Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Great Debate: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

As many of you know, book publishing industry professionals and readers alike have openly expressed their dislike of prologues.

Let’s lay a quick foundation:

Prologues aren’t inherently evil or indicative of poor writing. Prologues can—and have been—executed with skill. But are they necessary?

That, in my opinion, is the biggest question—not “should I should write a prologue” but “does a prologue improve my story?”


Meg LaTorre-Snyder is a writer, developmental book editor, vlogger/YouTuber, and a literary agent apprentice with a background in magazine and book publishing, medical/technical writing, journalism, and website creation. Most recently, Meg took on the role of literary agent apprentice at the Corvisiero Literary Agency, representing authors who have written fiction manuscripts. On her YouTube channel, iWriterly, Meg geeks out on all things books—from the concept to the bookshelves (and everything in between). In addition, she works as developmental book editor for Advantage Media Group|Forbes Books, assisting professionals in developing nonfiction titles. To learn more about Meg, visit her website, follow her on Twitter/Facebook, and subscribe to her YouTube channel, iWriterly.

 

 


What is a Prologue?

Prologues come before chapter one and could be expository/introductory prose, a poem, diary letter, news clipping, or anything in between.

As a reader, when I start reading a prologue, I’m usually impatient to get to chapter one. But by the end of a good prologue, I’m wondering about the subsequent story and excited to see how the event fits into the rest of the plot.

That’s a well-written prologue, mind you. The bad ones I skim over.

If you’ve attended a writing workshop, you may have noticed literary agents voicing their dislike of prologues. Some even go as far as to say that when they see prologue pages in the query box, they are immediately wary of the story and submission.

Why such an immediately negative reaction?

This is largely due to the poorly-executed prologues littering query boxes and submission piles. You’d be surprised how many writers commit the deadly sins of prologues.

Prologue Don’ts

1. Using a prologue as a place for a massive dump… information dump.

Information dumps are one of the easiest ways to make readers’ eyes glaze over. Paragraphs of text that provide dense (albeit important) background information are tough to digest. Without strategically trickling this information throughout a scene or throughout the chapters/book, readers can be immediately turned off to a story.

Not to mention, the opening pages are a make-or-break moment. You have mere seconds to hook a reader (or industry professional—who are also readers!).

Many, many writers use prologues as a means to provide tons of background information to a story (rather than to slowly introduce these elements by weaving them into scenes throughout the book). Take a closer look at your opening pages to see if you have several stretches of paragraphs or sections of text that do this. If you do, it’s time to revise!

2. A boring prologue (that readers want to skip to get to chapter one).

Obviously writers don’t start writing a prologue saying, “What is the driest scene I can write? The more boring, the better!” If your scene lacks action or purpose that propels your story, you may be falling into this danger zone.

Look at your manuscript with the critical eye of a reader and ask: “Would I skip this prologue and go right to chapter one?” If so, consider what you can do to spice things up a bit (while keeping the prologue relevant to your story).

3. A prologue that has nothing to do with the main story.

Prologues need to somehow propel or impact your main plot. Period. If your prologue is filled with action, offers bite-sized pieces of background information, and weaves a compelling scene but is not relevant to your main plot, you probably need to re-think your strategy.

It doesn’t matter if your writing is solid if the scenes aren’t strategically moving toward that pretty plot arc—depicting an emotional journey for your character and exhibiting the stakes for your protagonist and the world at large.

4. Prologues that are too long.

The modern reader (often) prefers shorter chapters—prologues included. If your prologue is longer than most of your chapters (or if both your prologue and chapters are longer), it might be time to reevaluate the structure and pacing of your chapters.

5. Using the prologue to hook the reader as the sole purpose.

For this example, I’m thinking specifically of the prologues that throw the reader into the action—and I mean the middle of the action. Maybe it’s the center of a bloody battlefield or twisted in the sheets of a love affair. Whatever it is, the reader is unceremoniously plunked into the action in a world they’re unfamiliar with and whose characters they don’t yet know (and love).

While action scenes are a gripping way to begin a story, consider whether or not this action is important to the central plot and if this beginning isn’t too overwhelming/confusing for the reader to acclimate to.

6. Using the prologue strictly to provide atmosphere or to do some early-on world building.

World building is one of the things I love most about fantasy and science fiction. These delicious details are… well… delicious! The setting is described with enough detail to have the readers visualizing the character’s surroundings but not too much to bog down the pace of the scene.

