Archive for August, 2010

If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed my usual post is a few days late. You may also notice that the topic is supposed to be Independent Publishing, but there won’t be a lot about that in this post (except as it pertains to me personally). You may even be wondering why. It’s pretty simple, really.

First there was the Great Computer Crash of 2010. Okay, maybe it wasn’t so “great,” but it was nerve-wracking. My laptop suddenly quit on me. Luckily it quit just days before the Missouri Sales Tax Free Weekend, so I could afford a new one. Unluckily, the one I decided to buy wasn’t in stock. I had to wait a week for it to arrive and then one more day for all my old files to be moved across. Bleh!ūüėõ

Second, I’ve decided to kick myself into high gear to finish Prayerfully Yours. My publication goal is December 1, 2010. To do that means I may be rather sketchy on updating this blog. My apologies to anyone who depends on having TRTW delivered every Saturday without¬†interruption. I hope all you self-publishers out there will be understanding and cut me a bit of slack.

Now, for the exciting news: thank you to @Duolit who is currently designing a full web site for me. I’m not sure when it will be up and running, but I know it’ll be great. Of course, that also means a new URL, so be sure to check back regularly to find out where TRTW will be moving to.

In the meantime, I hope you all will be patient as I try to balance family, a regular job, working on my current project AND blogging. It’ll be a real stretch for me, but that’s part of living an Indie life on The Road to Writing.

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Hello. My name is Virginia and I’m a back story addict.

I admit it. I have a problem with giving my readers too much information. After reading not one but two posts by two different individuals on the topic of “killing the little darlings” (an idea taken from Stephen King’s On Writing) and too much back story I’ve finally come to terms with my addiction. So how do you go about ridding yourself of those scenes and characterizations you’ve grown so fond of?

You could do as Kristen Lamb suggests and ruthlessly delete them. That certainly “kills the little darlings.” Of course, if you’re like me, you probably have a hard copy or two hidden away you could¬†resurrect¬†them with. If you really want to get of rid of them for good, then you’ll also need to shred those documents. Better yet, give them a right good send off into the netherworld — burn them.

Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time letting go. (I’m an addict, remember?) I have a secret stash of¬†dialog¬†and scenes that are nothing but “little darlings” and back story. I keep them and revisit them from time to time as a reminder of who my characters are, what past events shaped them, which silent characters still greatly influence them. Keeping them doesn’t mean they’ll make it back into the story. They may, however, find their way into another, provided it moves the story forward. In the mean time they get to live their own quiet life in a document far removed from the one they originated in.

It’s a risky move. Those pieces of characterization could easily sneak off their island and invade my work in progress. Yet I think it’s worth it because hidden in the “dirt”, as Joe Konrath calls it, are some gems that could be useful later.

It’s important to remove all the “little darlings” and back story information that weighs your WIP down, but perhaps instead of killing them it is better to house them in a secret document located far, far away from The Road to Writing.

What do you think? Is it better to eradicate the “little darlings” or isolate them?

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I was recently browsing the blogosphere for eBooks on self-publishing and blogging when I came across Kristen Lamb’s eBook We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. It sounds like a very interesting read based on the blurb at Who Dares Wins Publishing. Will I buy it? Not without a lot of thinking and considering.

The information available in the book sounds great. I enjoy reading Kristen’s blog. I’m looking for whatever new info I can get on self-publishing and blogging. The price for the print version ($14.99 @ Amazon) is reasonable for a self-published book. The eBook version is also not terribly high ($7.99 for .pdf, .ePub, MS Reader, .mobi and Kindle). So why not jump on it? Because I have no idea exactly what is in it.

Think about the pull bookstores have on potential readers. What’s the one thing they still have in their favor? You can sit and peruse a book before you buy it. It’s the same reason customers prefer to buy books on Amazon that have the Look Inside feature. No matter how fantastic your blurb is, it will never fully capture what lies between the covers.

I could buy the less expensive eBook version of We Are Not Alone, but I’d still be out $7.99 if I don’t like it. (Even if I hate a book, I rarely return it or try to sell it.) That’s often the risk readers are faced with when looking at self-published books/eBooks and, with people reigning in their spending, giving away a free sample can mean the difference between a sale or clicking on by.

There really is no excuse for not providing a sample, especially if you do the work for your book yourself (which is what self-publishing is all about). I know of at least three ways to make a sample available to potential readers.

  1. Create a .pdf version and make it available for free download on your web site. You’d want to create something¬†similar to an Amazon Look Inside for it to be of real value to potential readers. ¬†Hacking up your book into sample bits like this can be a challenge, but it’s better than not having a sample at all.

  2. Use a service such as Scribd. Again, this means creating your own .pdf sample of your¬†book, but you’ll reach an audience you may¬†not¬†reach¬†otherwise.

  3. Go with BookBuzzr. This service is by far the best available to Independent Authors. They will hack your book however you want and give you widgets to use for your blog, facebook and email. Beyond that you can set up automatic tweets to market your book.

If you plan to sell your self-published books, you must reach readers, entice them to give you their hard won money, and the best way to do that is to offer them a sample of your wares on The Road to Writing.

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I’ve blogged about using a training budget before, but sometimes you may find your budget is hovering around $0. What do you do then? Spend time trolling through other author’s blogs, especially those who offer eBooks (and other types of media) covering topics you’re interested in, and prowling over social media networks. There are three things to be gained from this.

  1. Free information from the blog itself — Most blogs are free to read and easy to subscribe to by RSS or email. If you’re a savvy reader, you can pick up how-to info from author blogs whether the author is trying to teach their readers or not. Sometimes it’s obvious. Other times it’s a matter of noticing what the blogger is not saying.¬†Same goes for other social media like Twitter and Facebook. Find authors you want to learn from and follow them.¬†Read enough blogs, tweets, status updates, etc. and you’ll learn an astounding amount about whatever it is you’re interested in.

  2. Discounts are there to be had — I’m one of those people who rarely buys anything as soon as I see it. I hate buyer’s remorse. That means I’ll wait around until the book or service I want goes on sale. For instance, I really wanted to by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog as soon as I saw it on his site. However, there were no excerpts to read to know exactly what was in the book and I wasn’t sure my budget would handle yet another bad buy. (FYI this eBook is one of the better training buys I’ve purchased in several months.)

    I waited to buy the eBook until I read a tweet that said a group called the SITS Girls were signing up women bloggers to take the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge and Darren was discounting the price of the eBook for all those who signed up. Jackpot! Not only could I get the eBook at a discounted price, but I would have a large group of women to work with. Waiting can be hard, but it’s worth it when you get what you want at a price you can afford.

  3. Sometimes a freebie is just a click away — Another author I truly admire is J.A. Konrath. He has found a way to make very good money on his eBooks through Amazon’s Kindle store, so, naturally, I follow his blog closely. He also has an eBook called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, which, like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, I really wanted. The price wasn’t bad, but, again, no excerpts. Then I discovered that Joe has made the eBook available for free on his website. (Thanks, Joe!)

    Voila! A little research and I had my eBook for free in a version I can read on any laptop, computer or eReader. That won’t be the case for every book or training series you might want, but it’s worth a little “foot work” to see if it’s out there (and not a pirated version!).

Finding what you need can take some time, but it’s worth it for good training on The Road to Writing.

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