2019 Book Marketing Goals Wrap-Up

2020 somehow feels like it’s already gone by so fast, until I stop and realize it’s only the second week.

Anyway, now that I’ve reviewed the numbers for this site in 2019, it’s time to go back to my book marketing goals for a final check-up. Continue reading “2019 Book Marketing Goals Wrap-Up”

Numberbrag 2019! And 2020 Plans

2019 was a weird year. I helped raise an infant into a toddler. I lost my job, was unemployed for four months, and found a new job in a totally unexpected place. And, oh yeah, I transferred five years’ worth of website content to a new domain!

I legitimately forgot that we switched from Red String PaperCuts to Evening Satellite as our main site in 2019, until I read over my numberbrag post from this time last year.

In that post, I focused on the types of content featured most heavily on this site in 2018, and some loose ideas about where I thought we were going in 2019. I’ll do something similar for 2019 and 2020.

Continue reading “Numberbrag 2019! And 2020 Plans”

2020 Programming Note

2019 brought a ton of changes for me personally, professionally, and authorly over the last year-plus, and a lot of that has seeped into this site, whether I intended it to or not.

I hinted at some plans to freshen up my blogging a bit in my Write Day post. It’s taken me six months to realize this, but I need to change up my blogging habits.

For the foreseeable future, I’m only going to post twice per week:

  • My weekly Haiku Sunday
  • One longer-form post on Wednesdays

Keep reading if you want some details.

Continue reading “2020 Programming Note”

January Write-Day: New Year, New Adventures

December was a fun month. I’ll get into it a bit more with my goal review, but we got to watch our one-year-old open gifts and really be excited to play with new toys for the first time.

Writing time was limited due to the holidays, but that frankly wasn’t surprising. I’ve been productive in other ways, effectively planning how things are going to go on this site for this year. More on that in a few days. Continue reading “January Write-Day: New Year, New Adventures”

On Being an Expert in Your Own Writing Style

Expertise is a weird concept. It can’t really be quantified, but it’s used to qualify pretty every facet of life, at least in terms of a person’s performance in a particular role, or with a particular skill.

When I was unemployed, I gave a lot of thought to my own expertise, mostly related to my professional career, but also my writing career. It might be difficult to identify your own expertise in anything. That kind of label is likely bestowed upon you by others. Anyone can call themselves an expert in something, but when someone else calls you an expert — that’s a good sign you’re headed in the right direction.

Expert storytellers, expert editors, expert linguists or “wordsmiths”. These are the types of qualifiers used to describe respected authors. It may seem strange to refer to yourself as such — I definitely do not feel like I’ve earned any of these — but you should at least be an expert in your own writing.

Know Your Writing Style

Once you’ve written more than one story, with different characters, different settings, maybe in a different world, you start to notice your own writing quirks.

If you’re writing your first story, it may be hard to identify your writing style. You’re just trying to get words onto paper and figure out how to build a narrative. And that’s okay.

But I think here are still some ways you can reflect on your writing and pick out your style — and enhance it. Think about the following patterns in your writing style.

  1. How do you describe characters?
  2. How do you describe settings?
  3. Is your dialogue short and direct, or long and flowery?
  4. Do your characters use a lot of mannerisms or facial expressions when they talk?
  5. Are your scenes broken up by chunks of more expository or narrative writing?
  6. Are your chapters or sections a consistent length, or does each one vary by more than a few pages?

Become the Expert in Your Style

There are no right or wrong answers to any of the above questions, but thinking about as you write can help you pick out your tendencies.

For instance, I tend to start character descriptions at the eyes, at least when the characters are standing near each other. I like reading people’s eyes when I talk to them, trying to understand their mood or their mindset, and I’ve projected that interest into a lot of my characters.

I also tend to use two ways of describing setting: I either use the POV character’s senses to “see” their immediate surroundings, or I take a broader view, almost looking down on the character from above to provide more of an atmospheric description.

Once you understand your tendencies, you can start to vary them so your writing doesn’t become stale or predictable. This can also just make your writing more interesting to you. After all, there are only so many ways to describe a forest.

I like to describe my characters’ facial expressions and mannerisms as they speak to liven up the dialogue. However, I’ve found that short, direct dialogue with little description can be used to pick up the pace of the story.

Understanding that initial tendency and trying to change it up depending on the situation has helped me create urgency in scenes that require it, or slow down and lean on more detailed conversations that really enliven the characters.

