Flash Fiction Challenge: See The Scene, Write The Story!

00 wreathHow about a little holiday spirit for this writing challenge? Use the random number generator below and it will tell you which odd little holiday scene to visualize in your head. Then YOU have to write a caption for the scene. It can be drama or comedy, long or short, uh… fast or slow (I couldn’t think of a third thing to complete that line of thought.)

 

Limit 1,000 words. Write one line or two, or ten – or more, up to a thousand! Totally your call.

 

What you CANNOT do is take a second random number for a better story line. That’s the challenge part of the challenge, see? One try and you go with what it deals you.

 

Oh, and you have to use one of the following words in your caption – Santa, Rudolph, etc. on the second list, to complete your caption. The word you get will be determined by another spin on the dreaded random number generator, 1-10. (Yes, I said one spin. I meant one for the story. The second one is for the key word.)

 

Here is your list of Holiday Scenes

  1. Santa wearing only one strategically placed stocking
  2. A kid sticking his/her head out of a snow bank
  3. A grandparent baking cookies and a bottle of scotch near by
  4. One reindeer laying down with five other reindeer glaring at him/her
  5. Two shoppers lined up at a cash register while a man holds up and examines a necktie
  6. A cooked turkey sitting on a table with a car nearby and nobody around
  7. A dog running after Santa’s sleigh
  8. A child walking in on mom and dad the night before Christmas
  9. A Christmas tree in a small apartment with one open present and no one around
  10. A kid with about 30 open presents and a pile of wrapping paper with a frustrated look on his/her face

 

Oh, yeah, and your key words:

  1. Santa
  2. Rudolph
  3. Baked
  4. Angel
  5. Snow
  6. Candy cane
  7. Star
  8. Present
  9. Cheer
  10. Merry

And the random number generator!

http://www.mathgoodies.com/calculators/random_no_custom.html

randomnumbergenerator2
It looks like this.

Now, your naughty little mind might see a lot of bawdy possibilities here. That’s fine; it’s your writing challenge, your chance to be creative. But I warn you, there is a non-bawdy option for each one, too. And other options. Drama. Mystery. Get it? Be creative. It’ll be your call to see how brave you wanna be. Because great writing isn’t safe. And interesting writing challenges aren’t, either. Throw a curve ball. Be amusing. Mix it up.

 

Surprise us.

 

Extra points if you have been drinking when you do this, especially if it’s your lunch hour and you’re at work.

 

Here are the rules:

What, you need more instructions??? Okay.

  1. Use the random number generator to pick you topic
  2. Use a second random pick for the key word
  3. Write a caption, quip, paragraph, or whole story (1000 word limit) using the scene and the key word (tell us what they were, too, like Scene 1 and Keyword 4, for example)
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog where
  5. You also post it on you blog
  6. And mention what the heck this is so people don’t think you’ve been hitting the eggnog
  7. TRY to stay sober long enough to read and comment on OTHER people’s entries.
  8. You have a week. Try not to take that long!

 

Your prize might be my holiday classic short story Santa Maybe, written by me a loooooong time ago when I still used dialog tags. Whoever gets the most likes (over ten) on their post wins. No cheating. I’ll know, but Santa will know – it’s too close to Christmas to take that kind of risk.

 

Got it? Off you go!

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

Still Stuck? How To Unstick Your Unmotivated Writer’s Brain And WRITE

burned out womanSometimes a story gets stuck. That sucks, because we’re the ones who drove into the tree, but it happens. (This is not a post about that.)

 

When the story is fine but the writer is stuck, that’s different. That’s a mental thing, or an organization thing, or whatever, but if you are stuck and unhappy about it, here’s another method to re-engage your motivation.

 

BTW, if you have read my other piece about this and NOT tried EVERY solution offered, DO NOT complain that you are still stuck. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

 

1 finish line c
You’ll get there.

First, don’t worry about “finishing” the story. That’s a thought too big for your unmotivated brain right now, like trying to swallow your whole Thanksgiving dinner in one bite.

 

Instead, let’s work in reverse.

 

(Ooh, math. Already, writing your story sounds good, doesn’t it? You’re welcome.)

