I’ve been researching mystery writing for the Cat and Mouse Adventure series (mainly because I am totally unhappy and unimpressed with the draft of Ghost at the Cemetery that I’ve written). I’ve discovered three websites that I want to add to my website. For two reasons, I want to be able to find the websites again, in the future, and because visitors to my website might benefit from them.
This is a question most indie authors would ask themselves at some stage. From the research I’ve done, pre-selling your book before it is released can give you the opportunity to begin building buzz and anticipation. You could get a jump start in sales and start building a fan base. In theory, by the time your book is released, your pre-sales could even place your book in the best selling charts!
Sounds great, but where does one start in achieving this?
Firstly, you have to write a book. Obvious, I know, but it is a necessity.
Once the book is written, it’s time to set up your pre-sale campaign by creating a sales page on your website. Spend time in writing a worthy description. Ensure your book cover stands out and draws the reader in. And if you have them, or can get them, compile testimonials.
These days, everyone wants and loves something for nothing, so offer a freebie with your pre-sale. This could be a free short-story, written by you or a writing buddy (this is a good way to help other authors too). Maybe you’ve got some resources or templates that you can offer. Put some thought into it and be a bit creative. The free item could possibly draw more readers to your book.
Offer your pre-sale readers the opportunity to read the book before the rest of the world gets hold of it. Allow them two or four weeks to read and, hopefully, review your book. They get first glimpse and you might get a review. It’s a win-win opportunity.
Think about offering a limited edition of the ebook to anyone who pre-orders your book. Perhaps include extra material or a different cover, or a coupon code for a discount for your next book.
Don’t forget to include a ‘buy now’ button on your sales page. How can people pre-buy if there’s no purchase button?
And once you’re all set up. Announce the pre-sale on your website and through email. And share it on Facebook, Twitter, and through any other online group you belong to. Start the buzz and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.
In my last post I reported that I have finally finished writing The Lion Gods. That was on 13 February and I have put it aside for two weeks before I start the editing phase.
But what have I been doing in the meantime?
Over the last ten or so days I’ve reconnected with wiki note keeping. PBwiki is online and whilst that is great for easy access from anywhere, I now prefer to install Tiddlywiki on my laptop for private use. (It’s amazing how tastes change over the years.)
In the thirteen years since I first started using a wiki, the base wiki system has improved and morphed into something I wasn’t used to working with. So, I downloaded Classic Tiddlywiki, which I believe is the best, but that’s just my opinion. You may feel differently.
I have been using a notebook for my writing research and notes. I have many of them. All of different shapes, sizes, colours and uses. I have them for planning a specific novel, for publishing notes, for writing tips in general and general research. It works fine, but they are bulky and take up room that I really don’t have now that we’ve downsized.
I remembered Tiddlywiki and decided to transfer my writing notebooks into virtual notebooks. I could have one wiki with everything, or I can have several wikis for specific things just like I have actual notebooks. The choice is mine.
And now that I have two screens, I can open the wiki of my choice on one screen and write on the other. I can refer to the wiki when I have a senior moment and can’t remember the character’s favourite thing or what the object was that they found, or what their sibling’s name is. Or I can open my publishing wiki if I want to refer to a checklist when doing edits or special notes when preparing an epub, or whatever. Then I can go to my general research wiki and find out what I discovered about riding a horse or archery or survival in freezing conditions, etc. It’s brilliant.
The other great thing about using a wiki, is that I can keep it up to date. Old notes can be updated easily, incorrect information deleted. I won’t have to flip through heaps of pages trying to find the reference I’m looking for. And I’ll have a neater workspace in general.
I should have done this years ago. How do you keep track of your writing research and notes?
With my recent decision to scrap a couple of projects I’ve been working on, one in particular, I’ve been thinking about what projects I’m going to concentrate on now.
Not being one for working on too many projects at a time, I’ve decided to go with two manuscripts. One is a much loved project that has been finished, but needs replanning and rewriting – The Marlinor Trilogy. The other is new and different to what I’ve worked on in the past – the non-fiction children’s picture book.
At opposite ends of the scale, I think that will work in my favour. There certainly could not be any confusion between the two as they are different in every sense of the word.
The non-fiction picture book is in the first draft. I’ve been considering ways to make it entertaining for the intended audience and will put those thoughts into action once I’ve finished the book I’m reading. I also need to complete my research on writing proposals in order to submit the project when it has been completed.
