The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Ninety-Seven
And the Beat Goes On
Last week the Mailbag was overflowing. This week it’s hardly flowing at all. Such is life. We’ll take what we’ve got and move on to next week. In other words, nothing can stop the mail from being delivered.
Thanks to those of you who asked questions this week.
From Angela: “How do you continue to write when the weather gets nice and the outdoors is begging you to join it?”
Well, Angela, who says I do?
Seriously, I’m a pretty goal-oriented individual, so it really isn’t that hard for me to soldier on no matter what the weather is like. For me, writing is a job of passion. Now there are two words in that last sentence that are important. Writing is a job for me and it is also a passion. I love to write and I love making money from writing, so that love allows me to do something I enjoy doing whether it’s snowing or eighty degrees and sunny.
Having said all that, if the weather is wonderful and I have a need to get out and enjoy it, I have no problem stopping and going outside. I think it’s necessary for writers to take breaks and enjoy the little pleasures of life, and a sunny day is definitely a pleasure.
I just don’t do it often. LOL
From Adam: “I just self-published my first novel on CreateSpace and Kindle. What little tricks are there to increase sales? The book is barely selling at all and I’m not sure what to do about it.”
Adam, I’m probably going to sound blunt in my answer, but I’ll risk it. There are no “little tricks” to increase sales. Sales come from a) having a good product and b) learning how to market that product.
Successful writers, and I’m talking about good writers who sell bunches of books, have two things going for them: they have learned their craft and they market their product continuously. There are no shortcuts in this process. Pick the brains of some successful writers and ask them how they market their books. Build a platform and continue to add on to that platform. Continue to write and improve as a writer, and then when you are all done doing those things, go back and do them again, and again, and again.
Overnight successes in this business are very rare. A miniscule percentage of writers do well with their first book and that’s just the real of it.
From Sharan: 'How does writing a 'book review' or a 'movie review' help in a writer's career?"
This is a very interesting question, Sharan, and I doubt seriously that there is a definitive answer to it. At first glance, one would think that a positive book review would help a writer….but…..
Of late, there have been accusations made against Amazon about phony book reviews on their site, which of course calls into doubt all book reviews on their site. Honestly, and this is just me, I pay no attention to book reviews on online sites. I just don’t know where they came from, if they are real or if they are a marketing ploy. Let’s face it, I could pay you to write a series of reviews about my book and never have you read the book at all. So I have some skepticism here.
If I want to know about a book, I read the synopsis on the inside cover and I read the first few paragraphs. That’s enough for me to determine if a book has value to me.
Having said all that, I do think a number of positive reviews helps on sites like Amazon….over 20? Over thirty? How can it hurt? Even if I’m correct and there are phony reviews online, I don’t see how a positive book review could possibly hurt a writer.
I assume the same can be said about movie reviews, but since I’m not a movie star, I think I’ll refrain from commenting on that aspect.
From Pete: “I’ve read articles by you, and others, about the importance of a dynamic introduction or opening paragraph. I believe you called it the “Ten Second Rule,” meaning a writer has ten seconds to capture the attention of the readers or they might as well forget about it. And yet I have read some “classics” that have terribly boring first chapters. So which is it, dynamic or boring?”
Really, Pete? You really need me to answer that question? LOL
So, your question is dynamic or boring? Did I get it correct?
I’m having fun with you, Pete, so forgive my silliness.
I am a firm believer in the Ten Second Rule. Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course there are. One of my all-time favorite books, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” does not have what I would call a dynamic opening and yet it is a classic. On the other hand, declaring a book to be a classic is a bit nebulous at best, don’t you think? It’s a purely subjective classification. I’ve read a great many of the so-called “classics,” and there are quite a few of them that have bored me to tears. So what can I say?
Let me put it this way: in today’s world, where instant gratification is the norm rather than the exception, I believe the Ten Second Rule is important. People are much too busy to wait for a writer’s brilliance to manifest itself in Chapter Six….they want to see that brilliance immediately….so I say give it to them! Is it possible to write a good novel and ignore the Ten Second Rule? Of course it is, but why take the chance?
That’s All We Have
I could make this Mailbag longer but that would require me making up some questions and posting them to fictitious people, and that seems a bit deceptive to me. LOL Let’s just end it where it ends and be done with this week.
Remember, if you have a question for the Mailbag, you can include it in the comment section below, or you can send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to you all for joining me this week. Have a brilliant week of writing and living.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”