Monthly Archives: April 2015

The fun of watching live readers

chinchilla sitting on a hand

Gizzy – silent reader?

A LIVE READER IS A SPECIAL PLEASURE TO A WRITER

I am very, very honored lately by a phenomenon I had noticed, but not paid particular attention to, until I finished writing Book 1 of Pride’s Children: watching someone get hooked on my writing.

It starts on here or on Wattpad. I notice my stats go up – I’m getting more views than normal, and the list of posts visited on my blog takes on a pattern.

Here on the blog, I notice the sequence of chapters and scenes, one right after another.

On Wattpad (where I had been posting a scene twice a week), because of time constraints (it takes time to format and post a scene), I have a notice after Chapter 14, Scene 7:

If you like Pride’s Children, the whole story is up on my blog – link. Please tell me if it is inconvenient for you as a reader to switch to my blog, and I’ll reconsider posting the remainder here on Wattpad.

The special position of serials and live writing

So a reader knows I haven’t abandoned the story.

Every reader of a live serial knows that there is always a possibility the author won’t finish.

That gut feeling is balanced by knowing the work is available as soon as possible. It’s a trade-off. Many people, burned once too many times, refuse to read until the serial is finished. I don’t blame them – I’ve started reading several, only to find the author has other things to do, for whatever reason, and stopped, for now or for good, before I could finish reading.

Live writing (okay, I thought I had enough of a buffer. Hehe) was MY choice.

Readers owe writers nothing; writers owe readers…?

Until a book is published and available for sale, writers owe readers nothing. George RR Martin doesn’t ‘owe’ his readers the rest of his saga, even though they (Geek and Sundry on Youtube, Write, George, write like the wind) seem to think so, and are especially persuasive.

Writers have no more control over the real world than anyone else.

Even popular writers may find a publisher 1) having the rights to the rest of the books in a series, and 2) refusing to execute those rights. Ouch!

If you know only half the readers you need to survive will buy the next book, you may end up abandoning those readers.

What does the reader owe the writer?

Absolutely nothing.

There is, especially right now and for this book, no ‘contract with the reader’ made by anyone who chooses to read a few words of the story.

None.

I, the writer, hoped to heck I’d get to this point, promised MYSELF I’d get to this point, have promised MYSELF I’ll get to Book 3 and write The End.

But readers have not made ANY promises to ME, implied or explicit. Nor should they.

Context: finishing Book 1 of Pride’s Children

But, until I had actually finished (even if there are two more books planned, plotted, outlined to the last detail, and in rough draft form), I might have been on that same list of author interruptus. For all I knew, as I slogged along for all those years, I might be incapable of finishing.

Or force majeur might have kept me from finishing. Things HAPPEN.

The pleasure of the through reader staring on the blog

But now that I AM done, I get to enjoy my readers more.

It warms the cockles of my heart.

The pattern starts showing: I may not catch the beginning, or a reader may have been here all along, reading weekly, but now the Scene pages get viewed in succession over a day or two, until I get another hit on Chapter 20, Scene 6 (End of Book 1).

Whew. Another one made it safely to To Be Continued.

The pleasure of the Wattpad reader

I notice a different pattern: if it is a Wattpadder, Chapter 14, Scene 8 shows up on my list of views, and I know ONE more reader there has made the leap, clicked on my link, and done the hard part: moving to a new venue.

Since Wattpadders read on mobiles, this requires effort. It also usually means they read the first almost-14 chapters on Wattpad – which is a kick all by itself: I am not a undemanding writer.

The through reader is better than chocolate

These readers tend not to skip or skim. If they read at all, they get immersed (several have been wonderful enough to let me know).

It is an honor to be taken seriously like that.

I DON’T NEED ANY REACTION TO BE HAPPY: seeing the pattern complete makes me squee.

The reader who makes it through silently, like my chinchilla Gizzy (if she read), is welcome.

One in ten or so takes the additional step of letting me know what their reaction is, and those comments and emails are balm to the twitchy writer’s soul while doing all these OTHER tasks necessary to make a book salable.

My request of the through reader is different

EVERY response that comes, even simply reading to the end, is welcome. Readers owe me nothing. I repeat: nothing. I grew up in the time when you didn’t even realize the writer might still be alive!

