About Writers, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Writing for Fun

“These silly writers let their imaginations run away with themselves.”
– Nicole Kidman as Satine in Moulin Rouge!

It being Monday morning, I naturally selected my “writing cup” for morning coffee and thought about my WiP, only to remember the online game I had been playing over the weekend. I had promised people there I would write a song for our pirate guild. Well, why not call that writing? Toulouse-Lautrec painted posters of ill repute. Marshall McLuhan and his anthropologist friend Edmund Carpenter knew peoples for whom living is itself art. Why should a writer limit expression to a book-yet-to-be-published? Why avoid the fun of being silly?

This is ingame (silly) writing.

The Pirate Song

Against convention we rebel,
To sail the sea of briny foam.
We drink with demons straight from hell
And chase their asses home!

Chorus:
The waves be drunk and so are we,
The moon be high and so are we.
We’re sinful dirty pirates
And we’re sailing to be free!

We’ll blow yer ship to smithereens,
Board yer women & belay yer men.
We’ll sink yer bloody brigantines
And haul yer treasure to our den!

(Chorus)

So flee the hull that flies the skull
Or Davey Jones will pick yer bones.
Cannon balls and boarding brawls
Are winsome cheers to buccaneers!

(Chorus)

I can’t be the only writer who also writes just for fun.
What about you?

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book promotion

Adventures of the Indie Author World/ Finding your place at signings.

Guest post from Nickie Seidler:

I’ll introduce myself first, I’m Nickie Nalley Seidler, a romantic suspense author trying to make herself known in the community. I’m a mom to my beautiful baby girl who’s two. A wife to my amazing husband of almost eight years. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, I write part time, work behind a desk part time, and mommy full time.

Alright, now that you know just a pinch of my life, thought I’d share some of my experiences thus far. When I first started writing, I had no idea what an indie author was. I had no idea you could publish your books, get paperback books printed, sell your babies-basically, it’s what it feels like-haha. I was EXCITED. But I will say, I’ve never written the same after knowing that. Let me explain. When I wrote my first book, I was writing for FUN. I wasn’t expecting the world to see it, I was expecting my mom to maybe read it and maybe some family members, but not the whole world. Then the writing community gets introduced to you. AKA-facebook. My husband came across an indie author somehow and she was basically my manual to getting started. She introduced me to some blogs, who went and shared my facebook pages, told them to check me out, that I was a new upcoming author writing in the romance genre. It BOOMED from there. Next thing I know I was being taught how to make teasers, and excerpts to show on your books and getting your potential readers to be excited about the upcoming releases. Blogs wanted to read, review, be a part of my amazing new start of a journey. It was GREAT. I was a wreck. I was so nervous to let anyone read my baby. My first. It was scary! I got wonderful feedback though, good and bad but when I say bad, I mean uplifting. People with advice on how to better myself. Yeah, occasionally I got the mean ones, but I learned to put them aside. From there, people just shared my facebook posts. Or I created sponsored ads to get more visibility, but again that was back then, things have kind of changed on that home front, mainly due to Facebook controlling visibility.

I started writing a list of blogs down. Whoever shared for me, read my books and reviewed, I would contact for future things. Blogs can host cover reveals, sales to your books, new releases, and some even do blog tours, as much as they aren’t that popular anymore. These were all big deals and what most authors were doing to get seen! It worked! Before I knew it, I had a following. I would take over blog pages, they would give me a time frame and I’d post games, and things to get to know people, or giveaways, even copies of my book. Mind you, again, this was on their facebook pages. Facebook has been KEY to my success. It’s the easiest way to connect with people. You name it, search it on facebook. There are TONS of groups and pages out there that connect you with the community of authors and books. TALK, PROMOTE, WRITE. That’s my three most successful points.
Talk – people want to hear not only about books, but about you. They view us as rock stars. Believe me, it is possible to fan girl over an author! I’ve done it! Talk to people, have everyday conversations. RELAX. They are just people like us. They want to know what inspires us, where we get our ideas. Most people know me now by my daughter. I post a lot about my daughter and to many people that was the best thing in the world. To see happy pictures, baby pictures, an author being a mommy. Talking is key to developing relationships with your readers.

