How Do You Define Success as a Writer?


How Do You Define Success as a Writer?
 
by N. Bright
 

The Texas High Plains Writers program this past Saturday featured a Q&A panel of authors. Two traditionally published and two Indie Authors answered questions about their writing process and the publishing industry. Jodi Thomas, New York Times Bestselling author of 48 books, moderated. It was a fun morning, and I was honored to be a part of the panel along with Linda Broday who writes a successful series for SourceBooks, and Ryan McSwain who is an Indie Author.

 
“Secrets of Success” was the title of the program, and Jodi pointed out that each writer can define success in totally different ways. For very successful, tradtionally published authors, success might be the number one spot on a national best seller list, or seeing their book on a movie screen. As I juggle two teenagers, a busy day job, and all of the ideas in my head, success for me is holding one of my stories in hand. As an Indie Author, that is the immediate pay off for me personally, and then the book promotion is another faucett of the business that will continue through the long term.
 
The morning discussion included some great tips.
 
Jodi says, “Pick a lane,” which in some cases mean genre. Do you want to write kid lit or mainstream romance? In today’s publishing environment, I take it to mean considering the best publishing option for your work in progress as well. Every project may be different and writers have so many choices today. Jodi told us, “Everyone in this room has talent. Are you willing to do what it takes? Pick a lane. Develop your career.”
 
Linda says to include lots of conflict in your stories and use true events and personal stories to add depth to your writing.
 
Ryan keeps a character file, where he puts specifics about his characters as they develop. His ‘supplemental file’ is a list of changes that need to be made in previous chapters as he writes the new chapters. Instead of stopping to make changes, he references the supplemental file and makes the changes to his completed manuscript all at one time.
 
Traditional or Indie involves time and money, but as I told the group, it’s a completely different mindset. If you have a high concept book and you think readers all over the world will read it, then you have to go where the agents and editors are. You need to summarize your book into a one sentence pitch, and you have to practice that pitch. Attend conferences and sign up for appointments with the traditional publishing house professionals who will want your book. Your book must be exceptional in order to rise above the other 500 writers pitching during that same weekend.
As an Indie Author you have to write an exceptional book too, and then you have some aditional decisions to make. Pick a genre. Pick your target market. Pick a writing organization. Pick a cover designer. Pick a professional editor. The work is endless, but the rewards are extremly satisfying.
The secret to success takes hard work, but can be defined according to your terms. Jodi reminded us of one of our favorite local authors who, sadly, is no longer with us. DeWanna Pace always said that her writing goals never involved big dollar signs. “It’s not the money,” she’d say. “I want people to love my work.”
Do you live in or near the Amarillo area? Texas High Plains Writers meets on the 3rd Saturday of every other month.
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PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?


PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Promote You:THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY


Promote You:

THIS IS FOR THE LONG HAUL, BABY

By Natalie Bright

If you think about that statistical report which estimates a new title is published every five minutes on Amazon, you might start to hyperventilate and then throw up your hands in frustration. How can we ever get noticed in such a swirling frenzy of titles? That’s a lot of options for readers and your book will probably not be an instant success. Most likely your launch will not result in a flurry of sales.

The good news is there are more ways to publish your work now, more than ever before. Your digital eBook may very well live longer than you.

Case in point, this week I received an order from a public library for a book I self-published in 2010. The ISBN cataloging system did its job, because I took the advice of several Indie Authors and purchased a block of ISBNs myself from Bowker. My book is now on it’s way from Texas to Missouri. That book project and promotion is long since done, but the title and contents are new to the librarian who just discovered it in 2017. It was all very official. I received a purchase order and she will receive a copy of OIL PEOPLE for her collection.

My book went to Missouri!

So the question to ask yourself is this:

How important is it that you find readers, and are you in it for the long haul?

Are you prepared to tweet, create memes, talk to groups, write blog posts, and plan ad campaigns around your books? Are you prepared to do all you can to promote your titles forever?

Your eBooks do not have a limited shelf life.

In reality, the chance of future readers discovering your books depends solely on you, whether you are traditionally or Indie published. And I just realized this week, there is no deadline to that discover-ability.

Remember that seven year old book I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Guess I better start thinking about new ways to revive the blurb.

Carry on, writers–we’ve got some promoting to do, and in your spare time, keep writing!

TAGs:

Promote You: Author Bio


Promote You: Author Bio

Natalie Bright

This week, think about updating your author bio across your many social media platforms. I removed a sentence about my education and added a sentence about a soon to be released book about rescue horses. Let people know that you write, blog and speak (or whatever your passions are).

Do you have a common theme that runs through most of your books? For example; “Fan of thrillers & exploring abandoned buildings.”

Also think about your followers on each the platforms and how they differ. You might want to have slightly different versions for each. I have saved different versions in a Word Folder titled “Nat’s Promo”. Labeled as short bio, 100 words, 500 words, or based on the need such as program speaker intro, freelance bio, or back matter bio for books.

