Sunday, 23 November 2014

How To: Create Hype

Hype is a great thing! Although it can be hard to create because to have hype, you've got to have people interested in your writing -- and usually, it's just writers sharing things for other writers, only to market your work to other writers, and sure those writers are going to be readers as well, but they might not have the review blogs etc. and so by creating some hype, you can find more of an audience/readership.

Well you're here, and that means one of two things, you accidentally clicked this link or you want to know how to create hype, either way, stick around.

As an indie author you have to utilise what's in front of you -- now we're in the 21st Century, so we have the internet, and with the internet comes social media websites. ::the heavens open up and give us an unlimited potential:: being online can be somewhat of a job, you've got Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and I'm sure there are more. (Oh, blogging sites!)

Facebook is a great networks for connecting with people online.
Twitter is for microblogging - 140 characters.
Google+ and YouTube (intertwined)
Instagram is a photo-sharing application.
...and a blog!

I'd say that the above 6 items are your checklist for creating an online presence, and having an online presence is key to being able to connect with people and create hype.

DO NOT rush this -- you shouldn't rush any part of your publishing journey, it will only hinder you in the long run. The more successful authors will have a small team or *ahem* army of beta readers or even a street team, here the author will share select information before going public with it -- this makes the readers in the group excited, they will engage with posts on the authors page/profile and tweets etc. as being in the know is exciting. AND DON'T take your street team for granted, they don't want to be told what to do, they should feel like friends, they should feel wanted. Also note that having a bigger street team doesn't necessarily mean having a "better" one.

Create Shareable Content 
Shareable content is usually quotes from your book, this might be in the form of a text object, or on an image... you should also make sure to get the juicy parts, the parts that intrigue the reader, you want the parts were people scream GIMMIE THIS BOOK! Perhaps consult with your street team about any of their favourite parts, sentences, things that have stuck with them.

Promotional posts -- if you find images online i.e. Shutterstock, (you don't want to get mixed up in any illegal business by taking someone's pictures/art in order to promote your books) Creating taglines is also great; a word or phrase, it doesn't have to be on the cover art, but putting it on the poster to sell your book.

The aim of HYPE is to create a want in the consumer (readers).

Having a great relationship with people who also have a following can increase the hype, especially if they're excited for your release.

Document Your Journey
We belong to a culture that thrives online. We obsess over posting what we're doing every minute of the day, and with things like Twitter (How To: Twitter) and it's micro-blogging platform, that's more easier than ever. As well as even connecting with some of your readers on a more face-to-face value through the use of videos (i.e. YouTube).

A lot of indie authors take it as common practice now to post their word counts, to post vague statuses about how excited they are for their most recent writing venture. They'll post teasers and word counts, and even pictures of famous people who they envisage as the characters from their work -- it's all become a really interactive process.

It's Business
You need to think of your writing as your business -- and like a business, you'll need a marketing/promotion campaign. You need to contact people and ask them to share for you. You need to make the material that you're sharing of a great quality, perhaps something that is very visually stimulating, that way you're drawing their attention.

If your readers don't know about it, how are they going to know that they want it.

Brand Yourself
I won't go into too much about this as I have a blog post on Branding which goes into more information. All you need to remember is that you're a brand; a business, and you need to make sure that you're sticking to that.

The internet is great, you can now group things -- and you do that through using hashtags! Enter a hashtag and find everything else under that tag. You can use this to your advantage as you can create your own hashtags and encourage others to use them, it takes a couple thousand tweets using your hashtag to create a trend, and even then, it can sometimes depend on how many twitter users are tweeting and what else is going on in the world.

I would say "go for it, try and trend" but the likelihood of it is, you won't. These trends usually happen in small bursts during a small time frame (1-2 hours).

There are also communities of people who use tags like #amwriting and #wordcount -- and they can help you grow and network.

I hope these tips helped!