Additional possible reactions: Like. (Or vote on Wattpad.) Eventually, consider buying (though they’ve already read the story, so at this point I don’t anticipate that). If Book 1 is for sale, a review on Amazon will be welcome (I promise I’ll put a link out when that’s true, and I’m trying my darndest to make it happen asap).

But MY preferred form of response, whatever else you do, Gentle Through Reader, is that you take a moment, think very hard, and see if there is ONE person you would recommend Pride’s Children, Book 1, to (dangling preposition and all) – and get them started on Chapter 1.

If you’ve done that – and that explains why I’m getting more through readers – my humble thanks to you.

And if you read the whole thing, your vote on the prologue – keep, rewrite, delete – is welcome any time, too.

Plus, of course, we’re always open for comments.

Progress of a sort toward publication

THE FALLOW PERIODS MAY BE INCREDIBLY PRODUCTIVE

I realized I haven’t written much on the blog recently, but it is NOT because I’ve run out of things I want to write about here, but because I have been so incredibly busy since writing ‘To Be Continued‘ at the end of the last scene of Chapter 20 in Pride’s Children.

I have 50 unfinished posts in one or another states of disarray! If you think my blog posts are all over the place, you should see the ideas files they are eventually pulled from to be cleaned up and thrown up here for public consumption.

I can’t afford to give them the creative energy I need right now to get ready for publication.

What I know – and what I’ve put off

Writing I know how to do. I proved it to myself by finishing Book 1, and being happy with the results (pending final editing tweaks).

I’ve made lists and abortive starts, and stored bookmarks and bought books – all for the OTHER part, the getting ready for publication and actually throwing it up there for people to find on Amazon, etc., part.

Now I’m reading and absorbing all that.

What has been going on chez Ehrhardt is that the reality of what I was putting off is HUGE.

And every one of those postponed list items takes the daily energy that I used to pour into the writing (which I can’t wait to get back to).

For a slow writer like me, there is a bittersweetness to the fact that I’m forcing myself to do a whole bunch of one-of-a-kind items with a steep learning curve – and I won’t use those skills I’m developing for a very long time after I finish getting Pride’s Children Book 1 published. So I’m learning things I will then forget to some extent before I need them again. And the world of computers and software moves into the future at light speed while I’m trying to master today.

But they have to be done – by me or someone else I pay – before publication is possible.

Collaboration isn’t possible for me right now

The more I think about having to interact with other people over control of my work, the less able I am to let someone else do it for me. Because the interaction itself will suck the energy out of me, and I will have no control of that timing with someone else. That is the reality of the CFS and the damaged brain.

It makes it very difficult to collaborate, say, with a cover designer. I had a brief experience of it on Wattpad where a very lovely designer did a new cover for Too Late (if you haven’t read it, it’s a prequel of sorts to Pride’s Children, here, Wattpad version including cover here). The amount of energy it took from me was unbelievable: I came to a complete brain-fogged stop for days, just trying to get my ideas across, because she was normal and had lots of ideas of her own. But she was doing me a favor, and so I had to work with her right then, while she was focusing on MY cover.

My profound gratitude to the friends I’ve made online

This inability to collaborate is not the same as not getting help: I have had wonderful email conversations with people who have read Pride’s Children, or who have created wonderful blog posts about how to do something.

This help – an answer to a question at the right time, an example of how they did something I’m just now learning, feedback about an attempt of mine – is the most amazing thing ever.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pay back the support, or even pass it on to other writers following, so it is disinterested and pure help. It has been the kind of help that my Mother would say, ‘got you into Heaven with your boots on.’

I’m not naming names here – though some of them will be very obvious if you check out the comments in some past posts – because I don’t want them inundated with requests for the kind of help they have given me unprompted. You know who you are, guys, and I love you for it.

But it’s one thing to accept offered help, and another to pay for work done. It’s the latter I can’t see myself doing, no matter HOW good the person is at his or her job. Because of ME.

So for now, while I LEARN what it is I might be asking someone else to do for me, it is DIY for me.

The current short list of overwhelming tasks being slowly mastered:

Book Description. Or cover copy, or back cover copy, or blurb. The words which go in the Amazon description box telling you what the book is ‘about.’ Where you get to summarize, extract, create your own best advertising, in your own (gulp!) words, that will make a reader decide YOUR story might be something they would read.