The trilogy is a different story. It’s complex and, although I know the characters, world and plot of book 1, I need to plot out the other two books. I plan to start again and rebuild the characters and the world, which brings me to the reason for this post…
The author of the following quote and subsequent link claims that if you put 15 minutes aside each day for 30 days, you can build a complete world worthy of your story. She has written a post for each day in the form of an exercise where she gives an explanation of what you’ll be doing and why and then she’ll set you a task to do. I haven’t checked the whole 30 days, but I believe this could be helpful in putting all writers on the right track.
And if you want to build a magical world, there’s a link to some extra information at the bottom of the sidebar.
A lot of times, people want to write a novel and think “I want to write fantasy, but there’s so much world-building I would have to do– I haven’t done any of it!” As everyone signing up for NaNoWriMo or any writing challenge quickly learns, this is really the self-editor speaking; it’s another way of saying “I can’t.”
So, give yourself 7 and a half hours this month– 15 minutes a day– to build a world. It’s not going to be Perfect or Set. Why would it be? You haven’t actually written the story yet, you haven’t tested its limits. But it’ll give you something to start with, something to feel comfortable about when you start.
via 30 Days of WorldBuilding by Stephanie Cottrell Bryant
Life has been busy and I haven’t had time to do much of anything lately, especially do the internet rounds and check up on my fellow writers. Today, however, I decided to correct that and have been doing the rounds.
The first stop was Benjamin Solah’s website. He’s getting ready to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo which means he’s planning the 50,000 words he has to endeavour to write in the month of November. Because of this Benjamin has written some very interesting, and inspiring, posts which I’d like to link to here. First, there is NaNoWriMo: How I Plot My Novel and then there is NaNoWriMo: How I Create Characters. As I’m very much a visual person, I love the idea of using gaming facilities such as Simms to build a character. Anyway, both of these posts made me thinking about my own writing, so if you need something to help you along, go and give them a read.
When I landed on Struggling Writer’s website, I was pleased to find a post that is in contract to Benjamin’s. Whilst Benjamin is planning, planning, planning, Struggling Writer (also participating in NaNoWriMo) is set on not planning! If you are not much of a planner, then his post Novel Planning for Pantsers might be of interest to you. Struggling Writer admits that this year he’s going to remain a pantser writer by doing a bare minimal amount of what some would call planning. He has included some links to some interesting writing resources too.
For me, it’s been an interesting and informative hour or so. My fellow writers are planning and not planning for the upcoming NaNoWriMo (which I won’t be participating in this year), but the ideas they share (as well as the links) are all worthwhile and inspiring. Personally, I’m a planner from way back, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find inspiration from a non-planner, because I have.
Thanks guys and good luck in November.
Resuming work after a nice break is always difficult, but it has to be done if food is going to be put on the table. Today, I returned to work after a break of almost three weeks. *sigh*
However, I won’t dwell on that. Let me tell you what I’ve been doing – in terms of writing – since the beginning of the New Year. I’m pleased to be able to say that I have spent many hours every day on my writing projects. I haven’t actually written a single word, but there’s more to writing than the actual written word.
A friend told me about TiddlyWiki and showed me her files, so that I could see it in action. It’s free to download and use. There’s a tutorial if you need help understanding how a wiki works. Once downloaded, you just copy the file, changing the name of it (by doing this you can use the downloaded file over and over again) and then you can start using it straight away. There’s no real installation and it’s loaded onto your computer. You don’t need an internet connection to use it either, even though you use your browser when working with it. The file is small enough to put on a USB flash card too. It’s so easy!
I have used an online wiki before, so I understood the working of it, but needed a reminder how to do things like using the bold, italics and underscore features, and also how to insert images. There are plenty of other things you can do too ie ordered and unordered lists and blockquotes.
But what am I using it for? I know you want to know. It’s ideal for planning writing projects and for gathering all the research (including images you collect) associated with that project, into one file. Every aspect of the planning can be cross referenced too, which is brilliant! If you set up the wiki correctly, it will make your writing project organised, efficient and everything will be at your finger tips.
The first wiki I set up was for the Marlinor Trilogy. I have a lot of research material, which was placed in folders according to subject, but even so it was getting almost impossible to find anything (even when I knew the information I wanted was there…somewhere). Now that information is categorised, cross referenced and tagged…and there’s a search function too! Apart from that, I’ve also set up the planning for the story – world building, character lists, storylines, themes for each book, plots for each book and an in depth history, which also links to the research material to prove authenticity. It’s absolutely the best way to organise your planning.
