writers on writing

All posts tagged writers on writing

Random Friday

Published 01/12/2017 by Barb

Since Sundays were busy with other stuff and I don’t have any random fact for you, here’s some writers on writing, words of wisdom or whatever… It’s been more than two months since the last, so I hope you like it! Have a great weekend! 🙂

First off, I need to explain what I see developing for a writer in this new world of publishing.

With discoverability difficult, with no real way to even manufacture or promote yourself into a bestseller anymore, the writer of today going forward is going to have to build a career slowly. And build it on quality storytelling and productivity.

In other words, the writing world has returned to what it used to be. When I came in, the standard was that if you were prolific and could keep learning and getting better and were persistent, you could start making a small living in ten years or so.

Now, with the indie road to sudden riches gone, writers must learn numbers of things to survive in this new world and start making a living with their writing.

A writer must be prolific. Long gone are the one-book-a-year writers making decent money (past the crop of older traditional bestsellers still going.)

A writer must be a good small-business person. Long gone are the days when you could have an agent take care of you.

A writer must learn sales language and be able to understand sales. Long gone are the days when a sales department did all the work for you.

A writer must learn how to do all their own production. Long gone are the days when you mailed off a manuscript and it came back a finished book a year later.

So now a writer must be a writer, publisher, production person, and a sales person, all balanced and wrapped together in tight, but separate spaces.

That’s the reality I see going forward for writers.

Dean Wesley Smith

Look, if there’s room on bookstore shelves for my books, which smash together genres like a toddler with building blocks, then there’s room on shelves for whatever you got going. Don’t worry about the ephemeral vicissitudes of “the market,” or fret over what’s trending with agents and publishers right now.

Write the story that screams to get out of you. Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy. Don’t be like Arnold on The Magic School Bus, the kid who always said, “I knew I should’ve stayed home today.”

Nobody liked goddamn Arnold. He should’ve stayed home. Don’t be Arnold

Michael J. Martinez

The bottom line is that writers need the freedom and relief of knowing they aren’t failures just because they don’t promote books a certain way.  I know authors who have written excellent books who have done ads, mailing lists, newsletters, blogs, Facebook, and other things very well.  And yet, their sales aren’t showing it.  You’d swear by the lack of sales that they aren’t effectively promoting their books or that their books suck.  Things couldn’t be further from the truth.  They are doing everything right, and for some reason, they aren’t selling as well as they should be.

Whether marketing gurus will ever admit this or not, there are forces outside of our control that impacts our sales.  We have no control over which reader reads our books, likes it enough to pass it on to others, or even if a particular reader has a high level of influence within his/her circle.  All writers can do is control the product (book) and the type of promotion they choose to do.  From there, it is out of our control.

So take heart if you’re a struggling writer.  You’re not alone, even if you might feel like it.  No one can guarantee your success if you follow their formula.  They can only give you strategies that might help.  But they can’t promise you anything.  Take their advice with a grain of salt and apply that which fits your personality best.

Ruth Ann Nordin

So why is this? Is it because, as many would like to so casually say, I just haven’t done “enough”?  That I just don’t live and breathe writing every second of the day? That I’m not a *real* writer? Is it because my books are bad? Because if they’re good and I’m really trying I’d be a monetary success by now. I’d have tons of money. I’d be rolling in the easy dough.

Right?

Wrong. Because writing is not a get rich scheme. Period. Sure, there are going to be a few success stories. Some people can get rich at anything, but just like in traditional publishing, those are few. How many Stephen Kings are there? How many JK Rowlings? How many midlist people you have never even heard of?

Exactly.

So, my point is not to say “boo hoo” (I’m happy with where I am). It’s NOT to ask for your advice, it’s to say that maybe we should stop judging success by whether we are making a fortune and start judging it by whether we’re writing books we love – books that our readers love – and quit worrying about whether we’re selling as many as everyone else.

Besides, it’s impossible to truly compare to everyone else because, you know, no one wants to cop to the numbers.

Have a pennies on a tombstone kind of day!

Joleene Naylor

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

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Sunday Surprise

Published 17/09/2017 by Barb

And it’s writers on writing, words of wisdom, writers quotes and have a wonderful Sunday! 🙂

Write what you need to write, not what is currently popular or what you think will sell.
P.D. James

Making money is about providing a product or service people will happily pay for. To publish profitably, you need a book that people want; a book they will enjoy reading. Then, you need to produce it into a beautiful product that appeals the target audience and immediately conveys benefits; then you need sales copy and reviews that overcome objections and convince them to buy. Then you need ways of driving traffic to your product.