 

How many chapters do you estimate you have to go to finish the story? I used about 1 chapter per plot point.

How many words per chapter? I use about 3000.

How long does it take to write a chapter? That depends, but you know and I don’t, for you. Using me, I’d say 3 days per chapter DEPENDING on if I have some plot points I have to work out or logic problems, etc.

 

In my fantasy romance story, The Water Castle, if Philip marries Gina and stays in Florida, he dies a year later in an Indian raid. If he doesn’t marry her and goes back to Spain, he lives. What was the option if he didn’t marry her and stayed in Florida? Oops. I guess I’d better make Spain mandatory. But then he’d live regardless. Oops. So he ONLY stays if he marries her, otherwise he has to go back. Staying is defiance. Okay. And she can’t go with him to Spain? Oops. Nope, I guess not.

 

See? All that thinking will stop the writing!

 

woman-stressed-pulling-hair-out

Anyway, if I have 6 plot points remaining (Philip has the meeting, Philip goes back to castle, Gina sees the book, Gina breaks up with Philip, Gina and her mom reconcile, Philip leaves, that’s about it.) 6 plot points. None of those is probably a whole chapter but let’s say they are.

 

6 “chapters” x 3000 words per chapter, at 2 chapters a week for normal speed = 3 weeks until I’m finished. (Again, your mileage may vary)

 

Add 50% to 100% for holiday interference and I’d say 6 weeks. Six weeks from now is, what, early January?

 

Okay, now I have to decide WHEN I’m going to write. (If you do not have a set writing time, there are ways to find time and schedule time HERE and HERE) For me, it’s usually 4am to 6am, plus 1 hour in the early evening and a few after dinner evenings, plus 3 hours on Sunday morning and 3 hours on Saturday afternoon, plus ALL DAY BLACK FRIDAY. Otherwise, whenever I can, since holidays mess things up.abacus

 

* Crunches numbers *

 

Yes, I can meet that January 7 deadline.

 

Now, if I finish before January 7, I will feel really good, but just knowing January 7 is when it’ll likely be finished, that’s GREAT. All I have to do is ensure I get my 2 hours in each morning.

 

Walk through that exercise for yourself. Be realistic, not ambitious. You’re not going to become SuperAuthor just because you wrote down some numbers.

 

Break down the numbers and have a weekly goal, with a daily estimate. A weekly goal might be 6,000 words but there will be days when I don’t write 1000. Maybe I’m rereading or reviewing – and my critique partners can usually tell when I haven’t. So I’ll go for a weekly goal but after 2 weeks if I’m only hitting 4000 words a week, guess what? REVISE THE DEADLINE or increase the weekly word production, or both.

 

0 punch
Don’t do that.

Right now, you’re beating yourself. I’d adjust the deadline. If that means March 31 and I hate it being that far away, I’ll get motivated – but the idea is to have a system to get where you want to go because right now you are NOT getting there without a system right now, are you? The system you’re using ain’t getting it done!

 

THEN take your plot points and list them:

Philip has the meeting,

Philip goes back to castle,

Gina sees the book,

Gina breaks up with Philip,

Gina and her mom reconcile,

Philip orders castle destroyed and leaves

 

Then take your favorite one and tell in 1 paragraph what happens in that part, or why it’s your favorite. Just sum it up. A few sentences may be enough, but feel free to explain the intricacies or details you want to hit.

 

Then, do that for the other points.

 

o spark
Feeling it yet?

Even if you wrote one paragraph for each of 6 plot points, you’d have written probably 1000 – 1500 words, and probably re-sparked your interest in your story. I defy you to write 1000 words on a story you love and NOT get restarted on it. But if you don’t, then set it aside and start something new. Maybe short stories or Flash Fiction challenges.

 

Me, I’d FORCE myself to write if I had to. I have written and discarded tens of thousands of words for The Water Castle. There have been a few strolls down interesting paths before the big ending that were later discarded. There was supposed to be a big dragon chase that evaporated. It’s all clay until it’s baked into a pot.

 

HappyChild_large
Me! Me! Me!

