15 Ways to Earn Your Audience as a Writer

 

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Digest,  guest post is by Chuck Wendig. Wendig is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, and the Heartland YA series, alongside other works across comics, games, film, and more. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his popular blog, terribleminds.com, and his books about writing (including The Kick-Ass Writer). He lives in Pennsylvania with his family. http://www.writersdigest.com

 

 

  1. Swift Cellular Division

The days of writing One Single Thing every year and standing on that single thing as if it were a mighty marble pedestal are long gone. (And, if you ask me, have been gone for a lot longer than everybody says—unless, of course, you’re a bestselling author.) Nowadays, it pays to write a lot. Spackle shut the gaps in your resume. Bridge any chasm in your schedule. This doesn’t mean write badly. It doesn’t mean “churn out endless strings of talent-less sputum.” It just means to be generative. Always be writing.

  1. Painting With Shotguns

The power of creative diversity will serve you well. The audience doesn’t come to you. You go to the audience. “One book is less likely to find an audience than three?” Correction: “One book is less likely to find an audience than two books, a comic, a blog, a short story collection, various napkin doodles, a celebrity chef trading card set, and hip anonymous graffiti.” Joss Whedon didn’t just write Buffy. He wrote films. And comics. And a web-series. The guy is all over the map. Diversity in nature helps a species survive. So too will it help the tribe of storytellers survive.

  1. Sharing Is Caring

Make your work easy to share. This is triply true for newer storytellers: Don’t hide your work behind a wall. Make sure your work is widely available. Don’t make it difficult to pass around. I have little doubt that there’s a strategy wherein making your story a truly rare bird can serve you—scarcity suggests value and mystery, after all—but the smart play for creative types just setting out is to get your work into as many hands as possible with as little trouble as you can offer. This is true for veteran storytellers, too. Comedian Louis C.K. made it very easy to get his new comedy special on the web. And that served him well both financially and in terms of earning him a new audience while rewarding the existing audience.

  1. Value at Multiple Tiers

Your nascent audience doesn’t want to have to take out a home equity loan to try your untested work. If you’re a new author and your first book comes out and the e-book is $12.99, well, good luck to you. Now, that might not be in your control, so here’s what you do: Have multiple expressions of your awesomeness available at a variety of tiers. Have something free. Have something out there for a buck or three. Make sure folks can sample your work and still support you, should they choose to do so.

  1. Be You

The best audience isn’t just an audience that exists around a single work, but rather, an ecosystem that connects to the creator. The audience that hangs with a creator will follow said creator from work to work. That means who you are as a storyteller matters—this is not to suggest that you need to be the center of a cult of personality. Just be humble creator of many things. You’re the hub of your creative life, with spokes leading to many creative expressions rather than just one. Put yourself out there. And be you. Be authentic. Don’t just be a “creator.” You’re not a marketing mouthpiece. You’re a human. For all the good and the bad.

  1. Engagement and Interaction

Very simply: Talk to people. Social media—though I’m starting to hate that phrase and think we should call it something like the “digital conversation matrix”—is a great place in which to be you and interact with folks and be more than just a mouthpiece for your work. The audience wants to feel connected to you. Like with those freaky tentacular hair braids in Avatar. Get out there. Hang out. Be you. Interact. Engage.

  1. Head’s Up: Social Media Is Not Your Priority

Special attention must be paid: Social media is a side dish; it is not your main burrito. See #1 on this list.

  1. Hell With the Numbers

Just as I exhort you to be a human being, I suggest you look at all those with whom you interact on social media as people, too. They’re not resources. They’re not a number. They’re not “followers”—yes, fine, they might be called that, but (excepting a few camouflaged spam-bots) they’re people. Sure, as you gaze out over an audience, the heads and faces start to blur together like the subjects of a pointillist painting, but remember that the audience is made up of people. And people are really cool.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

An earnest plea to your existing audience to help you find and earn a new audience would not be remiss.

