Friday, July 19, 2013

"They've got a cave troll."

 Wherein Jack tries to make sense of her writing

 Now that my book party is over, I've gotten my word count back up for Camp NaNo, and - best of all - finished the re-write on book two!!! I am able to sit back and decide where to go from here. (Sounds dramatic, right?)

 Sometimes, lately, I've been feeling a bit like Rapunzel. I've been dreaming of being an author since I was at least 13, and now I've reached that dream. I have two books published and know I can now publish even more. But I still sometimes wonder if I'm doing something wrong. When it comes to marketing I still feel completely lost.

 As I've mentioned before, I don't want to be one of those authors always praising their own work and going on and on about how great it is and how all of you should read it. I've read Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and blog posts were other authors do this and it has always made me NOT want to read their books.
 From my research it seems the best marketing plan, the one that has seemed to have the best effect, is to let the readers spread the word. If they like the book enough they will tell their friends. If they love the book they will tie their friends to a chair and make them read it. (I speak from experience here. Sorry to all my friends now bound to chairs.)
 But, I'm still wondering if even this plan has holes in it. Am I missing out on an important marketing secret? If so, what kind of quest do I have to go on to find it?

 And then, when I start to doubt myself so badly I consider giving up the endeavor, I remind myself why I write.

 Last year, well, actually two years ago, a group of people got together and decided to try a new form of story telling. They were certain they would be laughed at and get rotten tomatoes thrown at them when they walked out into the streets, but they risked it anyways because the idea sounded fun to them.

 Armed with cameras and a couple unknown actors, they began to film a movie, done in vlog style. They posted it on Youtube, and by the time the story was over these actors had hundreds of adoring fans - and the people who made the movie were able to put it on DVD and sell it.
 Some of you might know who I'm talking about. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice.

 I started watching these videos with a friend of mine, and by the time they were over I, like many others, wanted to own them on DVD. I followed the characters - and actors - on Twitter and their other social medias they'd set up to go along with the story. And it was there, actually it was on Tumblr, I stumbled across a letter someone had written to the actress who played Lizzie.

 The general drift of the letter was the girl saying she knew it was silly, but she was going through a hard time in her life and she found things easier to bare because of these stories.
 Silly, right? After all, how can we find comfort in the lives of people who don't even exist? How can we be encouraged to endure the trails we face by reading about Lizzie Bennet, or someone else who never lived? (I shall give you the actress's reply in a moment.)

 Interested by what I had read, I began to look into it a little more. I saw all over where people would talk about movies or books as if they were dear friends to them. They would say they were having a bad day and planned to put in their favourite movie and curl up on the couch with chocolate and tea. And I began to realize I did the same thing. After a bad day, I will crawl away from the world and visit fictional characters, and part of me thought it was silly. Shouldn't I be seeking out the company of real people to help me?
 (Note here, sometimes we do need help of living, breathing people. But that is something for another time and doesn't relate to this ramble. I'm pretty sure all of you, my brilliant readers, know full well when you need the advice of someone who doesn't live in a book or movie.)

 All of this reminded me of what the actress had written in reply to the girl's email.
 I don't remember her reply word for word, but the basic of it was, for years people have taken comfort in stories. It is why we have them. We can look at the lives of people we can admire and use their examples to help us through trails. It isn't silly to admire a fictional character, so long as they are the kind we can admire. 

 And then I was reminded why I write. I never wanted to write to become rich and famous. (Actually, I have a fear of becoming famous. Part of the reason I picked a pen name. I don't want people looking me up on goggle and sitting outside my house with cameras. {I know it would never happen, but you know - if I ever did become a spy that would be a major set back.})
 I wanted to write so that if there was ever a little kid who spent a summer alone, wishing they had a friend, they could find it in my books. (Just as I found friends in all the books I read as a kid.) I want to write to take people on adventures, to give them a chance to meet people they can admire.

 I doubt my books will last for years and years. Likely they will be forgotten long before I'm ready for them to be. But at least for now, I hope those who do pick them up, will be able to enjoy their stories. Will be able to slip away from bad days, even for a little while, and be ready to face another bad day because they feel like they have a friend with them.

 So there, a bit of sappiness. And now I should end this so I can get some work done on The Broken Blade and contact my Beta readers about editing. (Beta Readers, that is such fun to say, even though I have no clue what it means.)

 Quote is from The Lord of the Rings, because every blog could use more Boromir quotes.