During your revision or editing sessions, try to pay a bit of attention to these types of questions and understand your own habits as a writer. You may decide to alternate your style depending on the scene, the character, or the story. If you’re happy with what you find and want to reinforce a certain pattern, then that’s great, too.

As long as you’re becoming an expertise in your writing style, it will feel natural to your readers.

Steve D

December Write Day: NaNo is Over, but I barely Noticed

I’m sensing a pattern here, in that each month seems to pass more quickly than the last.

This post is a week late because I wanted to finish “The Grand Mythos”, so we’re already almost halfway through December. Oh well.

November was solid. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and we had a nice time with family, but I’ve also taken some interesting steps on the writing front.

Not only did I finish publishing my mythic fantasy series, but I’ve also started writing my short story. Continue reading “December Write Day: NaNo is Over, but I barely Noticed”

Reflections on Another Completed Story: "The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan"

As you might have seen on Friday, I just posted the twelfth and final chapter of “The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan, Volume One” on Wattpad, so I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last year of publishing with Wattpad, as well as the writing of these stories. Continue reading “Reflections on Another Completed Story: "The Grand Mythos of Úr’Dan"”

Don’t Be Afraid to Write the Story You Want

A lot of blogs and publishing websites will tell you to research your genre and see what concepts or ideas are currently trending in the market. If you can quickly develop a similar concept, write the story, and publish, you could ride the coattails of similar books and sub-genres to a better launch.

That’s a solid strategy for selling books, but I personally do not feel like it’s a great strategy for writing meaningful stories. If you’re writing a concept that is meaningful to you, and it also happens to be trending in the market, that’s great! You’re probably on your way to some good sales numbers.

But I would argue that telling the most meaningful story should come first; sales and marketing come second.

Tell the Story You Want to Tell

Beyond the sales side of it, it can be easy to get wrapped up in your own expectations for your ideal story. You have a great concept in your head, with your main characters and a good sense of where the plot will lead all lined up.

But you can’t start writing… you actually avoid trying to craft that first line. Why? Because the concept is so perfect in your head. Before it touches paper or a computer screen, it doesn’t require revisions or editing. No one can criticize it. You don’t have to worry about disappointing sales numbers or lack of readership. In your head, that story is exactly what you think it could be.

I realized I was doing this recently with a new concept for a two- or three-part short story. I’ve had a lot of ideas to diversify my writing projects and to get smaller things published while I work on WoEL, which will certainly not be ready to publish for at least another year.

One such concept is a multi-part short story that I can publish in parts on KDP, then as a single volume in print. I’ve outlined quite a bit, particularly for my protagonist, and I feel like the concept is solid enough to start writing.

But I have yet to actually start writing. Instead, I was getting ready to start another project, one with much lower stakes. This one would be a running travelogue-style series on Wattpad — just short entries every couple of weeks following one particular character.

I like both of these ideas, and I want to pursue each of them, but I haven’t had any movement on the short story.

Now, what are the key differences between these two ideas?

  • One, the Wattpad series, is very low commitment. I can casually write a new chapter every couple of weeks, publish on the interwebs, hope some people read it, and keep going.
  • The other is a story I want to publish professionally: cover art, revisions, book design… the whole nine yards. Then, I would try to sell these stories online and at conventions next year. That means I have to get it done in a reasonable amount of time.

See the difference?

This short story is the one I really want to write, but it comes with a much greater commitment of my time and energy, and it will be exposed to a wider audience (I hope).

I’ve neglected actually writing it because of the risk it involves. I can’t get it done in time, or people won’t like it, or it won’t sell. I’ve let the fear of those things keep me from writing, but I can’t control any of those things until I actually write the story.

So, it’s easy to get caught up in all the what-ifs involved with writing and publishing a story, but if that idea sticks with you, lingering in the back of your mind for months on end? Leave the fears behind. That’s the story you should be working on. Worry about the rest later.

Steve D

Poorly Written Headlines #5

Looks like we have a two-fer today! This is a headline and sub-headline combination for the same release. They were collectively so bad that I had to discuss them together.

I’ll examine each part separately and then discuss them together. Here are some tips for writing amazing headlines.

Continue reading “Poorly Written Headlines #5”

NaNoWriMo 2019 Update – Week 2

Halfway through November, National Novel Writing Month is going pretty well for me. I think I’ve started to figure out a real writing process in the limited writing time I actually have day to day.

And it’s only taken me five months to get here! Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2019 Update – Week 2”