It’s Almost NaNo Time Again–Get Ready!

Nano CrestOn Sept 27, 2015, I wrote regarding my introduction to NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month website created by Chris Baty in 1999 and succeeded by Executive Director, Grant Faulkner in 2012. Think you still have a book in you? November is the month to find out. Just 50,000 little words, only 1,667 words per day in 30 days. Think you can do it? How about if you had help, a coach, or several coaches, hints, information, word count, encouragement, and other participants pushing to complete their book in the same month? It’s a band of engagement–join the fun!

National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The experience is free–yes–they’ll accept donations and getting into the spirit of the thing, you can order NaNoWriMo mugs, clothing, books, and posters. And it’s so simple: Continue reading “It’s Almost NaNo Time Again–Get Ready!”

Launch That Baby!

Launch That Baby!

Day 16-Author Blog Challenge: What has been the most challenging part of your book process: writing, building the book, printing, distributing, marketing, etc.? What do you wish you’d known before you began?

So it took 6 months, a year, 4 years to write the book–all that time, effort, sweat. Finally, the baby is born, but so new, so fresh, so full of undiagnosed problems and ca-ca. Then it’s the editing portion Booksof the manuscript–ripping and tearing. Whether you go through the book the prescribed 4 or 5 times yourself, or you are able to pay for the sharp, professional eyes of an editor, this entity almost becomes akin to that of a teenager. Are you really sure you birthed this thing??! Is it beginning to wear on you?

Well, get used to it, as in this analogy, you’re literally responsible for this baby until one of you perishes, and it’s not supposed to be the baby! It really is up to you to mold and Book Releaseshape what happens next–hopefully–to maturity.

The mature creation stands ready to be released into the world. Then the fun begins! No one mentions that marketing will be a life long journey. The learning curve is steep and too easy to make mistakes. Missteps can literally set you back in marketing, making sales more difficult. Marketing begins to take on monumental proportions. The snowball effect kicks in as you realize you must first master the elementary task to proceed to the next level and this adventure is multi-layered, each getting successively more difficult. Can you actually present a live presentation? Publishing doesn’t necessarily equate success.

Whether self-published or through one of the big six, you’ll be responsible for promoting and marketing–Book Fairnurturing and cajoling. Marketing demands education beyond those creative writing classes or the employment of a cadre of professionals. Fortunately, as with parenthood, there are those who have been there/done that and can lend a detached and unemotional but firm and guiding hand. Thank heaven, as there are times when I feel like the babe here and I can use all the help proffered.

Virginia Williams

NaNo What?

NANO What?

It is said that everyone has at least one book in them and it seems now with the heightened awareness and climbing popularity of self-publishing, most would-be writers are trying their hand at it.

Indeed, November was designated, “National Novel Writing Month” to take advantage of dreary winter days with forced indoor occupation and came to be known as “NaNoWriMo“. Nano Crest

The project was originated by freelance writer Chris Baty of the San Francisco bay area  in 1999 with the help of a friend who developed a website to accommodate 140 participants including several internationally. The idea is to push 50,000 words in 30 days, which would average 1,667 words per day. The website’s motto is “No Plot? No Problem!” Quality is not the issue, plot is not the issue, characterization is not the issue. The issue is the uninhibited flurry of getting words on the (figuratively speaking) paper. There is always time after November during the succeeding winter months to develop the characters and plot more fully and/or expand the manuscript to 70k+ words. While there is no fee involved, registration is required in order to verify word count, award winners, and they do solicit and happily receive donations.

While Baty hoped his idea would grow, he was not prepared for the onslaught of eager writers who registered in subsequent years, which he credited to word-of-mouth bloggers and, of course, the event being picked up and reported by news agencies including the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

Given the wild growth of the event, Baty found himself launching an organized panel setting out rules and by 2003 a NaNoWriMo team began sending out pep talk emails, writing hints, and opened socialization between NaNo Participantparticipants. By 2011 the website had undergone some major improvements in handling registrations, word count updates, and winner verifications. The following January found Baty stepping down to pursue a full time writing career with the installation of a new Executive Director, Grant Faulkner, and by 2013 claimed over 400,000 participants.