But if the story has left you, it’s okay to dance with a new story – as long as you don’t marry the new story. You don’t need 20 stories lying around that are half finished (and if you DO have 20 half-finished stories laying around, consider partnering up with others to finish them. Co-authors. Give ‘em your outline and notes and publish the thing, then split the royalties.)

 

They say if you have to wait for a muse, you’re a not a writer, you’re a waiter. Do you want that? How does that feel, to say that about yourself? You don’t want that.

 

Nobody wants that.

 

That’s why Hemingway said bite the nail every day and write. (Although he did shoot himself.) Sometimes it’s work. Build those writer muscles so next time it’ll be easier! You are not a quitter!

 

AB19725
You’ll get there!

I think breaking it down this way will help you see what you want to work on. You know what happens in the story; you just need to get it down. Also, as the end gets close, it’s hard to finish, so don’t let that get in the way. Finishing is difficult the first few times. You’ll be sitting there wondering if you tied up all the loose ends. Don’t. Just finish it. THEN worry about that stuff. Because clay. You can add to your story or change it. You can’t edit a blank page.

 

Write SOMETHING EVERY DAY, or even just reread a favorite part of the story. Do these exercises. Pretty soon the old fun feeling will be back.

 

And you’ll be writing again!

 

If YOU have ever been stuck, what worked for you? Tell us!

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works. 

4 Important Things Every Aspiring Author Needs To Know

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

Pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

Writers need to get over the fear of publishing.

 

I was lucky, I started by writing family humor essays and my stuff was out there for a years on Facebook where friends read it and enjoyed it and shared it with strangers and encouraged me, so I knew what was funny and how to hook readers and how to get an audience to cry before I ever sat down to create a book. Still, pushing that PUBLISH button is a big moment, and your life is different – for better or worse – from that moment on.

 

I know each new story is better than the last one and believe it will be well received, but getting past that initial fear, worrying that I was about to humiliate myself, was hard for me and is hard for most writers.

 

What I can tell you is DO IT.

 

Publish book one and get book two out as soon as possible. There are very few Harper Lee’s. Most of us are going to have to write a few books to get good at it.

 

Here are the FOUR most important things every aspiring author needs to know:

 

  1. Don’t polish it forever, put it out there.
  2. At some point the changes aren’t improvements, they’re just changes.
  3. Believe in yourself and start achieving your dream. It waits for you on the other side of the publish button.
  4. Mobs do not show up with pitchforks and torches if your book is bad, and odds are you didn’t write something bad.

 

  • From an interview with Cathleen Townsend in her blog The Beauty Of Words when she asked me “What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?”

 

When chasing after your story, KEEP AFTER IT!

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE, Black Friday Edition: TWO-SENTENCE STORY

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

BLACK FRIDAY TWO-SENTENCE STORY CHALLENGE

Flash fiction is supposed to be short and fast, and it doesn’t get much faster than two sentences! But it’s a holiday weekend here so I wanted to make this fun.

(I saw this on CS Wilde’s blog and LOVED the idea. I spent longer thinking about my two sentence reply than I have for whole sections of stories.)

THE CHALLENGE: Write your best two-sentence story in the comments section below, post the challenge on your blog, and make sure to leave the link to your blog in your reply.

Did you get all that?

  1. Leave your two-sentence story in the comments.
  2. With your blog link
  3. And post it in your blog

Careful! It’s harder than you think!

THE REWARD: as always, the recognition of your amazing talent, as signified by like and shares to your reply here.

READY? Here is the prompt you add onto. A story stem,  if you will:

THE SHOVEL HIT SOMETHING HARD. THEN THE SCREAMS STARTED.

It can be any genre you want: humor, horror, romance; anything at all, as long it’s ONLY a two-sentence story.

Now get after it!

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

4 VITAL Things To Know As An Indie Author (The Emotional Rollercoaster, part 2)

Well, maybe that last one...
You ROCK!

 

If you wrote a book and published it, congratulations! You’re a small business owner, and entrepreneur. A budding capitalist.

 

You write your product. That’s cool!

 

Then, you sell your product.

