Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

If you’ve been writing fiction any length of time, you’ve probably experienced getting stuck. There are authors who firmly believe there is no such thing as writer’s block, that it is lack of discipline and I agree that can often be the case.

Often…but not always.

I feel our subconscious is an excellent writing partner if we can learn to listen and stay in tune with it. Frequently, when something is very wrong, our subconscious will simply slam the breaks and not let us move forward because it is warning us there is something that needs to be fixed.

But, if we are unaware of the role the subconscious can play in story creation, we don’t recognize what is going on and do one of three things: 1) Shelve the project 2) Start a new project 3) Keep writing ourselves deeper into that hole by sheer force of will.

Thus, today I want to give you some tricks that might help you when you find yourself stuck.

Change POV

Different stories require different POVs. And I would love to give you some step-by-step explanation but I don’t have one. They just DO. Take a plot problem and seriously, POV changes the whole thing. Lord of the Rings written in first-person present-tense would be a very different ride.

Often we get a story idea and we just take off writing in the POV we find most comfortable…but it simply doesn’t work with the story. I had this happen with my debut novel The Devil’s Dance. I started writing in third limited and it was just….meh. I had never written fiction in first-person so to get unstuck? I changed POV and? It worked!

And the thing is, maybe you don’t stay in that POV. Sometimes just taking a scene and shifting POV is enough to nudge the subconscious over the hump.

Change Perspective

Also, if a scene is bugging you, literally change POV. Not the third person to first-person way I just mentioned. But switch heads. Tell what is happening from another character’s perspective. Again, probably not something you will keep because not every character is a POV character, but this can help get the mojo flowing again.

Recast

Sorry I am mentioning my debut novel a lot, but it was a hell of a learning curve. Again, this happened with The Devil’s Dance. I had my plot idea, which was pretty cool *gets cramp patting self on back*. I knew I wanted a small town in Texas and people dying and it had to do with the town’s newfound prosperity and Mexican drug cartels. My imaginary town, Bisby, was a wide space in the road that suddenly went BOOM. Instead of trailer parks, there were wine bars and million-dollar homes.

Why? How?

But originally I cast a resident of this small town and she was an Army veteran home from Afghanistan who was working at her uncle’s gun range. Nothing per se wrong with it, but she just kept falling flat. She was a former soldier and all badass and…boring as hell. So, I kept the plot idea and went the complete opposite direction.

Instead of some female action hero, I cast a protagonist who would be completely out of her depth. She was a disgraced software salesperson who’d done everything to escape Bisby and the trailer park where she grew up…who was then forced to go home to her crazy-as-a-bag-of-cats family and becomes the only one who can save the town she’d spent most of her life running from. I patterned her character off Elle Woods from Legally Blonde.

And it ROCKED! The story flowed because the idea just worked better with an unlikely hero.

Skip Scenes

Again, our subconscious is our friend so let it work its magic. Recently I got onto my coauthor Cait about locking in her teeth and not letting go. We are writing a Western Horror and she’d had this scene she had been futzing with for weeks trying to get it perfect.

So first of all, perfect is the enemy of the good. On a first draft there is NO sense in perfecting anything because there is almost some hidden law that states the scenes most likely to be cut or completely rewritten are all the ones we spent far too much time fiddling with.

Sometimes, it helps to just write (in caps) what happens then move on.

Cait was tasked with killing a goat and apparently that was way tougher than either of us imagined it would be when plotting this goat’s demise. In our defense it is no average goat. It is a goat risen from the dead with a taste for human instead of petticoats. Now Cait messed with it and messed with it and finally got it to work but in fairness, if it had been my scene?

I would have written as much as I could then put AND THEY KILL GOAT IN SUPER SPECTACULAR WAY and then moved on and let my subconscious chew on it.

As you are writing, trust me, your subconscious is working on how to kill that goat D-E-A-D and often will come up with something FAR cooler than if we gut through it.

So my writing advice?

Sometimes the best way to kill a goat is to jump the goat.