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

How To: Finish NaNoWriMo

We're at the midpoint of the month aka the middle of NaNoWriMo -- and if the 1,666.66 daily words has anything to go by, the majority of WriMo-ers should be hitting that 25,000 word mark of their project. (But there are a few of you who've already batted 50k right out of the park!) I wrote a "How To: NaNoWriMo" post that you might find helpful.

Now, to be hailed a winner of NaNoWriMo you need to reach 50,000 words by the end of November! *which you probably already know if you're taking part. I've always found the middle of the event to be one of the times when I'm most struggling because doing anything for an entire month without losing focus is a task in itself.

Here's some of my top tips to help you get to the end of your NaNoWriMo journey! A journey much like the Hobbit -- there will be elves, goblins, trolls, wizards, and right at the end, there will be a dragon that needs slaying, or taming, whichever you prefer, but that dragon stands in the way of you and your completed 50,000 words. I didn't know where I was going with that analogy -- but it stays.

Top Tips

Don't put too much pressure on yourself -
You'll only make yourself ill. Remember that even if you don't win by NaNoWriMo's standards, you are in fact a winner because you've written something and that's all you can ask of yourself. Plus, you'll have made some great connections with people if you've been using a group or #NaNoWriMo on Twitter.

Go forth and network!
If you haven't yet joined the above mentioned groups or used the tags -- then you're truly missing out. Although I said in the previous post to remember to unplug, you should also plug yourself in from time to time. Writing can be a lonely business, and unless you like being solitary, I'd recommend hitting up a group or two.

If you've hit 25,000 words today, then the 50,000 word mark is only 15 days away! Keep at it!

If you're not quite there, you might benefit from planning out what you're going to write before you write it -- I always find that if I've outlined my writing before I do it, I more than triple how productive I am. This, mixed in with a little coffee and no internet.

Writing Sprints are your best friend!
If you have NaNo friends or just friends that write, I'd suggest doing writing sprints, honestly, nothing helps better than getting a good sprint out. Usually lasting anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.

They are life savers! There's also hashtags such as "writingsprint" and "amwriting" that might help you make connections across the internet.

Good luck!

*if all else fails, copy and paste your work a bunch of times, you'll get to the 50k mark eventually. Just kidding! It's not all about winning.

Go forth and Write WriMo-er!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

How To: Sell Your Short Stories

If you're thinking about selling your short stories, then I guess you already know how to write them, on the off chance that you'd be open to reading another post -- I also have a "How To: Write Short Fiction" that you might be interested in.

Back in 2012, I wrote a post titled "Short Stories: Selling Them" and since the revamp of the blog, I figured that I'd start with updating content that had been previously posted. (It makes sense considering I have a larger readership now.)

When it comes to selling your short stories you need to have some idea of where you want to sell them as there are a lot of different avenues.

The first and most obvious avenue would be to self-publish your short fiction, and for some, this is what they do. Another avenue is submitting to publishers, both indie and more traditional publishers. Selling to an anthology* or magazine.

*warning - there are a lot of people who are creating anthologies with the promise of exposure i.e. of making bestselling authors out of them on their Amazon Ranks. You will not (likely) generate any money from this kind of venture.

You can make a living from selling your short fiction. Firstly, let's go over the self-publishing route; this will cost you a little bit of money to make happen i.e. editing, cover art, formatting, etc. I'm going to pick out the two lowest points of sales for the lowest royalty rate available on Amazon. Currently, $0.99 for 30% royalties and $2.99 for 70% royalties.

Some math...
You sell your short story at $0.99 and you make $0.35 per sale.
5 eBooks a month = $1.75 a month = $21 a year.
1,000 sales in a year = $350

You sell your short story at $2.99 and you make $2.05 per sale.
5 eBooks a month = $10.25 a month = $123 a year.
1,000 sales in a year = $2,050

You can sell your short story at $1.99 and make $0.60 per sale. (A middle ground?)
5 eBooks a month = $3 a month = $36 a year.
1,000 sales in a year = $600

Obviously 5 sales a month is on a low end of the spectrum of sales.