After all that, you continue tweaking until your conversion rate is high and consistent. Most authors think “writing to market” or considering your audience means writing shitty bulks to fill a need. That’s not at all what I’m saying. I want you to write better books that people actually enjoy, not the book that you enjoy writing. Write for others, not for yourself.
Derek Murphy

But let me give you a couple hints I gave last year (or you can learn how to fix in the blog posts, my book, or the sales workshop.)
If your blurb contains plot from more than the first chapter of your novel, you are in trouble.
If you can substitute the words… “and then this happened and then this happened and…(so on)” for your plot elements in your blurb, you are in trouble.
If you have any of the verbs… is, was, has, will… (and so on) in your blurb, you are in trouble.
If your blurb is a massive, long paragraph, or two, or three massively long paragraphs, you are in trouble.
Tags…? Got any?
Got any author information besides the fact you were born and love cats?
And so on and so on…
So, are your book sales not what you think they should be??  Then just maybe your actual sales tools are bad.
Your book might be great. But few people will ever read it in this modern world if you push them away.
Just saying…

Dean Wesley Smith

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham

Recently I posted this comment on Facebook: “People always ask me how I find time to write. I don’t. I choose to write.” I was in the process of finishing a movie novelization that I had only a few days left to turn in to the editor, so I didn’t pay much attention to the comments that followed. When I checked Facebook later, I saw that several people found my comment “not supportive” and even hurtful to people who had so much else going on in their lives that they didn’t have the privilege of extra time to write. I tried to clarify by adding that “Everyone has their circumstances, but anyone should be able to find a few minutes a day or week to do some writing.” If people truly want to become writers, they need to make a commitment to producing writing, however they can work it into their lives. Seems like common sense, right? If you want to get good at something, you have to practice.
Tim Waggoner

Sunday Surprise

Published 20/08/2017 by Barb

And it’s a much revered guest! One of my first Goodreads friends! A lovely British gal I had the honor to meet in person after Loncon – she didn’t make it to Helsinki, but hopefully we’ll meet again in Dublin 2019. Or in London, whatever comes first, haha! Anyhow, she has a new book out, so check this interview! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcom J.A.Clement!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in the UK; I’m from the rural North but live in the South and work in London as my husband’s family live on the South coast.

Why do you write?

I write because I get twitchy if I don’t. I can only go so long without writing. Sooner or later it all bubbles up in me and life goes dull until I’m writing again. Then the gleam comes back.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written, as far as I can remember. The first lengthy piece of writing I can remember was when I was eleven. My English teacher set us the task of writing three interlinked short stories. My friends did half a page each and grumbled about how hard it was. I didn’t dare tell them that mine were about twenty pages each and I’d had to ask for a new exercise book!

What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly fantasy, though I write contemporary humour under another name which I’m not going to tell you (as people will insist that they know who my characters are based on. I try to take that as a compliment that they seem so real, rather than being irritated. They’re not, but still…)

What does your writing routine consist of?

I write in my lunch hour when I get one, so it’s all a bit piecemeal. Sometimes in summer if I’m not too tired I write on the train instead of sleeping. If I’m really compulsively in the flow, I email myself bits of text while I’m in the lift or waiting for the kettle to boil or while tea is cooking. You’ll understand why editing is quite an important bit of the process for me!

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

My latest release is due tomorrow. A few years ago I wrote a Christmas story called A Sprig of Holly, about a girl called Greta. Recently I decided to revisit Greta for a novella called The Holly & the Ivy, which takes place a few years after when Greta’s daughter goes missing in a storm, and Greta finds out a little more about the help which came to her in the course of that first winter.

http://mybook.to/sprig_series

It’s almost fairytale /adventure style in tone – my other stuff is hardly the full grimdark but bad things happen to good people, whereas this is a lot lighter; gripping, I hope, but more like the sort of adventure story you used to get before everything went a bit dark and Nordic. A bit of light relief from an increasingly grimdark world, perhaps.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Write the most excellent book you can, and then move onto the next one. It’s easy to get tangled up in self-doubt and over editing, but when it comes to it, you have to trust yourself and your editors, and release your book to the lions, so to speak. Readers will make up their own minds. In the meantime you need to not be wasting time doing stuff like hitting refresh in case a review comes up. There is so little time in this life to actually write, you just need to squash it in wherever there is two minutes spare, and get on with it. Once it’s written, the editing and polishing is time consuming but not generally outrageously difficult, but first you need to write it completely to the end or you’ll be perfecting chapter four for the rest of your life and never publish the damn thing at all.

Blog: http://jaclement.wordpress.com

fb: http://www.facebook.com/jaclementwrites

Author Central

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Sunday Surprise

Published 06/08/2017 by Barb

Since I skipped July, here’s some words of wisdom, writers on writing, inspirational quotes for writers, whatever you want to call them, to take you through the summer… Happy Sunday!

