Posts Tagged ‘writer’

Nature or Nurture?

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I am in transition.  As I reflect back at my life (yesterday was my birthday), I see that I unwittingly followed in my mother’s footsteps.  Was this nuture or nature? 

I can make an argument for both.  My mom is the creative type, a bit wayward.  She has structure in her approach toward her goals, but the structure is limited to the scope of the immediate project.  She is detailed in a microcosmic way, never able to step outside herself and see the bigger picture…see that her artwork is wonderful and how her talent was never discovered (except by close friends and family). 

As I look back into a couple of generations before her, I see her shortcomings are the shortcomings of all the women in her family.  This could be  generational, societal, and ethnic —all equally responsible for her lack of consistency.  It could be a lack of a role model in self promotion.  But what if she were lucky to find the right mentor?  Would her inherent choices in life change? 

While genetics doesn’t help you make decisions, it does govern your responses to situations.  If you tend to be shy, self promotion may be extremely difficult.

I am so much like my mom, it is frightening.  I fear that I will follow in her footsteps.  The path isn’t quite the same, but the results parallel each other.  My mother strove for self-actualization in her artwork.   She is 80 plus years old, still painting, producing her best work, but the staccato rhythm of her projects makes it tough to get any momentum. 

My lifestyle differs from my mom, but yet, I too suffer the same staccato pattern.  Is it learned behavior or the inability to stay focused for any length of time? 

I am moving past my genetics, my learned  behavior.  I, unlike my mom, understand what strategies I have to employ to reach my goal.  I know I am not alone. My internal struggle is shared by many others.  I just wonder sometimes, if the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has merit.

Every Writer Should Have a Website

October 17, 2008 Leave a comment


If writing is the way you pay for food and keep a roof over your head, then you should have a website.  Think of your website as a virtual business card.  This “card,” however, differs in that so much more of your personality, your bio, your writing is out there for public scrutiny.   Smart writers understand that publishing their writing is only half a story.  Through a website is a pivotal beginning for marketing — the half of the publishing game.


Here are several good reasons how  a website can increase your exposure:

1.  You are reaching
1,463,632,361 potential viewers.  That’s about one-fifth of the world’s population.
2.   You can superficially bond with your audience by sharing with your viewers something of your life and interests.
3.  You can communicate with your virtual fans through your blog or forum. 
4.   You can request your viewers to subscribe to your site, which is a built in audience for selling your books.

5.   You will enjoy the creative process.
6.    You can add all sorts of sections to your website.  You can keep it strictly about writing?  Or if you have a passion for a topic,  you may use this website as your personal virtual library.  Add all sorts of interesting tidbits about music, literature, articles to show the full scope of your interests and writing skills.

The Writers' ROI (Return on Investment)

April 6, 2008 Leave a comment

Fiction writers may dream of writing a blockbuster novel, but in reality, based on everything I read, there are only a handful of writers that are bonafide blockbuster club members.  The Tom Clancy-JK Rowling-Stephen King group is unique. 

Since my background is sales, I know that if you have an average novel with a unique twist or niche, a good marketer could catapult the measly average 500 book sale to astronomical figures.  Apparently, most of today’s hopefuls will sell around 500 of their books or less — that is, if they get published.

This is a paltry amount given the fact that a good number of those books were bought by friends and relatives of the writer.

We have two questions.  Why isn’t the book selling?  And why isn’t the publisher’s marketing department helping? 

The book may not be moving for one of a dozen reasons.  Lacking broad appeal.  Limited exposure.  No marketing plan.

This brings me to the second question.  Publishing houses have evolved over the last 30 years.  Editors are swamped with manuscripts to read.  The publisher takes the lion’s share of the risk, because he or she has paid a small advance to the writer and incurs the cost of the actual printing process.  Over the years, the publishing houses have pushed the book marketing responsibilities onto the shoulders of the author. 

Unfortunately, the author usually has little marketing experience, so it may come as no surprise that the sales of his/her recently released book spikes and then recorrects itself.  Only clients that are bringing the publishing houses money get to use the publisher’s marketing team to coordinate and synchronize all efforts.

But maybe, just maybe you wrote a good novel.  With any luck it will get recognized with or without expert marketing.  People gravitate toward good literature. 

Later we will discuss how to increase your return on investment (ROI).  Topic and book cover appearance, marketing, pricing, distribution and writing talent.

As comedian Bill Cosby once observed that anyone can be mediocre and still be successful.  You don’t have to have writing talent.  Talent isn’t everything, but it sure does help.  

Organizing Your Novel Toolbox

April 4, 2008 Leave a comment

I am always amazed at people who write novels without first plotting.  They freewrite and polish up the awkward sentences, add some transitions, and submit it for publication.  But if you look at a well crafted novel, it is more than storytelling.  It is about taking the reader to another place.  It is about braiding subplots and developing interesting and bigger than life characters.  

As you study good fiction writers, you can see how complex details can become.  Since books are written over time, it is easy for the writer to forget characters and their motivations, plot development, etc.  One tool I found useful is called ywriter4.  It is FREE.

Apparently, a computer programmer was frustrated by his inability to keep track of themes and character threads.  He developed a computer program  to do just that.  His program helps you track exactly what you develop, so that you can see where you’ve been and where you are going….It is a great tool and worth downloading.  So, if you have been using the pencil and notebook and still feel like you don’t have a grip on the overarching view of your novel, check this out.

Also of interest on Simon’s site is a submission tracker; a track your minutes program if you are a freelance writer and need to track billable hours; and articles on Writing.  Visit his Resources for Writers page to see if his suggestions are something you might want to use.