When is it too much?

I’ve listened to some of my friends when they first get Netflix or Hulu or find a new author.  They binge on a series they’ve found that knocks their socks off.  Sometimes, they watch or read the new show/author back to back until they’re caught up.  I’m not so good at that.  If I read an author’s books one after another, pretty soon I fizzle, no matter how good they are.  And then it’s time for me to mix it up and read other voices, other genres for a while.

It’s made me think about timing.  It’s a tricky thing, at least, for me.  One of my friends had a favorite blog, but the writer put up something new every day, and she finally felt overwhelmed and quit reading it.  We’re all busy.  We have to fit things into the few small empty spaces we have in our days.  When is too much…too much?  I follow a blog every day, but the posts are so short, I read them when I first hit my computer to wake my brain up.  They’re my alarm clock for writing.  Then there are people who post so seldomly that I forget to look for them, to make time for them.  Even when they do post, I’ve lost the flow and don’t always read them.  For me, as a reader, I think a new post once a week works about the best.

Timing even matters for books by my favorite authors.  If they write shorter books (50,000 to 70,000 words), I look forward to something by them a few times a year.  If they write tomes like Elizabeth George or J.K. Rowling, once a year fills my need to hear their voice, read their words.  But if I’m reading a series and it’s two or more years between book five and book six, the tension for the next book evaporates and even when it comes out, I might not rush to buy it.

I’m putting a second free book up on my webpage now, chapter by chapter, and I debated on how to load them–once a week?  Once a day?  I wasn’t sure, but the chapters are short, so I decided to go with once a day.  They won’t take much time to read, and hopefully, they’ll build momentum.  But I’m not sure.  Maybe that’s too much. So far, according to my stats, readers are sticking with them.  We’ll see as I go.  Wish me luck.

Happy reading and writing to all of you!

Webpage:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

Twitter:  @judypost





Writing–End of Year Thoughts

Do you know, when I first started writing aeons ago when cave men used pigments on stone walls, people kept telling me, “If you want to be published, write a good book.” Quality, according to them, was your only concern. If your book was good, someone would buy it. I’ve been on writing panels where I hear writers spout that same wisdom. Do I agree? Bull Pucky!

I’ve met wonderful writers who knock their heads against the Great Wall of Publishing. Why? Publishers are concerned with making money. Can’t blame them. They can’t keep their profits afloat each time a child believes and claps his hands. It worked for Tinker Bell, but businesses have to pay attention to the bottom line. I understand that. I just wish publishers embraced mid-list writers a little more. Everyone’s looking for the “BIG” book these days. Or the latest trend. I used to be perfectly happy buying a lot of mid-list authors.

Mid-list probably still wouldn’t help me sell. I seem to be one of those writers who’s always writing the wrong thing at the wrong time. There are authors who hit the hot trend at its upswing and ride it to success. I’m not one of them. I’m one of the writers who gets notes from editors who say, “love your writing, but can’t buy this. The market’s glutted.”

I’m not trying to pierce anyone’s balloon, but if you write what an editor has too many of and the market’s shrinking, it doesn’t matter if your writing’s topnotch. No one’s going to buy your stuff. That used to be the end of it. You tossed your book in a drawer and gave up on it. These days, you can try your hand at self-publishing. That’s what I did, and I’m happy about it. But…here I go again…if you go that route, you’d better be ready to learn some marketing. Because there are a LOT of books on Amazon or smashwords or Barnes & Noble or wherever it is you decide to try. And if your field was glutted with publishers, it’s going to be even more glutted online. So you have to figure out a way to help readers find you. My stab at marketing? I started this blog, made an author’s Facebook page, made a webpage, and joined twitter. Did it help me find readers? Darned if I know. Did it make my sales go up? Not that I’ve noticed. But I’ve made lots of online friends whom I enjoy and appreciate AND learn from. I still had to turn to some advertising sites, though, to promote my books when they went up…with mixed success.

Another truth, some people are going to dislike or hate whatever you do, and it rankles and hurts at first, but it’s okay. You can’t please everyone. Some writers say your novel is too bland if a few people don’t trash it. But hopefully, eventually more readers will find it who’ll appreciate it.