Promoting – do it as often as you can! Don’t let people forget your name. Post a teaser from one of your books with links to purchasing it. Give them a line that will make them click that book of yours. Throw a sale every once and a while and promote it like crazy! Giveaways, get some swag made, bookmarks, post cards, rack cards, vista print is wonderful and gotprints for bookmarks is fantastic! I also have amazing designers, inexpensive, that can design things for you well. Throw a game on your facebook page or blog to get readers to win a copy of whatever you put up. Whether it be a copy of your book, or a bookmark, or even an amazon gift card! That one reader may be a lifetime reader from then on, who may promote or spread the word to her friends. WORD OF MOUTH is the best! Just don’t stop promoting. Share your other author friends releases, cover reveals, teasers and giveaways. Support others and they will support you! Well, most will. Talk to the bloggers, ask them to share a thing or two if they don’t mind. They love supporting authors and usually most willing to share anything!

Write – Just keep writing. No matter what, WRITE. Even if it’s a sentence a day. It helps. Sometimes I should take my own advice, but that’s how I was able to publish eight books with a ninth one on the way. Tell your readers you’re writing, they’ll be the biggest pep in your step! They’ll be your inspiration, your motivation to keep going. It’s been mine since I shared my baby with the world. The reviews kept coming, the readers kept messaging me, and the common theme was MORE. They wanted more from me! It was great! I felt on top of the world! I felt like the rock star they envisioned! Which also made writing more challenging. I was focusing on “what would they think” more than write it however it speaks to you. Who cares what they think this is how the story goes! If your story needs extra detail, write it! If it’s a quick read with less details, that’s ok too! There is no right or wrong way to write a book. It’s YOUR book and you write it as you want as short or long as you want it. Only want a chapter to be two pages? FINE! You are in control! But write from your heart, write for FUN! Write because the voices don’t give you an option! Don’t let the following you gain or the reviews you’ve read hinder your writing process or HOW you write! From there, signings fell into play!

Blogs would throw out some forms here and there for signings they’re hosting and I’d fill them out or readers would send them to me in hopes I’d fill them out. Why? Because they wanted to meet me! So I’ve traveled to Greenville, NC where my first signing was and it was great. I got to meet a reader who came all the way from the Detroit area to meet me! These people traveled FAR to meet ME. It’s an amazing feeling. I took so many pictures with my readers and sold some books. I gave away a lot of swag; bookmarks, pens, wristbands, buttons. They love it! I signed sooooo much and it was all overwhelming, but amazing at the same time. I met some author friends that I’ll probably have for life. We can all relate and we share our tactics.

From Greenville, I visited Nashville, TN and then I went to a Chicago Windy City signing and sold a ton of books and met so many more readers. I also did the Elgin library which is also coming up this year. I’m also involved in a signing in June at a distillery. I’ll list the dates and locations and links to buying tickets below!

What you may need to attend a signing?
Books, about 10 of each of your books!
A banner with your name or fun design to advertise yourself! (Think vistaprint)
Bookmarks or something people can take for free from you!
Sharpies! All colors ! You’ll be signing a lot!
Notebook to start a newsletter. (think mailchimp-free newsletter site)

I’d be happy to add you on facebook, just search for Nickie Nalley Seidler. I’d also be more than happy to promote anything you like! Let’s get you seen in the book community!

Come visit me at the 2nd annual Authors Fair, to be held Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 from 2 p.m.—4 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL
Free admission.

Or
Friday June 16th, 2017
Fox River Distillery Author Event
204 Dearborn Court
#Unit 110
Geneva, IL 60134
7-9pm
Tickets will be through Eventbrite : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/friday-fan-girls-an-author-event-with-a-little-nip-to-it-tickets-31196582819

Time: March 13, 2017 at 6:11 pm

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About Writers

Do Shy People Make the Best Writers?

(Asks Joe Moran, in an article on Daily Beast.)

The following is a combination of his thoughts and my own. Italics are his remarks, non-italic, mine.

Here’s the link:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/11/do-shy-people-make-the-best-writers.html

Dickinson_children_painting.jpeg.jpeg

Emily Dickenson, a noted shy-ster. (As a child, on the left.) Not the usual dour image, we see a hint of a smile. The well-known photo may not be typical of her at all. In that era one had to pose stock-still for quite a period, eliminating any spontaneity.

__________________________________________

Is there something about writing that attracts shy people in particular? Nicholson Baker, Alan Bennett, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, J.K. Rowling, and Garrison Keillor are just a few of the contemporary authors who have written or spoken about being shy. “Most novelists are at the shy end of the spectrum—sly watchers of life rather than noisy graspers of it,” British novelist Patrick Gale wrote in the Guardian. “Many of us have had to overcome that and develop a performative persona behind which the sly watcher can continue to lurk.”

