Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

A heart-felt "Thank You" to all veterans and current military personnel.  You volunteer to do things that others would run away from, screaming at the top of our lungs.  You put up with things that, if told about before hand, no one would put up with.  You go places that no one else would willingly go to.  You see things that no one should have to see.

The greatest military the world has ever known, comprised of men and women from the greatest country the world has ever known.

Thank You

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Reason Number 116 To Self Publish


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Writers - Do You Do It For You Or Others?

From time to time, I encounter someone who says that writers should be writing for the readers.  I'm sure they mean well when they say this, but I'm thinking that they really haven't thought about that comment much, otherwise they may not post it.

Why would I take issue with this?  Why wouldn't you write what readers want?  I mean, if you do that, then you should be making a lot of money and have whatever you wanted.  Right?  Isn't that the way that things are supposed to work?

Well, yes and no.  I can see the argument that you should write what people want to read, otherwise, well, you might as well take your bat and ball and go home to find something else to do.  But really, I think that is more of a promotional problem rather than a writing problem.  We'll save that for another time...

Writers should be writing what they WANT to write, not what they think others will like, or do like, or will like, or the fad of the month, etc.  Could I be writing vampire stories right now?  Sure, but I wouldn't like it as much as what I'm doing currently.  And because I wouldn't like writing about that subject as much, I wouldn't do nearly as good of a job at it as someone who really enjoys writing about it.

Not only that, but there are subjects that I or others just won't write about.  Lets take erotic stories, for example.  This is a subject that a number of people are making good money at, and the enjoy it.  I say, that's great, more power to them.  But it's not a subject that I care to write in, even if I could make some good money.

Last, but not least, is the fact that writers are readers as well.  It seems like this important fact escapes people from time to time.  And if they are readers, and they like to read what they write, then aren't they already writing what people want to read?  Hmm?

Ultimately, this is a call that each writer needs to make themselves.  But I think that, in the end, you would be much more satisfied with yourself if you wrote what you enjoyed writing, and not what someone else thinks you should write, regardless of the reason.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Booky Balboa?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Snowflake Method - Step 4

Okay, time to address Step 4 in the Snowflake Method!  Have you been keeping up with me so far?  I hope so, because I'm a lazy son-of-a-gun and haven't really been pressing you with anything too huge up to this point.  These should all be relatively easy, fun steps to handle.

First, to review:  Step 1 of the Snowflake Method was to capture the essence of your whole story into one 15-word (or less) sentence.  Step 2 was to take this sentence and expand it into a (roughly) 5-6 sentence paragraph, highlighting the 3 (or so) BIG issues in your story.  Then, in Step 3, you were tasked with fleshing out your main characters a little bit: name, story summary, goals, motivation, etc.; basically a single page summary of your main characters.

At these stages of the Snowflake Method of writing, you will be alternating between story and characters, and growing each of them together.  That's not to say that you won't alter things as you go along, because you will, but this is a more structured way of approaching things.  It's your road map, if you will, but you can take a variety of routes to get to the end: a finished first draft of your novel.

So, here at Step 4 of the Snowflake Method, you will be switching gears and going back to your story.  Dig out what you had from Step 2.  From each of the sentences that you have from this step, you will now be expanding them to form a paragraph.  At the end, you will have at least a page, probably more, that details out your story.  You'll start to add particular settings that you may want, a little background on your characters perhaps, or other cool things that spring from your creative mind.  Basically, you are writing out a solid synopsis of your novel that most people would be able to understand and (hopefully) decided if they wanted to read the whole novel or not.

Do things have to be perfect?  No!  The whole point of the Snowflake Method is to help you get closer and closer to the ultimate goal of a finished first draft of your novel.  If there aren't things that you realize you want to change, tweak, or discard, either you aren't doing it right, or you are much, much better at this than I am.  The goal isn't perfection, the goal is expansion - and fun!  This whole process should be fun.  You should be enjoying getting these details down on the page, working out how your characters interact, and putting them in new places and times.  Always, always, enjoy the process.  If you are feeling like things have become too much like "a job", then take a break for a few days (or longer).  It will always be waiting for you when you return.

So, at the end of this step, you'll have at least a page full of details about your story, and I'm guessing that you'll have new threads to pull at in your brain as well.  Take time, mull things over, rewrite your sentences, etc.  This, too, will be the basis for a later step and you'll be helping yourself along by getting things as much to your liking as possible.

Okay, final reveal time again.  I'll give you an example of one of my sentences from my Step 2, and then I'll put below it my paragraph of that sentence from my Step 4.  Enjoy!

Step 2 sentence:

Out camping and geocaching in the deep Wisconsin woods, two best friends unwittingly get drawn into a voyeur's murderous game.

Step 4 paragraph:
Two best friends...plan for a weekend in the Wisconsin northwoods, camping and geocaching. They drive deep into a national forest in their Jeeps and make camp at a rarely-used site. Excited to find a new geocache before anyone else does, they set out in the late Friday afternoon sunlight to locate the geocache. Upon finding the geocache and opening the weather-proof box, they discover a photo of themselves taken just a couple of hours ago as they were setting up camp. On the back of the photo is a set of coordinates.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Amanda Hocking Strikes Again

So, maybe you've heard some news somewhere, or read a newspaper, or a blog, or something.  Basically, Amanda Hocking strikes again.