A reader’s NEXT ‘first impression’ (after cover, title, words under the picture on Amazon, and whatever led them to the place where they’re thinking about it in the first place). The words ‘above the fold’ on the page for the book BEFORE the reader clicks Show More or Add to Cart or even Look Inside!. To be followed, if Show More is clicked, by the rest of the description.

I’ve known forever that the descriptions I have up as placeholders on various sites, including this one, are inadequate. Cringe-worthy even. All over the place. Writing a hundred-word ‘description’ of a 150K word novel is by definition impossible. [For practice, try writing what Gone With the Wind in about in a hundred words. Good luck.]

I’m finally working on it, and have been fortunate to get help, real help, from several writers. Meanwhile, every reader who goes through one of these placeholders is still getting an inadequate version. And I’m not going to change that for now.

Elevator pitch. The short version of everything. Would you believe, that I, like many new authors, choke every time someone asks me, ‘What is your book about?’ or ‘What are you writing?’

I’ll be brave: here is the current version:

“I’ve always been fascinated by how celebrities choose who to marry. Pride’s Children is about a reclusive best-selling writer who is irresistibly drawn to an Irish megastar, and thinks she’s safe because she will never see him again. To complicate matters, a beautiful young actress has already decided that she and the actor will make the ultimate Hollywood Power Couple.

“Book 1 tells the story of the development of a beautiful relationship – that can go nowhere.”

It takes 23 seconds to say the first part, and 29 for the whole.

It’s not finished.

I haven’t actually used it verbally on anyone yet.

I am trying to memorize it – and I feel like an idiot saying it. So? If I can’t open my big mouth and tell an interested (or polite?) listener what my book is about, I’m wasting an opportunity that will never return.

Think writing the book description is hard? Try accomplishing the same goals – to get someone to seriously consider your book – in less than 30 seconds.

Then be sure to whip out a card with all the information on it, and hand it over.

I’m sure this little acting performance will get more polished. I’m also pretty sure I’ll always have stage fright about it.

Cover. The all-important visual first hook for many people. Again, the placeholders are barely that – but allowed me to write first, and finish enough so that I know what I’m TRYING to do: evoke an emotional response (or at least not quash one) in a potential reader.

In my opinion, good covers do this, and meh covers don’t, while bad covers actively discourage me from reading your book.

I believe half the interest in The Goldfinch or the Fifty Shades books is due to their covers. That’s how important cover design is.

One way is to let someone do it. That’s how traditionally-published authors usually have to go. It’s taken out of their hands, and the web is rife with those traditional authors who dare speak out complaining about said covers. The ones who daren’t must be legion.

It’s one of the joys and pains of self-publishing that you get final approval of your cover.

And note carefully that writers are usually not also graphic designers. This is balanced by knowing our own book in a way no one else can. Me, I’m learning Pixelmator slowly and with the help of a wonderful video course I play over and over. And I’m making progress – with more of that aforementioned help.

Soon, I’ll SHOW you what I mean. Meanwhile, my head is exploding. But it’s all good, and I even created a font from my own handwriting (being tweaked). I have purchased my first image (of which I will use only parts), obtained the rights to another from a friend I will be happy to compensate if we sell more than 50 copies. But talk about ‘creative discomfort’ and the pre-learning tantrum. Sheesh!

Rights. To use the tiny bits I want from the King James Version of the Bible. From Cambridge University (who manage the permissions for the British Crown, who have granted themselves rights in perpetuity). Why? Because even though they don’t normally pursue violators, I won’t publish something I know I don’t have the rights to. And I want to sell worldwide, including Great Britain. And the punishment for copyright infringement in print is the theoretical recall of all the printed copies (or large fines) – an d all kinds of legal hassles.

I want to use these bits. I believe they fit the book. I believe I’m not being disrespectful (their opinion may vary). But I’m also capable of writing something entirely my own if they refuse permission. Which would be THEIR right.

I’m on tenterhooks, waiting, and it already took a month to get an initial response – and nothing since. Really. And even if you publish traditionally, and they assist (if they do) in getting rights, it is STILL the author’s responsibility.

[And yep, I obtained the rights to the cover images I will be using (see Covers, above). In writing.]

Copyright registration. Yup, did that BEFORE I published the final scene here on the blog.

Why? Because it is important to note that if you don’t, you may be able to win statutory damages from an infringer – but not punitive ones. Punitive damages require a registered copyright. For a book like Pride’s Children, it’s worth it to me.