 

So… you’re a salesperson.

 

Ugh.

scared%20mom
Salesperson??? Nooooo!

Most of you NEVER wanted to be salespeople.

 

Your book/books are your business, and you have a small staff of employees. Probably just you. That means you are the boss, but also the manufacturer, the salesperson, the marketer, the accountant… the janitor… Since without sales there really isn’t any business, the most important thing is selling the product (after you have a product).

 

Whether it is a hobby or a part-time job or full-time job, that just means the amount of JOY or PAIN & SUFFERING you go through are magnified. Whether you are selling 1 book a week, 1 book an hour, or 1 book a minute, you probably want that number to go up.

 

Pick a good number of sales for a day, a week, or a month, or a year, and manage your expectations to trends, not little blips. Doesn’t matter what number you pick; some of you are new and some of you have been doing this a while. When I published my first book, it didn’t sell squat for a long time. A loooooooooooooong time.

 

Back then, if I sold a book a day, I was on FIRE! I was king of the world, a marketing genius! Things were going my way! Oprah was sure to call. I started rehearsing my Oprah interview questions and answers. Honest!

 

sk-well
Your writing self image when sales suck.

I don’t care where you are on the sales volume ladder, if you go a few days without making a sale, you will be convinced that you are suddenly a dog. Worthless. Unfit to walk the earth. Nothing is coming your way except more empty Amazon sales reports.

 

By picking a time frame of a week and setting my new-author-self’s expectations to sales over a week, I wasn’t disappointed if I didn’t sell a book that day. I kept doing things every day to sell books, knowing they’d come in. That’s hard when they don’t come in, which is why you track efforts and results, but you want to give yourself enough time to produce a result before stopping an activity.

 

  1. UNDERSTAND: You are the same author on a good sales day as you were on a bad sales day. Your book is still just as good. (This is easy to say but hard to make yourself believe on a bad sales day.)

 

Welcome to the emotional roller coaster that is sales! It will mess with you!

 

Give yourself time to develop that thick skin for this. It’s not easy. I have had a book flying off the shelves. THOUSANDS of copies over a few short days. I was a guru. Talk to me three months later when I hadn’t sold for three days. I was an idiot. Except, I wasn’t. I was just as good as when I was selling big.

 

drunk
Sometimes the brain doesn’t get it, either.

Your brain understands this. Your gut does not.

 

At first, you will question everything when sales dip. Or when your second book doesn’t launch better than your first. Or when book three is a blockbuster and book four sells in piddles.

 

Guess what? Even if every book does better than the prior book, you’ll wonder why they didn’t do even better!

 

You’re a tough boss!

 

When you started, you were planting lots and lots of seeds, not knowing which activities might result in sales. Most seeds come to harvest later on, maybe after you stopped doing the activity.

 

  1. Good salespeople prospect all the time, and try different things. So do good authors. That may be different things for different authors, but consider an “all of the above” strategy until you have the sales volume you want.

 

My friend Jason Matthews constantly re-tweaks his SEO keywords in his books, among other things.

 

Another friend, Kelly Abell, does lots of events and signings and lectures. As in, talks to groups of people who came just to hear her speak.

 

Another friend doesn’t do jack, he just keeps writing books. (He’s the one the rest of us hate.)

 

th
Like on a spread sheet? Ugh.

What you want to do is keep track of what you’re doing so that later on you can have an idea of what worked. That will help. Track results any way you can, so you don’t spend time or money on things that don’t work.

 

  1. Sometimes things fluctuate. Now, if your sales go to zero and stay there for six months, you really need to think about what you’re doing, but if you have an occasional blip, you need to let your emotional side know that it’s going to happen. Look for trends. Don’t freak out over any one little thing.

 

  1. Very rarely do two books sell the same. No two kids are alike, and your books are a lot your kids. They will sell in their own unique way.

 

Don’t get discouraged. Even Stephen King puts out a dud once in a while, but since his marking is so good you would never know it. Maybe if you had the insights on his sales numbers you would see certain books sell a lot better than others. He’s still a great writer.

 

Same with Steven Spielberg movies. Some are great; some are not. He’s still a great talent.

