Tag Archives: readers

How To Set Up An Amazon Giveaway

Just what I needed! I was hovering over the Amazon Giveaway screens for King of the Roses and discovered I didn’t know how the odds-setting worked. This post, from February of this year, explains it! This is Nicholas Rossis’s “secondary blog” that shows a reblog button, but you can access the original, with many informative comments, here. Now watch for my Giveaway, coming up next week!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Amazon has recently started offering everyone the opportunity to offer a giveaway. What’s interesting about this is that you can run one for pretty much any item in their inventory – except for ebooks. So, you can run a giveaway for your print edition, but not your Kindle one.

Alternatively, you could go all the way and offer people, say, a Kindle. Or, indeed, an item that is somehow related to your books. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, you may give away kitchen gadgets or aprons. The key here is to be imaginative and original.

So, how would you go about it? Here’s the complete how-to.

Step 1: Find your book

Right after the reviews, you will see a “Set up an Amazon Giveaway” button. If you can’t find it, press Control-F (for Find) on your browser and enter the word “giveaway”…

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Language Warning! But You Better Read Anyway!

alarmed smileyAs usual, Chuck Wendig has his own way of saying things. So put your fingers in your ears so you won’t hear the bad words, and read! 25 Reasons I Stopped Reading Your Book!

I’ve posted my own reasons more than once. Here’s what I wrote on Chuck’s post:

I’ve posted more than once about my own answer to this question. Lack of voice is way up there. Too many characters and scenes feel pasted out of the Universe of Stock that we all have access to. No surprises, not in the characters’ actions, not in the diction, not in the rhythm. All stuff I’ve seen a thousand times (and don’t subject myself to any more).

What I call “illogic” fits several of these points: When something a character does or something that happens serves the prefabricated plot and not the story that wants to emerge from the characters’ interactions. I got into trouble myself once making characters do something they were screaming that they didn’t want to do. Ruined a potentially good novel, and boy, did I pay. Nothing in this post is truer than that the characters write the story. Listen to them.

And gosh, pages of exposition (and no, that’s not “literary fiction”). And too much info, too many characters, on page 1. And books that start with action before I can understand the conflict. And . . . and . . . and . . .

This post could easily be required reading in every “creative writing” class or critique group (though it would require a language warning in most settings, i fear).

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Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for Reviews

Book with heart for writersDo you review books? Can you add to this good advice? What makes you decide to write a review—or makes you decide not to? I find that I’m least likely to review something I’m reading if I’m unsure whether I’m reacting to the book itself or to conventions of a genre that I just don’t understand or care for. What about you?

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10 Cliches in Mystery Novels

As a mystery writer, I love the analysis in this list! My favorites:

No. 2) Isn’t it great when the police are conveniently so stupid that the detective can look smart with very little effort? That dates at least to Arthur Conan Doyle (remember Lestrade?), but it’s a long way from the truth. Rachel is absolutely right that police work can be a difficult and thankless task.

No. 3) Follows from No. 2, as Rachel points out. The detective is the only one with the basic common sense to detect foul play.

What am I guilty of? Well, My Failed Novel had a depressed detective hero. Never again. I plead guilty to inserting some attractive female characters in my first two books, now online. I hope these women are just a little bit nuanced so that they’re not total clichés.

What would I add?

  • The info dump at the end where the hero lines all the characters up and exhibits his or her brilliance by explaining the whole case, which he or she was the only one smart enough to unravel.
  • That, and books where people just tell the detective what he or she needs to know rather than allowing the detective to work for his or her discoveries.
  • And finally, detectives who don’t share things they’ve learned. Of course they’re smarter than everybody else if they’re keeping secrets!

    What would you add?

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Why Readers Stop Reading a Book.

The folks at Lit World Interviews conducted a survey. See where you fall on the spectrum! I posted my reasons for not finishing a book and for feeling kicked out of the story world; see if you agree!

Lit World Interviews

Recently, we here at LitWorldInterviews.com conducted a survey, “Why do you put a book down?” and through the assistance of the writing community we had a very nice response. Now it’s time to share what we found.

First, I want to say why the survey was conducted. We wanted to help writers by giving them the information they most need. If a reader takes the time to check out your book and don’t like it, they are unlikely to give you a second chance with your next work. First impressions mean a lot.

86.30% of those responding were Female, thus leaving the remaining 13.70% Male. Considering the majority of those reading novels are Female, although not quite this extreme, I’m comfortable with sharing what we found.

There were 34 sub-categories as a result of the survey. Those results were then placed into 5 main categories: Writing, Editing, Proofreading, Taste, and…

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5 Hard Truths About Being a Published Writer

Some truly HARD truths, and worth reading. I can also add that when you’ve published in the past, a fair number of agents want proof that your prior books were bestsellers before they’ll even consider your current one. “Did well for a first novel” doesn’t seem like enough.