  1. Share Knowledge

As you learn things about the process, share them with others. Free exchange of information is awesome. Be open and honest. Be useful.

  1. Embrace Feedback

Reviews, critiques, commentary, conversation—feedback is good even when it’s bad. When it’s bad, all you have to do is ignore it. Or politely say, “I’ll consider that!” and in the privacy of your own home, shred the feedback with wanton disregard. When it’s good, it’s stellar and connects you all the more deeply to the audience. The audience is now a part of your feedback loop, like it or not.

  1. Do Set Boundaries

That feedback loop is not absolute. I’m not a strong believer in creative integrity as an indestructible, indefatigable “thing”—but, I recognize that being a single-minded creator requires some ego. Further, the reality is that once something is “out there”, it is what it is and there ain’t anything you can do about it. So you have to know when to turn off comments, back away from social media, or just set personal and unspoken boundaries for yourself.

  1. Don’t Wrestle Gators If You’re Not a Good Gator Wrestler

What I mean is, don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re not good in public, don’t go out in public. If writing guest blogs is not your thing … well, maybe don’t write a guest blog. Again, this isn’t a list where you need to check off every box. These are just options. Avoid those that plunge you into a churning pool of discomfort. You don’t want to lose more audience than you earn.

  1. Take Your Time

Earning your audience won’t happen overnight. You don’t plant a single seed and expect to see a lush garden grown up by morning. This takes time, work, patience, and, y’know, earning the attention of other fine humans one set of eyeballs at a time. It’s why you put yourself out there again and again.

  1. Have Fun

Relax. Enjoy yourself. This isn’t supposed to be torture. You should have fun for two reasons: First, because people can sense when you’re just phoning it in, or worse, when you’re just moping. Second, because fun is fun. You should enjoy writing; enjoy putting your work out there.

I can show you God

 

John Coyote writes with the heart of the Native American Nature; of the Earth, the Sky, the Moon and the Sun as God created for us and to the good spirits that exist in every part of Creation. Just beautiful in heart and Spirit at https://johncoyote.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/i-can-show-you-god/

johncoyote

042_42

ps_2010_12_08___12_14_15.jpg

I can show you God

A Poem by Coyote Poetry

"

Just thoughts and things to ponder on

"

                                  I can show you God
The great search for God is fruitless for some.
I knew a woman from  Santa Cruz.  We sat together often drinking hot and tasty
coffee on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Her heart was cold and dead.She  told me God is dead and forgotten.
We are just people struggling with no place to go or reasons to be alive.

I smiled and pointed to the sea.
I told her God is alive.
Look at the dancing sea.
The sun above us. Gifts for us from God.

God isn’t our master or guide.
Life is for us to decide.
She looked frustrated and asked.
Don’t God support to protect and save us?
Look at this world. War, murder, violence and dead-ends.”

I requested her to travel with me.
I…

View original post 678 more words

Emotion vs. Feeling: How to Evoke More from Readers

By: Writer’s Digest, David Corbett, Award Winning Author and Guest Columnist, Author of The Art of Character

The difference between writing emotion and writing feeling is more one of degree than kind. Feeling is emotion that has been habituated and refined; it is understood and can be used deliberately. I know how I feel about this person and treat her accordingly. Emotion is more raw, unconsidered. It comes to us unbidden, regardless of how familiar it might be. Rage is an emotion. Contempt is a feeling.

Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.  Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.

To accomplish this, the POV character should:

  • Dig deeper: As with emotion, surprise is a key element. You need a starting point that seems unexpected, because nothing shuts off the reader like belaboring the obvious. Instead, seek a second- or third-level feeling in the scene.
  • Objectify the feeling: Find a physical analogy for it (e.g. She felt as though her shame had created a sunburn from within).
  • Compare the feeling: Measure it against other occasions when it has arisen. Is it worse this time? How? Why?
  • Evaluate the feeling: Is it right or wrong to feel this way? Proper or shameful? What would a more refined, stronger, wiser person feel?
  • Justify the feeling: Explore why this feeling is the only honest response for the character.
  • Examine the impact on identity: What does this feeling say about the character or the state of her life? Has she grown or regressed? Does she recognize the feeling as universal, or does it render her painfully alone?

