The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Seventy-Two
Holy Cow, We’re Still Going Strong
Well, not very strong this week; there are only three questions. But that’s okay, I added a little filler at the end so it’s all good. If this series comes to an end then it comes to an end. It’s been a great run and I’ll ride this horse as long as it will carry me.
So let’s dive into the questions right now, starting off with a great question and a good laugh from Brian.
From Brian: “After an author decides to use his or her real name rather than a pen name, then what factors go into deciding which form of the real name to use? Why did you decide to use William D. Holland on your novels and Bill Holland on HubPages rather than William Holland, Will Holland, Billy Holland, William Dwight [or whatever] Holland, W. D. Holland, or some other variant? My birth certificate name is Brian James Scott Leekley. If I finish a novel, should my byline be Brian Leekley, B. Leekley, B. S. Leekley, Brian Scott Leekley, Brian S. Leekley, B. J. Leekley, Brian James Leekley, Brian James Scott Leekley, B. J. Scott Leekley, or some other variant? Should I go by numerology? By what sounds most highfalutin? By what I use on official papers, such as income tax forms? By how I sign checks or credit card purchases? By how I sign informal letters and emails? Should I take a poll? Should I go by a snap impulse? Should I pray for inspiration? Should I ask my wife? Or? Will it make a difference in sales, other factors being favorable?”
My goodness, Brian, what started as a serious question had me laughing at the end. Hell, throw darts at a board for the answer. It will be as good as any I give you. J
Seriously, why did I use William D. Holland on my novels? Why not?
Okay, here’s the best answer I can give you, and it’s based on a mistake I made very early on.
Perhaps I should tell you the mistake first before I continue.
When I started on HP, I chose a pen name, a nickname I have had since my teen years, namely billybuc. Stupid on my part. I should have started right out of the blocks with my own name, whatever form I wanted, whether Bill Holland or William Holland or William D. Holland, it makes no difference. What does make a difference, in my humble opinion, is consistency. All of my writings should have the same name attached to them, and this is mainly because of marketability and name recognition. Online now I have Bill Holland and billybuc and William D. Holland floating around the cyberworld and that’s stupid of me.
So pick a name and stick with it throughout.
HP to Ebooks
From Eric: “Great point on subplots. My daughter once asked me about Descartes' "cogito ergo sum" I wove in the subplot that he worked for a wicked queen in Scandinavia, made him get up early in a cold castle and it killed him. She looked at me like I was nuts -tying that in with the concept of proof of existence. The subplot was to show you no longer cogito when dead.
Seriously on Mechanics of HP and transference. I think I made a mistake and put my best drafts of my sermons in the HP editions. I mean I corrected/edited them while publishing. Now in trying to compile for a collection book style publication what should I do mechanically.
And do you think a book of short essays should have pictures?”
Well, Eric, let’s deal with the first question first and completely ignore the “cogito ergo sum” conversation. J
I’m not sure what you are asking regarding the mechanics of HP and transference. You can take your sermons from HP and put them in a book….use the same sermons, word for word…it makes no difference regarding an ebook. I’ve been doing it for years and nothing has happened. I probably have seventy-five “Hubs” that are currently on HubPages that are also in ebooks. So I hope that answers your question although I suspect it doesn’t, in which case you’ll need to clarify.
Should short essays have pictures? I think that is totally a matter of preference. I’ve seen a ton of essay compilations that had no pictures. I’ve seen a few that did. The only real problem with pictures is they make formatting your ebook a little more difficult, so if you want to save yourself some formatting work then skip the pics.
I’m not really sure that pictures add anything to short essays. Good writing adds much more than pictures.
From Brad: “Here is a question that we can google for the answer, but my question is polling the minds of your readers for their subjective answer.
If a fiction writer is just starting off, what genre and sub genre would be the most popular, the most financially rewarding etc.
If I were going to write on fiction, I would write about something that would interest me, rather than what is popular, and that is just me because I always seem to be outside the parade looking in, rather than marching in it.
I would still be interested in the answer. I will be in the bleachers.”
No problem, Brad. The top five genres, for sales, are as follows:
In that order, and Romance is the runaway winner.
How to become a writer
I had a friend ask me the other day what it takes to be a good writer. She said she used to write but didn’t feel like she was improving. Eventually she became discouraged and just quit writing. She said she had no idea how to improve, that people told her to just keep writing and practicing her craft, but she didn’t know which aspect of writing she should practice in order to improve.
It’s a valid statement. How does one improve at this craft? I can tell someone to write one hour each day for a year, but chances are they will be the same writer one year from now as they are today unless they have some direction.
And that, to me, is the key to improving this craft…direction. Work on different aspects of writing. Work on developing characters. Work on developing scenes. Work on different genres. Work on rhythm and work on sentence structure. Simply practicing bad writing does not make one a better writer; all it does is reinforce those bad habits unless you work towards an attainable goal.
I strongly advise joining a writing group, either in person or online. Getting positive critique will help, and the suggestions that come out of those groups can be invaluable.
I know there are some who believe we improve simply by writing often. I’m not one of those people. I know several writers who are every bit as bad today as they were several years ago. We do not become better writers by practicing our mistakes.
That’s It This Week
Another Mailbag in the bank. My goal is one-hundred. If we hit that then I can lay this series to rest and feel good about it. I hope you all have a stupendous week ahead. Remember, you are the chosen few who have the ability to move people with your words, and isn’t that so very cool? You are craftsmen of the written word and I’m proud to know you.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”