Online registration is doable, though not perfect (I still don’t understand a few things). But because I had copyrighted the play I wrote (Tangled Webs), I already had an account, and had been through the system, and part of the pain was minimized. Another one of those things I don’t do every day.

All the rest. The fabulous TO DO list.

It is getting longer, but I’ve made decisions, and there is an order to the whole.

My intention is to get everything ready, but launch quietly and softly because I am still learning the ropes, and may have to take things down and redo parts as I go.

The one thing that is good is that I don’t expect major rewrites anywhere in the book itself. That part is due for minor tweaking only. I’m happy with the content, and I could not possibly attain the required fever pitch again for those scenes. What you have read here is basically it – the story won’t change in the tidying.

Mostly I have editing things to do like making sure the phones and answering machine in Kary’s house are self-consistent, and Andrew’s accent makes sense in how it waxes and wanes. What I call the ‘whole book’ edits. Which is probably why many people haven’t noticed these little deficiencies.

Consider yourself updated.

And I have gotten a few words out on the blog.

Pray for me – I have chosen a path and now must tread it.

It is fun. Honest. Now that I’ve finally switched over completely from writing, and know that I won’t get back to writing until it’s done, I have accepted that and moved on.

I’m hoping it doesn’t take forever, and that God and the universe are not laughing at me because of my plans, and that I live to finish the trilogy (if it’s up to me).

But I’m happy, content, and working hard in my own way.

Though I may not blog quite as much as during the writing. For now.

Thanks again to supporters and helpers. I couldn’t do this without you.

Good wishes much appreciated here.

 

Comfort zone and pre-learning tantrum in writing

THE HORROR OF THE PRE-LEARNING TANTRUM.

I seem to be writing about comfort zones and discomfort lately, as I go through all of the steps necessary to assemble a book and put it up for sale.

I wrote this Drabble (100 words) on my Wattpad account (http://www.wattpad.com/myworks/26653089/write/120865795):

[Comfort zones are for old ladies.

When you want to be a self-published author, you realize early on that EVERYTHING you do will push you out of your comfort zone.

You will have to actually write, all the way to ‘the End.’

Revise and polish your own work.

LET OTHER PEOPLE read.

Learn the business side: choosing where you will publish.

Formatting.

You will have to take yourself seriously as a professional and have standards.

It will cost money. Your money. You can replace some money with time. Your time.

But there will be things you CAN’T do. They still have to be done.

Most people you know will not understand.

Comfort zones are overrated.]

In answer to a question about dealing with self-doubt, I wrote:

For every scene I write, I go through a chunk of time with a very uncomfortable feeling in my gut, some time between gathering what will go in the scene and being able to write it.

Behaviorist Karen Pryor writes in her book Don’t Shoot the Dog that this time is called the ‘pre-learning tantrum’: what used to work doesn’t work, and you haven’t figured out the new pattern, and you are horribly uncomfortable.

I expect it now. I keep digging deeper into the subconscious – sometimes the tantrum means I haven’t faced the deepest truths yet – and I KNOW I won’t like the feeling.

But the scene won’t gel, won’t get written, until after I’ve gone through that.

For me, it is EVERY darn scene. Fear is part of it: fear of not doing the material justice, of being found out a poseur. Fear I write down in my journal until it is all out of my head.

But it isn’t really fear that makes the gut uncomfortable.

It is, rather, my brain learning what it means so I can write it – and not quite having it yet.

I just let it keep going around and around, reading what I have, asking myself what ‘digging deeper’ means in the context of THIS material.

And eventually a first line suggests itself, or the critical missing piece surfaces, and I start seeing words on the page as a way out of the pain.

I love it, because what follows is the sense of ‘flow’ where you lose yourself, and the subconscious takes over, and the writing seems to come more easily.

No pre-learning tantrum = no writing.

So I shrug and do my job, which is to sit with that discomfort and keep reading my own notes over and over, and thinking, and writing about it, until writing fiction happens.

I think some people fear this stage, and call it ‘writer’s block’ when it hits them.

Using the discomfort to write

The first thing to note about the pre-learning tantrum is that it practically guarantees I’m about to have a breakthrough: my brain is literally oscillating back and forth between the old and the new, trying desperately to trust that I know what the heck I’m doing.