Tweak your Author Bio this week on all platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Facebook Public Page
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Claim your BookBub author page
  • Amazon Author Page
  • Smashwords profile
  • Did I leave one out?

Below is the link to a helpful blog post from BookBub,

Writing Your Author Bio? Here are 10 Great Examples.

https://insights.bookbub.com/great-author-bio-examples/

Have a great week everybody and happy promoting!

PROMOTING YOU: Amazon Author Central


PROMOTING YOU: Amazon Author Central

Natalie Bright

Frontiers in Writing conference, hosted by an Amarillo writer’s group,
featured Debbie Macomber as the keynote speaker many years ago. If this name
is unfamiliar to you, Macomber is one of today’s most popular women’s
fiction and romance author, with more than 200 million copies of her books
in print worldwide. As a newbie writer, I was definitely star struck.

One of the best pieces advice I’ve ever heard, and something that stuck with
me, came from Macomber. She said, “Do one thing every day that will promote
you or your writing, no matter how big or small. At the end of the year
you’ll have a list of 365 things done.”

Over the next several months, I’ll be blogging about “Promoting You” with
topics ranging from big things that might take you several hours, to not so
big things taking you several minutes. In the end, it’s all good and it’s
all important to your career as an author.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGES

If you have books listed for sell on amazon.com, right under the book title
is your name. If you hover over the name, a window should pop up with a link
to your Amazon Author Page. Every author can access this feature,
traditional or Indie.

Join at https://authorcentral.amazon.com and sign in using the Amazon
account where you publish your books. Be aware that Amazon has rules regarding multiple accounts for sellers.

Once you have set up your account, “Add a book” which can be searched by
ISBN or title. It will appear on your Author Central site within 24 hours,
usually less, has been my experience. Approval from your publisher may take
several days, if you are not self-published.

You can post or edit original content at any time, such as a picture, add
your bio, pictures of author events, videos, and link your blog with RSS
feed. Your blog posts will automatically appear within 24 hours. There is
even an events calendar.

To Do this Week:

1. Set-up your Amazon Author page at Author Central.
2.  Create an Amazon Author Page URL link and let everyone know by tweeting
the link.
3. Tell us about it, too – post the link in the comment section below.

THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!


THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!

Natalie Bright

Texas High Plains Writers sponsors a youth writing contest every year. Propelled by area English teachers, kids grades 3-12 can submit their work in three categories: short story, memoir, or poetry. I judged short stories for grades 7-8, and as with every year I’ve volunteered, the entries were amazing. The depth of emotion and sophistication of the themes are mind blowing. Awarding a first place is extremely difficult, and possible only after hours of deliberation.

This past Saturday afternoon, we held the awards ceremony. The room was packed with the winners and their families. As I watched kids make their way to the front to accept their medals, I couldn’t help but feel a burst of joy.

One of the hardest things is giving a stranger your very private musings to read. One of the most rewarding things in any writer’s life is recognition. As a kid, no one explained to me that the conversations floating through my brain were normal. Strange places and people that were so vivid in my adolescent mind was not a sign of crazy. These are the things of a writer’s imagination, waiting for us to give them wings on the page.

I remember jamming my freshman college schedule with poetry, English and history courses. My father asked, “Shouldn’t you take more business courses?” In the present rise of the Indie Author, who could have predicted that my reluctant shift to business finance and marketing would serve me so well today.

Young writers are oblivious to the possibilities. We are most likely not the most popular, nor do we excel as class leaders. Often, we watched others from the sidelines, observing and hesitant to join in. Even as children, we had an uncanny eye for details, filing the information away to be used later in our stories. We have a slightly skewed view of things, which is unexplainable to non-writers. As I watched those kids on Saturday, I understood that they see the world so very differently; you know what I’m talking about.

After the awards ceremony, I wanted to tell every parent how talented their kids were, and how important it is to celebrate and encourage that writerly weirdness. Their creativity and imagination is boundless. The experience of walking to the front of a crowded room to accept a writing award will remain with them their whole lives.

I guess the main point of this blog is that one day I’ll be able to read their books. I can hardly wait!

Workshops for Writers: I love talking to kids and adults about the writing process. If you have a group who is interested in a writing workshop, please call my office 806.655.4046.

Basic Social Media for Writers


Basic Social Media for Writers 

By Rory C. Keel

 

After mountains of research, hours of keeping my rear end in the chair and wearing out the keyboard, they expect me to do what?

Yes, that’s right, as a writer you need to have an internet presence on social media.

Recently, I was asked to present some basic materials about social media, to the Ranch House writers, a group of writers who occasionally gather for a meal and encouragement from others in the writing community.

This blog will be the first in a series of four, dealing with the basics of social media for writers.

What is Social Media

Simply put, social media is a varied group of internet based applications that allow YOU to create and share content.