Eliciting Emotion

Emotion on the page is created through action and relies on surprise for its effect. That surprise is ultimately generated by having the character express or exhibit an emotion not immediately apparent in the scene.

  • To create genuine emotion when crafting a scene, identify the most likely or obvious response your character might have, then ask: What other emotion might she be experiencing? Then ask it again—reach a “third-level emotion.” Have the character express or exhibit that. Through this use of the unexpected, the reader will experience a greater range of emotion, making the scene more vivid.
  • Surprise can also be generated through unforeseen reveals and/or reversals. This technique requires misdirection: creating a credible expectation that something other than what occurs will happen instead.

Types of misdirection include:

  • Misdirection through ambiguity: Any of several results might occur.
  • Misdirection through fallacy: Something creates a mistaken belief regarding what is happening or what it means.
  • Misdirection through sympathy: Intense focus on one character lures the reader into overlooking what another might do.
  • To ground a surprise in emotion you must develop a belief that some other emotional outcome—ideally, the opposite of the one you hope to evoke—is not only possible, but likely.

Exploring Feeling

Feeling requires introspection, which thus necessitates identification with the character and empathy for what she faces.  The goal is not to get readers to feel what the characters feel, per se, but to use the characters as a device to get readers to feel something on their own.

This means allowing characters to think about what they’re feeling, which accomplishes two things:

  • It makes the feelings both more concrete and more personal.
  • It creates time and space for readers to process their own feelings. If empathy for the character has been forged, this allows readers to ask themselves: Do I feel the same way? Do I feel differently?

Within such scenes, the point-of-view character:

  • registers and analyzes the emotional impact of what has happened
  • thinks through the logical import or meaning of what has happened
  • makes a plan for how to proceed

Putting Them Together: Writing Emotion and Feeling

A character changes through the emotions she experiences, the refinement of those emotions into feelings, and the evolution in self-awareness that this process allows. This gradual metamorphosis creates the story’s internal arc, providing the character an opportunity to move step-by-step from being at the mercy of her emotions to mastering her feelings. And through the use of surprise and introspection, you provide a means for the reader to traverse an arc of her own, expanding her emotional self-awareness.

Thank You, Sergeant Curran, Our Pen-Pal

Reblogged from A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie teaches far more than Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic! She teaches compassion, empathy, and the caring for those who sacrifice to protect others from danger. Learning to say thank you with humility and gratefulness is part of the greater good of humanity. Thank you, Jennie. Visit Jennie’s blog at https://jenniefitzkee.com/

A Teacher's Reflections

“Thank you.”  Those are the most fundamental words, next to “please”, that shape children’s character.  It is far more than manners; saying the words is one thing, doing the words is another.

My class is thanking Sergeant Curran, stationed in Afghanistan.  We’re doing it the good, old fashioned way; writing letters and drawing pictures.  We are Pen-Pals!

For children, expressing their thoughts in words and drawings is age appropriate and very genuine.  That is exactly what we did for Curran.  After we wrote and decorated our big letter, we drew him individual pictures.

Children need to learn that kindness and thanks matter.  They need to learn about the big, wide world.  They need to learn about other people.  Curran is our Pen-Pal in the big, wide world.  When he was a little boy, his favorite book was Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, by John Burningham.  We love that book!  Curran’s dad…

View original post 120 more words

10 Ways First-Time Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media

Writer’s Digest, Emily Sweet, Guest Column, March 8, 2017

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media.