I don’t – but it doesn’t matter, because every time before when this discomfort (okay, PAIN and FEAR state) has happened, sometime very soon after that, if I stick with it and keep poking it with a stick, the state breaks, the discomfort passes, and I’m on the other side of the chasm, writing.

It means I may need to keep digging just a little deeper, to ask myself – in writing – what the problem is, whether there is enough conflict or motivation or angst.

But it doesn’t happen at all until I’m very close to where I need to be.

The farther away I am, the less uncomfortable I am – so I can use it as a measure of distance from the change in state.

The KEY: stick with it. Don’t go looking for something ‘better’ to do instead. Stick with routine. Trust the process.

Writing this formally here will help me remember next time that it isn’t fatal.

Have you heard about the tantrum? Do you notice it? Does it work for you? (Writing is NOT the only area it happens in – almost any change can lead an outbreak.)

No spoons today: writing with CFS

***WARNING: DON’T READ – unless you know what the Spoon Theory is***

This is your warning, Gentle Reader. I don’t normally do whining posts, but I have to today, to be true to my ‘calling’ to write about CFS. Don’t read – just because I have to write. [For the foolish curious: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/%5D

This blog serves as a diary of sorts, of the things I’m thinking about and living with and doing. Maybe I’ll WRITE this post – and not post it.

Maybe I’ll print it out and reduce the pages to confetti, as that’s what it will deserve.

It’s a beautiful spring day, 62°, sunny, clear, and the daffodils and hyacinths are blooming, with the forsythia ready to pop like popcorn into strident yellow by the back fence. I want nothing more than to try a walk, or, better still, a bike ride. I would love to walk around the yard and fill vase after vase with daffodils, or at least one.

But I can’t afford it: I not only have no spoons, but I need some for tomorrow, and I am running a debt at usury from the activities of the past week.

I function best with 3-5 naps a day, leaving the house at most 2-3 times per week for no more than two hours counting travel time, and eating no carbs (I mean none – fewer than 20 g/day).

Instead, over the past ten days, I have left the house eight days, with two of those days having two ‘outs’ each, and many of them have been for far longer than two hours. Naps have suffered: I have been running on nerve, and I have been practically incoherent by the time I got home.

I have roughly stayed away from the goodies. Good for me. Psychologically, horrible for me. Yay, me.

Looking BACK, I can see it was all MY fault.

Some of these events were regular ones, others extras I took on knowing the risk, and the remainder were unhappy accidents of timing.

But it didn’t hit me until today that the reason I’m unable to focus is my own damn fault, and that there has been nothing I could or can do about it but wait for it to pass.

And if I go out for a 15 minute bike ride the two scheduled events for tomorrow won’t happen.

So I can’t afford it.

I’m going back to hermit mode, to taking naps over and over, to doing all the things which will eventually return my writing brain and a wee bit of physical energy to me.

The magnificent Triduum and Easter services were worth it, and next time I won’t plan long-delayed medical visits for right after, and I won’t go out to dinner with a friend who needed to talk, and I won’t keep up my promise to the Folk Music Society to attend the events (just because I’m president this year).

NOTE: Attend only – I perform no useful services (except that the previous president was never seen).

At least it’s pretty out the window. I should have planted the daffodils where I could see them from inside. Way back when I wasn’t sick. Amazing to think those daffodils have been with me longer than my children.

Many of us have it far worse, so, whine over.

And all you healthy people out there: take a bike ride for me.

And don’t complain: if you read this far it was by choice. I warned you.

And excuse me while I go take the next nap mental dialysis treatment.

Blogging about how far you’ve come

WHAT DO I DO ON TUESDAYS NOW?

Brent Riggs (Brent@brentriggs.com) said to write a post about how far you’ve come, and how blogging has changed since you started: I’ll look at the period since I started posting Pride’s Children, February 12, 2013.

To ‘Write about where your blog was “X” numbers of years ago.’

He said, in an email: ‘People often become discouraged about blogging because they think those who are successful did it with ease and very quickly. What they do not realize is that it most likely took many years of hard work, perseverance, and setbacks.

Tell them about the hard work, setbacks, and commitment it took to get you from “A” to “B” (today).

This is the first Tuesday post in a very long time in which I don’t have a scene to announce, and it feels odd.

WHY DID I START THIS BLOG?