Perhaps the art of sentence writing, which lets you endlessly rework your words until they fall right, appeals to people who in life (he says) are inarticulate. (I say, interact sparingly, easily exhausted by it.)

Bringing words to life is hard. “When you say something, make sure you have said it,” E.B. White wrote in The Elements of Style. “The chances of your having said it are only fair.” Writing is a long lesson in how difficult it is to order words in a way that makes your meaning clear.

First, writing it down forces you to decide what you really believe, and to distill it. Then, set down thoughts are easily reworked, and endlessly polishable. Melodic flow and linguistic originality are joys that are hard to beat but also hard to achieve. Every word the right word requires patience, and psychological stamina. I would guess this is a path that appeals to those who are drawn to less cut-to-the-chase fun in their recreational reading, who take that stance with their own writing. I can give no solid reason for it, but I feel this is the temperament of an inward-looking individual.

Shyness is a retreat from social life. We write partly because we feel that other kinds of dialogue have failed us, and that we need to speak at one remove if we are to speak at all. 

Shy writers, far from being timid, are actually taking the risk that their writing might speak to someone else in some long-off future. If you would live forever, don’t just spit/tweet out thoughts, write them, and don’t just write them, compose them, render them worthy of being retained, possibly even cherished.

These days we have Twitter and YouTube on which to explain who we are and satisfy our desire to preserve something of ourselves for ever and always. Uninhibited self-expression is the new social disease. So little effort is required, and an appreciation for well developed themes is not encouraged.

I use writing to both distance myself from life, and to connect with it in a way that I find enjoyable. I suspect that one who is more of, as they say, a people person, wants foremost to tell a story, that it’s the introverts who tunnel into language and get their kicks down that rabbit hole. That idea pleases me greatly. But that’s my makes-me-smile hypothesis.

What do you think? Is there anything to this theory, or is Moran cherry-picking anecdotal evidence to support an attractive (to those who are shy / he admits to being one of us) conclusion?

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About Writers

Why Don’t I Just Write, or, What Is That Character Up To Now?

I thought I would have more time to write after I left my day job. I’m not writing that much. I’ve had a few non-fiction pieces appear in local journals. I sent my first novel to a publisher, and I’m waiting to hear. I’m working on three short stories, with one planned for submission to a literary journal at a local college. I will read at two upcoming writers’ group meetings, and I’ve been asked to participate on a writers’ panel in March. But I can’t think of a story line for another novel. I haven’t been writing.

I tell myself I am busy. The farm chores occupy a good part of every day. I volunteer my time at four not-for-profits. I’ve been elected to the board of directors of one of them. Then there’s the garden work and the trout fishing and the horse training in their seasons. There are some inside house painting projects on tap. The days are full. But that’s just an excuse.

When I should be writing I am surfing the web and listening to YouTube videos of Janice Joplin and of the Ronettes. So, why don’t I just sit down and write?

I’ve been purging old work files and I found the interest and skill inventories and psychological assessments I took before being hired to my last job. I don’t remember reading this stuff, until now.

Wow. Now I know why none of the consulting psychologists would meet with me alone. It was a small firm, and the whole company was in the room for my sanitized, in person briefing on the results. The written report describes a not-quite-so-smart and a little bit crazy Sheldon Cooper.

But let’s move to the part about writing. The assessments determined that I had both an interest in and the capacity to be a writer. That was just the start. There’s more.

I want other people to like me, but it doesn’t much matter to me if they don’t. I won’t change my thinking, or what I’m doing, to please others.

I don’t start stuff. I’m satisfied with watching events develop around me, and only then formulating a response. I’m reactive, not assertive.

I’m satisfied with my standing in society. I don’t need to be out front. I’m the funny looking guy at the edge of the crowd. I don’t like to be called out by name on a trout stream or on the street. I have enough friends and a small and appreciative readership, and I don’t have a driving need to add to those groups.

I’m okay with my economic status. More money is not a motivator. I don’t need to be rich. I don’t expect to make any real money as a writer, and that’s okay.

I like to make things. At the end of the week I like to point to something tangible and say, “I made that.” It’s easier to do that with a new horse shed or a line of pasture fence than it is with a story.

The report suggests that I might have been a forester or a farmer. Horses are honest and direct, without the duplicity of the corporate office. Why didn’t I have this report forty years ago? I worked in an office because I could do the work and because I needed an income. I might have been happier at something else, away from people.

Am I a product of nature or nurture? There have been other guys like me in my family, so maybe it’s in the genes. But then there were calamities early in my life, and I have developed defenses. That one’s a toss up.