The changing literary and book publishing landscape makes it difficult for new authors to breakout. A plethora of new distribution formats, especially focused on self-publishing, opens brand new avenues for writers to get noticed, but also makes it incredibly easy to get lost in the sea of content. Unless you have a pre-existing social platform or public profile that extends beyond the world of books, “discoverability” can be a very elusive thing and it can be nearly impossible to get noticed on social media. That said, there are many ways first-time authors can leverage social media to build their online presence and gain momentum in their careers. Here are my top 10 insights:

  1. Choose the platform that works for you 

Are you Twitter or Instagram? Are you Snapchat or Pinterest? When first starting out, it can be tempting to sign up for every platform under the sun. And while it’s a good idea to at least reserve your handle (preventing someone else from taking it), you probably shouldn’t start posting away everywhere. What platform do you like and feels most instinctual to you? Do you want to share pithy quotes? Then choose Twitter. Are you out of storage space because of all the photos you’ve taken on your phone? Then choose Instagram. Do you have pages and pages of inspiration for your characters? Then put it all on Pinterest and invite your readers to find extra content there.

  1. Make all your social media handles consistent

This may seem intuitive, but it’s important. You want followers to easily find you. And, unfortunately, this can be more difficult than it seems as well, because some handles may already be taken. So, chose one where you can be consistent.

  1. Don’t use the same content across all platforms

It can be tempting to link all of your accounts together and post one thing at one time, but try to resist that temptation. Each social media platform has its own community and set of rules. For one thing, if people follow you on multiple platforms, they’re going to know that you’re just being lazy. And that concern aside, often certain things won’t translate across platforms (tagging, for example, is hard to do when platforms are linked). But most importantly, each platform should have its own voice, which should be developed and honed.

  1. Develop a strong voice

Your content should reflect who you are as a writer. Share ideas and insights that distinguish you from other authors and public figures. Always remember who you’re talking to – your audience and who they consist of – and think about your “brand” (see number 6 for more on branding).

  1. Post consistently

Post consistently and often. At this point, most platforms reward you for activity, i.e., there are algorithms that will naturally boost more popular posts, but consistency helps as well. It will also encourage people to follow and engage with you.

  1. Focus on your brand, but don’t fall into the “ABS” (Always Be Selling) trap

Social media is a chance to get to know and really engage with your readers. If they like your writing, they’ll want to know when your book is coming out… but they want to engage in different ways too. No one likes being asked to buy something every time they see you.

  1. Interact with your followers to get noticed on social media

Don’t forget to go back and comment on comments. This is the whole benefit of social media! You can talk to your followers in real time and build a relationship with them.

  1. Interact with other authors

Authors can be a hugely supportive community. Just as you would reach out to other authors for blurbs, reach out and engage on social media as well.

  1. Make sure all your posts are tagged

Hashtags help drive engagement and help grow your fan base. Tagging helps lead people back to your page that may not have otherwise seen it.

  1. Be careful

It’ seasy to forget that you’re becoming a public figure if you’ve spent most of your life being private. But now simple posts are subject to scrutiny, so just watch your intention and tone. You don’t want something taken out of context, or to turn people off from your writing. All publicity is definitely NOT good publicity.

Emily Sweet is the Executive Director of Brand Development and Client Initiatives at Park Literary & Media. Among other things, she advises PLM clients on how to find their voice on social media, create an online presence, and develop a consistent brand strategy. She’s a former lawyer who now works with Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, Debbie Macomber, Janice Y.K. Lee, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and many others.

For more information on Park Literary & Media, as well as the authors they represent, visit parkliterary.com or find them @parkliterarymedia on Instagram and @parkliterary on Twitter.

Deciphering Book Descriptions

Fresh Eggs

 

 

 

I am reblogging this post for good reason. I am reading books, lately, that don’t seem to have cogent descriptions and left me wondering: what’s it all about?