Things I’ve learned:

1. I should have started with a series. And I should have put up three books in that series in quick succession.
2. Book covers matter. Make yours good! Make them fit your genre, and make each book in a series have the “feel” of the other books in the series.
3. It helps to post things more often than not to remind readers that your characters are doing interesting things that they’ll enjoy. Some writers post novellas between their books just to keep their readers happy. Or they post out-takes from their novels or short snippets from a minor character’s POV. I’ve tried that with my webpage. I’m not sure how successful that’s been, but then, I did everything wrong, so doing a few things right isn’t going to take right away.
4. Marketing is essential. Twitter helps, but I can’t say that I’ve sold a lot of books because I tweet. I have, however, learned a lot from other generous writers on twitter–things that have proven helpful. I love writing my blog, but I’m not sure it’s helped me sell books. Again, though, I’ve met some interesting, wonderful people. My author facebook page is still a mystery to me, but I’m getting more comfortable on it. For the first time ever, I sent out an e-mail newsletter to people who signed up to receive it, and my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap if she’d have heard all the cussing involved in setting up my account and campaign on MailChimp. I’m no computer guru, and every time I have to learn something new, it’s a challenge. MailChimp felt more like torture, but I love the results. Too soon to know if it’s effective or not, but it’s my attempt at reaching READERS.
5. Writing a good book might not help you sell your first book or find a publisher or an agent, but it WILL help you sell the second one in the series. Readers know quality when they meet it. So make your book the best it can be.

This isn’t an all-inclusive post. It’s an end-of-the-year look back at what worked and didn’t work for me. I hope 2014 was good to you, and I hope 2015 is even better. Keep writing and good luck!

My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy
My newsletter: http://eepurl.com/_P_Eb
At twitter: @judypost

Writing: something old, something new

cover_26_thumbThe second book in the Wolf’s Bane series should be up soon, hopefully late this week or early next week.  I’m pretty excited about it.  When I started writing urban fantasy, I did the scatter gun approach.  (The same brilliant idea I used for my novellas.  Learn from my mistakes).  The first book my agent accepted was Fabric of Life.  She sent it to lots of big publishers.  All of them declined it.  But I learned a lot from the feedback.  Fabric of Life, even though it has magic in it and a ghost or two, wasn’t urban fantasy.  Most urban fantasy doesn’t have a real mortal in its plots.  It’s usually a kick-ass heroine who has to team with some other supernatural (often a romantic interest) to defeat some horrible, powerful, supernatural  villain.   So, I sat down and wrote Fallen Angels.

She sent out Fallen Angels, too.  With the same results.  It wasn’t quite what publishers were looking for.  Of course, I didn’t quite follow the rules this time either, because it seemed odd to me that fallen angels and vampires would dip in and out of Three Rivers and no mortal would ever know they were there or get caught in their crossfire.  So, of course, I added that.  And…my novel was turned down.

The third time I gave urban fantasy a stab, I decided to try to play by the rules.  I have a few mortals bopping around in the plot, but mostly I focused on Reece, who owns a martial arts studio, who’s attacked by a werewolf, and wouldn’t survive except that a gargoyle rescues her.  I’ve always wanted to do something with a gargoyle, and this seemed like as good a novel as any to introduce one.  Of course, the werewolf scratches her, and a bloodred tattoo inks itself into her flesh, and her magic powers are awakened.  She discovers that she comes from a long line of witches.  I was pretty proud of myself when I finished this book.  I had gargoyles, werewolves, and witches battling greedy rogues.  I’d come as close to a true urban fantasy book as I can manage.  And what did the publishers say?  The urban fantasy market was now glutted, and this was too similar to things that were already out there.  Arrrgh!

By the time I got all of the “thanks, but no thanks” replies for Wolf’s Bane, I’d already written a fourth urban fantasy–this one with Greek and Norse gods and goddesses.  How’s that for unique?  But it didn’t matter.  The publishers weren’t jumping up and down to see a new take on urban fantasy.  That’s when I decided to give online publishing a try, and that’s been a learning experience, too.

The thing to learn or take away from this is that publishers want novels that are similar to what’s already out there, but not too similar.  They want it to fit the market, but be fresh and unique.  And trends that are “hot” turn lukewarm or cold really fast.  So you might as well write what you really want to and make it the best you can.  But know your markets.  Trying to swim upstream in publishing can make you just plain tired.

I finished the second book for Fallen Angels early this year and put it online in May.  While I waited for that book to go up, I did rewrites on the second Wolf’s Bane book, and it should be available soon.  My agent suggested I make it shorter and faster, so that I’d have a series with a lot more action.  I tried, and I added touches that would keep me entertained–an evil, Egyptian pharoah who twisted his mother’s magic into something dark and dangerous and a demon who wants to go home, but the pharoah won’t let him.  It was pretty fun to write.  And the truth is, that’s all a writer can really do.  Write the best book she can, give it a fighting chance with some marketing and promotion, and hope for the best.

By the way, a good cover makes a BIG difference, and I love the cover for Shadow Demon.  It fits the story.

Whatever you’re working on, I hope you’re passionate about it.  Timing is everything in writing, so good luck!