Write Your Ending

A lot of writers cringe when we instructors mention doing this. You may be yelling, But I am not a plotter! I don’t outline! I am a pantser! And I will say, that is still no excuse. All stories must have a core story problem in need of being resolved. We should be able to say what our book is about in ONE sentence. Especially the pantsers. If all you know is the core problem in need of being solved? That is enough. And if you don’t know this, then prepare to spend months or years fixing a mess (if it can even be fixed).

As complex a story as Lord of the Rings is, I can fit it into ONE sentence.

A naive and innocent race of homebodies must traverse a dangerous realm to toss an evil ring in a particular volcano before a power-hungry necromancer takes over and destroys all they love.

How does this story end?

With a VOLCANO.

Say Tolkein got stuck somewhere in Rivendell. He could have theoretically skipped ahead to Mt. Doom and wrote that and then what is left are two defined points and a missing middle. It is often FAR easier to connect two defined points than to start from point A and keep going into infinity with no idea where it will end.

And again, you don’t have to keep that particular ending. It can be rewritten, but again, it gives the subconscious something to work with.

Ask yourself, How do I know when my story is over? And that is your ending. If you want help smooshing your tome into a single-sentence, I have a class coming up on that and I will help you do it and show you how you can do it yourself in the future (Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line).

What are your thoughts? And make sure to check out the upcoming classes below! Especially the Book Bootcamp! The bootcamp has all the instruction you need to write your novel AND to learn to plot and write QUICKLY. They key to making money in this business (even in legacy) is lots of titles.

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!

Be a Better Hooker (How to Write a Compelling Newsletter)

April 29th $45

In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.

With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.

BUNDLE DEALS!!! 

Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.

Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!

Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lost 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 7.05.24 AM

Any of you who regularly follow my blog know that I am totally out of my mind a bit eccentric. The seed for this brilliant idea was actually planted a couple years ago when I was speaking in Idaho. I have a doctor’s appointment this morning, so I’m taking this opportunity to rerun my all-time favorite post.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Idaho. After lunch, I had to dash to the Ladies’ Room. As I closed the door to the stall, I noticed all the advertising on the back of the bathroom door. This cluttered wall of ads made me think about all the authors spamming non-stop about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers were becoming worse than an Amway rep crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. I mean, could the author book promotion get any more invasive?

Wait…

Maybe it could *evil laugh*.

I’ve blogged so many times about the dangers of automation and how spamming people is counterproductive. I’ve talked until I am blue about how advertising our books has a terrible ROI (return on investment) and how most people don’t pay attention to it. Ah, but then it hit me. The main reason spam doesn’t work is because people ignore it and no longer “see” it, but what would they see?

Panty Prose—Not Advertising, PADvertising (TM)

We all know that roughly 85% of readers are women, and what do women need? Panty liners. YES, but what do they need more than springtime fresh girl parts? More FREE! books. Indie authors shouldn’t spam about their latest book release or free title on KDP select.

Why?

Because it’s rude? No! Because it is obnoxious? Not quite. Because it smacks of desperation? Not at all. The reason authors shouldn’t spam about their books is because spam is for amateurs.

The real writer of the Digital Age doesn’t settle on blasting out non-stop self-promotional tweets. That is SO 2011. The REAL writer of the Digital Age realizes a captive audience is a a buying audience.

Catch readers with their pants down with Panty Prose.

Panty Prose is perfect for the indie author. Most readers are female and even females need something to read in the bathroom. We at Panty Prose (a new imaginary division of W.A.N.A. International) have teamed up with Always against their will to offer your readers the best deals right in their pants.

Panty Prose not only offers you PADvertising to a guaranteed clientele, but we have all kinds of layouts to suit your PADvertising needs. Technology is your friend with Panty Prose. Put your book where it counts…

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 7.06.52 AM

At Panty Prose, we even make it affordable for you to place your face in your reader’s pants…

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 7.07.23 AM

As you can see, Panty Prose is inserting your ads into a virgin market begging to be tapped.

Why are all the romance authors hyperventilating?

Anyway, while others might see a protective strip that gets tossed in the bin, we see an unused space to PADvertise your latest novel AND save trees! Instead of throwing away that paper strip, we can print of lines from your book so fans can collect them ALL…

Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, WANA, We Are Not Alone
Make Your Readers Want MORE….