I started this blog to see what blogging was about, and found I like to blog. I’m an opinionated sort, and stubborn, and chatty under the right circumstances. By the time I started my own blog, I had been reading and commenting on other writing blogs for over a year, and could see how it worked.

At that point, September 9, 2012, I took the plunge.

WHEN DID I START POSTING Pride’s Children?

Five months later I decided I was ready: on 2/12/13, I had 40 scenes in hand as a buffer, and I figured that would be enough to provide me space to write the remaining ones before I’d use up my buffer – never checking out my own data (what did you keep all those notebooks for then, Alicia?), which when examined showed that some scenes had either taken months to write, or were surrounded by periods of time where I had external or internal reasons for not writing.

So I started. And I’ve missed only one Tuesday (by about an hour – had the scene ready, just forgot to post) since I started.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Writing is temporarily over, at least on Pride’s Children scenes in Book 1.

Now I’m having weird withdrawal symptoms which I’ve realized are entirely normal: if you intend to self-publish, and have used all your energy for writing, when you get to the ‘publish’ part, you haven’t finished all those things you could have been doing as you went along.

You haven’t finished with one task, not really (there will be whole-book editing, and cleanup of a few known problems), but you now need to learn and do all those things you’ve been putting off.

People in general have been lovely and supportive, and other writers in particular have been helpful (I’m just one of a long line of newbies coming after them.

How long does withdrawal last?

Only until you get thoroughly into the next phase: it took me about this past week to really get going.

There will be a hiatus of sorts between ‘last scene posted’ and ‘available for sale’ because I barely made it to the last scene, and it’s going to take time (a month may be too optimistic) to do those tasks I have some control over: cover, description, formatting, final editing.

The ‘Soft Launch’

Getting Pride’s Children, Book 1, up on Amazon without making a big fuss is called a soft launch, and the idea suits me: put it up there, buy a copy and make sure the formatting works for at least one device (I have a Kindle and the Kindle app on my computer). Edit/fix/reload.

Decide the cover is awful in some particular way. Do something about that. Change the cover in the online store.

Learn more about descriptions – decide you MUST change it. Do so. Throw book up on Amazon again.

Repeat until the obvious mistakes are taken care of; pray there aren’t TOO many. Just for personal sanity, not bragging rights.

Hope you haven’t accumulated negative reviews.

Then think about a proper launch. The kind that gets reviewers to look at your book, and arranges for ads in various places. Realize what I just said. Hide.

Ebook is up and running, then what?

Get template for paper version. Learn all that stuff. Create paper version.

Think about audiobook. You’ve got to be kidding! Nope. More stuff to learn.

The bad part about a soft launch is that you give up some of the ‘New’ time Amazon provides for exposure of new titles. Why do I remember ‘new this month’ or something like that? Must go look up.

After an adjustment, I’m back to work

I promise to get back to blogging about the pieces of this ‘publishing puzzle’ if I discover new and uncommon ways to do it; if not, I’ll just link to the places I found my information if they seem to need some visibility: I am extremely grateful already to the DIY-ers who write free blog posts and inexpensive ebooks about ALL this stuff.

I am reading all this information, filling in the little forgotten corners. Amazingly, I remember most of it, if not in detail, at least that I read it somewhere, which reassures me that I’m not starting from scratch. Phew!

Task 1: DESCRIPTION

The current task, following JM Ney-Grimm’s wonderful advice (http://jmney-grimm.com/2015/04/what-happens-after-the-manuscript-is-complete/), is to get a description that will:

1) tell people exactly what they’re getting if they buy Book of the Pride’s Children Trilogy.

No, this doesn’t mean reveal the plot – that they have to read for. But there has to be enough information in the part of the description that shows up on the page when you click on the cover image, BEFORE you decide to click on SHOW MORE (if you do).

That little piece of real estate is the most crucial of the whole description.

You want an action on the part of the potential reader: preferably ‘Buy now,’ but almost as good will be ‘Show More’ and ‘Look inside the book.’

2) let a potential reader see a bit of the writing style, somehow, because that is the main thing they are buying and will be spending a lot of time with: characters, plot, and everything else, will come at them from THAT writer, and there are a lot of things a reader knows for sure he doesn’t like (typos, sentences that begin with ‘ing’ constructs, incorrect dialogue punctuation, pet peeves of all kinds).

