Monday, January 16, 2017

Stepping Up Your Game

Many writers have an unfinished manuscript tucked away; a neatly bound stack of papers relegated to the back drawer of an old cupboard...

The unfinished manuscript may be one of your earlier attempts at writing; the story you started as a newbie writer. During the writing journey, you became stuck, unable to move the story any further. Maybe you felt that you lacked certain skills to continue with the story. Maybe the story didn’t fit into an easily defined category. You encountered a ‘brick wall’. What stopped you from moving beyond this blockage?

In essence, it’s fear. It’s the fear that, as a writer, you didn’t know how to put into words, that image in your mind’s eye. You knew exactly what you wanted to say but didn’t know how to go about getting it into words. You doubted your ability to write the new material in a way that worked for your story. Think of it in the following way: you were required to up your game; to move to a higher level. But you were unsure how to go about doing that. At that particular time, you doubted your abilities.

When you hit a brick wall in your writing, you have to work through it. Take the plunge, whether you’re ready or not! No matter how scary it is, reach out and just do it. You may never be fully ready but you have to embrace the discomfort and move to the next level. That’s how we grow as writers.

Have you ever wondered about writers who work on a story for many, many years? As the writer reaches the next level, the story evolves and changes. The writer also evolves and changes. The writer isn’t the same person who composed the first draft years before. As the writer grows, he becomes more skilled, making it easier to meet each new challenge, push a bit further and move to the next level.

Keep stepping up your game. Read dozens of books on the craft.  Keep slaving away those hours upon hours in front of a computer. Be brave and allow yourself to make mistakes. Quit playing it safe. Keep an open mind. Engage in activities that fuel your imagination. Take some risks in your storytelling. Break through the fear. Write what you’re afraid to write. It might work, it might not. You never know until you try.

You will reach yet another level, where a new challenge awaits. A brand new wall. It will be time to face yet another uncomfortable growth period. Once you find a way to get over this, the cycle repeats...

It’s a new year. Any plans to step up your game?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Audio Books - Options, Pros, Cons, Dos, and Don’ts

Several years ago, audio books were tanking faster than mass market paperbacks. EBooks were taking a large chunk out of both and the rest of the market share. But in the past two years, audio book sales have soared. This is the result of lower production costs and more options for listening.

For authors and publishers looking to take the plunge into audio books, there are several options:

Royalty-share platforms - ACX is one of the largest, and it also offers producers for hire. With royalty-share, the distribution company keeps a portion of profit and the narrator and author/publisher split the rest 50/50.

Hire a producer and narrator - this can be done on your own (using a company like CDBaby for distribution) or through a company that will do it all for you like Infinity Publishing or Dog Ear Publishing.

Produce and narrate yourself - for those with the resources and equipment to complete an audio book for uploading to a distribution platform. After paying the distributor, all of the profit goes to the author or author/publisher.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of audio books?

  • Exposure - There are a lot of companies distributing and selling audio books now. Plus there are fewer audio books, so you are more visible to buyers.
  • Another source of income - Multiple streams of money is better than all of your eggs in one basket, and it’s an additional boost to your current income.
  • Reach a wider audience - There are people who don’t read a lot of books. Some may not have time or they struggle with reading. You’ll reach non-readers, active people, and those with poor vision.
  • Always in stock - Like an eBook, your audio book is always in stock.

  • Cost - The biggest one comes from producing the book yourself or paying someone to narrate and/or produce. Unless you are doing royalty-share, you have to weigh the cost (usually in the thousands) versus return on investment.
  • Time involved - An eight hour audio book requires an average of sixty hours to produce. Narrators often take several weeks and if you’re doing it yourself, it could take even longer.
  • Promotions - Audio books aren’t instant sales. The author and publisher still have to promote the titles just as they would a print or eBook.

While some authors will tackle the narration themselves, most will work either directly or indirectly with a narrator. Both the author and the narrator invest time in the story and consideration is required from both sides. There’s etiquette to consider and dos and don’ts:

Do -
  • Provide pronunciations, character accents, and character descriptions. Make it easy for the narrator to do his or her job.
  • Expect professionalism. The narrator should provide a quality product in a timely fashion.
  • Plan marketing with the narrator, especially if it is a royalty-share project.
  • The key - communicate!

Don’t - 
  • Accept shoddy or extremely late work. The narration should be high quality and delivered on time as promised.
  • Expect perfectionism. The audio book will NOT sound exactly as you imagined it. The end result will be the narrator’s interpretation, just as a movie is the director’s interpretation. Remember, your readers will also have formed an idea of the character’s voices and doubtful those match up with yours, either.
  • Be overly demanding. You do not want to be a pain to work with! Like any industry, word gets around. No one wants a miserable experience.

The audio book market is wide open and booming - weigh your options and be prepared. Are audio books right for you? Have you already taken the plunge?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG and Anthology Contest Winners!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

Prompt question for today - What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Today is the big day – the announcement of the IWSG Anthology Contest 2016 winners!

First, thanks to my awesome IWSG Admins for reading all of the entries - Lynda Young, L. Diane Wolfe, Michelle Wallace, Chrys Fey, Susan Gourley/Kelley, Joylene Nowell Butler and Joy Campbell.

Next, a big thanks to this year’s official judges:

Elizabeth S. Craig writes cozy mystery series for Penguin Random House, Midnight Ink, and independently. She curates links on Twitter as @elizabethscraig that are later shared in the free search engine
Richard Harland finished his first novel in 1993 and resigned a university lectureship to become a full-time writer. With seventeen fantasy, SF and horror novels published since, he went international with his steampunk fantasies, Worldshaker, Liberator and Song of the Slums. He has won six Aurealis Awards and the A. Bertram Chandler Award in Australia, the Tam Tam Je Bouquine Award in France. Writing Tips
Laura Maisano has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.
Russell C. Connor has been writing horror since the age of 5, and has been in the self-publishing industry for a decade. He has published 8 novels and 4 novellas in both paperback and eBook, including the Box Office of Terror Trilogy and "Whitney," an epic horror novel about hurricane survivors fighting a washed-ashore sea monster. He also designs books for clients and assists them with self-publishing endeavors.
Dawn Frederick is the founder of Red Sofa Literary, previously of Sebastian Literary Agency, and she brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency.
Ion Newcombe is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.
Lynn Tincher,  author, public speaker, and executive producer, was born just outside of Louisville, Kentucky in the beautiful city of La Grange. She has written four books, with the fifth one currently in the making. Her first book, Afterthoughts was optioned for movie production by Kilted Pictures and Dancing Forward Productions in Los Angeles. It is currently in pre-production with plans to shoot in Louisville, Kentucky very soon.

And now, the winners of the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest – Hero Lost:

L. Nahay – Breath Between Seconds

Roland Yeomans - Sometimes They Come Back

Elizabeth Seckman - Mind Body Soul

Olga Godim - Captain Bulat

Ellen Jacobson - The Silvering

Erika Beebe - The Wheat Witch

Yvonne Ventresca – The Art of Remaining Bitter

Sean McLachlan - The Witch Bottle

Sarah Foster - The Last Dragon

Renee Cheung - Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight

Tyrean Martinson - Of Words and Swords

And the grand prize winner:

Jen Stanton Chandler - The Mysteries of Death and Life

Congratulations to the winners and all who entered – we had a record number of entries this year. Look for the anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life, late spring.

Did you enter the IWSG Anthology Contest? What genre would you like to see for the next contest? And what writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?