NO MATTER WHAT, KEEP WRITING.
William Gibson shared some advice on that phone call. First, never do a multibook deal. Second, don’t buy the big house. Sound counsel, although I was bummed that sinister monkeys weren’t somehow involved. He also said that many of his most successful writer friends are distinguished by the fact that they KEEP WRITING, rather than getting distracted by side projects or celebrity. The week before Cumulus came out, I finished the rough draft of my next novel. It’s currently in editorial and I’m gearing up to dive into a new story. Writing is the ultimate democratic artform. If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably written an email. If you’ve written an email, you can write a book. It might not be the Next Great American Novel, but it would be yours. If you’ve written a book, you can write a better one. If you’ve written a better one, then please don’t stop because I want to read everything you dream up. When it comes to storytelling, we are the only things standing in our way.
Eliot Peper

Learn to write by doing it. Read widely and wisely. Increase your word power. Find your own individual voice though practicing constantly. Go through the world with your eyes and ears open and learn to express that experience in words.
P.D. James

Simply put, your mission with your fiction is to entertain your reader enough for a few hours that they will want to buy more of your work.
If you take the attitude that you are always learning, always having fun, always practicing and trying to entertain people, you will discover you are more productive and sell more.
If you are having fun, entertaining yourself while you write, then your readers will feel that and be entertained as well.
You can sell your practice sessions, folks. Practicing has no pressure on it. Write clean, keep learning, and keep having fun.
That really is the secret.
Dean Wesley Smith

Publishing is a racket because most self-publishing authors see their books as an investment, when it’s actually a gamble. It’s a gamble because they don’t know how to reach their readers (or who their readers even are). They don’t know whether anybody will really enjoy their books. They hope to make some money from their books but because they didn’t write it for the money, they are OK with continuously spending more and more time, effort and money into their books even when they get zero results.
Publishing is a racket because the majority of people making money in publishing are the people selling services to authors. People selling services (myself included) get paid for their time and expertise, but have no interest helping you to make your book successful. (That’s not exactly fair, I should also point out that it’s because, in this business arrangement the author calls the shots and most first time authors make terrible choices, even when the people they hire for help try and get them to make better choices. There’s a built-in tendency towards self-sabotage when the least experienced person gets to make all the decisions).

Derek Murphy

Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay the rent.”
Neil Gaiman

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Louis L’Amour

Sunday Surprise

Published 30/07/2017 by Barb

And it’s a guest! Unexpected but welcome! Please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Suzanne Kovitz!

Where do you live and write from?
Reisterstown, MD

Why do you write?
I wrote a novel entitled, “Enemy Self” because it was a form of escapism from life and I have a message of perseverance.

When did you start writing?
I began soon after college. The idea was founded in a dream.

What genre(s) do you write?
This a work of fiction with cross-over genres including sci-fi, fantasy, and YA.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I enjoy getting the reader right into the story without much intro and description. I also inserted inside voices as a narrative.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
From life’s experiences. My story is more like a movie inside my head.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Neither. I’m a slow hobby writer.

Tell us about your latest book

Enemy Self

Jessica Wheaton, a sweet and innocent high school girl, suddenly finds herself transformed into the body of her bully, Denise Bower.

She lives Denise’s life and experiences all the struggles Denise endures including child abuse, incest, drug experimentation, failing school grades, and dangerous relationships with men.

Finally escaping from an abusive home, Jessica (in the body of Denise) goes on a tumultuous journey of violence, drug addiction, rape and prostitution. She is in an endless search for love and true identity.

Will Jessica ever find a way to return to her body? Will she ever experience true love? How can she possibly defeat her enemy if she is her enemy?

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie author. The traditionals wanted tried & true. Being an Indie author I can be in control of the book and its creative process.

Any other projects in the pipeline

Working on a memoir entitled, “Walking on Eggshells”

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

I would like to make my book available internationally. There are many and growing opportunities for indie authors now-a-days, including social media and podcast.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP

also known as Galaxy Quest’s motto “Never give up, never surrender” LOL! Thank you for stopping by! You can find Suzanne here or on Author Central.

 

 

Sunday Surprise

Published 23/07/2017 by Barb

And it’s another Sci-fi July author! And I even met him three years ago, yay! Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Michael W. Lucas!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Detroit, Michigan, and write from my authorial garret above my family home. As garrets go, it’s pretty nice. I have running water and a view of the power lines.

Why do you write?

Because I love doing it. I love telling stories. Good writing is clear thinking, and while my brain is usually full of mud writing forces me to sieve away the muck and produce clarity.

When did you start writing?

I was four when I discovered that books were not a gift from On High. They were produced by people–real people, not, like, TV stars or Presidents. People like me.

So I started writing books. And annoying my relatives and schoolmates with them. Now I get to annoy the world at large.

What genre(s) do you write?

As Michael Warren Lucas, I write SF and crime novels. I’m probably best known for the Immortal Clay books: a play off of Carpenter’s amazing The Thing, but set after we lose. I write just about anything as short stories.