 

And in both cases, certain ones that didn’t do at the box office or with critics, you may have thought were terrific.

 

Don’t let your emotions run thing. Put your emotions in your books but try to keep them out of your book business.

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

 

3 Tips To Getting Over Your Holiday Writing Hurdles (The Emotional Rollercoaster, part 1)

 

00 santa hat writer
A visual representation of me if I were a lady in a Santa hat. Even I don’t get this one.

I expected to get a ton of writing done at Christmas last year. NOTHING got done!

 

 

NOTHING!!!

 

 

Writer’s slump? Maybe.

 

Don’t you HATE it when the words aren’t flowing, or you can’t get motivated to write? Or other writing related hurdles?

 

The thing is, it passes.

 

Think about how difficult it was to share your work with another person the first time. Hopefully they were nice no matter how good or bad it was. Whether it was shared on Facebook, with friends, a spouse, a critique group, SHARING was a mountain BEFORE you did it – and now we look back and see it wasn’t such a big deal.

 

businesswoman-pointing-gun-to-computer-laptop-sitting-office-desk-desperate-stressed-young-attractive-having-problems-47931112
Write, damn you!

Somehow, we got through it.

 

Lots of hurdles are that way. You just knew about some of them, like publishing or getting reviews. Maybe you had an idea of what writer’s block was, but it hadn’t ever happened, or you never had to push through a case of lack of motivation all by yourself.

 

Those are all hurdles, too, and they seem HUGE when you are in them.

 

Worry not.

 

There are ways over your WRITER HURDLE just like any other kind of hurdle. Here are a few suggestions.

 

  1. Down in the dumps? Help somebody else. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or help another author with their problem. Misery loves company but in this case your input might help them get past their hurdle. It feels good to help. You want to feel good. I feel great every time one of you says that I helped you, or thanks me, whether you do it in a comment here or in a private message (and I get a LOT of those). They all feel great! (And don’t worry, I’ll be asking every one of you to buy a book pretty soon to show how much I really helped you.)

 

03 art and images (5)
Oh, it’s a compliment, eh?

Remember, when you help a writer friend and they say “no” to your suggestion, that’s a good sign. They instinctively have a better one percolating. Or they’re an asshole. Hold back the desire to stab them. “No” is good and so is “yes.” Talking about it with a sympathetic ear that belongs to a writer makes a big difference. Normal people don’t understand. Find that ear. Talk to it. (Did you just get a flash of a big ear sitting on a table at a coffee shop and you were talking to it, with no person attached? I did. Weird.)

 

  1. Writer’s block? Do a flash fiction challenge. Muscles atrophy and so does your sharpness as a writer. Don’t let it. You can force yourself to write something that is just for fun and it can restart you engine.

 

  1. Stuck on a plot point? Talk, or think up an alternate ending.
    man-reading-book
    Ooh, that’s GOOD!

    Send in your problem. Maybe we’ll air the options here and when people say “Ooh that’s good!” – WOW, the wind goes right back into your sails.

 

What else is bothering you? Let me know. There are lots of smart people here. No need to suffer in silence.

 

Most important, realize: with a few exceptions, you are not a robot. You have emotions or your stories would read like instruction manuals for Legos. This is a different business from a lot of others because it is so personal (more on that in part 2), and that can magnify things, so don’t let it. Learn to develop a thicker skin. But until then, ASK FOR THAT HELP.

 

Everybody here wants to help you.

 

Let us.

.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.

 

 

DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!! The 6 Things You Need To Do To Be A Successful Author

 

 

If you look at some author groups on Facebook, you hear a lot of complaints: no sales, no reviews, no royalties, marketing is hard…

 

anti_no_crap_yard_signApparently, life sucks for authors.

 

 

DO NOT BUY INTO THIS CRAP!

 

Complaining about book sales is a bitchfest designed to… do what, exactly?

 

COMPLAINER: Is anyone selling books? I hear authors selling one or two every now and then but no one I know is making a killing, or has a best seller!

 

REPLY 1: Not selling as many these days as 2010-2011. I definitely know authors who are doing well. It usually requires writing great books and several of them and sticking with it for years.

