The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Eighty-Eight
Let’s Do It to It like Sonny Pruitt
So many questions and so little time.
Some of you asked me when my new novella, “The Billy the Kid Chronicles,” would be available. The answer is this week, Wednesday at the latest. I priced it as low as I was allowed since it is a novella of 25,000 words. Thanks to those inquiring about it.
And now on to the Mailbag!
My book on writing
Coining Phrases in This Century
From Brad: “Thanks for attempting to answer my illusive question, and after seeing your answer, I may not have put the correct emphasis on the ?. My bad, and English is my only spoken language, I know some computer languages, but they don't translate well into hp. Lol It is not the genre, but the descriptive phrases, that was my question. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times", was a phrase by, and I don't even have to reference the author, as we all know him. Are there any quotable phrases this century, that will be quoted next century because they are unique to this century? We still quote Machiavelli, and Shakespeare even though they are from the distant past.”
Brad, my bad! I completely missed the mark last Mailbag. Mea culpa!
My gut response is to say that acclaim takes a certain amount of time. For phrases to become famous and part of our cultural heritage, they must somehow stand up to scrutiny and catch on in common vernacular, or so it seems to me. My mind is blank right now….the only thing that keeps coming into mind is “to infinity and beyond” from Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story,” but I think that points to at least the possibility that phrases have been written in this century that will become, or have become, a regular part of our culture.
So I’m going to say yes, for sure, and most likely yes right now, bypassing the “test of time” qualification. I just can’t think of any off the top of my head. LOL
From Mary: “With regards to marketing, I have a website which promotes giveaways and sweepstakes. I see a lot of authors who have pooled their resources to offer prizes as a way of promoting their books. Sometimes there may be 25 authors who are promoting their books together in one giveaway. To enter these giveaways, people are required to share across social media and follow the author, join their mailing list etc. Any idea how successful this type of promotion is for authors?”
Mary, I was going to say I’ve never heard of it, but something is wiggling in the back of my mind, telling me that I have.
Here’s what I think about marketing for writers: I think writers who are serious about becoming successful need to think outside of the box. Find new ways of getting your work out there. This idea you mentioned is a great example. Is it, or will it be successful? I have no idea, but I know it doesn’t stand a prayer of a chance if not tried. I’m all for any new approach to marketing for writers. Who knows, right?
I know someone in Olympia who doesn’t “sell” their books. She asks for donations. She sets up a table at some business establishment, has her books stacked on the table next to her, and has a jar asking for donations for a “free” book. She rakes in the dough doing that. People have paid twenty bucks or more for her paperbacks.
Marketing…..think outside the box!
From Lawrence: “On CreateSpace they have a facility that people can get feedback on part of their book from other writers (Kind of a review of a preview I suppose) but I'm wondering when is the best time to put something on this as it's partly to get people (other writers) to 'critique' the work and help you make improvements, but it's also partly to sell the work and as such you probably don't want too long a gap between the 'preview' (for review) and the actual do you?
“Is it best to wait until you've done the manuscript and 90% happy with it or do you 'Just do it' at first draft stage? What do you think?”
Lawrence, this is odd because I’ve self-published four books on CreateSpace, and I’ve never heard of this process. Let me go do some research. I’ll be right back.
Okay, I’m back. Well I’ll be darned. It’s just as you described. Okay, now I know what’s going on, so here’s my answer.
I’m very leery about sharing my work in public before publication. As you know from HP, it is so easy to steal the work online of others and not face any consequences, so what’s to keep readers on CreateSpace from stealing your ideas from the preview? I prefer to use beta readers of my own choosing before I publish a book….but….
The reality of it is this: When I am sharing chapters of a book on HP I am also running that same risk, so really, what difference does it make? If someone wants to steal your work then they can find a way to do so. We all just roll the dice and hope we don’t get craps, right?
From Bill: “Maybe a question for the mailbag. I'm working on a story set in the 1600s's. Old English with its thee's and thou's ye's, eth and est suffixes would be the language of the day. .Perhaps this might make the story more authentic; however would it be too confusing to read here in the 21st Century,? I guess my question comes down to this - what's more important, authenticity or readability? Thanks in advance.”
Bill, this is such a good question and such a tough question, both at the same time.
I know with me as the reader, I will grow very tired of reading a book with too much of that Old English. For me, reading needs to be entertaining and effortless. I don’t want to work for my entertainment, and stumbling through ancient languages is work for me. There are many reasons why I don’t like Shakespeare; language is one of them.
But that’s just me and I recognize that fact. There is an audience for that type of writing. I think it is a smaller audience but it does exist.
My personal opinion: I would tone authenticity down a bit so the 21st Century reader can get a taste of it without getting a migraine from it.
I’m curious what others will say about that. I recognize this is just my personal preference and nothing more.
Invaluable book for magazine submissions
From Kailey: “I have been thinking of writing for magazines, and I do volunteer write for a few online, but I am wondering if I need to write new topic-specific articles when applying for paid gigs to show my work or if I should just use what I currently have? I hope this makes sense. Thank you!”
It does make sense, Kailey, but there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. The submission requirements and guidelines for magazines vary greatly from magazine to magazine. Some will give a topic and ask for a sample article on that topic. Some will just ask for a sample of your work regardless of the topic. Some will ask simply for article ideas and not the article itself.
See if you can find specifics with regards to what they are looking for and go from there. Maybe on their website they have more clarification. In the event you can’t come up with anything more from them, then send them the best sample of your writing that you have and let your writing speak for itself.
Great book for formatting
From Dream On: “What are the top three self publishing companies that you find the best in quality and price?”
Tough question, my friend, only because it’s impossible to determine what anyone means by “the best?”
Consumer reviews lists the top three self-publishing companies as “Outskirts Press”…..”Virtual Bookworm”….and “Books Just Books.” For me personally, because of my familiarity with the site, I would pick CreateSpace as number one…..so there you go. No help at all and I’m sorry. I would check out those three mentioned, find out what each has to offer and at what price, compare them to CreateSpace and make your decision.
And again from Dream On: “What is the best way to see how many of this particular book sold? “
Are you talking about the volume of a book you are selling? Every self-publishing company should have a way to track sales. I know Createspace and Amazon/ Kindle do, and it is easy to pull that information. I would be amazed if the other self-publishing companies don’t have a similar way of tracking sales. It’s something a writer would definitely want, so make sure your self-publishing company offers that tracker.
More Next Week
Great questions this week! My goodness, you all kept me hopping and on my toes….how’s that, two clichés in one sentence? LOL
I’ll be back next week with Installment Eighty-Nine. Until then, remember to write with passion. If you can transmit your passion to your readers you’re a success for sure.
And let me also say R.I.P. to a writer friend of mine on HP….her writing name was drbj, and she was one of the funniest ladies I’ve ever found online. She was loyal, supportive and had a wonderful, witty view of life.
She will be missed!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”