As Michael W Lucas, I write nonfiction technology books. Nonfiction provides
some interesting storytelling opportunities. My fiction and nonfiction writing each feeds off the other.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

I am always looking to become a better writer. Every book I write, I’m practicing a particular skill.

Writing is my full-time job, so I have business goals too. I’m looking to boost the share of my income that comes from fiction. Each novel I write sells better than the last, so the solution is pretty clear: write more novels.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Writing advice is a weird thing. What’s great advice for a beginner is terrible advice for a medium-stage author and irrelevant for an advanced author.

The best writing advice I’ve ever been given actually isn’t writing advice, it’s life advice: “Listen to the people who are doing the thing you want to do, the way you want to do it.”

Hanging around with other writers and talking about writing is great fun. I’m thrilled to hang out with more experienced authors, and I’ll happily chat with writers that aren’t as far along as myself. But I’m really choosy about whose advice I listen to.

Many people who can’t do a thing talk a really good game about the thing. That guy in your writing group who is full of comments about your use of passive voice and how you break up paragraphs, but who has never sold a dang thing?  He’s not providing useful information.

When someone tells you how your work made them feel, though: that is ALWAYS valid and useful. Always. It’s the most useful writing advice you’ll ever get.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I always have an outline. Permit me to present the complete outline for my crime thriller “Butterfly Stomp Waltz.” It’s utterly full of
robbery and bloodshed and vengeance.

Anthony Bourdain:

  • Atlanta
  • Portugal
  • Myanmar

Yep, that’s it. Food and travel shows are great for researching foreign places. If you can make the reader taste the food in that little town in the back of the Myanmar jungle, they’ll believe you’ve been there.

My writing speed depends entirely on the project. The novel I’m currently writing, a sequel to BSW called Terrapin Sky Tango, is being difficult.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

In the Montague Portal series, the Montague Corporation has figured out how to leap into alien universes with different natural laws. Unfortunately, not all of those universes like humans.

More unfortunately, we bring human nature with us.

Mind rotting from an incurable prion disease? Go to a universe where the disease cannot progress, and get attacked by aliens (No More Lonesome Blue Rings). Or be among the first to visit a universe, solve a robbery, and save the world. (Sticky Supersaturation). There’s a universe where density varies linearly and there’s no ground… more specifically, no grounds for murder. (Forever Falls).

Montague Portal is kind of Star Trek, but every story has a built-in excuse to change how everything works.

Hydrogen Sleets is set in a universe exactly like ours, but it’s only about half a billion years after the Big Bang. The universe contains only hydrogen atoms screaming past at half the speed of light and a 1960s-style space station made of spinning concentric rings. It’s not just a SF mystery where our heroine needs to figure out why people are going insane and attacking the station; it’s a corporate procedural, where the frustrations of working for a company form part of the story. With laser guns, and forbidden shwarma.

It’s a perfect book for the Sci-Fi July Bundle. I was thrilled to be asked.

Tell us about your latest book

I describe git commit murder as “If Agatha Christie ran Unix cons.” If you work in the computing industry, if you’ve ever been to a computer conference, this book is for you.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently writing a sequel to Butterfly Stomp Waltz, called Terrapin Sky Tango. Yes, I’m watching a few Anthony Bourdain episodes for that one. Plus a new, big nonfiction book.

Thanks for the chance to chat!

https://plus.google.com/+MichaelLucasAuthor
https://twitter.com/mwlauthor
https://www.facebook.com/mwlauthor/
https://mastodon.social/@mwlucas

Non-fiction Author

Fiction Author

Sunday Surprise

Published 16/07/2017 by Barb

And it’s a Sci-fi July author! We even were in the same bundle last year! And I met him on the Oregon Coast this year! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Blaze Ward!

Where do you live and write from?

     “West of the Mountains, WA” USA

Why do you write?

     How do you make it stop?

When did you start writing?

     As long as I’ve had words. Professionally, about four years ago.

What genre(s) do you write?

    Primarily SF. Plus Fantasy, superhero, modern crime, and Post-apocalyptic-distopian-cowboy-stories

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

     Be the most successful writer nobody has ever heard of. (See Taupin, B.)

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

     They only win if you stop.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

     I write into dimly-lit hallways, so I know where it starts, and roughly where it ends, and let the characters and the story direct me. Fast writer, but not as fast as Dean. 400k/year the last 2 years.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

     I wanted to do something new for me and for a lot of what I’ve read. Hard SF archaeology, without gods, magic, or anything else. Focused on one person struggling to overcome her demons, and what it would really be like, exploring a potentially-hostile world.

Tell us about your latest book

     Flight of the Blackbird  5th of the Jessica Keller series. Epic Military Space Opera.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

     I will publish at least one thing on the 10th of every month for at least three years after I’d dead. Publishing four Science Officer books (5-8) this year, plus superhero stories and the cowboy collection.

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