 

REPLY 2: No one is going to sell much as long as they continue with Kindle Unlimited.

 

COMPLAINER: My friends say they sell, but what they don’t say, is they buy the books, & give them away. “I say, that’s no sell.” As they don’t make no money, nor royalties on their books.

 

REPLY 3: I have made no money on anything I’ve written or published at all in any format

 

REPLY 4: I published for the first time in January this year and things were going okay until around July when it nose dived. It picked up a bit until this month and now I barely sell one or two a day. I’m hoping that if I self publish my next, which I hope to do early next year, it will kick start sales of my current book.

 

REPLY 5: I have done well but need to put out new books.

 

REPLY 6: My sales have collapsed. The only sales these past few weeks were 6 in Germany, (Amazon de) and as I have to reach 100 Euros before I get paid, I will almost certainly never be paid for those. I assume just too many books out there.

 

REPLY 7: I sold a few here and there until ‘BOOK NAME’ was released in early October. It stood at #1 in SPORTS VENUE best sellers during October and remained in the top 10 so far throughout November, so sales have been brisker.

 

COMPLAINER: A few are selling books, but those authors are going out of their way, to pay promoting companies. Plus traveling to different cities to book signings, & talking about their books to everyone that will listen. Having a box of books in their car, in case someone wants to buy.

 

REPLY 8: marketing has to be done regardless – even if it means door knocking your locl district then moving furture afield. yes cart books in cars – in your handbag what ever where ever, -I used to sell many years back and travelled a long way

 

REPLY 9: Well, I have to admit that I do almost nothing to promote my books. (rueful face)

 

REPLY 10: So very true. It’s a consistent process to build an audience and a following, and requires all of that, and more.

 

REPLY 11: I agree sales have plummeted…wonder what’s happening? Too many books, or too many poor books?

 

REPLY 12: Right now I’m selling more Audio books than ebooks. I’m lucky I have two good narrators and I’m moving all of my books to audio.

 

REPLY 13: I think that audio books are the way to go!

 

REPLY 14: Would you mind sharing names of your narrators please. I would look at all

 

th
I am completely inspired now.

I skipped two replies, because they offered success stories and the other people didn’t seem to read them.

  • One said they had sold 10,000 copies this year so far and was doing well on KOLL, and
  • the other said her friend was doing really well.

 

curious-woman
Why would they do that?

Why did the responders skip the success stories?

 

Because it’s easier to blame other people than to look in the mirror and say “I need to do more.”

 

If life sucks as an author, go do something else. PLENTY of people make money selling books. Two of my friends just got signed with publishers last week. TWO IN THE SAME WEEK. One of my friends is doing so well she just quit her job to write full time. A few of my friends have bestselling books.

 

I don’t know a million people, so what’s happening? Why do I know the success stories and so many other authors don’t?

 

I was a sales manager for Fortune 500 companies for many years, folks, so I know a little about the attitudes of salespeople. What does that have to do with being an author? You’re selling books aren’t you?

 

Well, no, not according to those comments…

 

IF your sales are weak, you have two choices: it’s me, or the stupid buying public.

 

Which means 99.99% of the time, it’s you. Luckily, you can fix what’s wrong!

 

stressed-woman-with-blonde-hair-with-hands-on-head-near-computer
They were just… awful.

I have read LOTS of people’s books. People who WANT to be published. It is a twenty to one ratio of bad to good. And that doesn’t count the 2 or 3 times as many I skip because the opening line sucks or the topic doesn’t appeal to me in some way.

 

I can afford to be fussy! So should you! The buying public is!

 

Look, that doesn’t mean MY opening lines are always amazing, or that every one of my books is a page turner.

 

But they SHOULD BE.

 

You must, must, MUST have a good cover. We’ve talked about this. It’s a mini billboard ad for your book. It MUST make people want to look further – as in, read the blurb.

 

The blurb is not a mini story, it is AD COPY, a small advertisement for your product, the story.

 

The opening lines needs to be interesting. So does the opening paragraph. So does the opening chapter, but an opening chapter has to do a lot of other things, too. Like set up what the book is about.