Have you ever had experiences like these in your writing career? Share!

Carrie Cuinn

You’ve dreamed of being a writer, getting published, and finally – you’ve succeeded. Someone has paid money for your words, and they’re out in the world for people to read! Or, maybe you haven’t yet sold a story or novel, or you’re still writing for free on blogs and hoping that’s going to get you noticed. Either way, you aspire to greatness with your ability to turn a phrase. Here’s five things you definitely need to know, but probably no one has told you:

  1. You’re still going to be rejected. No matter how many sales or awards or accolades you have, you will still not have them all. You’ll submit work that won’t be purchased. You’ll write beautiful prose that doesn’t get nominated for an award, or doesn’t win even if you make it onto the ballot. You’ll be left out of articles talking about the books to read this summer…

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How do readers discover #books #infographic

Do you fit this profile? Where do you hear about the books you end up buying and liking?

Read & Survive

Men don’t trust friends and family as much? 🙈
Facebook 46%? How…where are there books on FB? Have I been living under a rock? 📚
Sales people and publishers can’t be trusted … obviously 😂😂😂

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May Be A Reason Your Editor Is Crabby…

Here’s a comprehensive “editor’s POV” discussion shared by Chris the Story Reading Ape. In my experience, careful reading of directions and the ability to follow them is a learned skill. On the one hand, as a teacher (and as many of my fellow teachers regularly lamented), getting students to follow written directions was one of the greatest of pedagogical challenges. Yet I’ve found myself misreading directions or missing an important caveat or guideline—especially when I’m trying to do something technical online :-(. So I can’t be too judgmental!
Have you ever been in an editor’s shoes? How has the experience affected your own relationship with editors?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

To find out why, click on the link or Author Donald J Bingle’s photo below:



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Filed under Editing your novel, Publishing, Working with literary editors, Writers' groups, Writing, writing novels

“Common Sense Marketing” from WITS

Magic book

Here’s an encouraging message about book marketing from Writers in the Storm (couldn’t find a reblog button). Do you have ideas for “being yourself and having fun” as the best marketing strategy? How do you encourage reviews of your books?


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World-Buiding: Not Just for Fantasy or SciFi!

world building photo

I recall being asked about my enthusiasm for Patrick O’Brian’s 20-novel series about British sea captain Jack Aubrey and his eccentric friend Stephen Maturin as they navigated the Napoleonic Wars. Why would I keep returning to these books, beginning with Master and Commander (in 2003 a movie starring Russell Crowe)? I’d answer, “What’s amazing about these books is that you enter such a complete world!”

This memory has come back recently as I’ve traveled through new reading experiences: sampling indie authors, returning to old favorites, and meeting new traditionally published and often best-selling authors. Like all readers, I’ve found books that work for me and books that don’t. A writer myself, I’m always interested in what makes a book spring into gear or stall out, even if only for me, since I want to sort out strong and weak strategies in my own work.

I know that “voice” can override glitches that try to pull me out of the story. I’ve enjoyed books with plot flaws because I enjoyed hearing the writer talking to me through characters, description, and style.

Image of earth planet on hand

But there’s another important quality akin to voice: the writer’s ability to build a world.

In fact, I’ll take a big chance here: the ability to build a complete, believable world may make a difference if being traditionally published is ever a goal.

What builds such a world?

The quality that makes a book impossible to put down is our total immersion in its reality. That metaphor implies that when we enter a book’s world, we lose sight of our familiar world in which we have to clean house and go to work and wash the car. For that to happen, this new world must be divorced from the mundane. It has to provide us with a set of eyes that see differently, that notice things we would not have noticed until the author seized our gaze.

Writers of historical fiction may find monopolizing our imaginations easier to achieve; even touches of daily life illuminate corners of a universe that takes us out of our own. For example, in Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests, there’s the sound of shillings clunking into the gas meter, there’s the slog across the yard to the outdoor WC. But modern stories should also be flush with such mind-capturing details. In Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes me into a Trenton, New Jersey, hair-braiding salon, an atmosphere completely alien to me but starkly evocative in the world she invites me into. I had never seen this corner of a modern city. I walked with her, across the divide between our worlds.

globe concept of idyllic green world

But the trust that sustains that journey is fragile. It can be shaken in many ways. Somehow, above all, a creator of worlds must convince us that her world really could exist, really does exist, even if only in mind.