It was in 2011 that one of my motobuddies casually noted she’d be registering NaNo Winnerfor NaNoWriMo and that she hoped to finally complete her first novel. That got my attention and researching the website quickly signed up myself! Finally, a way to begin! AND to boot, if the 50,000 words were completed and declared a winner, the participant would be eligible to receive five (yay!! Perfect! One for my daughter, son, cousin, sister, and myself) free (YEAH–free!) printed paperback copies of their books through CreateSpace, providing a natural feed into Amazon.com. CreateSpace 

Whoa! Was I really ready for Amazon?

 No! But the happy answer was that they were ready for me–from format templates to free cover (template) ideas. The rest is–as they say–history. In this case, historical fiction actually. There’s a learning curve here, no question, but one that leads to success and it began for me with one simple facebook post: “I’m going to register for NaNoWriMo”. If you’re new to the game, check it out. It works.

Virginia Williams

Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?

Interesting and lively discussion back on Goodreads.com regarding all those wonderful stars trailing the best-selling books.

Neil (of “Shut Up and Read”) started it all in December 2013 when he ranted, “Are all Amazon reviews bogus???…Some reviews are so obviously fake, shills, they must think the readers are stupid. …”

Having read the posts and feeling fairly strongly about it myself given the degree to which I’d worked to get any stars at all, noted that I spot read reviews; usually a couple rated 5, but also rely on the lesser rated for some good insight into the book. I felt that the book descriptions don’t always accurately describe the book and the title can be deceiving.

I appreciate honest and detailed reviews for the manuscripts I’ve published for my grandfather and likewise try to be very honest in my reviews of the books I’ve read–and I’ve read quite few; some good–some not so. In view of the time it takes to write a decent review on the books I thoroughly enjoy, I might rate but will not generally spend the time to review one I didn’t care for. I suspect many do the same, although in reading the reviews left by others, usually find a consensus of the same two or three stars I would give confirming my judgment of the book.

My problem here is that if I don’t leave a review for the book I didn’t care for (and that seems to be the norm), the author is deprived of the problems I perceived. The same applies to the books I’ve published. I didn’t understand the motives behind a two-star rating which left me wondering how to fix a problem I’m unaware exists. Of course it’s hard to actually print those harsh words for someone else knowing the blood, sweat, and tears that comprise a manuscript. As Ken from Goodreads wrote“I’ll read the bad reviews first and see if they have anything valid to say. You can usually tell if it’s real. Sometimes a bad review will complain about something that I consider an attribute and that’s makes me want to read the book. I don’t really trust 5-star reviews any more.” Continue reading “Are Amazon Reviews Bogus?”

Book Review – What Is So Hard About That?

I’m onto the next phase in the science of marketing, promoting, and publishing industry and that appears to be reading and reviewing books either in your own genre or that of the others in your group. As I’ve mentioned before, I joined the Idaho Author Community (IAC) this year as I’d hit the wall in my limited ability to find avenues to market and promote the sea-adventures I’d published posthumously for my grandfather.

Apparently not the only one lacking years of publishing industry and marketing knowledge, the exchange of thoughts and suggestions at our bi-monthly meetings have been an invaluable source of ideas. It’s okay that I’d exhausted my source; everyone there has another.

Reading voraciously has always come easy, so it was the suggestion of exchanging, reading, and evaluating each others books that came as a welcome solution to the one common problem many of us share–lack of reviews for our own works. The authors in the Community each have a genre of their own from (my own) historical fiction to fantasy to children’s books. Fiction and non-fiction, memoirs, and science fiction all take center stage from time to time depending on the IAC venue.

How can you have a downside to an unlimited free supply of books readily available on most any subject? Uh Oh…..now comes the hard part–the review! Yes, I know most of these authors. We’ve all struggled mightily bringing our books to the market. They are our babies. We powdered, fed, and carried our babies close to our hearts until they were delivered into the hands of the unbiased reading public.

So, to conscientiously deliver a dispassionate, neutral review of another’s book may not be all that simple. I’ve had to employ “tough love” with a consistent, impartial criteria.

 What do I specifically look for when analyzing a book? Continue reading “Book Review – What Is So Hard About That?”