The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Forty
I had too many questions this week and couldn’t include them all. If I left your question out I’ll be sure and include it next Monday.
Having said that, I welcome you back to the Mailbag. Obviously we are not in danger of running out of questions. The only question is whether I will live long enough to answer all the questions I receive. J
We have some great ones this week so I think we best get started.
Reality Vs Fantasy
A great question from Brad: “We talked about this subject several times before, but it keeps popping up . The subject is credibility of scenarios in the police and basically the good guy versus bad guy stories.
Most people can suspend reality in the storyline to enjoy the total picture. I have always had this problem.
Question, Am I supposed to ignore reality in scripts?
I understand that these are stories, but they should also relate to the real odds of these events synchronizing to the story. What are the real odds that this could actually happen?
It is one things if the genre allows for dispensing reality, but another things when this is not a parody on real life.
My wife, the reader, really likes the TV show Blacklist. I like the start James Spader, and his character, but I think that the script was written by college students during a Frat party.
It is not just one or two impossible sequences of events but most of the ones in the show. It happens episode after episode.
I know that you don't watch much TV, but I am sure this kind of writing is also found in fiction books. I also understand the irony of my question when applied to "Fictions", but fiction shouldn't mean fantasy. It should for the stories that could be real, just change the names and the events to protect the innocent.”
Brad, this is a great question…so great I wrote an entire article about it. I’ll ask you to go read that article and you’ll have my long answer. My short answer is this: yes, you are supposed to ignore reality when reading fiction. By definition, that’s what fiction is….a suspension of reality. The tricky part of it all is telling the difference between fiction and fantasy as defined by the Writer’s Digest.
From Carol: Up to date I have not asked a question for the mailbag. However I just started writing again and starting a series (like You--LOL). As you already know. Any ideas on marketing ebooks besides Facebook. Been out of the marketing arena for a while and would love some ideas. Looking forward ti book 2 with Eli...
Carol, nothing much has changed on the marketing front. Of course there are other social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, etc., but still, in my opinion, the best marketing approach is up close and personal. Contact local bookstores, book clubs and reading groups. Contact libraries. Set up readings and book signings. I don’t see social media as a viable marketing tool by itself. As a supplement it is wonderful, but you still need to beat the brush and get among your readers.
Where to Publish an Article
From Brian: “Thanks for the excellent answer to my question. So if I were to write an article "100th Birthday of Local Hero", I should submit it to a local periodical, not to HP, because the topic is of short-lived interest and probably of mainly local interest. If an article is on an evergreen topic of broad interest (with personal touches for human interest and uniqueness), then HP might be where to self-publish it, especially since at any time it can be unpublished and submitted elsewhere.”
Brian, thanks for the follow-up. I follow your thinking, and if we lived in a logical world I would say your thinking is right on, but alas, we don’t. I would say go ahead and publish the article in a local publication AND HubPages. I have articles on HP that have been published multiple times in magazines and I have heard from no one about it. You might as well earn from both sites since it seems to be allowed. The worst that can happen is HP will shut down that article, but since it hasn’t happened to me in three years, I don’t think there is much chance of that.
The only exception to this is if you sign an exclusive contract with a magazine, in which case, legally, you probably should leave HP out of the discussion.
Stealing Our Work
From Shyron: “Bill, I love your mail bag. I have two questions in one. first question: Have you had any of you hubs stolen?
Second question, but first I need to tell you why. I Googled my name and this site pops up: http://bwin368.net/search/shyron-e-shenko-on-hubpa... so I clicked on it and there is a list of hubs by a lot of other hubbers but it does not take you to their hubs, and also a chat box that would give access to an agent to the computer. My question: How do we report this to HP/Google to stop this?”
Hi, Shyron, and thanks for the two questions.
First question, yes, I have had hubs stolen. I have done nothing about it. Why? It takes far too long to fill out reports and I don’t choose to do that. Many people do and I respect that. I don’t.
Rather than list all the things you can do if you have stolen hubs, I will invite you to read this fine article by Suzanne. Just follow this link. I’m pretty sure she has thoroughly covered the entire topic and done it much better than I could.
From Audrey: “Great article Bill! And poetry makes even less money than articles do! I would be very interested in an article addressing your editing process in depth--first pass through, second pass through etc--and how to keep perspective as you go through that process.”
Audrey, it’s a great question, so great that I’m going to post an article about it later this week. Stay tuned and I’ll have your answer in a day or two.
From Lizzy: “Okay--here goes, and this may be a complex question!
"Back in the day..." there was a book of markets called, The Writer's Market (or something to that effect). With e-books: self-publishing made easy, and the dearth of viable online writing sites, how and where do you suggest an author seek to promote themselves, since it is probably no easier than it ever was (and probably harder) to find an agent?
(Once you have published that e-book, there is no guarantee of sales, of course, and for those of us who are NOT salespeople....this can be a problem.)”
Lizzy, it is a problem because of your last sentence….you consider yourself not to be a salesperson. I’m afraid the key to any good marketing campaign is for the writer to be seen and heard from, and not just online. I have thousands of people who know me online, but only a hundred or so who will buy a book from me. Once I’ve gone through those one-hundred, where do I go?
If I’m serious I get out in public and market myself. Writing is a business if you are trying to make money. You are the business and your writing is the product. To be successful you must….must….get out there and sell.
Going Through the Motions
From Lawrence: “Actually I've been thinking of a question that might have been asked already but would be good to get your perspective and that is a lot of writers set goals of so many words a day etc. Do you ever get to the point when it's just going through the motions and the quality of the work suffering? What do you do about it?”
Lawrence, thanks for asking a question and a good one at that. I’m not a big believer in setting word goals daily. I am a big believer in writing daily, or thinking about writing daily. There is a big difference between the two. If I give myself a 1,000 word goal daily, there are going to be days when I simply don’t have it in me to meet that goal. Did I fail? There will be days when I can’t think of an intelligent thing to write, so what do I do, just go through the motions like you mentioned?
I think it’s much more important that I come away from each day feeling good about my progress as a writer. If that means just writing one dynamic, holy-damn paragraph, then that’s what I’ll do. Write the paragraph and spend the rest of my time researching, or taking a walk in nature with a notepad.
Having said all that, I no longer write on weekends. I need those two days to relax my brain and give my creative juices a rest period.
I hope that makes sense.
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- William Holland | Helping Writers to Spread Their Wings and Fly
Weekly discussions and tips about writing
And That’s All We Have Time and Space for This Week
My goodness, I’ve rambled on, haven’t I? One question requires a hub of its own, so I’ll have that for you on Wednesday. Until then, have a superb week of writing, and I’ll see you again next Monday with another installment of the Mailbag.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”