The first thing you'll need to understand is that independent (indie) publishers have a much smaller budget, and so they won't be able to pay a lot of money, often, there isn't an advance and you only get a cut of the profit. There are some publishers out there -- but Tor are the best publisher online when it comes to paying for short stories. I don't know this from experience, only what is said on their website. They're legit.

Usually with publishers you get 50% of the profits -- and a lot of the times you see $0.99 for short stories; from the maths above, that's about $0.17 per sale. MUCH LESS! Plus, no advance. I can understand why some people say that there is no money in it, but don't be discouraged from writing your short fiction.

Often the reason why we go to publishers is because they take the most risk -- they will pay for cover artists, they will pay for editing, the formatting etc. and often they will have a better standing when it comes to the presses and getting your work advertised.

Back to and their submission guidelines -- from the way their online presence is, they seem open for a lot, and they look like a great place if you're wanting to make a name for yourself. (I would definitely subscribe to them, even if it's just to see what they're publishing.)

On their website they say "We pay 25 cents a word for the first 5,000 words, 15 cents a word for the next 5,000, and 10 cents a word after that." They definitely know the worth of your words. The maximum word count is around the 15k - 17k mark. They only except the best pieces of fiction, so practice your craft!

$0.25 x 5,000 = $1,250
$0.15 x 5,000 = $750

That's $2,000 for a 10,000 word short story -- and I believe that the long waiting period is well worth it. You're being both, paid, and also given the exposure that has to offer.

I'm not sure if there are other online outlets like this, but if there are, you can go ahead and post them in the comments section.

Now write you heart out
And go SELL your fiction,
But never sell your heart out.

ALSO to any Smart Alec comments about writing not being about making money, please, pipe down. Writing, is a job, and like any and all jobs, it's done with the hopes of reaping enough finances to live off.

* did not pay me to plug them on my blog. Just fyi.

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

1,000,000 Words in One Year!

I once read somewhere the the first 1,000,000 words that you ever write will be crap -- not sure where, when, or who said it, but when I saw a friend on Facebook post (Her Facebook Page) about wanting to do a challenge involving writing 1,000,000 words next year (2015), it reminded me about what I'd read.

There are 365 days in 2015.
That's 2,740 words per day.

As having a break is always encouraged
Do not spend forever at your computer
There's more to life than that.

There are 261 week days in 2015.
That's 3,832 words per day.

Or if you're doing this weekly.

There are 53 weeks in 2015.
That's 18,868 words per week.

There is a very real worry that you'll burn yourself out
But you won't be, as long as you make sure to take time
For yourself and spend it with family and friend,
Or even just relaxing away from your laptop.

Some handy tips to help you write the most -- you should always leave the drafting and editing well alone. Leave them until 2016 if you must!

Write to perfect your craft, and what better way to perfect your craft than to write for you, to write without having an audience but yourself. Write short stories, flash fiction, novels, novellas -- and try not to stick with the same genre.

Write without the thought that you're going to publish. That helps massively. Most of the flash fiction and short stories that I write I don't publish, I keep them to myself because I wrote it for me. But you might consider participating in online groups and platforms where word counts are shared.

If you DO this, there is without a doubt that writing will become a habit, and I am sure you will have a touch type down to a T!

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*disclaimer - I will not be participating in this challenge as I have my final year of studies and a research module to do in 2015.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How To: NaNoWriMo

Keep calm. NaNoWriMo is coming.

It's that time of the year when you either decide to take part in what I consider to be one of the most painful months of the year, or you're looking for an easy going month without too much prefer.

This year, I'm that guy. The one that doesn't want to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but that doesn't mean I won't try and help those that do.

You should know how you write the most effectively, for me, it's when I've planned everything out that I can start writing, but for others, all they need is a well fleshed character and they're ready to hit the pages running.

