The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Nineteen
New Followers, More Questions, Life Is Good
Unbelievable is all I have to say on the matter of the Mailbag. It just keeps growing. Pretty soon I’m going to have to hire someone extra to carry the excess mail. It’s a nice problem to have, you know?
I hope to see a thousand new Mailbag followers. I always envisioned this to be a safe place where writers could share their thoughts, and where answers could be given. I don’t make a ton of money with these articles. In fact, among all my articles, these Mailbags are always at the bottom of the HP scoring file….but I think they are valuable for anyone interested in their craft….so let’s keep it going!
There’s no time like the present to see what is on the mind of our peers, so let’s get to it!
From Eva: “So here is the question: how do you have the time and energy to write books and all these posts? What is the secret? A talent for writing, or good organization, or both?”
Well, Eva, I would hope it has mostly to do with a talent for writing….LOL….but the truth is I’m an extremely focused and organized human being. Some might call me anal, but I choose not to listen to those people.
Seriously, my writing day is broken up into segments, and every segment is devoted to a particular task. I don’t deviate from that schedule…distractions are not allowed. I notify everyone, and continue to notify everyone, that writing is my business, and between the hours of seven a.m. and one p.m. I am not to be disturbed….period! I don’t disturb others when they are at their day jobs, and I expect the same treatment when I’m at my day job, which just happens to be writing.
Remember, too, that I don’t have little kids to take care of, or a paying job for some company to throw into the mix. For me it’s just writing, six hours every day, and every day is broken up into tasks that I am determined to finish.
Is this realistic for all writers? Probably not, but if you are a writer who wishes to make good money, or a writer who wishes to improve your craft, it should be!
INDIE WRITERS AND KEYWORDS
From Venkatachari M: “If I am to publish a book online, say on Amazon platform, does keywords play any role for the content? Do people search with keywords for books? I don't know whether I am the only person to have such doubts or there might be many others.”
It’s really an excellent question, Venkatachari M, one that’s never been asked before.
Ebooks are part of the online game, and because of this, keywords do play a part in the marketing of your book. I would never suggest that you worry about keywords when you are writing your book, whether it is a non-fiction or fiction book, but I would suggest that you need to play close attention to keywords when giving your book a title and when writing a description for your book which will be shown on the Amazon site.
Let me give you a couple examples. If I’ve written a thriller, I will want the word “thriller” to appear not only in my book description but also among the seven keywords Amazon allows me to list for their search engines. If I’ve written a “how to write” book, then “how to write” should not only be in my title, but also in my description and in my list of keywords. This increases the chances of people finding my book when they type in the keyword “thriller” or the keywords “how to write.”
Spend time on this. Do keyword searches to find out how effective certain words are in the search engines. Amazon has several tools you can use to help you choose the best keywords to use in your title, in your book description, and in your list of keywords on the Amazon site.
Hopefully that helps you.
Hyphens in a Sentence
From Zulma: “My son asked why you would use a hyphen in a sentence. What he means is would you use a hyphen to help with the pacing or the emphasis of the text. I'm pretty sure that depends on what you want your readers to experience. I know what I want to say but I'm having trouble finding the right words. Can you help a girl out? Pleeease.”
Anything for you, Zulma!
Actually, a hyphen is often confused with a dash in English grammar. Appearance-wise, a dash is shorter than a hyphen, but that’s just scratching the surface when discussing their differences.
A hyphen is usually a connecting tool…….off-campus parking…..twelve-thirty-six North 18th St…..state-of-the-art design, and there is no spacing before or after the hyphen.
I’m guessing you and your son are really asking about a dash. There are quite a few uses for a dash, but I’m going to concentrate on the main usage of that misunderstood piece of grammar. Dashes are usually used to connect an independent clause with a thought about that clause. Consider the following:
“I’d better pass this test – it’s ninety percent of my class grade – or I’ll be going to summer school.”
The dash can also be used to emphasize a sentence. Consider this:
“Sure, I’ll sign a prenuptial agreement – as long as it’s in my favor.”
Please note that, with a dash, there is a space before and after the dash.
There are other uses for both the hyphen and dash, but I have limited space here to deal with those other options. What is mentioned above are the most common uses of both. I hope that helps!
Is It Hopeless?
From Patti: “I read somewhere that there are millions of Ebooks published each year. Millions! With that many on the market, and that many being added yearly, it seems to me it’s pretty hopeless for a writer wishing to make money in the publishing business. Is that an accurate statement?”
Seriously, Patti, do you want me to sugarcoat it or give you the ugly truth? The odds of making “good” money from publishing Ebooks are slim. They aren’t non-existent, but they are slim, which brings us to a truth many new writers need to commit to memory: if you are writing simply to make money, you really need to have a reality check with your CEO.
Can “good” money be made by publishing Ebooks? Of course it can. I’m simply saying that for every story of success you hear, there are hundreds of thousands of stories of “failure” with that as a goal.
If, however, you are writing because you love the craft, and you love to add to our culture, then any money you make is a bonus of sorts, and I would submit to you that you are never a failure.
So, Patti, why are you writing?
Good Writers and Boring Topics
From Ann: “Do you think that a good writer can make a success out of any old subject? Something really boring.... and I'm desperately trying to think of one! I know - watching paint dry! I might start a challenge but I'd like to know what you think first.”
My goodness yes, Ann! A good creative writer could take “watching paint dry” and run with it. Not that I consider myself a great writer, but as soon as I read that topic I started writing a story introduction in my head.
When I was teaching school I issued that challenge to my students. I would have them name a topic and I had to “write” an opening paragraph within a minute. They never stumped me.
That’s just the way a creative writer’s brain works, right?
Great question! Issue that challenge and I’m there.
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Helping writers to spread their wings and fly
More Next Week?
I hope you’ll join me next week as we field a whole new set of questions about writing. Winter is right around the bend, and that means increased rain, increased snow, and increased cold. In other words, perfect writing weather.
Oh, before I forget, someone asked me to recommend one of the best poets on HubPages. I did give her a recommendation via email, but I won’t do that here. That is bound to end in hurt feelings without intending to do so. The enjoyment of writing, and of poetry, is unique to each individual. What I like in poetry will be different from what you like, so I prefer to simply say, for the record on this site, there are some very good poets on HP and I hope you find them during your own travels through this site.
As always, if you have a question, include it in the comment section below, or you can email it to me at email@example.com. Thanks to all who asked questions this week.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc) #greatestunknownauthor
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”