  1. That was worded so well, Jack! I never want to be famous other (like my character, I like my privacy) but I did want to share an adventure that I enjoyed and hoped someone else would get lost in the world as well. That the characters would be like real friends to those readers.
    And I think that means we are both successful.

  2. You do put it well! And every marketing plan has flaws, I think, but letting the readers do it tends to be the best. That's what I do too–I hate talking about my own work, so I let others do it.

    Writing to make others happy is really the only reason to write. Sure, you write to make yourself happy, but making others happy makes me happy, so by writing for them, I kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. (And I agree–fame looks scary. Too many people for my taste.)

  3. I must confess that the idea of being famous does appeal to me, but I'm a people-person (despite what you might think when you first meet me) and I'd like like to be everyone's best friend if it were possible. But I don't write to be famous. I write because my characters are my friends and I'd like them to be alive and well in their story worlds. I publish these stories because I had so much fun with these people that I created that I think others might enjoy the worlds, too. (And becoming famous is impossible if no one reads my books).

    Eh, those Rapunzel days are the worst, aren't they? I'm a published author now ... now what? Those are the days when I have to remind myself of my other books and say, "that's what." I still need to finish book 3 of Bookania, and then there's Infiltration that needs a serious rewrite, and let's not forget Rizkaland. (Frankly, I'm a tad afraid of the day when book 2 of that series is finally published, because that one's my baby!)

    And good work on Broken Blade and Abolished Practicality. I'm looking forward to both!

    Beta Readers are the second set of people to read the book, after the "alpha reader" i.e. the author.

  4. Ooh, I loved this post. Stories have always been a Thing Of Necessity for me. They're one of those things that I must have if I'm sad or depressed, because they cheer me up. And sometimes, the author, or the actor, tell how the character feels and it sums *me* up to perfection. And I sit there, like a moron, nodding and grinning/crying and thinking, "So-and-so gets it too! lalalalala"


    1.) I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of being famous. I'd love to inspire people, I'd love to know that people kind of like me, but then... there's... people. People in groups. Large groups of people. NOOOOOO. Large groups of people are terrifying and not at all awesome.

    2.) After "Lisbeth's Choice" I really want to get my hands on "Haphazardly Implausible" because you have a great style of writing. It reminds me a bit of "Lark" or "The Sherwood Ring" which are some of my favorite books. :D I just need... you know... money.

    Anyway. I go now. :D BYEE!

  5. I like your new blog look - though it did take me a minute of going, "wait... did I type in the write url?" haha

    Love the thought and sentiment here. It is so true. Stories are ingrained in us. They are a part of our deepest heart. I think that's why Jesus told so many parables - because we like stories. Really, He created us to like stories... probably because, ultimately, HE likes stories (he is the original author, after all).

    In response to your comment, The Battle of Ebulon is perpetually free on Smashwords. Many of the stories are quite good. There are a lot of typos in some of the entry points... so if that sort of thing bothers you, be forewarned. :)

  6. Ooh, hit "publish" too soon.

    I was looking for your books on Amazon the other day, and was wondering if I'm missing something. Is A Stretch of Loyalty only available in e-format? If it is... sadness.

    Also, if you ever figure out the marketing "secret" please let me know! :) I've come to the belief that marketing is the #1 most difficult thing about writing a book. It's such a word-of-mouth market... and there are so many indie writers out there now... that it can be very hard to create a following. Especially since the general sentiment is that the best way to create a following is to NOT TRY to create a following... WHAT? Anyway. Giveaways seem to generate interest. And I've been told that for most indie authors the magic number is 4. Four books before you start seeing a real uptick in your sales.

    So... we're both about halfway there! :)

  7. LOL - (You're going to come back to your computer and get all excited about all your comments and then it's going to be a bit of a let-down when you see they're all from me... sorry about that)

    Just saw your link to the paperback versions of your books. So, you don't have to answer that question!

  8. I *so* understand that feeling, much like Rapunzel as you said, that maybe my dream isn't going to be everything I thought or wanted it to be.

    But I think you're in no danger of being swiftly forgotten -- as evidenced by this post, you have a wonderful way with words. People don't ignore that.

  9. I like the idea of tying my readers to chairs. That sounds like the best marketing strategy to me!

    Oh, what a great quote. That is one of the best lines in the entire movie. It's the WAY he says it, with that toss of his head and the almost bored disbelief in his voice.

    It's funny you used that as a quote, because I woke up this morning with a desire to read something epic, so I pulled out the Lord of the Rings, and have started reading the trilogy like a voracious coyote. There's nothing quite like Tolkien for a bit of Epic Brilliance.


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