Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting For It

I'm in the middle of the second book in a series of books.  I almost always write from an outline, but I let the story and the characters to also have some say in how the book goes.  The outline for this book has changed significantly so many times because I see the possibilities.  In fact, while this will annoy the editor of the first book in the series, I see that I'm going to have to reach back into that book to make a significant addition.

Anyway, as I write, sometimes I feel like I've hit a brick wall.  I consult my outline for security and purpose, but if I'm letting the story grow somewhat organically, then I can feel lost.  These are scary times.

Most of the time, I push through, but sometimes I need to let the idea percolate and grow in a natural way.  This lets me get my mind around it.  Since I have to do something and make some forward progress, I sometimes take a break and write a short story.  Sometimes, I go back into the story and either do some back-filling, where I brush up what I've written or I edit.

Lawrence Block calls this stalling "Creative Procrastination."  You're waiting for the idea to mature a bit or the inspiration to hit.  Stephen King said in his book on writing, "On Writing," that he ran into the brick wall with his book "The Stand."  (This is a favorite of mine and many of his loyal readers.)  He reported that it took some time, but the answer came to him and we was able to proceed.  (Thanks goodness because it's a great book.)

I just had a period of unsure footing as I wrote, but I broke through and now the words are flowing effortlessly.  So, my advice, if you've hit the proverbial brick wall, sometimes it pays to wait and come back to it.  Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't write, but maybe write something else and wait for the inspiration.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

Writing a novel is lonely business.  

After a year of balancing out working on building my writing street credibility in 2012 by writing and getting a lot of short work published, I’ve decided that 2013 is the year of the novel.  

By the way, it was a banner year for me in terms of getting short stories published as I had stories published at seven different sites and two of stories accepted for two print anthologies.  I also worked on and finished a novella -- which is sort of like a novel.

Don’t get me wrong, I have some short pieces either done or in the works, but I know to keep my eye on the prize -- readers.  Readers do like short pieces, but they really love novels.  

So, my goal is to get out two novels by the end of the year.  My first book is in the hands of an editor and should be done by late July or early August.  I’m plugging away at the 2nd book in the series now.  

What I liked about the short stories was the quicker turnaround in terms of completion, submission, and acceptance.  (Or rejection.)  My days consisted of checking my email inbox and eagerly awaiting a response from an editor to see if they had accepted my story or not.  It was a lot of fun and I had a good run at the end of the year, getting six out of seven stories submitted accepted.  

With a novel, it’s a lot more grueling.  You write and you write and you write.  I can pump out a flash story in a day, a medium sized short story in two days, and a longer short story in three days.  I write pretty quickly, but a novel just takes time.

My novella (31000 words) Forget the Alamo took three months to write.  I started the 2nd Book in my Sanctuary from the Dead series in January of this year and I’m about 2/3s the way through.   I don’t expect to have the book’s first draft done until July.  Now, I did fit in the editing of my novella and five short stories in there along with editing/revisions of the first book in the series in there.   

I’m hoping all the work and investment pays off.  I’ll let you know.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giving it All Away - Is it Worth it?

Like other any fledgling author, I find being “discovered” the most daunting task when it comes to marketing my work.  There are literally a blue-millions worth of books out there for my work to get lost in.  I have to consider that even if someone stumbles across my work, how will they figure out if its worth while if there’s no other feedback other than my well designed and enticing description?  In other words, I’m talking about reviews.

Last week, a generous and industrious person decided to host an event on Facebook for authors from a specific genre to promote their work.  It was the Zombie Free E-Book Bonanza and it hosted a lot of authors in the zombie genre.  Some were fairly well established like Mark Tufo and Joe McKinney, but most were newbies looking for anyway to get the word out about their work.  

I lollygagged and came to the event late and decided to take my Zombie Novella, Forget the Alamo, and post it in the event for free.  

In terms of getting some exposure, it was wildly successful for me.  Over 300 people downloaded the book.  (327 to be exact.)  After seeing this, I decided to release one of my zombie short stories for free, too.  It got 107 downloads.  

You might ask,  how can I get make any money if I’m giving my books away for nothing?  And what does this mean?  

Obviously, my work is out there filling up space on a bunch of Kindle’s right now.  But does that mean that people will read my work?  And will that translate into reviews?  

After one week, here’s the tale of the tape in terms of reviews:
Forget the Alamo - 3 new reviews
Dangerous Game  - 0 new reviews

I also do have to point out that I also garnered one review on Goodreads and 3 ratings (2 - 5 stars & 1 4 star), plus four people marked it as a “to-read.”

In terms of sales, here’s what I’ve seen:
Forget the Alamo - 11 sales
Dangerous Game - 2 sales
Shutterbug - 1 sale

(Shutterbug is an older short story I put on Amazon late last year.)  

Anyway, the long and the short of it, is that I feel I’ve collected a bunch of free exposure that I never would have been able to get and I think that’s worth a great deal.  Time will tell if I get any more traction and I’ll certainly will share those future results.

UPDATE: I went back and looked and I actually had over 420 downloads of Forget the Alamo. The ones I missed in my original review were from Amazon's foreign stores (UK, Canada, & Denmark.)