What did she do this time?  Well, she's agreed to hand off one of her EXISTING book series to the same group that she signed with for a new book series - yup, St. Martin's Press.  But why?  Well, there are a few reasons, but the biggest reason of all is that there is serious talk about them being turned into one or more movies!  That's right, not only is she making good money with writing now, but she's captured the attention of Hollywood.

I have to admit that I'm a little jealous of her success, but let's be honest:  she put in her time.  She's been writing for a number of years, and finally decided to take the self-publishing plunge only a couple of years ago (I'm guessing here, so don't quote me on the time frame).  But she's got plenty of stock on her shelf that's written already, plus more that hasn't yet been published, plus more yet in her head.  She's a writing machine!

So I say, Congratulations, Amanda!  You've continued to provide us with something to aspire to, and here's hoping that you continue to enjoy the whole process.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Promotion

Some authors love it, some authors hate it, and some just don't have a clue as to where to start with promoting themselves and their book(s).  Social media, press releases, articles, websites, blogging, interviews, book signings, author readings, emails, letters, phone calls.....   Pretty soon you are ready to just scream at the top of your lungs "I GIVE UP!!!!"

Okay, hold on their partner, come on down off of the ledge.  Things really don't have to be that hard.  Can anyone do EVERYTHING related to promotion?  No, and don't try to kid yourself that someone does, because I will guarantee you that they are missing something that would bring them just 1 more person to buy a book.  But, you say, there are all of these things that I NEED to be doing, or at least that's what "everyone" is telling me.  What do I do?

First, let me start by telling you that I only do a handful of things at present, for a few reasons: I still have a full-time job that I enjoy, I am still writing my novel and generating new ideas, I have a wife and 3 cats to keep happy (the cats are easier!), and I have other interests that I choose to make time for, like camping, fishing, gardening, etc.  So I don't have all of the answers, but I think I've got a good idea of how to get things started, no matter which avenues you choose to pursue.  And make no mistake about it, you should choose those things that you find easiest and most productive, because you will then stick with them for the long haul, and that's important - longevity.

First, you should make a list of all of the things that you have easy access to and knowledge of how to do it.  For me, I knew about blogging (hey, you're reading this, right?), I had a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account.  So that's where I've started.  But I didn't do it all at once.  I first started with my LinkedIn account, where I started to join groups focused on writing and publishing.  I follow conversations, join in where appropriate and where I can offer solid information and/or advice, and generally absorbed and continue to absorb all of the information that is out there.  If you aren't on LinkedIn yet, you should look at adding that to the mix!

The next thing that I started was this blog.  I had no wild assumptions that I would suddenly have thousands of followers and people would love me - that's just crazy talk.  Instead, my approach has been to set a schedule for myself on a minimum of blog posts that I would hit in a given week, and then stick to it.  I also chose a focus of what I wanted in my blog - in my case, its to talk about my journey in writing and self-publishing, and to toss in a few random, fun things related to authors/writers and the industry in general.  Over time, I knew that I would start to gain followers and a readership, and hopefully that this would continue to grow as time went on and I plugged my blog in the groups that I'm in on LinkedIn and other places.  I may not have the most spectacular numbers, but I'm happy to have at this point 10 followers to my blog.  I didn't know how quickly I would get them, but I'm satisfied at this point, and will keep working to grow it.

The third thing that I've added now is a Facebook Fan Page.  This is a page separate from my personal account, and that I'm dedicating to my writings, books, and industry fodder.  My Fan Page is also following other pages of interest to me: writers, publishing devices, etc. (Kindle has a Fan Page, for instance).  About once a week or so I post something to my Fan Page - come and visit me and "like" my page if you wish:  Darren Lee Kirby.  Each time that I do a blog post, I go to my Facebook and LinkedIn pages and post a link back here and invite people to read my latest blog post.  Kind of a nice little circle, eh?

I also submit articles occasionally to Articles Base, most of which originate from this blog.  That's something else to think about: syndicating your blog posts as articles with links back to your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other pages that you have.  The goal is to increase your readership.  I'm going to be adding more "layers" over time as well, again to help increase readership and hopefully to have people ultimately get to know me better and purchase one of my books.

So, sit down and see what you already know and do - go after that low-hanging fruit and exploit it.  Do each one separately, and add the next after you've gotten a handle on the previous "layers" that you have added.  If you find out that you are presently tapped out on time to do more, then at least continue on with what you are doing, as its better to be doing something rather than nothing.  Also, be sure to start doing something TODAY!  Even if you are still working on your novel, like I am, its important to start making a name for yourself as soon as you can.  It will make things much easier when you finally release your novel, as you'll already have a small platform from which to shout to the mountains "Come buy my book!".  Best of success to you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ah, the future of libraries!