Then I created a second wiki and started doing the same thing for the children’s chapter books.
I literally spent hours every day working on this, but the result is fantastic. I discovered I had changed the spelling of character names between book 1 and book 2 of the children’s series. That is now fixed. I discovered information in my original planning that had been lost or forgotten. That cannot happen again. I believe the children’s series and the trilogy will be better because of the time I’ve invested in getting these wikis right.
Now I intend to create a third wiki for Mirror Image. This is the project I should be editing, but I’m having trouble with. I’m hoping that, by creating the wiki, I’ll work out what the stumbling block is and get passed it.
I highly recommend TiddlyWiki. However, if you want to do the same thing online, from any computer, then I recommend PBWiki, which is free and you can change the settings so that only you have access to it. If you’re not using a wiki to organise your writing, then you should try it. I doubt you’ll be sorry.
I was recently at Jim Butcher’s blog – author of the Dresden Files. There is a lot to read there, but I was especially interested in the article about using an arc to plan a story. His suggestion is to simply draw an arc on a piece of paper. Naturally, the beginning of the arc is the beginning of the story and the end of the arc is the end of the story. Then you place “markers” across the arc which coincides with crucial events in your story. Finally you add in more markers for other important scenes and anything else that moves your story forward. This is a good idea.
Anyway, I don’t need an arc for my current manuscript – Mirror Image. It’s well and truly passed the arc stage. Not being one to pass up a good idea, I figured that the most important scene in my manuscript – the climax, which is long and complicated – needs a lot of work and I could adapt the arc for improving that scene.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been drawing arcs everywhere. But something good came from all that physical labour. I realised that the scene has to be cut down into four crucial sections and each section needs an arc of its own. This will enable me to focus on the emotions of the MC and therefore build the tension accordingly, which is something that didn’t quite happen in the first draft.
What I did was, in blue, put in essential “events” from the character’s viewpoint including what the character was feeling at the time. These were added to the top of the arc. Then, in red, I added events that other characters contributed to the scene, which affected the MC and in turn affected the overall scene. I added these to the underside of the arc. I’ve done this for Section 1 of the scene and will do the same for the other three sections over the next few days. Then I’ll have a comprehensive plan for the climax. However, I will not be tackling the edit of this scene for some time yet. I am currently working through each character’s storyline and I need to finish doing that because I might find other things that must be added to the arcs. However, it was because of this that I discovered missing elements for the characters I have done. The storylines feel unfinished yet once the climax has been reached I cannot go back to these other characters and give them their required resolution. In other words, this information must be added to the climax. I have no choice. I did say the scene was complicated, but hopefully using the arcs will help me get it right eventually.
If you visit a lot of writers’ websites, you’ll soon find a large majority of them openly admit to starting more stories than they finish. There are several reasons for this, but I’m going to talk about only one of those reasons today – the lure of a new project.
Yesterday, after a strong fight against it, I allowed the lure of a new project to take hold of me. I must say that the feeling is quite overwhelming and I can attest that the excitement of working on something new and fresh is what forces writers to stray from their current project. The writer has not stopped loving the old project; they just need a complete change of scenery. We do this all the time in everyday life. We change jobs when we start feeling bored and depressed with the old one. We seem to change partners at the drop of a hat these days. So why can’t a writer change projects too?
We spend many long months, even years, planning and writing a project (this is especially true when writing a series). Is it any wonder that we grow a little tired of the … well, same old, same old? To me, it’s not surprising at all. New ideas are always surfacing. We might write the idea down, but we will usually return to the job at hand. However, as the months tick by, the lure is more tempting and then…before we realise what’s happening, we have strayed.
Be warned, if you allow the lure to take you too often, then you will be one of the writers who openly admit to starting more stories than they finish. Do you want to fall into that category? I believe none of us do.
A serious writer will discipline themselves against the lure. They will set up guards to force the enemy back. They will build traps to stop the evilness from approaching their sanctuary. They will do whatever it takes to see their current project completed and submitted. That’s how a writer becomes an author. They submit completed manuscripts for publication, which is something you cannot do if you never finish a manuscript.
So, take this as a warning. The lure of a new project feels great. It’s exciting. It’s even inspiring and motivational. But if you give in to this weakness too often, you’ll never finish a project…and you’ll never become a published author.