Make Your Readers Your Fan for ALWAYS….

Panty Prose is dedicated to keeping women fresh while selling your books. Attending a writing conference? Well, there is a bathroom and everyone knows that even agents can’t hold it forever. They will have to go potty sometime. Why not help them out? Keep them springtime fresh and give them your query. Elevator pitches are for losers, when you can use the Panty Pitch. The Panty Pitch comes in three fragrances, Sonnet’s Eve, New Office Supplies, and Cinnabon.

Panty Pitch:

Save agents time and keep them fresh!
Save agents time and keep them fresh!

Panty Prose for the Published Professional is a smart, savvy way to stand out from all the competition that still is relying on scheduled tweets and auto-DMs. Make an impression that will last for Always.

Okay, okay I’ll stop. You know you’ve reached a whole new level of weird when you spend an entire day Photoshopping your face onto panty liners. But you know I am on to something! W.A.N.A. is dedicated to giving you the evil genius you need for success. Aside from Panty Prose, what other “free spaces” could we exploit for book advertising? You know, to catch those who missed our 23 tweeted links, 6 auto DMs and five form letters.

So what do you think? Has the book spam gotten completely out of control? Are there other ways you can think of that are utterly invasive creative ways to market our books (Keep it PG, Please :D)?

What are your thoughts? And make sure to check out the upcoming classes below! Especially the Book Bootcamp!

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!

Be a Better Hooker (How to Write a Compelling Newsletter)

April 29th $45

In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.

With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.

BUNDLE DEALS!!! 

Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.

Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!

Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lost 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

Finding it hard to stand out from the crowd?

Years ago, when I decided to branch out and teach virtual classes regarding craft and social media, I knew I needed to live by my own mantra—We Are Not Alone. Sure I could kill myself learning every platform and maybe even do a passable job, but I am way too Type A for that. You guys deserved the best. So I reached out to those around me who were far better than I was, the experts I looked to on various subjects.

Sure, I do a good job on Facebook and am an expert on the basics, but if you REALLY want to up your game? Really want to know how to get the most out of Facebook, particularly the fan page? There is no one I could recommend more than journalist, columnist, speaker Lisa Hall-Wilson. She taught me what I know and I have a lot more to learn so believe you me, I am taking her class.

Lisa is here to talk about a subject we all face—being invisible. It does no good to be on Facebook or create content if we don’t know how to play the game. And trust me, a lot of it is a game. What is the best content? How do we use it? Grow it? Maximize it? How can we get a fantastic ROI off Facebook without living there?

Well, Lisa is going to talk about that today, so this is me shutting up now…

Take it away, Lisa!

Meme via nuevosmedios.mx

I haven’t been around for a while. Life. Stuff. *shrug* Kristen and I have been chatting for a while about me teaching again, so I’m back! I miss W.A.N.A, and Facebook has changed SO MUCH since I last taught a class. How are you feeling about Facebook?

Finding it hard to stand out from the crowd?

Yeah, there’s a lot of people using Facebook to sell something. They’re all clamoring for attention and Facebook has to keep changing the rules to stymie the spammers and cheats. It’s harder than ever to get noticed. Hits you right in the feels. I get it. So lemme ask you…

How’s Your Organic Reach?

Is that too personal? Listen, I don’t teach people how to use ads on Facebook (though I run ads myself), because there’s lots of other people out there already doing that. Ads are awesome, and Facebook has one of the most targeted ad systems on the interwebs. There’s great bang for your buck, if you know your audience. I teach writers how to reach readers organically using Facebook.

Here’s the problem with writers and Facebook ads.

Ads only amplify what you’re already doing.

If you can’t get people to click through to your blog, comment/share/react to your content organically, your ads are unlikely to do well.

Ads only amplify what you’re already doing!

Facebook is S L O W

I know. It can be disheartening and frustrating. It’s also easy to get sucked in and lose hours of time you should have spent writing. Be strong! However, if you can get 5% or even 10% of your Facebook friends/followers to respond to a post organically, you’re onto something.