I have a pre-NaNo check list (in no particular order):

Snacks: this is very important, if you're writing at night time, you're going to get peckish, so keep some snacks around, they don't have to be coated in sugar (but that's how I like them) you can always chop up an apple, or eat orange segments.

Stationary: it's always nice to have some new stationary around. I usually buy myself some nice new paper and pens before I take on a writing project, and NaNo is an event, so give yourself every advantage by feeling awesome at the start of the month with some new stationary.

Read! A lot: don't forget to do some reading, before, after, and during the event. Oh, and don't forget to keep those writing books by your side as reference. I have an "Emotion Thesaurus" which is an amazing reference guide that helps when you're trying to describe how a person is feeling without saying "he was sad".

Caffeine up: keep your levels peaked, eat chocolate, drink tea, drink coffee... and if you're no fun, you can drink water, I guess... because believe me, you're going to need some caffeine if you're being 100% committed to NaNo, or it will swallow you whole (it will probably swallow you whole anyway).

Characters: You might not want to plan your book out, but you should definitely invest in your characters. Take time to think about your character, let them develop. Ask them questions: how do they react to situations? Remember that once you've planned some amazing characters, they will definitely be running the show for you. They will tell you what they want to do.

Unplug: take yourself away from the internet. Facebook and Twitter are both your enemy and friend during November as you'll be connecting with people and sharing your NaNo experience... but you'll also be wasting time where you could be getting those 1,667 words down. Give yourself an allotted time frame for the internet -- and note that a quick search on "how to clean blood from a carpet?" can lead to a quick stop by Twitter and before you know it, you've wasted thirty minutes.

Keep saving it: it's become second nature to me to press ctrl + S whenever I'm not typing, just so that I'm saving my work... and it's really helpful, it's even more helpful if your laptop is prone to crashing and/or overheating. So don't forget to save it!

How do you do NaNoWriMo?

There is no definitive guide to writing a novel in 30 days, even if there are people who claim to know the secrets and blah--blah, there just isn't. Each person is unique and each person will write their novel differently...

I know of some people who can write 10,000 words in a day -- but do they struggle for the rest of the way? (I guess most likely, unless it's all planned.) You do not want to burn yourself out too soon, slow and steady really will make you a NaNoWriMo winner, and there aren't an allotted amount of winners, everyone can be a winner if they put their head to it and work for their daily word count.

Need to Think About...

Time - when do you usually write? Well, whenever that is, you should write then. I usually write in the evening or at night time, however some people write in the morning, and in the case of NaNoWriMo, writing as soon as possible would be best, that way you can meet your daily word count goal earlier.

Goals - you need to know yourself, you need to know how much you can write in a certain time frame. Some people can only write a little amount at any one time, while others have huge bursts and then can't write for a while after.

You should also WRITE WRITE WRITE, and don't stop to edit. This is crucial to all writing projects. Don't edit until you've finished.

I've created three different brackets, the first is the bare minimum that you need to be a NaNo "winner", and then the second two are for those of you who are more daring.

1,667 words a day
11,667 words a week
50,000 in 30 days

2,000 words a day
14,000 words a week
60,000 in 30 days
(AN EXTRA 10k)

2,500 words a day
17,500 words a week
75,000 in 30 days
(AN EXTRA 25k)

Make sure to treat yourself - create some positive reinforcement and treat yourself. It's always good to treat yourself, especially after a hard day of writing.

Plot & Plan - I love plotting and planning, I do it for hours, days, weeks, before I start writing because starting a new project is terrifying. However, with NaNo it can be fun to just be spontaneous and plan to do random things... you can plan to introduce new characters, or kill someone, or have an invasion of some kind. Planning characters is a way forward, if you get stuck, you can always look back at your character, see what they would do, and just let them lead the way.

Oh, and don't forget that there is a world outside... you do need fresh air, and yes, you also need to socialise -- fresh air and communication can be inspiring

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

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