In training for a writing marathon

it takes what it takesFOR THE NTH TIME, I TELL MYSELF THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT

The title of this post is meant to be ironic, as writing is a long steady race for me – and many others.

But it isn’t just the revising/editing/polishing of the rough draft that is slow, it is the entire preparation period, now complicated by having to use at least a little time for promotion of the previous book – a process which I assume gets worse as you publish more.

Added to that are the nice conversations (via email) I’ve had with people who’ve read Pride’s Children, some of whom have left lovely reviews.

And wondering about who the people are who’ve left reviews with either ‘Anonymous’ instead of a name, or who are people I’ve never heard of.

The latter kind are more exciting – one out of the first 12 positive reviews came from someone whose name I don’t recognize, who created a profile just to write this review, and vanished. (Thank you, Cris, whoever you are.)

Authors with more experience than I have, expect these. For me, each new oddity gets a tiny bit of attention. I scurry to make a copy of the review for my records when I see them, less Amazon decide for some reason best known to themselves to remove them.

VERBOTEN COMMUNICATION: READERS ARE OFF LIMITS

I’m fascinated by the interdiction on authors communicating with readers OR reviewers – and I can see it could easily become a zoo without the proscription. Half of the commentary I’ve read on Goodreads has to do with people defending or attacking two logical points of view:

  • authors should stay out of reviewer venues such as Goodreads and Amazon – those places are for readers only to express their opinions, except where clearly marked ‘for writers/authors’
  • some authors wanting to say thank you, thinking this will encourage reviewers – and lead to more reviews

I removed ‘desperately’ from the second phrase after I realized you can’t be impartial about these things if you use such adverbs. My opinion is that the first group is safest – if someone writes to me or posts a comment here or on the books’ site, they will get an answer, but I’m staying out of mine fields. Not nearly nimble enough, I’ve discovered, from trying to maintain peace and civil discourse on one of the GR threads.

PROMOTION – AN EFFORT HERE, AN EFFORT THERE

I’m waiting to hear from Ereader News Today whether they will take my money and give me a place on their lists; I’ve decided, after reading lots of things, that my primary category need to be ‘Contemporary Fiction,’ which may be the new ‘mainstream’ for stories set in the real world within recent memory.

There will be a Kindle Countdown Deal to go along with the ENT promotion, if they take me on.

I’m looking into Amazon giveways for ebooks and print books – Chris McMullen’s blog post had lots of details.

And I’m trying to get my brain organized to send a few print copies on walkabout via Book Crossing: you label the book a traveling book, get it a unique ID and register it at the site, and then either release the book into the wild (leave it somewhere, preferably where the cleaning staff won’t dispose of it) or give it a controlled release (ie, hand it to someone). If people keep handing it from person to person, or leaving it where someone can pick it up, AND go to the site to comment that they’ve had it/read it, you can see how far it goes in the world. Sounds a little iffy, but I’ve always wanted to do that.

One other advertising opportunity is to a specific group of people – if that works, I’ll report on it.

PREPARATION IS GOING WELL

I keep saying that – and I keep discovering new little areas of plot and characterization that I really ought to investigate BEFORE getting up to my ears in the writing.

It doesn’t help that I keep having days in which I stare at the wall, so I’m instituting some practices to minimize the effects of leaving the house, namely, much more deliberate resting practices before, after, and the next few days. Oh, and fewer carbs – those kill me.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll notice a lot less angst over the above – I do the best I can, and I don’t worry so much any more (because it never helps). Good days, like today, I try to use my time well. Bad days I try to ignore – but they are scary when my brain refuses to check in for a several days in a row (at which point I get really deliberate with those dratted naps – because, for me, the resting/pacing works).

The hope is that the preparation will mean that I can just write, and not have to stop and do research into obscure points, but I do realize you can’t predict everything you’ll need. It wouldn’t be any fun if you could.

But it doesn’t hurt to take a road map when you travel, does it now? Especially if you know you’re going to need frequent stops along the way.

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13 thoughts on “In training for a writing marathon

  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    PREPARATION IS GOING WELL I keep saying that – and I keep discovering new little areas of plot and characterization that I really ought to investigate BEFORE getting up to my ears in the writing.

