The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 156
Okay, who brought the cake? Linda? Anyone?
Happy Anniversary to me and all of you who have followed the Mailbag for the past three years. Pretty cool, right? An ongoing series which has lasted this long and somehow remained fresh and informative . . . very cool for sure!
And what is more cool is the fact that there are those of you out there who have not missed a single Mailbag . . . so my heartfelt thanks go out to all of you for giving this old man your support.
I’ll keep this series going as long as there are questions and continued interest, so let’s do this thing!
Lead or Led (or Unleaded)
From Paula: “I hope at some point in your illustrious career as an educator, you taught 3rd graders...because here comes a circular question from one!
“We all know the past tense of READ.....is READ, while being pronounced, RED. While we're instructed by "some" that the past tense of LEAD....is also LEAD & pronounced LED, I SEE it everywhere, written even by great authors as LED, (including you, bro) So, is this correct? WHICH is correct or is it a double standard word? Is there such a thing a a double standard word? WHY does this one 4-letter word bother me so and besides YOU, where can I find the 100% accurate answer???? Please Lead me in the right direction so I know I have been Led,LEAD by an expert. Is there an example of another word that follows this logic? This is not logic, is it?
“(It's been a while since I've bugged the crap outta you, bro, so today is a good day for it!) It's a sign of my love............Sis and I really want an answer. You're too far away to give me a noogie!”
Well, Paula, our friend MizB answered for me, so here is her answer:
“Bill, Paula put you on the spot and I didn't see your answer, so I'll answer her. Led is the past tense and also the past participle of the verb lead (pronounced with a long e). The only time lead is pronounced with the diphthong eh is when it is referring to the metal, lead. (And I have Mirriam Webster to back me up on that one.) HOWEVER, the pronunciations can be confused with with plead and its past tense pleaded, which is in the legal usage pronounced pled. You can also spell it pled, which is not the preferred spelling. So, don't we all just love English!”
Isn’t that cool when I don’t even have to answer the questions? The Mailbag is running on all cylinders when the readers are doing my work for me. Paula, Sis, thanks for the question. Keep giving me those cyber-noogies. And MizB, thanks for the answer.
From Bill: “Thanks for taking my question. More good stuff, Bill. I especially thought Lori's question was interesting as I'm wrestling with the same problem, but in a different way. Most of my story is based on memories with a call back to the present once in a while. Should I italicize the memories (although that would be most of the story, or should I italicize the present or none of the above? Something altogether different? Or just leave it? I know you have some thoughts!”
Hey, Bill, thanks for the follow-up question. Now this is just my opinion. I have no idea if there is actually a grammatical rule which covers this stuff, so here goes: I would italicize the present in that situation because that is the least of the two choices. If most of your story is a set of memories, you want that in normal font…..or you could simply start the present-day chapter with the words “Present Day” at the top of those sections. Either way will work!
Book Signings and Marketing
From Peter: “Bill, in one of your recent Mailbags, you mentioned that you don’t think book signings are very effective in today’s world. If that is true, can you tell us what you think is an effective approach to marketing for an indie writer?”
Peter, I’m not sure you’re going to like this answer but hey, I never promised you a rose garden.
The most effective way to market a book for an indie writer? The shotgun approach!
I’m going to start this off by saying there is no sure-fire way to marketing for an indie writer. There are no get-rich quick approaches. There are no magic pills in this game. The cards are stacked against you and the dealer always has an ace in the hole. Get the picture?
Succeeding as an indie writer requires dogged determination and a long-range plan. Find out what works best for you…which is most effective…and then keep doing it. Try new approaches, mix and match, get out and meet people at signings and readings and book fairs…work the social media….and then repeat over and over and over again.
And then success may still not arrive.
I read a book which was very meaningful for me. Now I have a marketing background…got my degree in it and it’s in a nice frame. I’ve owned several businesses over the years, and I’ve used a variety of marketing techniques, so I’m no babe in the woods with regards to marketing . . . but the book I read pretty much summed up life for an indie writer in the three word title: Write, Publish, Repeat!
I firmly believe that quality writing is your best marketing tool, so learn to write well and then keep writing. Publish what you write and then keep publishing.
And then repeat the whole process again, and again, and again!
It’s not that I’m against book signings. I think they have value in that the public gets to meet the indie writer, but I wouldn’t expect huge sales to come from those signings. They should just be a part of your marketing plan. Don’t bet the bank on just signings, or just social media, or just other guerilla marketing techniques.
Write, publish, and repeat!
From Erica: “Bill, are you following the proceedings at HubPages? The earnings have nose-dived. It seems to be harder to make money there. What’s up with this site?”
Erica, I have no clue, nor do I care. I’m only answering this question because you asked it. Six years ago, during the heyday of these sites, it was quite possible to make three, four, or five-hundred dollars per month writing content articles on HubPages. Today that is not true. There may be a few writers still pulling in good money, but the norm is people making just enough money to buy a Snickers candy bar each month.
I’m not here on HP to make money. Never have been! If you are, good luck to you but again, the cards are stacked against you and the dealer has at least one ace in the hole. I can’t be more blunt about this topic. HP is on a slow slide downward, and I fully expect them to stop payments within a year or two. If making money is your goal, you would be much better off with your own blog. At least then you would have full control of the process.
THREE YEARS IN THE BANK
And it’s been a great three years and again, I thank you for it. Let’s see how long we can ride this horse, okay?
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”