 

Look, it’s simple if you address it properly. Did you see Schindler’s List or Titanic? We KNOW what happens in BOTH of those stories BEFORE we ever watch ten seconds of film. Titanic sinks. Jews get killed in WWII. There’s your plots.

 

But the stories that get told are amazing, and both became blockbusters.

 

And everybody already knew the stories.

 

Spielberg starts with a candle and a Jewish prayer but quickly gets into watching this wealthy guy get dressed and then go charm a bunch of Nazi officials at dinner. It’s like watching a con artist ply his trade. What’s going on? Who is this guy? LOOK HOW SMART HE IS! He’s conning everybody! I wish I was as charming as that.

 

There’s a whole story going on along with the one we know, but it starts right away and does so in an intriguing manner.

 

What is the ONE piece of advice I’d give any new writer about their story? Take the most interesting thing in the chapter and say it first, in the opening paragraph if possible and in the opening line if you can. Grab my attention somehow.

 

After that, write a good story, keep the story moving, get a decent cover and learn how to write a blurb.

 

THEN you can start to MARKET your book.

 

TO RECAP:6

  1. start with the most interesting thing
  2. write a good story
  3. keep the story moving
  4. good book cover = eye catching
  5. good blurb = makes you wanna click to buy or read more
  6. marketing

 

 

That’s a whopping SIX things you need to do to be successful. I’d be willing to bet that NONE of the complainers are doing all six.

 

Know how I know?

 

I was a sales manager for a long time. I had to work with people I’d trained, but after I trained them on what to do, many didn’t do it.

 

And they weren’t successful because they didn’t.

 

Many, many, many people made more money working for me than they ever did in their entire lives.  Many didn’t do what was necessary and quit or got let go.

 

  • Authors, you have to market. If you don’t, you won’t be successful.
  • You have to write a good book. If you don’t, you won’t be successful.
  • Each of the six building blocks requires the other five, so if one is weak the others can compensate a little but if one doesn’t exist, the entity fails. If one is super strong, that can carry the whole thing. That doesn’t happen often. As in, less than 1 in a million. So you better get good at all six.

 

When you aren’t, your book won’t sell. You can then join the ranks of the complainers who know everything else is at fault except their efforts.

 

But we know the truth.

 

I want you to be successful. Move away from the folks who can’t or won’t do it. The naysayers. The whiners and complainers. You can fail all on your own; you don’t need their input, and odds are they are wasting loads of your time, too.

 

Find the “can do” folks.

 

Thumbs Up

But in the end it’s YOU who has to do it. And we’ll help. Cos complainers have figured out this blog is not the place for them.

 

YOU can do this. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard, either. And it’s not luck.

 

If your writing sucks, join a critique group. Inside of 30 days you’ll see stuff you’re doing wrong, and inside of 90 days you’ll be a better writer. Stay in the critique group. A year later you’ll be amazed at how good you’ve become.

 

If your cover sucks, hire somebody to make one. They don’t have to cost $500. I know artists who have made covers for bestsellers that cost under $50. If you don’t have $50, there are cheaper places, too, and you can LEARN to do it yourself for free – as in, you probably can’t do it on day 1, that stuff will suck. It’ll look homemade. You’ll need to learn it.

 

If your marketing sucks, ask other people what worked. A lot of good marketing doesn’t cost anything, like your Amazon page and a Goodreads page, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but you’d be amazed at how many flailing writers don’t have an Amazon page set up!

 

If you’re a crappy storyteller, think about why you want to be a writer. Read good storytellers. Emulate them the way a kid playing baseball wants to emulate Babe Ruth. Listen to audiobooks. By the way, a LOT of stuff is free at the library so it doesn’t have to cost money. Practice your craft in flash fiction challenges and in critique groups.

 

Get the idea? It’s all fixable.

 

If you put in the effort.

 

And stay the hell away from people who are too lazy to do the necessary work and just want to have you end up down at their level to complain  with so they don’t feel bad about their own lack of effort.

 

You. Can. Do it.

 

I’ll help you.