Early in the development of the internet, most websites were static. In other words, much like a billboard on the highway, it was costly to change and no had ability to interact with consumers.

Today, social media platforms give writers the ability to create, share, discuss ideas, and publish user-generated materials.

These applications are often categorized into groups such as networking sites, blog sites, video Sharing sites and even photo sharing sites. There are hundreds of applications and Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Flickr are just a few examples.

Will Social Media benefit me as a writer?

While there are many reasons an individual might use social media, for the writer it’s as simple as Business 101.

Writing is a business

Have you ever read the reviews of a restaurant before going out to dinner? Have you ever researched someone on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN, before meeting for an appointment?

It is estimated that in 2015, 93 percent of all businesses will use some form of social media. For both consumers and businesses it has become the norm and is expected.

Using Social Media

Using social media as a writer allows easy communication between you and your readers. It is a medium that allows the ability to develop relationships by having accessibility to groups where individual time is not possible.

And finally, social media allows you multiple mediums to develop your brand as a writer. By blogging, posting, tweeting, google plus-ing, you can establish yourself as a writer and build a large readership.

Next Tuesday we will discuss which social media platform to use. See ya’ then!

roryckeel.com

A Scene Defined


A Scene Defined

Natalie Bright

The scene is the unit of story, and in a book usually starts with a character arriving and ends when something has changed. A scene propels the story forward.

  1. Scenes in a book are anchored in a certain place and certain time.
  2. A narrative summary can describe the specifics of your scene.
  3. Scenes usually contain some type of visible action, not just internal thinking from the character.
  4. Do not use italics for internal dialogue, or what your character is “thinking”. Once the standard norm, the point of digging deep is writing inside your character’s head.
  5. Keep the scene and action moving. No backstory in the first chapter (maybe two). Hook the reader, and save the backstory for later.
  6. Skillfully weave your backstory into the story, these can be tension filled scenes into itself.
  7. End scenes (chapters) with a hook—a punchy, pithy statement.

Does your scene play like a movie in your head?

Agents of Evil


Agents of Evil

Natalie Bright

Every great story has a villain. A character who drives your main character crazy and prevents him/her from reaching their goal.

A great novel has tension on every page, and the antagonists’ strengths are stronger than the protagonist. There’s no fun in reading a story with a stupid criminal. Ramp up the conflict, create tension in every scene.

Below is a thought-provoking list of the types of antagonists, based on my notes from a writing workshop I attended at the WTAMU Writers Academy several years ago:

Accidental Villian–fatal flaw, does not set out to be bad, bitterly regrets the act of villainy, the evil acts keep snowballing.

Examined Villian–intends to sin, plans crime carefully and meticulously, criminals always have a good reason, criminals rationalize their behavior because what they do makes perfect sense to them.

Surprise Villian– introduced sympathetically and later it is revealed that this person is evil.

Over the Top Villian — untextured bad guy, not realistic as found in the form of comic book characters, their sole purpose is to make things difficult for the good guys, quircky, different, extreme.

Mundane Criminal — not larger than life, but wrong for their own advantage.

Now go write a character profile about a very bad person for your next story.

Basic Social Media for Writers


Basic Social Media for Writers 

By Rory C. Keel

 

After mountains of research, hours of keeping my rear end in the chair and wearing out the keyboard, they expect me to do what?

Yes, that’s right, as a writer you need to have an internet presence on social media.

Recently, I was asked to present some basic materials about social media, to the Ranch House writers, a group of writers who occasionally gather for a meal and encouragement from others in the writing community.

This blog will be the first in a series of four, dealing with the basics of social media for writers.

What is Social Media

Simply put, social media is a varied group of internet based applications that allow YOU to create and share content.

Early in the development of the internet, most websites were static. In other words, much like a billboard on the highway, it was costly to change and no had ability to interact with consumers.

Today, social media platforms give writers the ability to create, share, discuss ideas, and publish user-generated materials.

These applications are often categorized into groups such as networking sites, blog sites, video Sharing sites and even photo sharing sites. There are hundreds of applications and Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube and Flickr are just a few examples.

Will Social Media benefit me as a writer?

While there are many reasons an individual might use social media, for the writer it’s as simple as Business 101.

Writing is a business

Have you ever read the reviews of a restaurant before going out to dinner? Have you ever researched someone on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN, before meeting for an appointment?

It is estimated that in 2015, 93 percent of all businesses will use some form of social media. For both consumers and businesses it has become the norm and is expected.

Using Social Media

Using social media as a writer allows easy communication between you and your readers. It is a medium that allows the ability to develop relationships by having accessibility to groups where individual time is not possible.

And finally, social media allows you multiple mediums to develop your brand as a writer. By blogging, posting, tweeting, google plus-ing, you can establish yourself as a writer and build a large readership.

Next Tuesday we will discuss which social media platform to use. See ya’ then!

roryckeel.com