I’m looking in a mirror with the help of the psychologists’ report. It’s an odd reflection, but not one I need to change. It’s a powerful thing to know myself. It’s a powerful thing to know where I’ve been, and to know what I’ve come to, and to know that it’s okay. Maybe it’s okay that I’m not writing anymore.

I bought a book a few years ago that was supposed to help me write about characters. The book is a thinly disguised review of the sixteen Meyers-Briggs personality types. I dug out the book to see what it had to say about me. The book was generally accurate, I would say.

Then I started reading about some of those other Meyers-Briggs types, and looking at how they might interact with other people, older or younger, of the same or opposite gender, same or different personality types. What is it with those darn “E”s anyway?

Okay, now I have an idea. Let’s get that next story started.

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writing technique

On Writing: authors Stanley Fish & Roger Rosenblatt

Take a deep breath: we’re going fathoms down, down . . .

The craft of fiction requires imagination and discipline in equal measure. It is both art and science; its demands on the practitioner gestaltic and quotidian. Gestaltic in that the production of text comprising a unified whole of divers elements such as plot, theme, dialogue, characterization, symbols, motifs, etc. from oneiric visions, fleeting hypnagogic insights, ephemeral reveries and focused bouts of cogitation requires one distinct set of skills. Quotidian in that the fashioning—sentence after cunningly wrought sentence—of the most apt, evocative and concretizing of words that will resonate with the reader and allow him or her to enter (insofar as possible) the fictional dream of story requires quite another talent.

It is this latter part of the craft—the quotidian art of the sentence—that authors Stanley Fish and Roger Rosenblatt teach so well. Their reverence, awe and delight in the sentence qua sentence gladden and uplift this aging author’s heart. I believe you will be charmed as well as you listen to these wizened masters speak.

Note: You may have some difficulty (depending on your computer’s internet service speeds and feeds) with the following link. I assure you any irritation caused by video stutter is well worth fighting through. Two points: (1) Pause the presentation occasionally to allow your system to catch up, and (2) know that the issue—on my computer, anyway—cleared up about halfway through.

Onward!

CLICK HERE: https://charlierose.com/videos/16610

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Uncategorized

Marketing 201 – The Advanced Course

On the first Friday in March the Friends of the Library held a fundraiser in our little town. My wife is a member of the Friends, and I was brought along to set chairs.

Admission was five dollars. The food was free. The Friends sold wine and beer, and there was a live auction of some nice things. I hoped the Friends would raise enough to cover the appearance fee of the speaker, New York Times bestselling mystery author William Kent Krueger, who would be driving out from his home in the nearest large city an hour away.

We set about 75 chairs. A few minutes after the doors opened, we scoured meeting rooms and offices for more. Krueger arrived with the members of the Friends who had taken him to dinner, and he opened a suitcase and put out the trade paperbacks and hard cover books that he brought for sale. People approached him with copies of his books, and he graciously signed them. Then he moved through the crowd, engaging people in conversation for several minutes each. He insisted on paying for his own beer.

Then it was time for Krueger to speak. He took the microphone, smiled at the audience, and spoke very little about his books. He asked for applause for the Friends of the Library and urged listeners to join. He said he arrived early to drive the streets of the town, and voiced his positive impressions. He spoke about how the public library is the first thing to be cut in a municipal budget pinch, but that we need to support our libraries as the only repositories of our culture.

When Krueger spoke about his writing, he talked about the personal connections with people that helped him form his character Cork O’Connor, the Irish/Ojibwe protagonist in his series of 16 (and counting) mystery novels. He spoke about his appreciation for publishers and editors, and for bookstores and not-for-profits that had supported him in his work. He spoke about what compelled him to write his award winning stand alone novel “Ordinary Grace,” how he had been given a boatload of money for a sequel, and how after struggling with the story he tried to give the money back. Many of the people in the room had read some of his books. Very few had met him. He was warm, approachable, friendly, honest and open. By the end of his talk, everyone liked him.

The auction, the principal fundraising event, followed Krueger’s talk. He had donated two items to be auctioned off, and he bid on several items also. My wife won a very nice hand made afghan before she realized she was bidding against Krueger. There was one item in the auction that I really wanted, and I got it: my chance for literary immortality. With my winning bid, I will be the main character in a William Kent Krueger short story, to be submitted to and most assuredly published by a magazine of his choice. We exchanged email addresses, and I have provided him with plenty of information about me for the story.