How interesting and telling are most book descriptions?  Most are not at all. Maybe there should be professional book description writers.  Reading a book description should not be a word puzzle to try and figure it out. It can be daunting to write your own book description, especially if one is so subjective, the premise can be lost entirely. It is  better to have a Beta Reader or a Reviewer with a successful blog write a book description, if the author is having problems pinning down a short description that actually describes.  On WordPress, there are many experienced and talented reviewers and beta readers.

Here is a book description that does not describe the content of said novel : Fresh Eggs – a novel by Rob Levandoski. 

“Calvin Cassowary is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cassowary Farm in the family for one more generation. Hatching a scheme to specialize in chickens, soon he’s got a million hens laying eggs for Gallinipper Foods, b…ut he’s getting deeper and deeper into debt. To make matters worse, his chicken-loving daughter Rhea starts growing feathers. Filled with as many tears and chuckles, Rob Levandoski’s Fresh Eggs is a provocative father/daughter tale guaranteed to make you ponder the realities of modern farming and think twice the next time someone asks, “white or dark meat?”

What we know about this book:  All we know so far is that raising and selling chickens will get you into debt and chicken farm daughters tend to grow feathers.  So far, so what.  Who sheds tears and why is the owner chuckling? After all, I can’t think of anything worse things than to have a child grow feathers.  Pondering the realities of modern farming?

 

Importance of Freedom of the Press

The first Amendment is critical to our country being democratic and thank Charles for this so very important post!

charles french words reading and writing

In our current political climate, in which the Press has been attacked as somehow against the people, it is important to remember that a free Press was seen by the founders of the United States of America as a crucial element to keeping the nation free. Other thinkers have argued for the maintenance of the free Press as a necessary aspect of battling tyranny and supporting freedom. The Press is one of the institutions that must be preserved if the nation is to remain a free democracy.

One of the writers whose work most clearly illustrated the abuse of power and the effects of the suppression of the Press was George Orwell.

george-orwell

(https://pixabay.com)

“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all,
means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”

                                                                            George Orwell

theodore-roosevelt-393205_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

In an example of the use of the free press itself, Teddy Roosevelt said, in an…

View original post 119 more words

HOW I LOST MY REVIEWS ON AMAZON!

sad-face-4-bigger

 

 

 

 

Back in late November I finished a 2nd edition of Garrett’s Bones, not that there was really anything wrong with it, but I just wanted to add a better epilogue and a few little grammar improvements.  Since then, I have been so busy working on my new book, The White Witch Chronicles, that I didn’t pay attention to Garrett’s Bones.

I was quite surprised when I discovered that the reviews were gone a few months back.  How unfair, I thought. After emails and phone calls with Amazon, there is nothing I can do. What I didn’t realize, is that I would lose my reviews by Amazon customers. My first edition is no longer available, nor do I want it to be, it is confusing enough as it is. I will never do a 2nd edition ever again. Please keep in mind, that Amazon has changed some of its policies and family and personal friends cannot do reviews for their family member.

garrets-bones-second-edition-version-final-2-copy-copy

A Review of Garrett’s Bones by the Award Winning Author, Francis Webb!

francis-webb-authorA Review of Garrett’s Bones by Author Francis Webb, who has been published in The Antioch Review, The Literary Review, Northwest Review and The New York Times. Francis Webb is also “Listed in Stories of Distinction, Best American Short Stories 1981″,  reviews Garrett’s Bones by author K. D. Dowdall.

It would seem impossible to have a beautiful forest with its lush dogwoods and “sunlight filtering through the dense canopy of trees,” and it’s gentle and not so gentle animal life transforming into a paranormal world along with evil emanating beneath and above “rotting tree trunks” and foxes and poisonous snakes disappearing into a “corpse of Hawthorne bushes”; however, “Garrett’s Bones” proves it can happen.