If you follow the W.A.N.A. way of building platform organically, the changes and tweaks Facebook makes to the way things look or the algorithm, won’t affect you. You’ll have the kind of platform that will grow your readership. With that skill in hand, when you can afford to pay for ads, you’ll already know what your audience is interested in, what they’ll respond to, and what value they’re looking to you to provide.

2 Reasons To Try Video

  • Facebook has tweaked the algorithm to give extra organic boost to videos. So, either a Facebook Live video (where you live stream from your phone to your Facebook Page, Profile, or to a Group) or you upload a video created elsewhere to Facebook. (Videos shared from other sites are considered links and won’t get the extra organic boost) 135% more organic reach than photos according to Social Media Today.
  • Facebook Live videos are watched 3.5x more than non-live video. This “serves to illustrate the importance of authentic, ‘off-the-cuff,’ and in-the-moment content with audiences worldwide.” (source here)

Now, I know that since Facebook rolled out the auto-play feature on videos, view stats can be deceiving. The salient point here is that Facebook really wants people to publish videos and they will reward you by showing your content to more people than usual organically.

Video is simply another storytelling platform. Don’t get freaked out. So, what should you post? I spent a couple of hours with Facebook and Google and checked out the video offerings from the biggest trad and indie published authors.

What Seems To Be Working?

Facebook Live videos have the most views (relative to the audience size on the Page). Fans seem to really love these videos. I wouldn’t say there’s an optimal length (based on my unscientific collection of data), but having something of value to say is important.

Most of the authors with the highest views were announcing a new book, meeting with someone their audience found interesting, offering value (non-fiction authors answering questions or giving advice), or glimpses of whatever locale the author found themselves in.

Brene Brown has this fun video of a full-out marching band she ran into at an event she was speaking at. Nora Roberts shared a live video of a giant ad her publisher created with her book cover projected onto the front of a building in New York.

Laurel K Hamilton posted a video of her opening a shipment of hard cover books of her newest release that had just arrived at her home “Book number 25” she says.

Marie Force shared a video with her behind-the-scenes team. Hugh Howey… He continues to tease readers with videos of dolphins swimming around his boat, jumping off cliffs (nearly naked), as he cruises the world writing remotely… We’re not going to mention Hugh Howey again. Agreed? His content can’t be duplicated.

None of those videos were professionally done. They were captured on a phone and posted without any editing. They were personal, behind-the-scenes, glimpses into the writer or the writer’s life. Fans love that. Instead of taking a photo, take a 16second video of that crazy rainstorm that held up your plane, those ruins you’re visiting for research, or an author you ran into at a conference.

James Patterson’s publisher created a splashy series of videos for his newest release. I have a feeling there was a lot of money spent on those videos. The video that got the most views? James Patterson spends 16 seconds telling readers why they should read his new book and the cover flashes on the screen at the very end. It was short, simple, engaging, intriguing, and well received.

Did it directly translate into book sales? I can’t say. But at only 16 seconds long, combined with Facebook’s autoplay feature, chances are good that a lot of people saw that video straight through and came away knowing the title of his newest book.

The plain fact is that all content is not going to be equal on Facebook, but the key is, the more we learn, the more we know, the easier it is for us to keep pace with and take advantage of this powerful platform. Facebook is slow, I already mentioned that. It has a lot of potential energy, sort of like a boulder sitting on the edge of a cliff. But we rock that boulder enough ways the same direction and over time? Once it gets rolling? That sucker is tough to slow down.

I have two classes coming up in May and I’d love to have you join me.

Growing An Organic Platform On Facebook – May 6th

How To Write In Deep POV: Method Acting For Writers – May 6th

Take Your Writing To The Next Level by learning the advanced writing technique of Deep POV guaranteed to pull your readers into the story (and it works with any genre), grab them by the throat and not let go! This deeply personal emotive style of writing resonates with contemporary readers, if you’ve got the guts to “go there” with your characters. This is a difficult skill set to master, but it’ll change how you write forever – for the better.

THANK YOU, LISA! I’ve known Lisa since forever. She was one of the very first W.A.N.A.s and she is an excellent instructor. I hope you enjoyed this and remember that comments for guests count double in the contest.

What are your thoughts? Questions for Lisa?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!