After the auction Krueger went to his display of books and began signing copies. I don’t know how many he sold. He left with a lighter suitcase and a bag of money and checks.

The crowd slowly left and just a few of us were still there. Krueger asked about his appearance fee. He was handed the check, and then he tore it up for the promise that the Friends would apply the money to a specific library program.

I spoke to Krueger for only a few minutes. It was about marketing. He stressed with me what I had just witnessed, a personal outreach to and a genuine appreciation for those people who are willing to read what he has written. This approach has grown his readership, his wide circle of friends, and his career.

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book promotion, book reviews

Ten Thousand Page-Reads. (Or K.U. For Dummies)

The title of is this post is possibly enigmatic to most, but to anyone who has a book or books signed up on Kindle Unlimited, the reference is clear.

What’s a page-read? What’s Kindle Unlimited?

Okay. For those who don’t know already: when you publish an eBook on Amazon, you have the option of signing it up with Kindle Unlimited. That means Kindle Unlimited subscribers—for a ten dollar monthly fee—can download and read your book for free, (as well as all the other eBooks signed up with Kindle Unlimited) and you, the author, receive a payment for each page read.

Yes, they can keep track. No, you probably don’t want to think too hard about that.

How much per page? Amazon sets a new rate every month, but then it also adds a certain amount from the Kindle Direct Publishing Select Global Fund (which—if I understand it correctly— is based on the total number of pages read of all KU books by all KU subscribers.) Bottom line? It varies slightly from month to month, but as a ballpark figure, I assume about 45% of a penny per page. And, KU is actually fairly generous in the way it counts page reads. My book Spark runs 345 pages in paperback. KU counts it as 408 pages. (For the record, a complete read of Spark on KU earns me about $1.80. Selling the ebook earns me about $2 in royalties.)

One important rule: if your ebook is signed up for Kindle Unlimited, it must be exclusive to Amazon. You cannot sell it on Kobo or Barnes and Noble or Smashwords or anywhere else. For many authors, this is a deal breaker. It’s also the reason why most actual publishers do not use it. They don’t want to cut off any potential sales avenues.

In practice, KU is made for independent publishers. And while exclusivity may be distasteful for some authors, most ebooks sold in the global marketplace are sold through Amazon. (I heard 70% somewhere, but don’t ask me to back that up.) Personally, I didn’t find it a difficult decision. I am happy to have my independent titles on KU.

Being signed up with KU also allows you to run promotions, including making the book free for up to five days out of every ninety. If you promote your giveaway, you can end up with thousands of downloads. Both times I’ve given Spark away, I’ve topped 3,000 downloads. This may not seem like anything to crow about, (and I’ll address that question further on). But let me just focus first on the immediate results of that kind of giveaway. Both times, it has resulted in a small sales spike after the giveaway. (Very small in real numbers. The first time I think I sold 12 copies, the second time only eight. But compared to my normal sales, which can include months of goose eggs, it’s a spike.)

In addition, giveaways get me page-reads on KU. Faced with a temporarily free ebook, some subscribers choose to download it through KU rather than downloading it for free. It makes no difference to them, I suppose. It’s free either way. But it makes a big difference for the author. During the month following my last giveaway, I topped 10,000 page-reads. This is roughly equivalent to 25 people reading my book all the way through. It also means I made about $45 in royalties.

Now just for a bracing dose of reality, I know most of the 3000 people who download my book onto their Kindle or their cell phone are NOT going to read it. A lot of those folks have hundreds of free books stored up on their devices, and they keep adding new ones, which probably only serves to bump the older books lower on the priority list (newer books are shinier books). The only reads that we can be sure of are the ones that come through KU and the ones that leave a review, or at least a rating, on Amazon or Goodreads.

My giveaways have generated a few reviews on Amazon and some ratings on Goodreads, but very few. Reviews are rare enough anyway, but I think they are even rarer for readers who download the books for free. I had a review of Flight of the Wren after my last giveaway of that book—a terrific review—that actually said:

“This is a great book! Usually I don’t write reviews for the free/cheap books I get from the various email groups because they are not usually worth reviewing.”

It’s just human nature, I guess. We tend to value things in direct relation to the price we pay for them, and we sometimes assume that free stuff is free because nobody would pay for it. So the whole giveaway thing is not an unqualified positive. Sure, I would prefer it if people were buying the books and lavishing me with reviews, but that ain’t happening. At least this way, there are people reading the books. Some of those people are going to like them and will maybe read the next one.

Some of them might even pay real money for the privilege. Crazy, I know, but it could happen.

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