    Ha! I totally relate. I keep saying that I’m almost done with needed prep, and then I discover a bit more needed for WIP. I have gotten a lot done. Floor plans for a citadel tower reaching 300 feet into the sky. Complete outline of scenes in the novel. I thought I had only a few more details to settle and then I’d be writing. But, no. I need to know more about an important character’s family, even though that family is a mere sliver of backstory. But I’ve got to have it. So I am still prepping, not yet writing. 😀

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      My rough draft – which took years to write – is so rough it isn’t much more than an old faded blueprint for the finished books. So I, too, am where you are: new adventure, preparation first, then every word is still up for grabs.

      I’m guessing I kept much less than 5% of the stuff I had for Book 1.

      Had a lovely end to the afternoon. Hubby persuaded me to go outside. The hilarious part? I sit down, open Pride’s Children: PURGATORY, and find, “After all these years, she wondered why her brain had such a hard time making the decision to go outside.” (p. 124). I read it to him and we both laughed.

      Part of getting ready, in my mind, was always reading Book 1 from beginning to end. It’s an interesting exercise, and I’m enjoying it, taking it very slow. Because the transition will be abrupt, the pace will change, and things need to happen, it is all the more important that I know how they go together. It does feel slightly clandestine, though.

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  2. juliabarrett

    It’s always a marathon, wait… That’s not true. Some people are perfectly capable of cranking out a book a month and they have millions of devoted readers and make a bundle of money. Doesn’t work that way for most of us. Unfortunately.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Yup. And those people are welcome to their success, especially if they work hard at it.

      I can’t compare myself with them, just as I can’t compare myself to my friend who at 63 ran her first half-marathon (while I can’t walk around the block). Just makes you unhappy!

      If, instead, I compare myself to the millions of people who say they’d like to write a novel, and don’t, I’m doing VERY well.

      It’s all relative – and you can always choose whether to make yourself happy or miserable from these comparisons.

      Writing is important to me – I can do it, I get a great deal of pleasure out of it, and the general response is favorable – but I’m going to be slow unless medical researchers out there get their act together a lot faster than they have in the past. This is my current reality – I’m not going to spoil it. I think I’m on the downhill side of my life’s peak at my age, so I’m going to grab all the fun stuff I can, and go ‘la la la’ to everything else.

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  3. Catana

    I doubt I’ll ever do any more promotion than I’ve ever done. I don’t have the patience, and I don’t care if my books don’t sell by the ton. I suppose most writers would wonder why I bother to write, in that case, or whether I’m doing my writing a disservice by not trying harder to find readers. Temperament has more to do with it than logic.

    I’m lucky that I had an Amazon account long before I started publishing, so if I review, it’s under my account name, not my author name. The arguments about whether authors can or should post reviews generally overlook one simple fact: writers are also readers. As such, I have just as much of a right to review a book as anyone else. Leaving Amazon reviews is one of the things that has slipped to the back of my attention, though, so I seldom do anymore.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Temperament – introvert here. Many of us who write fiction ARE introverts. Many writers, period.

      Have you noticed the extroverts do a lot more promotion?

      Amazon doesn’t care if you’re a writer when you leave a review; they care if there’s any evidence of quid pro quo. They try to remove bias of one kind by not allowing reviews from ‘friends,’ which they have to find some algorithmic way of deciding. One way is if two people are friends on Goodreads – and they have that information. (You are welcome to use those reviews in the ‘Editorial Reviews’ section.)

      It just means bias is harder to see – the more careful people are, the less they do something obvious.

      When I read reviews, I try to tell from the reviewer’s words who they are, so I can give weight to that in whether I believe their opinion and mine would be similar.

      It’s a game – but, like many things, better than nothing. I don’t scam – and I read reviews carefully. I think MOST people are honorable, but the scammers are far more proactive.

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  4. denisebaer

    It sounds like you’re struggling with promotion like many self-published / indie authors. The whole making time for writing and promoting is supposed to be a balancing act. My scales seemed to dip from side to side.

    As for reviews, I stay out of commenting. I’ll “like” my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but that’s it. Best of luck with the promotions.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I think all of us publish hoping that a miracle will occur, and we won’t have to do much promoting.

      Instead, we find ourselves immediately drowning in the sea of invisibility, along with everyone else.

      “Wait! Read me! I’m different!” isn’t loud enough.

      The usual indie response to that is ‘write more books.’ Something I can’t do at the speed many can.

      The other indie response is, ‘be patient.’ Because of the long tail, we will have more time than the six weeks a new book might get spine-out at Barnes & Noble.

      Well, I’ve discovered I’m not patient. Hehe, as the kids say.

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