Be a Better Hooker (How to Write a Compelling Newsletter)

April 29th $45

In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.

With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.

BUNDLE DEALS!!! 

Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.

Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!

Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lost 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Anja Pietsch.

I asked you guys to tell me in the comments what you would like me to blog about, so today we are going to talk about the author platform. When do we start? When do we need a newsletter? How do we find time?

I think we have reached a point in the new publishing paradigm that I no longer have to beg and plead and make jazz hands for writers to realize they need to build a social media platform if they ever hope to SELL their books.

I hear a lot of this:

Well, why be on social media? I don’t yet have a book for sale. 

Because it is easier to talk to people when you don’t feel like you have an ulterior motive.

I just signed a contract for my book. Should I build a platform now?

*weeps and breathes into paper bag*

Facebook doesn’t sell books.

Sure it does.

I know I need to put together a newsletter but since I don’t have a book out yet, I don’t know what to say. 

Whoa! Slow down there partner! Dig the enthusiasm, but slow down.

Yes, we need to have a social media platform and ideally a blog and newsletter, but this is not something we can rush. This job is a LOT like farming. We buy the land, clear it, prepare it, seed it, wait, tend weeds, wait some more, pray for fair weather, root out pests (trolls) and even then? Most of the time what grows in the first few years isn’t ready for market. It still needs time to mature enough to bear fruit.

So we rotate crops (topics). Clear again, fertilize, weed, and it is a lot of small very unsexy activities that are done a little every…single…day.

We can’t rush a platform any more than we can rush a peach orchard.

Too many writers want to rent the peach stand to sell peaches but they never bothered planting any trees. In a panic, they go BUY peaches (followers) and hope that will be just as profitable.

Or they rush out after they’ve written the book and scrape together a platform and hope then people will buy their books when they’ve spent almost no time cultivating a relationship. This is akin to trying to harvest peaches from trees we planted three months ago. Doesn’t make sense with an orchard and makes even less sense on-line.

Thus my answer to when is the best time to start a platform? Um, yesterday.

Seriously, the second you think you maybe kind of sort of want to sell your books? That is the day you begin building a platform and brand. You do not want to have a book for sale and try to pull a following/platform out of the ether.

Conversely, everything in its season and all in its due time. If you are new and building that platform while you are writing the book, NO you don’t need a newsletter. A newsletter will only work if you’ve already cultivated the following who’d care to get it or even open it.

You are not yet in the harvest season, so pick weeds, water, fertilize and like farmers?

WAIT.

The Early Years

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Rene Schweitzke

This is when we get our land and realize there are a ton of weeds, crappy soil and a zillion dead trees and trunks that need to be removed. There might even be some junk cars, scrap metal and old toilets that need to be hauled away. We need to form new habits. We need education, training and practice. We need to learn about branding and start building our platform.

When I left paper sales and decided to become a writer, I needed to learn the craft. I had bad habits. I put myself last on the list because writing wasn’t a “real job.” The early years is a lot of clearing away insecurity, fear, and even laziness. We learn to write even when we don’t “feel” like it and come to understand that simply showing up is a bigger deal than most people realize.

Sowing

This is when we start planting. We’ve cleared the fields and added missing nutrients to the soil. We took time to talk and listen to people on our social site of choice. To get to know them.

We put our butts in the seat and blogged even if the only comments we get are from the BuyPradaCheap sites:

“I so lick you’re blog. It changed my bruther’s life and bookmarking now.”

Blogging is my favorite form of social media. It is the most resilient (been here since the 90s), and it plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers WRITE. Blogs also train us to keep a professional pace. They trains us to show up and not be too dependent on others. Sure, it’s fun blogging now that I get a gazillion comments, but there were years I blogged to the ether. I didn’t do it for others. I did it for ME, to train me.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jim Evans
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Jim Evans

When it comes to social media? Blogging is one of the best investments of time when it comes to ROI (return on investment). No search engine will direct people to your witty tweet or clever Facebook post. Search engines WILL, however, start sending readers to your blog (if done properly). Also blogs can be harvested for books that can be SOLD…for actual money.

