Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Marketing: Advertising vs. Publicity

In a nutshell, there are two types of marketing, and those are advertising and publicity. Advertising is, in my opinion, the lesser of the two. Advertising requires research on who you're targeting and what your target audience will see. Your ad has to be carefully tailored, both in appearance and in location, to effectively reach the targeted demographic. You're paying for a placement and are relying heavily on either credentials or market need for the book you're choosing to advertise.

Book publicity is the effect of being chosen, whether it's by an agent, editor, etc. This automatically gives your book credibility. Having a third party verify your writing skills is usually more effective than an ad campaign, because in this way you are getting people to talk about your book rather than you telling them. 

I remember seeing an article that said, statistically, 84% of people talk about a book they read. I wouldn't disagree with this number. That being said, if you get one person interested in reading your book, odds are you'll get at least two people who know about it. Generating authentic interest is crucial to creating public interest. This is why so many emphasize the critical importance of quality content. If you're writing isn't up to par, then you're going to have a more difficult time selling your book.

If you choose to embark on a publicist, be sure to research them and ask them questions. They don't come cheap, but you can learn things along the way. Some are better than others, in the sense of experience and contacts. Be sure you're making the right decision, because a PR campaign is something that is very serious, and you will always be the biggest advocate for your work.

If you choose to embark on an ad campaign, be sure that you're targeting an audience as opposed to simply putting an ad up for all to see in a random location. You'll see more interest in your work. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Game of Thrones (The Book Version) Review

I must admit, I disliked the book's beginning. I felt like George RR Martin, my genre idol now, just completely threw me in the deep end of the pool. He built this world and seemed to expect me to know it, throwing names and locations at me rentlessly. However, I pressed on.

At the end of the first chapter, I was shocked, and I couldn't stop reading. By the end of every chapter, I was hooked.

There were so many plot points I could see building up each chapter, and I couldn't keep up. When each bombshell fell, I remembered. He made coherent such an incredibly complex plot without losing me, which is something very difficult to do in writing.

The characters were entirely believable and memorable. Every single one. I found myself wanting to skip ahead chapters to get back to a character, but had to resist. *(SPOILER ALERT) I knew Ned was going to die from the start, however. He was too clean, and I would've been disappointed if he hadn't.

I can't wait to read the rest of this novel. In his interviews, George RR Martin says that the series adaptations follow the books perfectly, aside from adding scenes. This is highly unusual for motion pictures and TV shows to follow original writing so closely, but is only a testament to his creative talent.

His style and voice is fresh, and he knows things about the era that are not only true, but unknown. When I looked up certain things that he wrote, I was LEARNING! That is something, that few books do, that I absolutely love.

If you want to learn, go on an adventure, and become emotionally traumatized, pick up Game of Thrones.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's the Point of a Beta Reader?

Beta readers are invaluable to an author, and many don't understand the gravity of the position that they are in. They are the author's first readers and objective editors of a product that the author put a great deal of time into. Often, they don't get back to us as early as authors would like, but that's just a price you pay, and in the writing world, patience is a requirement.

Recently, I donned my beta reader's hat for the first time for a book by an author. By now, I was thirsting for someone else's creativity to inspire me. As soon as I began reading, I found several things wrong. Pacing, character reactions, etc. However, the more I read, the more invested I was in the plot, and I was intrigued enough to overlook some of those things for the sake of a good story.

However, the author posted on his Facebook account that he was beginning edits on the book. Huh? When you give a book to your beta readers, it has to be the best you can possibly make it. If it's not, then you're sending book (in this case, unfortunately, an epic) that isn't as attractive as it can be. Annoyed, I decided to press on with the book.

A few days later, I got an invite to an event. Yep. You guessed it, the book's release party. Now, I wouldn't mind if it was scheduled in far in advance, but this author was releasing it in 2.5 weeks. There was no way that I could read the book, list the editing advice, and the author be able to change it.

The result? I dropped the book, and I have no intention of telling this author. Why? Beta readers are the most valuable things to an author. They are people who believe in your work and make a heavy commitment to help you to success. If you give beta readers less than your best and schedule the book to be released within a fortnight, you're not only putting pressure on the beta reader, but you're mitigating them and their role. Thus, you make a beta reader feel unimportant.

Something I learned when I started writing was the author works for the reader, not the other way around. However, the few that are willing to work with the author, directly in this case, deserve nothing but the utmost courtesy, because they are doing what no other reader who picks up your book will do for you- help you make it better.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tips for Aspiring Writers/Authors

Writing Tips for Other/Aspiring Authors
1.       The best way to learn to write well is to read from both good authors and bad authors. You have to decide what’s good writing and what’s bad writing.
2.       Give your characters choices and consequences; it shatters the linear feel of a storyline.
3.       Live in the world you create. Many writers know things about their world that never make it into the book(s) they write, because they want to make it real to themselves so they can make others believe it’s real. Readers are intuitive creatures, and they know if something has been fleshed out without ever knowing it themselves.
4.       Treat all your characters as if they are secondary characters. Some of my best characters are secondary characters, because I’m not committing them to a preconceived plot line. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate character’s personalities and mannerisms.
5.       Once you really know your characters, let them take over the story. They usually will not disappoint you.
6.       Most good ideas that ‘stick’ aren’t produced after a moment of inspiration. They are produced after you toil and write shit.
7.       Speaking of writing shit, write, even if it’s shit. I have a saying “It’s easier to edit a scene than it is to build a world in your head.” Writer’s block is the expectation that the next thing you write will be unedited and perfect. It won’t. It never is. Write that shitty shit.
8.       Learn to convey emotion and find your voice. If you write about the worst thing that ever happened to you, and then you place that next to the worst thing that ever happened to your character, does the voice and style match up? If it doesn’t, you don’t know your character as well as you thought you did, and you need to bleed that emotion into you character.
9.       If you love your [unedited] book so much you want to marry it, throw a George RR Martin themed “Red Wedding” for it, because it needs to die. You need to be as objective as possible before you even begin editing. That’s why most authors recommend waiting a few weeks to a month to edit it after they finish. For example, here’s an atheists view of the Holy Bible (quiet possible the most objective person to read it):

“Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Motivation for Writing

               The most difficult thing about writing is, of course, writing. The motivation just isn’t there, your job is stressing you out, your free time is too dominated for such scholarly activities- so many distractions! But a writer isn’t a writer until they actually write. The planning and plotting that is schemed doesn’t make anyone a writer. So, what can you do to be motivated to write?
1.      Listen to music that matches the scene you’re writing. If it’s scary, listen to a Halloween track. If it’s a war scene, listen to percussion tracks. If it’s peaceful, listen to classical.
2.      Don’t set a word count goal for that day. The thing that is blocking you from writing is usually an idea of how much you need to get done.
3.      Keep your writing area clean. If it has soda cans or last night’s dinner leftovers on it, you’re not going to want to sit there, usually. Place a bonsai tree or something aesthetic there to make it more inviting and beautiful.
4.      Go somewhere else and write. Sometimes, a change of location can work wonders. Coffee shops are a great place, because you can keep rewarding yourself for writing as long as you are there. $10 or $15 can go quite a ways in a coffee shop!
5.      Find one interesting thing about the era your writing takes place and try to write a scene to include it. It’s great for world building!

6.      Associate with other readers and writers. For me, I added a lot of authors on Facebook. Now, when I Facebook surf, I see the progression others are making with their books or writing, and it makes me wonder what I’m doing on Facebook and not writing!