The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Ninety-Eight
Here We Go
Buckle up and get comfortable! We have a full Mailbag this week and I’m putting the pedal to the metal and speeding through it…so hang on and let’s go!
From Eric: “I am working on some writing that deals with sayings people use. Cliche concepts. So do you put quotation marks around the cliche?”
Eric, I had to look this one up since I wasn’t really sure, so we both learn something with this question.
Everything I found says NO! Do not use quotation marks around the cliché. Instead, if you want to give it prominence, use italics on the cliché. Much more proper according to the grammar police.
Now we both know!
From Brian: “So when I've read one of your recent novels or novellas and want to share with others why I like it, I should not bother to post a reader's review on Amazon, because no one trusts such reviews and no one pays attention to them unless there are lots and lots of them? Is there anywhere a review is worth posting or submitting? As a hub? In sites like Persona Paper? Anywhere?”
Brian, I hesitate to say reviews on Amazon are useless. I do think they help the authors because the online game is a numbers game….but….there are a number of online sites that deal strictly with books read where comments and reviews are encouraged. For someone who is somewhat of a rebel who does not want to play the Amazon game, I would think those sites would be better. Check out AllReaders.com, BookReporter.com or BookPage.com.
More on the Ten Second Rule
From Faith: “So, when the Ten Second Rule is implemented, how far in the story do you level out a bit so-to-speak? What I mean is, do you keep up that momentum to build anticipation throughout the entire story to the climax or is it more of a give and take approach until you reach the mind-blowing ending? Hahaha Or is it just different strokes for different folks?”
It’s a good question, Faith, and for novel-writers an important question.
Good books are a combination of ebb and flow. There are catalyst chapters that drive the story along, and in-between those action scenes there are “take a breath” chapters to allow the reader’s heartbeat to return to normal.
So, to answer your question, capture their attention using the Ten Second Rule, then back off of the gas and slow up a bit, get comfortable in the story, learn more about the characters, paint the scenes and then hit the gas once more.
A good rule of thumb: one catalyst per every 20,000 words.
Two from Lizzy on Long-range Plans and Pissing People Off
From Lizzy: “1) Having just read your weekly "Artistry" e-mail, I have to ask, how do you actually manage to make and stick to a long-range goal? This is something I have struggled with all my life. I may make plans, but as Robert Burns put it, "...The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley..."
It seems something or other (either Murphy's Law, or someone else in the household deciding that THEIR plans are more important/urgent than one's own) fouls things up royally, making it impossible or nearly so, to follow through. It has gotten to the point where I avoid making plans for anything further out than the next day or week; month or two tops.
2) Another angle on the marketing question: How do you 'continually promote' on any or various platforms without pissing people off, and becoming such a pest so that when they see your posts, they duck into the nearest (virtual) doorway? "Oh, NO!! Here she comes again to ask us to buy her books!" On sites such as Face Book, you are liable to find yourself "unfriended," hidden or blocked--or, worst of all--reported for spam.”
Lizzy, your questions had me laughing and for that I thank you.
How do I stick to long-range plans? I’ve been asked this before and I guess the best answer I can give is I’m anal-retentive. This is just me. I am about as goal-oriented a human being as you are going to find, to the point where everything else is shoved into the background and practically doesn’t exist while I work towards a goal. I’m not saying that healthy or even a good thing, but it does answer your question I hope.
As for your second question, it is a very real concern and one I’m always aware of. There was a writer on HubPages awhile back who I really enjoyed, right up to the point where she wrote her first book and then all hell broke loose on Facebook. Suddenly we were seeing promotions from her daily about that damned book. It got to the point, seriously, that after a month or so there was no way I would ever buy her book because I was sick to death of hearing about it.
So yes, it is a problem, or can be if common sense isn’t used.
One solution is to make a separate Facebook page just for your writing or just for your book. That way your friends can go to it or not, and it keeps your writing career separate from you as a person. I have chosen not to do that. I practice moderation, or at least I try to do so.
Positive Energy Mantras
From Mary: “I was wondering if you have any mantras to keep you focused or do you think all that positive thinking stuff is just nonsense?”
Mary, I don’t think it’s nonsense at all and no, I don’t use any mantras. I’ve read my share of positive-thinking self-help books. I love Og Mandino and Leo Buscaglia to name two, and maybe their words affect me subconsciously and I’m not even aware of it…but I don’t pour over positive-thinking books daily to keep my head in the game, so to speak. I’m just a very focused human being.
MARKETING ON FACEBOOK
From Rasma: “Leaves me but one question in regards to marketing the book - at that time should I create a Facebook page for it?”
Rasma, this is a matter of personal taste and self-control. I’m not sure there is a particular advantage to having a separate Facebook page for your upcoming book other than to separate it from your personal page and giving your friends a break. As was mentioned earlier in this Mailbag, there is a very real chance of annoying the hell out of your friends if all you do is promote your book on Facebook. So having that separate page just for your book might not be a bad idea.
The only other question to answer, then, is when do you create that Facebook page? If you want to increase the hunger for your book before it is published, then make that Facebook page now. I did that with my first novel. I built up the interest in it months before it was actually published, and that approach worked fairly well.
Fine-tuning an Ebook
From Faith again: “On another note, do you happen to know if one publishes an e-book and then later decides to remove part of it, is that something one can do? Seems like, being it is done via computer, it would be easy just to edit and add to or take away parts. This is not for me, but the thought did come to my mind for other reasons, and so I am just curious how that would work or not.”
The answer is yes, Faith, you can edit your ebook any old time you feel like it. There is usually a period of about 24 hours when your book is not available during the editing and restructuring process, but it’s really as simple as clicking a few links and inserting the new text document. In fact, I believe the same process is used if you want to edit your paperback of the same novel on CreateSpace. You just hit edit, insert a new doc., and hit publish.
From Rajan: “I have myself wondered a number of times whether online product reviews are phony or not. How does one verify them?”
Rajan, you aren’t going to like my answer, but here it is: one does not verify reviews that are found online. Oh, there probably is some way, if one is diligent enough, to track down the origins of the review but honestly, who has that kind of time? There is so much that is bogus online these days. It is nearly impossible to trust anything you find online. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can write a review for any product. Heck, give me ten minutes and I’ll write a very convincing review for a product I’ve never tried…..in fact, I do it with my freelance writing jobs. I ghostwrite for customers about products I’ve never used, and my marketing text is very convincing….and I’ve never in my life used those products.
That, my friend, is called marketing!
Great Questions This Week
And thanks to all of you for making this Mailbag a dandy. We’ll be back next week with #99.
And on a personal note, thanks to all of you who have purchased my newest “Billy the Kid” novella, “Ashes to Ashes.” I greatly appreciate your support.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”