No one taught HOW to blog back when I started so I had a metric crap ton of trial and error. Now? Folks like me have created classes. Have one coming up! (Blogging for Authors).

Blogs make excellent books. Far harder to compile a book of my Instagram pictures of food.

Sowing also involves research, plotting, writing, finishing then revising the actual novel(s).

The Silent Years

After we’ve planted a lot of good stuff, it’s easy to get discouraged. In fact, for a loooooong time, it will look like nothing is happening.

We need deep roots to make it in this business, because high-winds and storms don’t stop because we want to write books. Did you know that the root system of any tree needs to be as wide if not wider than the span of the branches? What is below (unseen) must match (or even outmatch) what is above, or the tree will fall over and die with the first bad storm.

The Silent Years can be brutal and this is why most writers don’t make it. They feel like failures because they aren’t instant runaway successes. It takes discipline and faith to trust the process, which is tough in a world addicted to instant gratification and an over-reliance on luck. Too many people want fruits with no roots.

Reaping

If we keep pressing and don’t dig up our seeds to check if they really are growing (which is highly tempting), eventually we can reap what we’ve sown. Ah, but here is the catch. Back to my peach example. After a long wait and tender, patient care, we get a tree. YAY! Eventually, we see little tiny fruits popping out. AWESOME.

Not so fast.

The smart grower plucks off all the tiny green peaches. OH NO! Why? So the tree will bear more fruit and better fruit. For us? This could mean writing two or three or ten bad books before we get a winner. It could mean multiple revisions. But, to gain more, we have to sacrifice.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Slgckgc
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Slgckgc

Harvest and Maintenance

In the beginning, we have a lot of back-breaking work (removing trash and dead stumps, tilling the soil, planting trees). But, if we are patient and consistent we can finally reach a maintenance phase. Once the grove of peach trees is producing, we keep fertilizing, tending, pruning and harvesting.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kathleen Dagostino
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kathleen Dagostino

An author platform is the same. In the beginning, we need to build traction. We are forced out of our comfort zones. It isn’t natural to strike up conversations on Facebook. It is uncomfortable to get out there when we prefer to lurk.

Blogs take longer to write because we’re learning and finding our voice. We may even be struggling with perfectionism. It takes time to realize that it is A BLOG. It really doesn’t need to be worthy of a Pultizer in Journalism.

SHIP!

There will come a time when the super hard work is done. Sure there will always be work, but not like in the beginning. After years of practice, I can knock out 1000 words in an hour. When I was new? It was not pretty. My blog was not fun when I was my only follower. I still remember being so excited to meet my first commenter Akismet.

Strange name. Is he foreign?

I KID YOU NOT, when this nice fellow Akismet welcomed me to WordPress, I actually commented back to try and start a conversation #YesIAmAMoron. (For those who don’t know, Akismet is the WordPress spam filter *face palm*)

But trust me, blogging with NO followers? Unfun. Blogging with 35K followers? LOADS of fun. But that didn’t happen overnight.

Same with platform and sales. J.K. Rowling finds it way easier to sell books in 2017 than she did in 1997. In 1997 she had not yet cultivated billions of fans. All she has now? Maintenance and enjoying harvest.

Slow and steady wins the race. Pace yourselves and realize there are no fruits without roots, no perks without the works. Trust the process, and in the meantime? I am here 😀 .

What are your thoughts?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!

Be a Better Hooker (How to Write a Compelling Newsletter)

April 29th $45

In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.

With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.

BUNDLE DEALS!!! 

Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.

Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!

Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lost 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

 

Baby Spawn….budding novelist.

Get it? You’re newbie is showing? Ah we are talking about the deeper stuff today 😀 .

Writing seems like it just shouldn’t be that hard, and yet? It’s deceptive. Seasoned storytellers make it look easy, and that does us no favors. Sort of like when I was four years old and, high off an episode of Wonder Woman, went flying out the back door and got the bright idea to do a handspring just like–OH SWEET EIGHT POUND SIX OUNCE BABY JESUS THAT HURT.

Many of us who eventually decide to become novelists did so because we grew up loving books. Then, probably just as many of us, thought we could also do that seamless triple front handspring (write a full length novel) with zero professional training, no practice and no falls.

