience with how to be more concise as a writer.

Leaning how to say more with less is very important when dealing with today's reader. I say it wouldn't hurt to sign up for those flash fiction exercises at that writers' circle you had joined to get some practice.

The last thing you want to do is bore your reader with chapter one. 





3 comments:

  1. Great article and very true :D I get a bit stuck at the destroying what I love bit, I know I should but it hurts so bad to do it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! I know it is always hard to cut out portions of your writing.

    I appreciate you subcribing to The Word.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The first place people go when they want more information on a book or author is the Internet. If you have a website, it means that you can control the message. It's an opportunity to convince a potential reader to buy your book.

    ReplyDelete

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