That style will be much more obvious in the sample, but a reader won’t get to the sample if the first bit of the description turns her off already. I’ve seen it done – I’ve left my share of descriptions, knowing I didn’t want to read further.

Let’s see if I can do better, and I hope people will tell me – rather than just get out of there – but I can’t count on it.

3) Give readers a good feeling if they do the next click – I know when I’m being taken care of, as a reader, and I assume everyone else knows what they like to read.

Orient the reader and get the reader started, and lead her to wanting to find out what happens next.

I’m pretty sure that after cover, keywords, description, and sample, readers will know if they want to continue: I want to give them enough information to make that decision in an easy and complete little packet.

Doing something I’ve never done before, seeing if I can take all that advice and information I’ve gotten, and put up a professional package (you up there in the peanut gallery: stop laughing).

That is just the very start, as I’m following JM’s path – description only until I feel it’s perfect, then cover, then description again (you didn’t believe it is really perfect, did you?), then cover again…

What lies ahead?

I don’t know how much I’ll blog about this – I am such a rank beginner at this that even as entertainment it will pale.

I just don’t know what to do with myself on Tuesdays yet. Expect me to be erratic, and ecstatic, and static, and confused.

But trust me: I’m having great fun.

This is a time to make all and any suggestions. While the concrete hasn’t set.

What say you?

Writing chickens come home to roost

HOW DO YOU GET TO CARNEGIE HALL?

When you’re writing a book, especially one that took a very long time to write, such as Pride’s Children (Book 1), and you really, really want to get back to writing, so as to get Book 2 moving, and return to that nice quiet place where all you face every day is the blank computer screen, and you’ve done that many thousand times before, and know you can, you find that there are all these little details you’ve sent flying every time they showed their feathered heads while you were writing – and they’ve come home to Mamma.

I’m sure that’s true whether this is when you start querying agents, or whether you have plans to do it yourself, but to write I have to be in a bubble.

The key is PREPARATION – but you have to DO it, not just read about it

I have hundreds, maybe more, blog posts by other writers bookmarked: covers, marketing, editing services or self-editing instructions, online Twitter/FaceBook/website/blog presence, formatting, layout… The list goes on.

I’m sure the list of things I have to do now is finite – at some point you throw ‘the product’ up on Amazon as ‘finished’ as you can get it for now, and then your words must live on their own, and people may love them or use you and them for target practice.

But it doesn’t seem like a finite list when I look at the material I’ve accumulated which I intended all along to go back to, ‘after I finished writing.’

The after is now, and it’s daunting.

Future shock, present shock

I have other things to write, besides fiction.

I even go back to all the semi-coherent blog post starts I’ve been writing – and have trouble figuring out why I bothered to write those words which were supposed to get me started on what seemed like a good idea for a post – 6 months ago.

They seem pathetic, boring, uninteresting, banal.

I know it’s shock: the future HAS arrived, and it has a lot more details to it than I allowed myself to think about back then, when I DIDN’T want to let things distract me.

The problem of perspective

When you write, you are a god. Minor, but definitely in control. This is even more true when it’s the first universe you’ve been god to (for the record, it’s my second – there IS a trunk novel with intriguing bits…). Feel free to laugh at me.

When you publish, well, then you’re just another wannabe, competing with potentially millions of other writers, better writers, more established writers, writers who have publishers that market for them and edit them and design their book covers and spend lots and lots of money promoting their latest book…

Oh, wait. That is the old model. The one I’ve promised myself to eschew because there is no way I’m going to attract their attention.

So, on the self-published side, is it easier? Nope. Here you have to compete with all the SP writers who KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.

Fortunately, many of them are wonderful folk who have shared how in books and websites and blogs.

There are services – people happy to take your money and do all these things for you. I just don’t count myself able and competent to navigate finding them, employing them, and interacting with them – it takes a lot of work to be an employer.

So instead I commit to LEARNING how to do all this stuff. With my brain – they wouldn’t give me a loaner.

Is that all? Nope.

Oh, and the worst part? You now have to go do something completely out of your comfort zone: GETTING A HEAD SHOT OF A SMILING YOU (or whatever) which will adorn the flap, the blog, and the author page on Amazon.

Bringing up the final point: Yup. You have to describe you and your writing and your book – to your prospective millions of adoring fans.

If these two don’t make you crawl in a hole and pull it in after you, I have no idea what will.

Please enlighten me.