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The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 259

Updated on June 3, 2019


Someone asked me the other day why I don’t do more promotion for my books or blogs.

The simple answer is this: I don’t want to!

I write for the enjoyment of others. I write for my enjoyment. I do not write to make money.

Mind you, I have nothing against marketing books. I have nothing against others who market their writings. It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

I was cleaning out the garage yesterday and I came across four boxes of my novels, maybe fifty books total which I had ordered with every intention of selling. They are collecting dust, and I’ll probably give them away at some point when I’m tired of moving those boxes around. Truthfully I would rather give them away than sell them.

Go ahead, call me weird! I hear it a lot. I’m an introvert in what always appears to be an extroverted world. I’m purple in an orange room. I don’t fit whatever mold is presented to me, on any given day, in any given year. Writing is my way of communicating with you. It is my way of reaching out and accepting your hand in friendship, and it is my way of screaming to the world I EXIST! My books are my hugs for you. My articles are my invitations, to you, to sit and share time together. My blogs are a guided tour inside my mind, refreshments included.

And I’m just not comfortable selling that sort of thing. Others are and that’s fine. Hey, I have a marketing degree, I’m well-versed in marketing techniques, but it’s all just an expenditure of time and effort I don’t choose to expend.

Having said all that, someone once again asked if my latest novel is available in paperback as well as ebook and the answer is yes, it is, on the Amazon Kindle website.

Let’s get to the mail!

The Mail Room!
The Mail Room!

Memoirs and Ghostwriters

From Mary: “I have a couple questions that are related. I have a friend who wants to write his autobiography but will probably need a ghostwriter. Do you think it matters if the person male or female? Also can you clarify the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?”

I’m going to let my friend Heidi answer the second question, which she did in a recent Mailbag comment:

“Memoirs. The biggest problem I think memoir writers have is distinguishing between autobiography and memoir. Autobiography is "just the facts" (or facts as the person remembers them). Memoir is richer and more story/message driven, highlighting only those events that add to the overall work.”

As for your first question, my gut reaction is no, I don’t think it would make any difference. My main concern in hiring a ghostwriter for an autobiography would be this: has that person ever written an autobiography before? If I’m paying someone to write my autobiography, that person better have some game, if you know what I mean.

Memoirs are more emotion than recitation.
Memoirs are more emotion than recitation.


From James: “I have the same question about doing an e-newsletter as Rodic asked about blogging i.e. how often to post an e-newsletter?. I haven't started it yet so I'll figure it out then. I liked the insight on google search. Have a nice holiday!”

I did a little research on this one, James, since I have never done an e-newsletter. I had my suspicions what the answer to your question would be, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t way off-base.

Like blogging, the key is consistency. It is suggested that you post an e-newsletter no more than twice-weekly, and no fewer than once-monthly. I know people who do them daily. My own opinion is this: post them as often as you like, but make sure you post them on the same days consistently, and also concentrate on quality. You want your audience to expect the newsletter on specific days so they are looking for it to appear, just like this Mailbag is always posted on Mondays. You also want that newsletter to be informative and interesting. Otherwise it won’t make any difference when you post it because nobody will be interested in it.

Hope that helps!

Teaching Creative Writing

From Burt: “Short and sweet: can you teach someone how to write creatively? Is it possible to teach someone how to write a novel or a short story so that they are adequate at the very least? I’m a non-fiction writer and I’m afraid fiction is just beyond me.”

Most definitely yes, Burt, creative writing can be taught. I’ve done it many times. Mastering a few basic techniques is one key; understanding how a story is constructed is another.

I might add one qualifier to my answer. Yes, creative writing can be taught, but excellent creative writing requires one more element: talent!

Creative writing has no limitations!
Creative writing has no limitations!

Content Posts

From Shirley: “I know you work as a freelancer. May I ask what you charge for a content post? The whole SEO thing confuses me, and prices seem to be all across the price spectrum.”

You can certainly ask, Shirley, but I’m not going to tell you. LOL

I started out doing SEO about nine years ago. At that time I was paid $10 for a 500 word article. I get considerably more than that now, and the reason is this: I’m talented, I have experience, and my time is worth more. I believe in paying your dues. I don’t believe an apprentice at any job should be paid what a craftsman is paid, and I think that applies to freelance writing as well.

If you get into freelancing, you will find it a very competitive field. You will find people who will write content articles for five bucks. It’s tough to underbid five bucks, and I won’t even try. It’s just not worth it to me to do so.

The Hook

From Patrice: “I was watching the new show ‘Songland’ on television, and one of the music producers said that every single line in a song should be a hook. He meant by that, I’m guessing, that every line in a song should be important to the overall value of the song, that there should be no throw-away lines. What are your thoughts on hooks in writing? How often should there be a hook?”

I actually saw that same episode, and I loved it when the music guy said that. For some reason my mind went to the song “Louie, Louie,” a song which has nothing but throwaway lines. LOL I’m only partially joking about that.

I think the same is true in poetry. I think every line of poetry should be impactful, and I say that because most poems are relatively short in length. However, if you are talking about a 1,000 page novel, it would be totally unrealistic to expect every single sentence to be a spellbinding masterpiece. In a full-length novel, hooks are what drive a story along, and it is suggested that there be four or five of them throughout the novel. In a novella, the suggestion is two or three hooks.

I would also add to that the introduction. If the introduction does not hook a reader right out of the gate, that novel is in trouble.

Great question!

And That’s It for This Week

On a completely random and unrelated note, my nickname namesake died this week. Billy Buckner, a professional baseball player, died at the age of 69. My nickname billybuc came from that Billy Buck. I’m not sure how I feel about that part of me dying, but now you know where my nickname came from.

I’ve got nothing more for you this week and so I will wish you all a brilliant week ahead. Write with the joy and passion you were meant to write with. Writing is creation. You are creators. Bask in that light for the remainder of your week.

2019 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”


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