Yeah about that.

After years of writing and working as an editor I’ve gotten better at articulating what differentiates the newbie writer from the pro, so I figured I would put together a checklist of some of the bigger offenders to help.

I’d love to say I’ve grown beyond ever making these oopses, and for the most part I have. But it took seventeen years of practice and I still have to make sure every now and again, that my newbie isn’t showing.

Beware of Low-Hanging Fruit

Many new writers will default to tropes and cliches and not-so-subtle ways of coaching a reader she is supposed to care. Every editor has their bugaboos. My mentor and friend Les Edgerton’s peeve is the single tear coursing down the cheek. Les is all, “What the hell is that? Does the character have a clogged tear duct or something?” Yeah Les is blunt and ruthless and that’s why he is damn good at teaching writing. He whipped my @$$ into shape.

***Grab his book Hooked. It is seriously one of the single best writing resources ever penned.

My peeve is when any character “weeps bitterly.”

See, instead of the writer actually developing character, she just inserts great weeping and gnashing of teeth—the shill (melodrama) for the gold (authentic drama). Making readers care is an art and is some seriously hard work, so coaching readers to care is lazy/newbie writing.

Another variety of low-hanging fruit is with description. My latest pet peeve is “emerald eyes.” In fact just any precious or semi-precious stone is going to make my left emerald eye twitch.

Not there there is anything inherently wrong with aquamarine, emerald, sapphire or ruby eyes (okay maybe ruby is interesting). Just that it is all too…easy. It doesn’t really take a wordsmith to come up with the jewel of “emerald eyes.”

Good description is more than just the physical makeup of another character. It is telling of who that character is (the person being described) and even more importantly? It is telling of the character who is doing the describing. Description, what that character notices and how she notices, tells a lot about that character’s paradigm (how she sees the world).

The example I love using the most is from Jessica Knoll’s brilliant book Luckiest Girl AliveTif-Ani (protagonist and anti-hero) is meeting her fiance at a bar where they are having drinks with his client and the client’s wife. Here is how Tif-Ani describes Whitney the wife.

The client and his wife, body mean with Equinox muscles, cheery blonde hair swept away from her face in a ninety-dollar blowout. I always eye the wife first; I like to know what I’m up against. She was wearing the typical Kate uniform: white jeans, nude wedges, and a silky sleeveless top. Hot pink, I’m sure she spent a few minutes debating it—was she tan enough, maybe the navy silky sleeveless top instead, can’t go wrong with navy—and over her shoulder, a cognac Prada the exact same shade as her shoes more age revealing than the skin starting to pucker in her neck. (Page 82)

Not only does this description tell us a lot about Whitney (she is fit, wealthy and older) but it also gives is an in depth view into Tif-Ani. How she sees the wife is extremely telling. She notices all the ways Whitney might be competition—she is fit with great hair and expensive clothes—but also shows us Tif-Ani is extremely insecure.

She spots the chinks, how Whitney’s neck is already aging. She also projects her insecurities onto Whitney and is likely correct. Whitney knew to wear NUDE wedges and a COGNAC purse because to matchy-matchy the two is what “old women” did. Tif-Ani knows the designer brands like Prada but also ties Equinox (a luxury fitness center) into her perception as well.

This is far more revealing than, “She was stunning and fit with long blonde hair and expensive clothes and emerald eyes.” This description digs deep and gets to the marrow of storytelling, harnesses the essence of WHO Tif-Ani is and shows us her paradigm.

She is guided (or rather misguided) by status and achievement. Since Tif-Ani’s arc is to realize her worldview is flawed what we will eventually see his how her descriptions (impressions) of others shift as the plot problem forces her to face what she has become and change.

Pacing

Another way we can see if our newbie is showing is to pay attention to pacing. Often, when reading the work of emerging writers, it feels a lot like being stuck in a car with a teenager learning to drive a stick shift. With each “scene”, there isn’t a hook and then a steady build of pressure until some form of release. That is because, in actuality, there IS no scene…just filler.

See, a scene has very specific anatomy; it is a microcosm of plot. There is the hook, the problem, then rising tension, then then resolution (win, lose, draw). The character has a goal…but then. But since a lot of new writers don’t yet understand what a scene is and how it works, what they have is fluff.

