Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The IWSG is making a book!!


This is a monthly event started by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh and organized by the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click here to find out more about the group and sign up for the next event.

This month marks the anniversary of the IWSG website and FB group, and to celebrate the IWSG Team is putting together an eBook that will benefit all writers - The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. The eBook will be free and available for all eReaders by early December.


My post this month is also the contribution to the e-book, which is why I'm sharing my thoughts on what I learned so far on writing and publishing from my still very limited (but hopefully expanding) point of view.

To me, these are the most important things that make for a good story and a solid readership:

Research. Spend at least as much time researching as you do writing. Talk to people. Read non-fiction on the topics you deal with in your book. For example, when I started jotting down my ideas for my debut novel, CHIMERAS, I knew nothing about police procedural, and had never talked to a cop before. So I went on amazon and bought a bunch of books on forensics. I also found two true crime books written by Miles Corwin, a journalist who was embedded in the RHD for one year. Fantastic read, I can't tell you how much those books (Homicide Special in particular) have helped me shape my story and make my characters ring true.

But I needed more. So I went looking for people I could talk to. I'd met a writer online whose books where set with the LAPD. I asked her where she did her research and she introduced me to a retired LAPD cop who helped her lot. That retired LAPD cop is now one of my best friends and his memoir sits in my Favorite Books shelf. Through him I learned not only the lingo cops use, but also their modus operandi, their witty humor, their lifestyle. And it paid off: I've had readers praise my characters because they "ring true."

Writing rules. Every time the topic comes up I roll my eyes. Can you do X in writing? Are you allowed to do Y? Why is Z strictly forbidden? For me, it all boils down to this: do not be afraid to break rules. Rather, be afraid of not breaking them well. 

Build a solid and reliable readership. By that I mean a group of readers that will always buy your books, will always write reviews and will always give you valuable feedback. The group doesn't have to be large, but it does have to keep growing and it should be a steady presence in your writing career.

Provide interesting content. Now, I know a lot of fellow writers will disagree with me on what makes interesting content. When I browse people's blogs I see that most writers talk to other writers. They post about publishing, writing, and the ins and outs of the life of a writer. And mind you, I really appreciate this because as a writer, I learned a lot from other writers who generously shared their experience on writing, publishing and marketing. But you must not forget that who will ultimately read your books are readers, not just writers.

If you look at the most successful authors out there you'll notice that on their blogs they talk to their readers. Not fellow writers, not friends or family. They engage their readers in their writing process. So yes, keep the blog posts on how to format books, what platforms are best and what promos work versus the ones that don't work. But also talk about your characters and how you got inspired to write them and what you're working on next...

Be patient. Michael Bunker wrote a great post a while ago on Kindle stuffers. A lot of people stuff their Kindles. Yes, those people will likely give you a spike in rank and it will feel good. It's a high that doesn't last long, though. Many of those Kindle stuffers will keep stuffing their Kindles and your book will be buried under a pile of stuff that may or may not be read some day. You want reliable readers, readers that pick your book because they read the description and loved he reviews. Those readers are harder to get but I promise, they are here to stay with you for the long run. So work on getting those more than you are at working on your ranks. It takes more time and even more patience, but in the long run it pays off.

Make your readers part of your writing process. Create a newsletter for your upcoming ARCs. Sending out ARCs is a must in order to build that reliable readership. Don't just send them out, ask for feedback. Tell your readers you love to hear back from them and always thank them for the time they put into reading and reviewing your work. My drafts got much better thanks to the feedback of my reviewers, and many of my readers have now become great friends.

Your time is better spent writing. Yes, I know, there's a lot of books on how to publish successfully out there, a lot of blog posts, a lot of tricks, do's and dont's that people talk about. Have I read them? Some. Would I recommend going through all that stuff? Maybe. To be honest with you, I think they're just tricks, and, statistically, what works for one book/author is not likely to work for all books/authors. Yes, if you're good at marketing you may have a better time than others struggling to push their work out there. But really. Don't waste too much time on that stuff. The time you spend writing is your investment in that faithful readership that you need to build. Let your readers push your book for you while you focus on producing the best story ever written.

Final considerations. My advice will likely be the least popular you will find out there. Why? Because it's the kind advice that overlooks fast rewards in favor of hard work that takes a long time to build. And maybe I will be proven wrong. But I see a lot of writers rise fast and then just as fast fall (and this is true for both traditionally published as well as indie authors). Fire burns through hay very quickly. If that's what you want, then go for the fast reward approach, aim at those Kindle stuffers, etc. But if you want a long lasting fire, go for the slow burning coals. Your ranks won't be shocking any time soon, but your readers will follow you through time.

I want to thank everyone who will be stopping by and leaving comments today. I'm on the road today so I will publish them and reply as soon as I can.

24 comments:

  1. And your contribution to the book rocks!
    I used to worry I wasn't blogging right, as I rarely talk about writing or publishing outside of featuring other authors. But as my publisher pointed out, I'm not trying to market to writers, I'm trying to market to readers. So I stick with as much geeky, science fiction material as I can. Which I enjoy, so that's easy.

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  2. Great advice! And I think it is better in the long run to find loyal readers than those Kindle stuffers (says the book hoarder who has more books than she'll ever have time to read and still must get more).

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  3. Some good advice! Writing, publishing and marketing a book is a LONG process and one that takes dedication, commitment and determination. Thanks for contributing to the anthology, it is going to be an excellent resource.:)

    Great to visit today as a co-host of IWSG.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, thanks so much for co-hosting!

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  4. Good pointers. Putting out a good product is key and so is finding a good base of readers.

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  5. Terrific advice, We're in this for the long haul--not a short run. Being patient is not easy ,but it's the best way.

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  6. Hmm...well, I am one of those bloggers who started blogging to help aspiring writers. I still post about writing and next year I'll be posting about publishing, but I try to relate the posts to my stories. I also try to do something for readers as often as I can. "do not be afraid to break rules. Rather, be afraid of not breaking them well." I loved that!

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    1. But your blog is dedicated to writers, Chrys, so it's different because that's its purpose. I'm talking about blogs who are out there to promote authors. :-)

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  7. All great advice. Sometimes the lest popular advice is the best advice.

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  8. This is excellent advice. Many writers are looking for the fast rewards, but this is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time and hard work.

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  9. This is a great addition to our book!

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    1. thanks so much for your kind comments, Lynda, Christine, Emaginette, and Patricia :-)

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  10. What wonderful advice. I like this quote, which suits your advice.

    "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." ~Colin Powell

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  11. I like your research rule--spend as much time researching as writing. Truth, that usually happens for me, but hadn't thought of it as a norm.

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    1. I know readers don't always notice, but as a reader myself, when I come across something that's incorrect and that the author should've researched before just inserting it into their story I get annoyed and I stop reading. It's become my pet peeve, and, as a writer, I'd hate to annoy my readers for something like that.

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  12. I like every bit of this advice. Thank you. Sloooow burn. I've seen too often how the flashy gimmicks don't last and am in the process of refocusing my efforts toward finding those long-term, enthusiastic readers.

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  13. Great stuff, thank you! I so agree on writing straight from the heart; being true to yourself and the rules can hang! <3

    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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  14. Great advice, and that first person research is invaluable.
    Play off the Page

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  15. thanks so much for your comments, Nicki, Elizabeth and Mary!

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