Anna and Garrett have grown up together playing and wandering in this beautiful forest near their homes, Garrett being an Indian in his mind, and maybe otherwise, and Anna discovering her ability to know the possibly unknowable and to see the probably unseeable.  They create for themselves special hiding places and make contact with fleeting visions of kind Indians, scary ghosts of the past and spirits of the woods of all kinds. With the help and hindrance of these spirits, they are able to take on and accomplish—with great difficulty, danger and some violence—what appears to be the impossible, that of locating the murderer of a young girl whose body they discover draped over a fallen log.

When they come across a seemingly out of place mound in the earth, they dig in the dirt and pull out bones, including a skull.  Garrett decides this was probably a sacred Indian burial ground, so they vow to make amends for this desecration, especially after having discovered the murdered girl.  Clearly evil spirits are at play in the forest, and they must dispel them along with locating the perpetrator of this horrendous crime. Several subplots enrich this unusual novel, including stories of family dysfunction as well as the developing romance—with its side steps, blockages and intrigue—between Anna and Garrett.  I also enjoyed learning the details of Indian lore and fortune telling and about the lives of spirits, past and present.

What I found so satisfying and intriguing was the way the author created and sustained an exquisite feeling of suspense by stopping the narrative at a crucial point in the mystery with lush and rich language describing the secrets of the natural world, both their beauty and their predatory nature.  Invariably these descriptions, while beautiful in themselves, point to the presence or resolution of the mystery.  As an example, the aforementioned “corpse of Hawthorne bushes” foreshadows beautifully the soon to be discovered murdered body.  These foreshadowings, as well as many other ominous figures of speech tell us of future horrors with many springing from “innocent” descriptions of nature, all of which added significantly to my enjoyment of “Garrett’s Bones”, which I highly recommend for an exciting, frightening, and historically accurate good read.

 

 

DR. SUESS

dr

 

 

 

 

An Actual Dr. Seuss Cartoon – 1941

This cartoon is amazing.  You know what history says don’t you?  “History is Bound to Repeat Itself, If Good Men and Women Do Nothing!”

***Remember this? Thousands of Jewish immigrants fleeing from Nazi concentration Camps in 1941 were denied entry in to America and they were returned to Germany where they were put to death in the Gas Chambers. Where is America in times like this – Voting for Hate-filled Promises? Do Really Believe in Democracy?  As a People, do we really believe in the Common Good for Humankind?  I think not.  We don’t even care about saving our planet! So, I guess worrying about the common good is a moot point. I asked myself,

“What does the human good mean?

The Common Good – Ethical Decision Making – Ethics Resources – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics . Commenting on the many economic and social problems that American society confronts, Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson once wrote: “We face a choice between a society where people accept modest sacrifices for a common good or a more contentious society where group selfishly protect their own benefits.” Newsweek is not the only voice calling for a recognition of and commitment to the “common good.”

Appeals to the common good have also surfaced in discussions of business’ social responsibilities, discussions of environmental pollution, discussions of our lack of investment in education, and discussions of the problems of crime and poverty. Everywhere, it seems, social commentators are claiming that our most fundamental social problems grow out of a widespread pursuit of individual interests.

What exactly is “the common good”, and why has it come to have such a critical place in current discussions of problems in our society? The common good is a notion that originated over two thousand years ago in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. More recently, the contemporary ethicist, John Rawls, defined the common good as “certain general conditions that are…equally to everyone’s advantage”. The Catholic religious tradition, which has a long history of struggling to define and promote the common good, defines it as “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” The common good, then, consists primarily of having the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all depend work in a manner that benefits all people. Examples of particular common goods or parts of the common good include an accessible and affordable public health care system, and effective system of public safety and security, peace among the nations of the world, a just legal and political system, and unpolluted natural environment, and a flourishing economic system. Because such systems, institutions, and environments have such a powerful impact on the well-being of members of a society, it is no surprise that virtually every social problem in one way or another is linked to how well these systems and institutions are functioning.  https://www.scu.edu/ethics/ethics-resources/ethical-decision-making/the-common-good/

Well, at least 45% of Americans do believe in the Common Good for Humankind!  So, I have hope…..still!