Since there is no goal, there can be no setback. No setback? The writer is manufacturing drama, since drama is not happening organically.

What then manifests is usually one of two things. Either the reader will feel like a Fly on the Wall of NOTHING HAPPENING (lots of description), or the characters will seem like they need Xanax. Their emotions will be all over instead of inevitable, and there is a LOT of overkill.

For instance, maybe the writer is trying to create a strong badass heroine but instead? The character is really just kind of a bitch. She’s getting bent out of shape way too easily and thus quickly becomes unlikable.

I did this back in my first “novel.” It was like I could sense something needed to happen and so I just tossed in some kind of a ridiculous misunderstanding or fight. My protagonist didn’t need Xanax, she needed a frigging exorcism.

That is what I like to call Soap Opera Writing. See in soap operas, there is no overall plot, only “bad things happening” and thus a lot of new writing resembles Days of Our Lives. Lots of overacting and overreacting.

If the character is breaking down in sobs every three pages? It’s tedious. Same with physiology. We get so much heart pounding, and pulse racing, and blood hammering that we wonder how the hell the character didn’t suffer cardiac arrest two pages in.

Did I Mention Filler?

Again, this is often a result of a writer being weak at structure. If a writer doesn’t get the anatomy of a scene, odds are, they’re weak at how to structure the overall plot, too. This is why agents often only need a few pages of writing to know everything they need to.

Description can be filler. Lots of describing every detail of the room. Describing the weather. Description, though, should always be serving the plot and doing more than taking up space.

With every scene, first check and make sure it is a scene. What is the goal? If there are just pages with two characters talking about a third? Or rehashing stuff we already went through? CUT. Sure, all this fluff maybe helps us make a word count goal, but that’s all. It isn’t serving the story.

Even I have to go through my own work and look for this stuff. If a “scene” seems to be falling flat, I ask What does she want? Then What stands in the way? Since I tend to have a comedic writing style, I can often drift off into very funny dialogue that is highly entertaining on the surface….but is doing nothing to propel the plot.

Ah damn…CUT.

If you need help, that is what I am here for. I have a SUPER AWESOME DEAL to help you whip that WIP into fighting form! I put together a Book Bootcamp (3 craft classes—6+ hours of instruction with MOI—for $99 & RECORDINGS included in the purchase price) as well at a Book Bootcamp GOLD (also 3 craft classes for the price of two PLUS three hours with ME one-on-one plotting your novel OR repairing the plot for your novel). So make sure to check those out below along with all kinds of new classes!

Also before we go, check out the new classes below (including a two-week workshop on Deep POV by powerhouse editor Lisa Hall-Wilson). W.A.N.A. is also offering two NEW classes for romance authors, one on how to write shifters and the other on how to write great historical romance without needing a PhD in History.

Make sure you check out the newsletter class with Jack Patterson. He’s sold almost a quarter million books, so probably someone to listen to. Just sayin’…

What are your thoughts?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

SIGN UP NOW FOR UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! All you need is an internet connection!

Be a Better Hooker (How to Write a Compelling Newsletter)

April 29th $45

In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.

With a mailing list of over 15K subscribers, mystery/thriller author Jack Patterson will share some of his tips that will spice up your newsletter and get your subscribers opening it up every time you send one out.

BUNDLE DEALS!!! 

Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

Book Bootcamp GOLD $269 ($430 VALUE) This includes the log-line class, antagonist class, the character class AND a three-hour time slot working personally with ME. We will either plot your idea or, if your novel isn’t working? Fix it! Appointments are scheduled by email. Consults done by phone or in virtual classroom.

Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

Blogging for Authors $50 April 27th, 2017

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-line $35 May 4th, 2017

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist $50/$200 (Gold) May11th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Growing an Organic Platform on Facebook $40 May 6th, 2017 Lisa Hall-Wilson is BACK! She is an expert on Facebook so check out her class!

Method Acting for Writers: How to Write in Deep POV $85 for this TWO WEEK intensive workshop with editor and writing instructor Lisa Hall Wilson.

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lost 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook