7 Ways to Help the Homeless You Haven’t Thought About

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Black and white photo of a pair of shins leading into dirty white tennis shoes, laying down on a concrete street.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” -Princess Diana

We all want to help. By nature, humankind are social creatures who experience empathy for others. It’s present when we watch the news, when someone in our office or school is sick or injured, and also when we walk by that disheveled person on the corner with the beat up cardboard sign that reads Anything helps.

There are a myriad of ways to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Some of them readily spring to mind: volunteerism and donations are probably the first two we think about. And they are important so we will touch on them briefly but they won’t really count toward our five. But, while they are important, there are other ways to get involved.

Volunteer. Let’s face it, time is precious in today’s insanely hectic world. Volunteering at the local shelter or kitchen isn’t always feasible. I do highly recommend trying to volunteer a few hours a year every year, however, to simply meet the people you want to help, have a minute to talk with them, learn their names. And I urge people to not just volunteer on holidays like Easter and Christmas. While those are great times to volunteer, many many many people dedicate their holidays to providing holidays for others. Most shelters and kitchens need help year round to keep things running smoothly, so volunteer during non-holiday times too.

Donation. We all dread Spring Cleaning, but love how we feel after. Donating the items you are no longer using is a great way to help those folks living without permanent roofs. Don’t just consider food and clothing, however, consider hygiene products, blankets, and housewares. Many shelters have re-homing projects (the act of transitioning a person into a permanent housing situation). Those new apartments need microwaves, knife sets, couches and chairs, even televisions to make them feel like a basic home. Consider donating some of those items instead of just food and clothing.

One other thing to consider donating is a pre-paid card to a grocery store. Many newly re-homed folks need to stock their pantries and refrigerators too. You’d be surprised how far $25 can go toward canned goods or fresh produce in some areas. For most of us, a measly twenty-five bucks won’t hurt us each month but can really help those trying to get settled back into the roof life.

Now onto the stuff you maybe hadn’t thought about before.

Educate. Let’s face it there are all sorts of negative stereotypes around being homeless. That makes it hard for people to sympathize with those who do need help. Education can be simple or big. Maybe all you do is correct a friend or coworker, or a random stranger on the bus, when they express a homeless stereotype. Maybe you make a phone call to a local city or county or state politician about the problems homeless people face. If you have children, start there with education. Take them with you if you do volunteer. Let them see first hand the hardships many people experiencing homelessness face.

Inform. The best effort is mass communication with small time efforts (because the better spent time would be volunteering at a shelter with actual homeless people).

Did you know that many people don’t really think about how many people are in homeless shelters or living on the streets in their communities? Unless they’ve had a specific run in with a person living without a roof, they just don’t think about it. Contact your local news source, maybe your faith-based or non-faith-based organization, editors of civic newsletters. See if any would be interested in running a weekly or even monthly listing of local services available to the homeless. Even if a person isn’t homeless, we’ve all know someone just down on their luck who needs the help of an extra food box now and again, or just can’t afford new school clothes for their kids this year. You never know who you’ll be helping out by just making information available.

Advocate. Write letters to the editor of your local news source to promote awareness and understanding. Heck, why you’re at it, just write to national publications too. Share information about the number of homeless people in your area (or country, if you’re writing to the national publication). Explain the different reasons why people become homeless. Wrap it up with suggesting ways that people in your area or even nationally can help people experiencing homelessness.

Support. Shelters, low-cost or free clinics, mental health services, low-cost housing initiatives, and even public libraries are all resources and services the homeless rely on for basic needs and care. You can show your support for these programs an initiatives in your city by voting for officials who back the programs and also writing and speaking to other politicians who have not backed the programs in the past.

Oppose. While many cities and towns don’t make being homeless a crime, they do enact laws that prohibit things associated with being homeless, such as: sleeping in public, urinating in public, loitering on public platforms, even possessing a blanket outdoors can be illegal. Many cities and towns have also outlawed private citizens from making homemade foods and giving it away to others in public spaces like parks and parking lots. Stand up against crimes that propose to protect people but unfairly hurt those in the most need.

Create. If you’re in a position where you can give a homeless person a job or a day’s worth of work, do it! Maybe you can just offer to train somebody with a job skill like filing or let them mow your lawn or paint the fence. The thing is that small acts like this can make a huge difference to a person experiencing homelessness. Just don’t take advantage of them. Pay a homeless person who works for you a reasonable and fair amount of money, just like you would anyone else.

Lastly, Smile. Many people avert their eyes and hustle by when they see a homeless person on the street, whether panhandling or not. If you don’t have money or food or just don’t want to give it, that’s fine. At least smile and say hello to the person. If you have the time, maybe talk with them for a minute or two. Seriously, you’d be surprised how much a little human contact and kindness is appreciated by people experiencing homelessness.

The fact is, there are literally dozens of ways to get involved with helping those in need outside of the traditional donation and volunteering. What it takes is for people to stop solely talking about the issue and to start helping. Since the person we can radically change/affect the most is ourselves, we’re a pretty good place to start with one of these seven ways.

Do you know of or have seen homeless people in your community? Do you volunteer or donate on a regular basis? What about other tips for people who want to get involved that I haven’t mentioned here? Chime in! Remember that there is never such a thing as too much information or too much kindness.

 

Image of a redheaded woman in a black leather jacket. She has her hands held up in the American Sign Language sign for 'I love you.'BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.

Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

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7 Ways to Get More Exposure on Social Media Daily

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Picture of two teenage girls smiling and making funny faces while sitting on a couch.
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” – Seth Godin

 

“I don’t know how to get people to see my [fill in the product] on social media.”

Nope. Sorry. I cut off anyone who starts a lament to social media with this phrase. Especially authors. There are dozens of ways daily to gain exposure on social media. Not just from fellow writers (although don’t discount them entirely, they read too) but from honest-Abe readers. Take Twitter.

To tweet or not to tweet

The question really is: To Twitter Chat or Not to Twitter Chat. And it is absolutely to Twitter Chat.

A quick exercise. Open another tab in your browser (don’t do this in this one or else you will lose all my beautiful pearls of wisdom and have to back click and that just sucks). Go to Google. Type in “book chats Twitter.” I don’t know about you but about six Twitter accounts revolving around ‘book chats’ or ‘book marketing’ or ‘book readers’ came up. To top it off, a link dedicated to List of Regularly Occurring Bookish Twitter Chats by Book.Blog.Bake. came up. Hint: those would be good places to start.

Seriously. Click in and follow those accounts. Scroll through their feed. See if they host or participate in a Twitter chat that seems to be somewhat stable, regularly occurring, and something you’re into.

On average, I know of and participate in at least four Twitter chats a week. I’m not always the most regular at participation since, well, life. But I make it an effort to pop in sometimes and be seen, build relationships, learn stuff.

The bottom line is there are Twitter chats being held every day of the week, multiple times a day. Hence the title of this article. There are seven ways to get more exposure on social media daily because there are seven days in a week. And that’s just Twitter. Facebook has groups for readers; even Google+ does.

If knowing there are seven days in a week isn’t enough for you, here is my list of seven ways to get more exposure on social media daily:

  1. Know your demographic. Do some research. Know who you want, and “readers” is too generic. Do better.
  2. Decide where to spend your effort. You can’t be every at once unless you decide to quit working, never write again, and just be online in your jimjams. And then nobody wants to talk to you anyway.
  3. Commit to it. Engaging on social media takes commitment. If you have issues with that, you might want to rethink a profession that requires engagement and consistency and social ability.
  4. Engage. And I’m not just talking Picard here. You have to actually want to talk to people, not just hock your product. Be real. Be authenticate. Don’t be a douche.
  5. Karma Reach-Arounds. Give props to the chat organizer, and not just during the chat. Don’t get all stalker-y or anything, but make sure to thank them for organizing/moderating the event. Chats take time and patience and dedication. Thank them for that, and while you’re at it give ’em a little reach around no and again when you aren’t getting somethin-somethin out of it.
  6. Know when to take a break. It’s the ‘you’ show. If you don’t know anything about a topic and really don’t have an interest in the topic, don’t participate in the chat that week. Doesn’t mean you can promote it a little and say “Hey, this is some good stuff over here.” But know when to take some time off.
  7. Don’t be a hog. Are there literally dozens of chats on Twitter alone seven days a week? Duh. I already said this. Point of reiteration is to mention that while you can participate in every single one of them all the time, you shouldn’t necessarily. This goes back to #6. It isn’t the ‘you’ show. Give your audience a break sometimes. Remember putting yourself out there on social media to engage readers and hopefully get them to like you well enough to care to read your book/blog/song lyrics/whatever. You won’t endear nobodies if you are the annoying song on the radio that plays on every channel non-stop (we’re looking at you Titanic Celine).

“Why, BC, what Twitter chats do you like?”

Well, I’m glad you asked. I like these following people:

  • #K8chat – Publishing-related chat for readers and authors. Every Thursday from 9-10pm Eastern. Host: @K8Tilton
  • #StoryDam – Come talk about writing stories! Held every Thursday from 8-9pm Eastern. Host: @StoryDam
  • #litchat – LitChat is for book lovers. All books. All the time. Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-5pm Eastern. Host: @LitChat
  • #indiechat – Indiechat is a Twitter chat designed for indie and self-published authors. Every Tuesday from 4-5pm Eastern. Host: @BiblioCrunch
  • #NextLitChat – If you are a new adult author, reader, or curious as to what new adult is, this is the chat for you! Held every Thursday from 9-10pm Eastern. Host: @NextLitChat

Image of a redheaded woman in a black leather jacket. She has her hands held up in the American Sign Language sign for 'I love you.'BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.

Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction ◘ Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories ◘ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

 

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Author’s Book Marketing Guide: Month 2 Pre-Release

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Photo: Notebook with checklist and hand checking off the list.

The countdown is getting close! Are you able to breathe? Hopefully with the homework we’ve laid out in Months 6, 5, 4, 3 of the pre-release plan, the only nervousness you feel is the excitement of your new book almost ready for a booming and successful start! This month is all about “priming the pump” so to speak for advance sales.

This month we’re going to concentrate on:

  • Article directories
  • Press Releases
  • “Push” pages

Article Directories

Remember that in order to catch peoples’ attention, you have to be visible. The best way for a writer to increase their visibility (not to mention increase inbound links to their website, therefore increasing search engine results) is to have name recognition everywhere. That means contributing articles online. You can easily capitalize on any membership sites you belong to. Doing so increases your membership’s community library and helps establish yourself as an expert. (Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be about writing or publishing. Any expertise can be linked back to your website, which will promote your book when it releases.)

There are also a number of articles directory sites. Articles directories are super easy ways for your articles to find their way into blogs, newsletters, and other sites. With these directories, you retain full attribution and gain links to your websites. Posting your articles for free is sometimes the quickest way to have people pick up on your material for redistribution among their blog, newsletter, or website. While the effort won’t be directly compensated, the exposure to different networks can be amazing. Most directories allow you to track your articles so you can ensure the poster does properly attribute you and provide a link to your information (like your website, book link on Amazon, etc). Sometimes your articles can even end up in publications around the world, increasing your visibility and establishing your expert status.

If you’re like me, the thought of writing “how-to” articles as a fiction writer was daunting. But, as you can see, as a writer, no matter that genre, you are an expert in writing, at the very least. From my own trials and errors (many, many errors!! Oy vey!) I learned how to market myself and my books better, and a lesson learned is something that can written and submitted!

 

Press Releases

All right, the time has come to put together your book’s press release. I recommend completing on main release, then all you need to do is tweak the first paragraph a bit here and there for other releases. The “tweaking” allows you to tailor it specifically for types of publications you want to target.

But I’m a fiction writer! you’re thinking. No worries. So am I, but a press release is easy. Think of it as backwards storytelling. In fiction we start with the broad and tailor down to the specifics. In press release writing, we start with the specifics and supply the filler information. So your “who, where, when, what, and why” information is at the top. Make sure to include a headline and lead sentence to “hook” the readers, just like you did when writing your back blurb. (Example: New Book Provides Step-By-Step Book Marketing to Authors). Don’t make the mistake of focusing on you as the author (example: BC Brown Launches New Marketing Book). The writer isn’t as important in the headline as catching the reader’s attention. The first sentence needs to hook the reader with what is new, original, or hmmm….weird about your book. Then hit ’em with the book title, release date, publisher, and author name. Head into the next paragraph with a one-line recap of the book’s content. The best is if you can focus on how to book solves a problem or introduces a useful process. If the book is fiction, then you need to highlight how your book is different or original from the others on the marketing, and your one-line recap should be a plot summary. Then add on your credentials.

You head into the next paragraph with any special launch events, media appearances, and book tour signings. Don’t forget to give accolades to your publisher or distributor (if you have one). I tend to give my editor a little shout out here also. Definitely include how your book is available – online, in bookstores, and/or through your website. If self published, it’s best to not mention that fact. It’s unfortunate and unfair but a lot of stigma is still tied to self publishing. Although many indie authors are making strides toward bettering the image in quality of work and expertise, it isn’t quite there yet.

Last paragraph should include your website information, push page (which we will discuss next), and contact information so interested stores or media outlets can follow up with you. Successful press releases are limited to around 200-300 words. Keep sentences short, use active verbs, and keep the focus on what the book delivers for the reader, not on the book itself. Your credentials should always show how your experiences is beneficial to the reader. Make sure to double-check for typos. You wouldn’t believe how many press releases have come across my desk with errors in the email or phone number for an author – yikes! (A useful hint is to read your press release backwards, starting at the bottom of the document and reading it one line at a time to the top. The break in continuity will keep your brain from “filling in the known gaps” and glaring errors should present clearer.)

Traditional media outlets are still sticklers for what they consider “professional submission guidelines.” And let’s face it, the traditional media outlets still dominate the landscape for news. Make sure you follow the traditional press release format. Here is the example I used for my novel, A Touch of Darkness:

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Glorious Bastards Press 555-555-5555

A Touch of Darkness Revitalizes Gritty Noir with Dark Humor, Realistic Police Procedural, and Touching Humanity

     Mattoon, IL—A Touch of Darkness, An Abigail St Michael Novel, the newest title by fantasy author BC Brown, catapults into the modern-day, alternative reality of mysticism and madness with Abigail St Michael, former cop and psychic consultant.

A Touch of Darkness opens in the midnight world of psychics and serial killers with the death of a child, washed in the shadows of night and the alternating red and whites of police lights. Abbey St Michael is forced to confront an evil on her doorstep that may be closer than she ever realized. With her unique brand of dark humor and sarcastic wit, she struggles to catch a killer while not getting caught herself.

BC Brown’s first work, the dark fantasy Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows and published under the pen name BB Walter, burst onto the sci-fi/fantasy scene first as short fiction and then expanded by request of fans for a full-length printing. Sister Light then went on to repeated sold out signings while on book tour and earned high praise from reviewers and readers alike. In A Touch of Darkness, Brown has brought all the sweeping vision of epic fantasy to contemporary paranormal mystery with an added noir grittiness and realism evident in its market pre-sales.

A Touch of Darkness is published by Glorious Bastards Press, a new author collaborative imprint. The Abigail St Michael Novels are distributed in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster. Learn more at www.bcbrownbooks.com.


When submitting your press release make sure to embed it in the body of your email. Do not attach it as a document. Understandably reporters are uneasy about opening attachments for fear of viruses. Many firewalls are built to keep out attachments for that reason. You should always include a personal note to the correspond in an effort to build personal relationships. Keep it brief however. I usually start with a line or two about one of their recent articles I’ve read. Just remember to be sincere, actually read the article. Then wrap it up with a polite note asking their consideration for your release.

Don’t forget about all the paid and free press release distribution services. The paid ones range in price. I’ve seen them go from inexpensive to costly, depending on their presence and distribution, plus bonuses that can be added. I’ve used PR Newswire in the past. Free sources I like to use are OpenPR and 24-7PressRelease. There are numerous others, and I suggest doing a little websurfing to see one that fits you best.

Why press releases? Every release that gets picked up online will drive traffic to your website and the push page we’re about to discuss. It also helps boost search engine results, creates buzz about your book, and builds visibility about you as an expert. Don’t forget to use your press release when emailing bookstores too. Their PR person will be able to use it in their marketing when setting you up for book signings and events. Always notify media personally of events when you’re going to be in the area as well. And don’t forget about capitalizing on the “homegrown” aspect – let local professional association publications, alumni magazines, community event publications – know about your book and who you are. You’re a celebrity now!

Push Pages

A push page is an industry term that allows for online pre-sales of your book. This can be done even if you are self publishing by creating a pre-order button on your website.

Most commonly used in non-fiction, push pages are becoming popular in genre fiction work as well. Typically push pages (for fiction) use pre-ordering by offering bonus materials, such as a short story in the same genre etc. It can be anything really (audio recordings, swag, etc) from the author. The point is an incentive to commit to and purchase the book prior to its launch. Another fun way to market (and grow your audience and author network) is to ask other authors to cross promote with you. You can ask them to offer an excerpt or downloadable chapter, article, discount (anything) to your launch. Just remember that you want similar content without competing messages. This can work especially well if you and an author friend have opposite publication schedules. Also, ensure you have a way to fulfill the cross-promoted material (or the material you are providing) so everyone gets what you’ve promised.

To recap: this month you should be working on article directories and submissions to them, press releases to be sent out, and push pages for pre-release sales. If you haven’t yet, you should make sure you have bookmarks, business cards, posters, and book “fliers” designed and ordered. Send out your press releases and review copies. Contact bookstores to schedule those important signings. Start scheduling conventions and conferences for speaking opportunities and signings.

During all of this, make sure you update your spreadsheet with notes as to who you’ve contacted, when, and responses received. This includes media, reviewers, and book stores. Make notes about personality, outcomes, and overall experience. You can work with those who are willing to work with you instead of against you by keeping accurate notes. And it will save you a lot of time in the future! I also consider what “swag” I will be giving away at future events. In the beginning, I suggest keeping it small: bookmark with some type of giveaway (I suggest a short story download), maybe pens or magnets, candy). Keep it simple and small at first. Find ways to tie it to you or your book when possible.

Okay, well that wraps up your 2 month pre-release. You are well on your way to a successful launch if you’ve followed the steps laid out. Remember, by following each of these little by little you save yourself a lot of last minute stressing and initials sales that may be discouraging, to say the least.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
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Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Book Basics

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Book creation is as easy at 1, 2, 3.

We talked about foundation of your Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) adventure in my previous post Step-By-Step Self Publishing on Kindle: Getting StartedThis week, we’re talking about individual projects and the steps needed to getting a finalized product on the digital market. You’ll go through this process with each ebook you intend to upload, so we might as well get started.


Your Book. Ok, so the basics who who you are and how to pay you are out of the way. It’s time to start in on your actual book. Each New Item uploaded will require data input for the Product Description. Here are the basics:
  • ISBN: If you’ve purchased an ISBN, you can enter it here. However KDP will automatically generate an ISBN for your work if you have not taken that extra step. Personally, I let KDP generate my ISBNs. A friend of mine bought a lump of ISBNs for her work a few years ago. She uses them to organize her different series with similar ISBN numbers in both ebook and print. Just a small detail that helps keep her organized during inventory and accounting.
  • Title: Enter the whole title of your book.  You can and should utilize the subtitle category of this process if you can. We can go over that in more detail later however. If there is a volume number to your book, also put it in the Title Category. Anything and everything that is useful to a successful search option should be considered for the Title Category.
  • Description: Oh boy. Descriptions are hard. We’ve just written a book and blurbs are hard. I mean, if we could have wrapped up the whole story neatly in 300-500 words, we would have just written it that way, right? Here are a few things to remember when writing your description:
    • Professionally written. Don’t let an unprofessional description undo all the professional work you put into the book itself.
    • 70,000 foot view. Only include the highlights and most important details of the book.
    • Don’t over-exaggerate. Building up the reader’s hopes and not delivering on the expectations will get you nothing but negative reviews, which can hurt your sales.
    • Concise writing. This sort of goes back to the “professionally written” part previously stated. But I can’t stress enough the fact that the blurb is a teaser for your book. It has to be short and sweet to hook the reader’s information without giving away the plot. Also KDP limits you on the number of characters you can use in your Description.
    • Generalized comparisons. Many authors make the mistake of comparing their books directly to famous books currently on the market. I’m not saying you shouldn’t compare, but avoid things like “This book is the next Harry Potter,” unless specifically taken from a review. You can say something closer to Readers who lived and loved the magic of the Harry Potter series will enjoy XYZ Title.
  • Publisher: Author name or imprint name. And, again, I stress the importance of making sure
    Photo Credit: Alejandro Escamilla

    you don’t steal another imprint’s name. Google is easy, it’s fast, it’s free. Trust me, a lot of writers have been super clever before your clever need.

  • Language: Fairly easy. Select your native language. If you have had the book professionally (and I emphasize professionally) translated then you will need to create a separate New Item for each translation. If you publish in one language but want to point out the work is published in multiple languages, do that in the Description Category.
  • Publication Date: If this is the first edition of this book’s publication, enter the release date. If the item has appeared in another format somewhere, enter the first date it was published.
  • Categories: These help sort your books for readers searching Kindle. Remember, you are allowed a maximum of 5 categories. Take the time to read through the whole list; you might find a category you hadn’t considered. For example, in my paranormal mystery novel A Touch of Darkness once I started looking, I found there is a category specifically for ‘African-American Female Heroines.’ For my Abigail St. Michael Novels that category is perfect. Amazon searchbots are also incredibly clever to use the keywords within those Categories to optimize search results.
  • Author: Seems a duh moment to most authors, but you also have the chance in this area to add Co-Authors, editors, illustrators, narrators, photographers, fore words, introductions, prefaces, and translators. Doing so can link you with those individuals’ accounts (if they have them) and help you leverage their established networks. Plus, it’s just plain right to properly attribute anyone who helped work on your book that wants to be attributed (always ask first). And it’s just another way to get those clever searchbots in on suggesting your work to readers when they’re looking.
  • Keywords: Categories along are not enough to deliver your book into the search results of readers with their fingers at the keys. You need keywords. Typically 5-7 descriptive and relevant keywords is the preferred target range. Is it a rule? No. Sometimes it’s okay to have a few more to make sure your book’s topic/s gets covered properly. For example, for my paranormal mystery A Touch of Madness I used the following keywords: psychics, serial killers, magic, fantasy, dark humor, interracial romance, romance, and science fiction.
  • Product Image: There is nothing more frustrating than a pixelated or blurry Product Image when shopping on Amazon. It’s no exception with KDP. Images uploaded must be either JPEG (.jpg) or TIFF (.tif/.tiff) and 72 dpi to meet Amazon’s minimum threshold for thumbnail Product Images. When you purchase your cover art, ensure the artist/designer provides you with multiple DPI quality images to use on the print book, promotional material, and online.
  • Edition Number: When dealing with books that have been revised multiple times, it is important to include an Edition Number in each new upload. It does a number of things like tell the readers there is updated information or corrections in the book, as well as tell those clever Amazon searchbots to push out an updated version of your book to readers who have already purchased it. Some authors will go so far as to list each edition and when it was published.
  • Series Title: Readers like a series; authors love a series. When completing work in the same series, make sure to include your series title. For example, my paranormal mysteries A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness are both part of the An Abigail St. Michael Novels series.
  • Series Volume: Mostly this works for magazines, journals, or any title issued in a series. However there are instances where an author has chosen to put out a work in serialized form. Notable was Stephen King’s The Green Mile.
  • DRM: Stands for Digital Rights Management, and there are only two options 1) Enable DRM, or 2) Do not enable DRM. Personally, I always enable DRM. It’s an extra step to go through but it ensures that I have the opportunity to shift my uploaded document to match KDP’s format specs perfectly. It also gives me a preview of the document as it will be seen on ebook readers. This preview step can help save you from weird formatting and possible negative reviews from it. A lesson I learned from the first edition of my paranormal mystery A Touch of Darkness.
So there you have it. The basics leading up to uploading your book to Amazon Kindle for self publication. After this point, it’s only a few more quick steps to having your book self published on Amazon for millions to buy.
BC Brown
BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)
 

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                                                                   

 

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Description for Writers: Detail Work

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The devil is in the details.

Every decision you make as a writer, the length of your sentences to the point of view you choose, crafts your story’s description. It’s easy to write “Beth sat in her car.” It describes an event. Concise and clear. But “Beth wept and leaned on the steering wheel, her tortured breath pluming in the shadows and fogging the windshield” is full of all sorts of jazz. 

Instinctually, writers jazz up their sentences all the time. It makes us good storytellers. But it is that instinctual jazz that turns a plain declarative sentence into a descriptive sentence. For

Neil Gaiman quote credit

instance, the fact that your character’s breath is “pluming” tells us the atmosphere – cold – and possible season – fall or winter. That same “pluming” may even draw an association from your reader as chill or uncomfortable, which describes you scene and ties back to the fact Beth “wept,” as well as the detail that she “leaned.” And both the “steering wheel” and “windshield” describe a vehicle without implicitly stating she is in a car. 

In essence the second sentence you wrote described the same event as your first one. The second sentence however gave your readers more detail, set your mood and your scene. 

It is important to understand that you needn’t change your natural writing style to accommodate details. There are many writers who have a more minimalist nature. They use spare, economical prose that leaves a story open for reader imagination and conclusion. Well placed details (a burnt but unlit cigar, an echoing silence, a flickering light) can serve a writer better to express a character or setting. Other writers tend to the dramatic, the flamboyant, with description. Some readers are versatile, comfortable to slip into the author’s personal style easily. Others prefer certain styles only and tend to stick with writers who embody those preferences. Myself, while I am (generally) a minimalist reader I am a flamboyant writer.

The telling detail. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to shine the light on a character in your story. These one or two illuminating finds are “telling” details in fiction, going beyond simple observations to enlarge a reader’s sense of character or place. A woman’s carefully tended or touched up heels show she is low on means but cares about her appearance. The teen’s greasy hair projects an outsider mentality. The dog’s laid back ears indicate uneasiness at a situation. The sheen of patina on a dining set indicates the restaurant is more upper class and well maintained.

Detail like this makes fiction more than your typical what’s-next storytelling. It becomes more an accounting. Carefully choosing your details at the right times during your story give the reader an intimate access to the inner truth of person or place. It is one thing to tell a reader your character seeks love and intimacy and quite another to show them leaning into an individual during conversation or smiling dreamily at a person as they speak. 

Sensory input. As authors, we often get caught up in describing a person or place, we forget to tell more than just what we see. While a carnival is a feast to the eye, as well as great fun to write about the sights, we mustn’t forget there are four more senses to explore: sound, taste, touch, and smell. The carnival being a riot of color rocketing around the open field is fine and good, but it might serve the story better to know that the air dripped with the acrid odor of burned popcorn and the ears rang with the tinny, shrill blast of games and barker’s calls.

Simile and metaphor. A strong simile or metaphor can be the wind in the sails of a good descriptive fiction. Without them, a writer tells only a bare bones story rather than showing a fleshed out one. When used sparingly, simile and metaphor can give life to a story. But keep in mind that overuse of either can drown it just the same. While assuming most writers know the difference, I’ll include a brief explanation of simile and metaphor.

  • Simile. A direct comparative feature. A figure of speech and usually introduced with like or as comparing one thing to another thing.
    • Janet’s hair was as soft as fleece.
  • Metaphor. Metaphors are less direct. A figure of speech that leaves a reader open to continued thought or comparison after the initial descriptor.
    • “Jonathan?” Matt asked. “He’ll be okay. He’s just a wet hen right now. Give him a minute alone, then we’ll head out. It’s a long walk to Atlanta, and I don’t want him pecking and scratching the whole way.” 
Learn some restraint. Curbing your impulse to include every detail playing on your mind’s mini movie reel is a smart move. Writers are immensely imaginative. That’s why we do what we do. But a reader and a story can get lost in the details we provide. Keep in mind that too few or too many details will derail your story just the same. Once a reader is lost, your run the risk of them putting down your book and never picking it up again.

That’s a wrap. Details can save or sink a story every time. When you choose to write your next piece, remember that one well placed detail can save you a page of exposition – ahem, extra work. Telling details can be both unintentional in the drafting phase or intentional, with considerable thought, revision, and editing.

Keep in mind your senses. We don’t live in a vacuum of one of two senses. Go back over previous passages and keep an eye out for one sense you’ve listed, then consider if that is the right sense or if another would serve the story better. Once you’ve done that, does the passage need a supporting sensory detail? The sight of blood and gore kicks you in the gut, but the scent of copper and urine will twist the gut and drive the imagery home.

Simile and metaphor breathe life into writing. But there is a fine line between strong comparison and over comparison.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate others through humor and simple instruction.
BC Brown
Books: A Touch of Darkness ◘ A Touch of Madness ◘ Sister Light (out of print)

Upcoming: Karaoke Jane                                                                  

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Random Rant 82: Stay-cation

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I am a nose-to-the-grindstone person. Don’t get me wrong; I’m inherently lazy. I go to great lengths to ensure my leisure time. But I was raised by a workaholic, single mother who maintained a spotless house, kept matters well in hand, and never missed a day of work unless she was hospitalized. I’m not that psychotic, but I can admit to a certain amount of due diligence when it comes to “work”.

As many people know, on top of my writing and marketing, I freelance edit for fiction and non-fiction. I also copy edit for Arizona Sports and Lifestyle magazine. Plus I have a day job that works out to roughly 50 hours a week. Not easy to cram all of that into a seven-day work week, I know. Naturally there’s life as well – housework, cleaning, social times – to shoehorn in. Somehow I do it. Not always well and not always 100%, but shit gets done. Why? Because if I don’t do it (I learned at an early age) there may not always be someone who can or will pick up the slack.

What about the Doctor? He’s great. He helps a ton. But he also has his own adventures and is, perhaps, a little more whimsical than I am, able to overlook the dishes piling on the counter in order to try out a new bicycle or explore some weird looking crags in some distant landscape. 

Me? The dishes come first. In fact, while I can kick back to a certain extent, if when I look at the forecast for my days I see a distinct lack of time for the have-tos vs the want-tos, I will (sadly) choose the have-tos first. Why? Because, if I don’t, they will worry at the edges of my brain like a rat at a toilet paper roll. 

Why does me telling you any of this matter? Because, for the first time in untold years, I took a few days off from the Paycheck (what I call the day job) and did nothing

That’s right. I took ten glorious days off (in December) with nothing more planned than a day or two out of that vacation I was going to take a painting class with a friend. That’s it. Nothing planned. No pressing needs to do or places to go. For the first time in my life of taking vacation days, I got to stay home and do nothing except what struck my fancy at the moment.

I can certainly say it improved my demeanor. I brightened up and people were less terrified I was going to rip into them in some way. It was a much needed recharge that, oddly, I found left me with a ton of time to actually accomplish things and feel rested. 

Funny how things get done when you don’t plan them better than when you do, right? 🙂

***
BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every ‘bad deed’ in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate

other writers through humor and simple instruction.

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The Duality of A Writer

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*This post sparked by a Facebook Meme and the resultant comments. The meme stated: “Writers literally create worlds from scratch… What is sexier than that? I don’t know why every person out there isn’t dating a writer.” by Rachel Bloom. This article is a hybrid of ideas presented about the nature of ‘being a writer’, the thoughts they led me to, and the further expansion of thought/comments from Facebook, Twitter, and private messaging.*

Duality (from the Pinacoteca Central)

Few understand what it means to be a writer. 

Yes, they know about our love of words, our fanatical need to perfect a sentence, and our frenzied creative bursts. But grasping the reality of what it is like to be a writer is a concept so foreign it makes others feel uncomfortable or rejected.

There are only two worlds that exist for writers. 

Time Writing and Time Not Writing
The Time Writing world is where we want to live. We are ever seeking a means to get back to this magical place where stars are born in the space of a breath and everyone is known and knows as intimately as if they’d shared the same womb.
The Time Not Writing world is hell, a infinite distraction, that we walk in, trying to puzzle out how to get back to our Time Writing world.

The rub is that our Time Not Writing world is where people live. Family, friends, jobs, obligations to non-writing. Genuinely, we love these things. Most of us wouldn’t trade them for anything. Except Time Writing. Which riddles us with guilt. Guilt for walking in the Time Not Writing world, and guilt for not being in the Time Writing world.

The most difficult part often is the social ramification. We love our family and friends. They love us. They don’t want to hear (as was best put in the Facebook conversation on this matter) “Of course I want to spend time with you, but…” This leads to feelings of rejection.

The non-writer who loves one reads this and thinks I’m not that way; I want them to have as much time as they need to write. And you do; bless you, you really do. Until you realize Time Writing and Time Not Writing has nothing at all to do with time.

With a full blessing the non-writer in love with one gives the writer leave to work on whatever project they are enraptured with dealing with at that point. “I’ll give you as much time as you want. How about a month of no distractions to finish that project?” Non-writer says. It’s kind. And pointless.

Time Writing has no time. It is timeless, eternal and fleeting. One month becomes two months;
Conversations with No One

becomes six months; becomes a year. A year of not interacting, not being distracted, not participating in anything but Time Writing. No one’s patience is that infinite. But a writer’s need of Time Writing is that expansive. Suddenly the need for detachment is unhealthy, although a writer has never been happier. The desire for the writer to rejoin the Time Not Writing world becomes pressing, and we rejoin it, with reluctance and an outright bitch-fest but understanding.


Then the non-writer is left knowing we are with them, but also just want to get back to Time Writing. The writer is there and not there, part of their mind, soul, in the Time Writing world. And any time we’re in the Time Not Writing world one hundred percent, not distracted at all by Time Writing, we are some of the most miserable, sorriest, least organized and functional lots ever.

So, yes, the premise of being in a relationship with a writer is sexy. What writers do is stimulating. Anyone would want to be constantly stimulated by exposure to that. But, resoundingly, we’re also alien to the point of being unfathomable. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone you have nothing in common with and can’t understand the very basics of their existence?

 ◘◘◘

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short FrictionQuixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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Interview: Norm Hamilton, author of From Thine Own Well

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What inspired you to write your first book?
Frustration with the Harper government in Canada was the catalyst forFrom Thine Own Well, a story of a dystopian Canadian future. They signed a 31 year agreement allowing Chinese corporations to sue Canadian governments should there be rules and regulations that hindered their profits. That motivation grew to include irresponsible mining, polluted watersheds and corporate control of government. In short, disgust with political matters was the inspiration.
Do you have a specific writing style?
No; short and simple, no. I write when inspiration prompts me. If what I do is to be considered a writing style, it is that I write, rewrite, read and rewrite. Then I have it edited and set about rewriting again.
How did you come up with the title?
I believe in food and water security; that we must provide for ourselves and not depend on others for life-sustaining necessities. That said I encourage our communities to safeguard our water systems jealously.
Although I’m not religious by any means, the phrase in Proverbs 5:15 “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well” caught my imagination. I reworked the last four words for the title.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Our world teeters on the precipice of disaster. Investigating alternate forms of energy and reducing dependency on fossil fuels is paramount. We can no longer allow the multi-national corporate control of our governments. We require resources but obtaining them must have minimal impact on the environment, regardless of the demands of corporations.
Providence connected me with water.org as a result of writing this novel. These good folks work at providing clean water throughout the world. A mere $25 can provide clean water to someone for a lifetime.
How much of the book is realistic?
I believe the story presented in From Thine Own Well is not only possible, it is plausible. Similar situations are now taking place. For example:
·       Opening of the Peel Watershed in Yukon to mining development and fracking
·       The recent devastating tailings pond spill at the Mount Polley Mine in BC.
Statements from readers on how realistic the story is:
·       A wonderfully realistic dystopian!
·       This is what I would call realistic dystopian.
·       From Thine Own Well is a pertinent piece of eco-fiction
·       An attention-getting look at the future
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As alluded to above, the story is based on reality. I’ve watched corporate control of government decisions place profits before people. I lived in Yukon, a pristine area of the world, for 40 years. Recent agreements with Chinese mining corporations are disconcerting. Opening the watersheds to development by oil and gas companies causes concern, and may prove disastrous.
Changes to the Navigable Waters Act in 2012 removed protection for all waterways in Canada except for the three oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers. This left the majority open to destruction. In Yukon, only the Yukon River is protected.
Some of the characters in the story are based on real people, as I see them. Others possess characteristics of folks I have met.
Are there any deleted scenes or “cut” characters you’d like to share?
There’s a dog, Bob, who is an integral part of From Thine Own Well’s story line. At one time there was a scene where Bob was killed. As it turned out, that scene didn’t work so it was reworked.
There is another scene that I wrote, removed, re-wrote, deleted and finally put back in. I was having difficulty with the feelings it evoked in me, but eventually chose to leave the emotions as part of the tale.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Some books have influenced my writing and beliefs.
·       Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”
·       Ken Follett’s World War II novels, epic volumes of The Pillars of the Earth series and the Century Trilogy
·       Stephen King and Justin Cronin for their horror and apocalyptic passages.
Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior and other books in his series of shamanistic writings and self-help have helped shape my personal life.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I would choose Ken Follett as my personal mentor. His ability to create worlds with live characters, locations that appear in the mind’s eye and believable situations is amazing. Couple that with the inclusion of factual information and historical accuracy and he provides everything I could ask for in a writer.
What book are you reading now?
At the time of this writing I just finished reading Writer (Daughter of Time Book 2) by Erec Stebbins. It’s a tale of survival and cooperation between species and races, an account of hatred, vengeance and annihilation. But woven throughout is a remarkable love story. You can read my review on my website. http://normhamilton.ca/writer/writer-daughter-of-time-book-2
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I have been enjoying the work of indie writers exclusively for the past few months. Some standouts, out for me, are Martyn V. Halm (Amsterdam Assassin Series), Carmen Amato (Emilia Cruz Series) and Erec Stebbins (Daughter of Time Series). These authors are proof that indie writers are every bit as good as those promoted by mainstream publishers. I have posted review on their works on my website.
What are your current projects?
I am honing my short story skills, taking instruction from experts and practicing the craft. The result of this is that I am busy writing a number of shorts with varying styles, emphases, and subjects. That said, they all have human relationship in common.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I am fortunate in that I have friends that support me in my endeavours. However, I’ve learnt to not rely on them for more than moral support By that I mean friends will always tell you something is great because, for them, it is. They love your creation.
The greatest help I had to write a novel was the National Novel Writing Month. (NaNoWriMo) http://nanowrimo.org/. Joining this in 2012 gave me the impetus to complete a first draft. A year of re-writes and editing later, I published From Thine Own Well.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m going to answer with a resounding no. The reason is that once the project is completed, published and marketed, it’s time to move on to another. The things I learnt creating the last book will, inevitably help in the writing of the next.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always had a desire to share my thoughts and stories through the written word. For most of my life I chose to work outside the home, have a family and raise our children. Now that I’m retired and the kids are grown, I have the opportunity to take that off my bucket list.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
As mentioned earlier I am honing my craft. Hence, there really isn’t a “current” piece of work to share. I have an inspirational personal story being considered by editors. A short love story and an essay on personal growth are in the works.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The greatest challenge, for me and many others, is fear. I’ve written a guest blog for this website that explains it further than I can go into here. See http://bit.ly/YkXRCX
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’d be repeating myself here. See my comments on Ken Follett in the “If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?” section above.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I haven’t traveled at all concerning my books.
Who designed the covers?
I have had cover designs done by Elliot Hamilton-Boucher as well as creating some myself.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me, the most difficult part was, and is, having confidence in myself and my work. It seems that no matter how many great reviews I get or how many times I’m published, I still get that twinge of insecurity.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
The biggest thing I learnt is that I can do it. That is huge. There’s been all kinds of writing, publishing and marketing lessons as well, but realizing that I can actually write a book is, by far, the greatest lesson of all.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The one thing that I can suggest is something you will hear over and over again. If you want to write … write. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect, write. When you don’t feel up to it, write. The only way you will ever get anything written is to, you guessed it, write.
Everything else will find its own way. Tell your stories.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
The main thing I’d like to say to my readers is Thank you.
Thank you for sharing part of your life with me by reading my work. I hope that the words that were written as I laboured over the keyboard will have some meaning in your lives.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
I did a considerable amount of research before attempting to write From Thine Own Well. There were two main reasons for that.
One, the subject matter is one that I wanted to maintain objectivity and present as balanced a picture as possible.
Second, I believed it necessary to have as much factual information as possible so the dystopian world that was created is believable.
Author Bio
Norm Hamilton (1951- ) lived in Whitehorse, Yukon for 40 years and has now retired to Vancouver Island with his wife, Anna, where he is meeting people and experiencing new adventures.
Norm had numerous feature articles published locally while in Whitehorse as well as a column on photography that he wrote for a year. He has one non-fiction book, The Digital Eye, a compilation of articles for people wanting to improve their photography skills and a novel, From Thine Own Well, about a dystopian Canadian society after the fracking.
Book Blurb
Disillusioned former Yukon mining exploration worker, Landon McGuire, is torn from his self-imposed exile into a Canada he no longer recognizes. Water is a precious commodity, and the environment is contaminated. Individual rights are non-existent and corporate rule is the law—a law enforced by the corporation’s own brutal militia.
Unregulated fracking and irresponsible mining have destroyed the watersheds. A small group of people band together to combat the ruling coalition, but find themselves embroiled in a dangerous game. Landon meets Nora and is drawn into the fray. What begins as a fact-finding mission turns deadly as they get closer to the truth.
Deceit, threats and violent encounters emphasize the reality that economy trumps environment even when lives are at stake.

Reviews

“This is a truly thought-provoking story that people need to read. I enjoyed the plot twists and the vivid description, the tension and moments of humour.”
Erin Potter, Shamrock Editing
“A sensitive topic, spiced up and delivered with insight and originality, as tense as it is thought-provoking.”
Matt Kruze, Author of Crime Mysteries
Excerp
“A plume of black smoke belched from the Peterbilt’s exhaust stacks as Josh brought the powerful diesel through the curves and began climbing the 8% rise in the highway known as Jackson’s Hill. There was a lookout at the top where he would be able to turn off and take a break after seven straight hours of driving from the mine. He felt a surge of joy as he pushed down the throttle to keep the containers with 21,000 kilograms of ore moving upward. He loved being in control of that much power.
Who would’ve believed that little Joshua Parsons from Trinity, Newfoundland could be making this much money and giving so much to Beth and the kids, he thought. He crested the top of the climb and pulled into the viewpoint. He slid out of his seat, down the step and then walked over to the guard rail, overlooking a section of the Tintina Trench a bit south of Stewart Crossing.
In the distance he could barely make out the flags that were flying on the top of the oil and gas rigs that dotted the low-lying plain. He was thinking of those damned environmentalists who had tried to stop development in this area. They’re stunned as me arse, he thought. There’s a lot of people working because of all of this. All kinds of money has been taken outta here. Oil and gas exploration is good for the economy. Mmm-hmm, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
He walked back to the big rig and climbed back into the cockpit. He was anxious to get to the next stretch of road as it was a gradual decline into the lower reaches of the Trench and he would be able to make some good time. He was looking forward to getting home to Carmacks.
The massive starter shook the huge PACCAR MX engine as it cranked up to starting speed. Another belch of black smoke and the 18-wheeler was ready to roll again. He dropped it into gear, released the air brakes and cranked the shiny red behemoth back onto the road. He started humming the tune to “Missing Home Today” and a moment later broke into full song.
The truck lurched precipitously toward the side of the road. He held tight to the steering wheel as he brought it back toward centre.
The sound of tires screaming and air from the brakes hissing echoed through the valley below as Josh wrestled the truck to a stop. He squinted, then his brow furrowed as complete disbelief ran through him. The road ahead was undulating—moving up and down like a gymnast’s ribbon. Unbelievably, the motion was headed toward him.
He was glued to his seat, terrified and locked in by the seatbelt when it hit. The groan of twisting metal and the crash of breaking glass went unheard as the roar of the trees and rocks being thrown about drowned out all other sound. He stared, unblinking, as the truck was raised 10 metres, then dumped on its side to roll into an ever-expanding maw of moving earth.
It was over less than a minute later … “
Buy/Contact Links
Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/1ikb6bC
Smashwords – http://bit.ly/1feqDuK
Thanks for the interview, BC Brown. It’s a pleasure to share my experiences and joy of writing with you and your readers.
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Revenge Writing And You

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Emotion is one of the most powerful motivators for writers. Every feeling we process can become the catalyst for a story. An old belief is that an artist must suffer to produce truly great art. There’s a lot of truth to that statement. But there is a more powerful emotion that often drives artists – especially writers.

Anger.

Or, better yet, spite.

Revenge writing is a visceral form of anger management for authors. We’ve been jilted, done wrong, pained, or criticized… Kill the person in literature. What could be more liberating and fulfilling? Since writing is the ultimate form of fantasy for a wordsmith, being able to enact your revenge through that writing has a supreme calming effect.

An excellent movie, A Knight’s Tale, (Don’t you dare judge me.) has Geoffrey Chaucer, supposedly the Chaucer, as a primary character. In one scene, after being wronged by two bookies, he strides, bare-assed and defiant, up to them and declares: “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”

As writers we draw on our lives, our experiences, to shape and feed our art. It’s only right we draw on our own perceived villains as well. I recently had such an experience to feed my art, so to speak. (I go into it in some detail on my Facebook, if you’re interested in the entirety.) I don’t point this out to shame or contradict the reviewer, but to illustrate how the incredulity I felt toward the email could spur me into a more passionate daily writing prompt session than I usually reserve for the task. (You can read the writing prompt result here.)

The point is, anger can sometimes be an author’s best friend. As artists we should strive to write when our emotions are at their highest – i.e. most passionate – including happiness, grief, anger and, oh yes, spite.

The best thing a writer can do is carry a notebook and pen, recording device, or electronic notebook with them at all times in order to capture those moments. Just remember, the next time someone irritates the hell out you… let yourself be angry. Don’t stomp, rant, and vent it out however. Write the sucker down. It may turn out to be the next Great American Novel.

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story

anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short FrictionQuixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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An Indie with Reviews?!

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“As an indie author, it’s hard to get people to review your book.”  This is one of the most reiterated statements I hear from other authors.  And it Simply. Isn’t. True.

The self-pubbed world of literature has literally EXPLODED in the last one- to two-years thanks to success stories like Amanda Hocking.  What used to be a phrase (“self-pubbed”) that was more whispered than spoken, being an indie author has put the power of the written word back into the hands of those who count – we who hold the pens/laptops! 

But, despite this shift of power, there are still daunting tasks for any author going the self-pub route.  If writing, editing, formatting, cover art, promotion and sales weren’t enough to make most people want to run for the hills. As authors, we also have the overwhelming tasks of garnering –yipes!REVIEWS for our books.

What used to be a difficult thing to do without the backing of a powerful agent or publishing house, indie reviews have gotten so easy to come by it’s almost too easy.  The big thing is getting your new writing out there for book bloggers, voracious readers, and sometimes-only readers.

Um, how? Well, you utilize every tool you have in your arsenal. Book blogging sites are numerous; almost everywhere you look online, there is a link to this book blogger’s site or that one’s.  We simply have to do the small amount of research required by clicking over to their blog, actually reading it (highly suggested if you don’t want to just be a “solicitor”), and finding out what their submission requirements are.  Then you email, DM, submit the form, do whatever is required of you to submit to this book blogger and, well, wait.  Most book bloggers do what they do for the love of reading; and in part, I’m sure, for free reading material.  What do you have to lose by it? Nothing.

“But I’ve lost a sale.”  Whenever I mention this to people, this is what I hear. And the truth of the matter is that this statement couldn’t be less true than someone saying the world is flat. This book blogger you’ve given a free PDF to wasn’t in your fan base and probably didn’t even know you existed. If they never knew you existed, then they were never a potential sale, were they? So we haven’t lost a sale; we’ve gained a review, a fan (hopefully), and the notice of that particular blogger’s following.  Think we might get at least one sale out of that free read? You bet your sweet tuckus!

But book bloggers aren’t the only place to seek reviews for indie authors. There are thousands of full time book review sites embracing their love of indie skill and creativity. And, yet, there are still old standbys like your friends, family, and acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.  Make an event and send it out to select individuals you think would like a free copy of one of your books; you can even make this fun and maybe toss in a contest. Who wouldn’t want a free PDF of a book and the possibility to win an autographed print copy? Sure, they may already have it but an autograph is an autograph (they’ll want it when one of us becomes the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyers). Plus, they don’t necessarily have to get it signed to them; maybe they liked it and want to give it as a gift? Who knows!

Does all of this take a little time out of our day to accomplish? Sure. An author might have to send out 200 review events to get even 5 back. But who cares? That’s 5 more reviews we didn’t have before. Does it take time to read and research book bloggers and review sites out there? Yep, sure does. But would any one of us want to pass up the chance a book blogger with 10k followers loves our book and suggests it as a ‘Must Read’ to their fans? Um, probably not.

Remember: yes, you are giving away free copies of your book, but you can’t look at it like that.  You have to think of it as part of your marketing strategy, part of generating BUZZ. As people we look at the reviews an item has to determine if it is “worth” the money or time we’ll be spending. It would be just plain silly to let the idea of a loss that was never a loss in the first place keep us from gaining more than we ever could have thought possible. It’s one thing to think outside the box, but sometimes you also have to think outside the straight jacket. 😉

Any other indie or traditional house authors out there want to chime in? Did I forget to mention something here – another circle or type of review-getter?

BC Brown ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy
“Because Weird is Good.”

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