The Writer's Mailbag: Installment One-Hundred and Twenty-Five
An Observation Before We Continue
Some of you have recently remarked that the questions seem to be getting better of late. I don’t know about better, but I do know we are seeing a rush of questions never asked before, and I find that refreshing and helpful to us all.
So keep them coming!
From Rodric: “I have been getting unfeatured for putting links into my hubs even when the site relates to what the hub is about if the site is my personal site. How do you prove the site is related? I joined Hubpages years ago to help drive traffic to my sites and it worked. Now just need to guest blog and have guest bloggers. When is it appropriate to guest blog or request guest bloggers.”
There are two questions here, Rodric, and I don’t have an answer to the first one. I don’t know what makes the HP staff tick, what makes them happy, or what makes them unhappy. In situations like that, you are best off asking HP directly. Christy Kirwan is pretty good about responding to a question, so start with her.
As for your second question, my answer is the same as something my dad told me long ago…God hates a coward! The appropriate time to guest blog or request guest bloggers is when you decide to do it. I offer to guest blog from time to time on my blog. Some bloggers take me up on it; some don’t. I’m fine with that. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. I also offer my blog to people who want to guest blog, as long as they stick with the writing subject matter. Some take me up on it; some don’t.
Go for it and see what happens.
From Venkatachari M: “Bill, I forgot to ask something. When you write your novel, in which format do you write it? And to which format do you convert for publishing? I am presently converting all my blog posts on economics subject into word format as amazon publishers need it in word or pdf format. And it is taking a lot of time. The blog posts are in different font size and also in a different style. So, some lines didn't fit correctly when I selected the justified style for the pages. And many gaps developed between lines or phrases. I am fixing each chapter one by one now. And rectified 15 out of 35 chapters (articles). How do you do if you were in my place? You may reply in next mailbag so that others may also get help from it.”
Venkkatachari, I am in no way a tech wizard. I write all of my articles and my novels in Word format. It is recognized by CreateSpace and by Amazon, and I’ve never had trouble converting my articles or novels to another site. Word seems to be the universal that all sites recognize, so my suggestion is you go that route in the future. If you don’t have Word I don’t feel qualified in giving an opinion, but maybe one of the readers will have a better answer.
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The Future of Ebooks
From John: “I love how the mailbag just keeps going, Bill. It seems questions about writing are just endless. This may be a question you can answer next week. They say the future of books is eBooks (Kindle etc) and that format will eventually take over from hard copies. With the Creative Exiles poetry anthology..every cent of royalties so far (therefore all sales) have been from the hard copy even though it is also available much cheaper on Kindle. Do you find with your novels etc that the traditional hard copies are still much more popular?”
In a word, John, yes! My sales of hard copies far outdistance my Kindle sales. I don’t know why that is but it is. As for the future of eBooks, I’ve read some articles lately that said the market share of eBooks is currently at about 28%, down from 30% a year ago, and some experts feel that eBooks will level out somewhere around 25% of the total market…but accurate information is hard to come by. The percentage of eBooks worldwide is much lower, somewhere in the 12% neighborhood.
I think the only thing we can say, at this point, about eBooks is that they are here to stay, but I truly don’t think they will ever completely replace hard copies. At least I hope they don’t.
MORE ON BLOGGING
From Pete: “I’ve been thinking of creating a blog, but I’m afraid I won’t have the time necessary to devote to it. What do you think, blog or no blog?”
Pete, your hesitation is borne from good instincts. I think blogging has to be consistent, and to succeed in blogging, you also need to be active in the blogging community. Put it all together and it spells TIME! If you don’t have the time to devote to blogging, and to being active in the blogging community, in my opinion you really shouldn’t do it. Wait until you have the time to do it correctly before starting and then giving up in a month.
A blog, or website, is an important part of a writer’s platform, but only if it is done correctly and professionally. Otherwise it can hurt more than help.
From Mandi: “I’m working on a novel, and I noticed recently that my dialogue seems stilted and awkward. Any tips on correcting it?”
Mandi, my first suggestion is to go listen to real dialogue. Go to a coffee shop, with a digital recorder, and record conversations around you. That is real dialogue. It is not always correct English but it is real. Remember that your characters need to be life-like and real to your readers, and very few of us speak in perfect English. Go listen to real people and then write like them.
One way to break this habit that I have found helpful is to give one of your characters a quirky way of speaking, like a nervous mannerism, or the habit of repeating a particular phrase or word when they speak, like “you know,” or “uh, I don’t know, but uh, like it worked out anyway.” This will break up the monotony and get you out of your rut.
One Piece of Advice
From Elaine: “If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in writing, what would it be?”
Elaine, this is the easiest question I’ve fielded in months. My one piece of advice today is the same one I’ve given for years, and it is the same one I’ll give ten years from now. Are you ready for it?
Learn how to write, practice your craft, and then repeat.
I’ve seen a lot of writer-wannabees who never improve. Some of them are great at marketing, they’ve got the fancy website going, they blog like crazy, they make pamphlets and brochures and have business cards, but they are mediocre writers at best. All that promotion may get them great sales of their first book, but I promise you, sales will drop after that, simply because the product they are selling is mediocre.
In other words, you can put a dress on a pig, but at the end of the day, you still have a pig for a prom date.
THAT’S ALL WE HAVE TIME FOR
But I’ll see you all next week, same time, same place, for another installment of the Mailbag.
For those who care, my new novel, “Shadows Over A Hangman’s Noose, is about two weeks from publication. Stay tuned!
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)