A sense of accuracy is essential. Creators of worlds in sci-fi and fantasy have more leeway than authors in other genres; details need mostly to be consistent. True, in historical novels we are at the mercy of an author’s research. Patrick O’Brian never sailed on one of the ships he wrote about; how can we trust his depictions of 1800s British naval life?tall-ship-silhouette-1449207-639x931

He seduces with details: How the ship’s company had to tap their biscuits to knock the weevils out before eating; how the men at the cannons had to arch their bodies to avoid being killed by the guns’ recoil. If he knows these things, surely he knows the rest. Again, we’re sucked out of our daily worlds into his by the precision and clarity of what he puts before us. We’re too busy absorbing all the surprising pieces of his universe to look away.

Accuracy is especially vital if you’re writing for a specific community that knows its own contours well. I felt kicked out of a horse book when, among other glitches, the writer had a teenage girl galloping up on one of her farm’s “yearling thoroughbreds.” Now, they do back late yearlings on Thoroughbred farms, since the young horses will all officially turn two on January 1, and these babies often run their first races before they actually turn two. But if this is a real farm, training real racehorses, no teenage girl will be galloping around pastures on a newly broken baby destined for the track. When just a few pages later, a character attached crossties to a bridle. . . !

But this need for convincing accuracy lies at the heart of the world-builder’s dilemma. Immersion depends on strangeness. The details that capture me cannot be details I could have supplied myself. Want me to stick with you on a spring morning in the countryside? Don’t tell me about the bright blue sky or the fluffy clouds or the green fields. I know about those without your help. No, tell me something I wouldn’t have noticed or cared about until you opened my eyes.weird bleu world Depositphotos_12196361_s-2015

Yet if we are to believe, we must be able to connect these new worlds to landscapes where our usual compasses will work. The minute a reader says, “Oh, that would never happen!” or “People wouldn’t act that way!” or “I know that’s not true!”, the trust is gone.

So world-builders must construct double journeys: along a mysterious new road that keeps us gasping, yet one that parallels the world we do know. For example, Bev Pettersen’s Backstretch Baby showed me specifics of racetrack life I hadn’t witnessed myself, but the details that did match what I’d seen for myself prepared me for what she wanted me to accept. I felt I’d entered her version of a world I’d been in before, a version that was going to show me something I’d never have guessed.

In dialogue, this essential double journey shows clear.

Dialogue must be accurate to its time and place. Our characters need to “talk like real people.”

And yet nothing can be deadlier to our immersion in a story’s world than characters who talk like real people. All the little “hellos,” “how are yous,” “fine, thank yous,” with which we coat our exchanges have to be mercilessly expunged. Dialogue has to sound “natural” to the worlds we know while obsessively, ferociously, devoting itself to building the one we don’t.

flipped comma1   flipped comma1              small comma 2     small comma 2

Rereading National Velvet recently showed me how dialogue contributed to the world of this stunningly realized plot. Here’s Mi Taylor (the Mickey Rooney character in the movie) to Velvet early on—he’s just given her money to put down on the raffle ticket for the Piebald:

“. . . And see this, Velvet, I’m a fool to do it. That piebald’s as big a perisher’s the fellow that tipped me the five. ‘M going up to look at him this afternoon and likely I’ll be sorry when I see his murdering white eye.”

“Can we come too, can we come too?”

“You got yer muslins to iron.”

“MUSLINS!” said Velvet, outraged.

“Yer ma’s just wrung ’em out of the suds. I seen ’em. For the Fair.”

“I’m not going to wear MUSLIN,” said Velvet with a voice of iron.

“You’ll wear what yer told,” said Mi placidly. “I’ll slip up after dinner. Nearer one. I got them sheep at twelve. . . .”

If you’ve read the book, you know that its world forms around families and dreams and how they play out or fail in the environment of a small English village in the 1930s. The detail of what the Brown girls will wear to the fair and the distinct voice in which Mi delivers that detail become, in this dialogue, a demonstration of how authority functions in this world, warning of the challenge to that authority from the magical horse with the “murdering white eye.”

bay arabian horse runs gallop

World-building is a little like trying to catch skittish mice. We want to entice readers along the paths we’ve laid with tiny bits of carefully laid-out cheese. If the cheese is stale, they’ll turn up their noses. If the tidbits are too far apart, asking for too much empty wandering between offerings, they’ll venture off the path. If the cheese isn’t recognizable as cheese, if it’s too alien, they’ll be too wary to bite.

When I read your book, I want to follow that path without looking back or aside. I want to be captured. I want to find myself helplessly enclosed in your world. You have a double journey to accomplish; I want you to keep me pressing toward the vista straight ahead.


Romantic woman using laptop







Filed under ebooks publishing and selling, Editing your novel, indie publishing, Learning to write, Publishing, self editing for fiction writers, Self-publishing, Writing, writing novels