Proceed with caution if the prologue is used strictly to set the tone and introduce world-building elements. Often, these details can be weaved into your chapters without the need of a prologue.

However, like anything in this industry—the type of prologue or the inclusion/exclusion of them altogether are subjective. Not to mention, skilled writers have a way of proving the rules wrong.

So, when should prologues be utilized? In other words: when are they an asset to your story?

According to Brian A. Klems, “A prologue is used when material that you want to include in the opening is out of time sequence with the rest of the story.”

Prologues should supply information that is—or will be—important to understanding the plot. Often, the prologue doesn’t include the protagonist and takes place outside of the central plot (though not always).


paula munier, beginnings, how to write beginnings, story ideasIn The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings, author and literary agent Paula Munier shows you how to craft flawless beginnings that impress agents, engage editors, and captivate readers. You’ll learn how to develop the big idea of your story and introduce it on page one, structure opening scenes that encompass their own story arc, kickstart your writing with effective brainstorming techniques, and introduce a compelling cast of characters that drive the plot. You’ll also examine best-selling novels from different genres to learn the secrets that experienced writers use to dive straight into a story.

With thorough examinations of voice, point of view, setting, dialogue, and conflict, this book is a must-have tool for luring your readers in with your opening pages—and convincing them to stick around for the ride.


Types of Prologues

Here are a few examples of different types of prologues:

  1. Background/History: This type of prologue provides background to the history of the world and events that previously transpired—such as a major battle or betrayal. These events typically took place before the beginning of your story and somehow significantly impact the events going forward.
  2. Different Point of View (POV): As many of you know, debut authors are encouraged to minimize the number of rotating POVs in their manuscript (capping out at a maximum of six-ish). This type of prologue could be advantageous when diving into another character’s perspective—particularly when that character’s insight is only needed once and provides a foundation for the story.
  3. Protagonist (Past or Future): These prologues are great for showing a pivotal moment for the protagonist—either in the past or in the future (such as a defining moment years ago or after the main plot has taken place).

Strengths of a Prologue

 Fear not, writers. Prologues aren’t all bad. In fact, they come in handy in a number of scenarios:

  1. To provide a “quick-and-dirty” glimpse of important background information without the need of flashbacks, dialogue, or memories that interrupt the action later on in the book.
  2. Hook the reader into the action right away while having the readers asking questions relevant to the central plot—and therefore eager to learn those answers in the opening chapters.
  3. Offer information the reader couldn’t otherwise glean from the plot (such as a break from the point-of-view narration or from a different character’s perspective).
  4. Introduce the antagonist—providing background motives that either humanizes the character or exhibits his/her evil intentions. This angle can be handy if the protagonist doesn’t meet the antagonist until later on in the book.
  5. Introduce a philosophy or religious belief important to the plot/setting.
  6. Foreshadow future events, thereby creating suspense for the reader and get them asking questions (and eagerly reading on).

Do I Need a Prologue?

Trying to decide whether or not you should keep (or even write) a prologue? Consider the following questions:

  1. What information am I providing in the prologue? Why is it important to reveal it up front? Can it be revealed throughout the story in smaller trickles and still be as impactful (or more)?
  2. Does this character’s POV come up again later in the story? If so, would this work as a first chapter instead?


If you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/craft-and-story-beginnings/great-debate-prologue-not-prologue

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Launching Into Scenes with Action

All great novels and stories start out with a mere idea. Maybe it’s a large idea that spans centuries and crosses continents, like Patrick Rothfuss’s first book in The Kingkiller Chronicles series, The Name of the Wind; or maybe it’s magic realism manifest into stories, like Aimee Bender’s books. No matter how grand or ordinary, strange or beguiling your idea, you must take it through an alchemical process that transforms it into a story. How do you do that? This is the function of the scene; it is your story maker. Inside each scene, the vivid details, information, and action breathe life into your flat idea and round it out into something in which a reader participates.


Jordan Rosenfeld is the author of the writing guides Make A Scene Revised and Expanded Edition, Writing the Intimate Character, Writing Deep Scenes with Martha Alderson, A Writer’s Guide to Persistence, and Write Free with Rebecca Lawton. She is also the author of suspense novels Women in Red, Forged in Grace, and Night Oracle. Jordan’s articles and essays have been published in such places as The Atlantic, mental_floss, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Pacific Standard, Quartz, Scientific American, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and more. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.


Any story or novel is, in essence, a series of scenes strung together like beads on a wire, with narrative summary adding texture and color between. A work of fiction will comprise many scenes, the number of which varies for each individual project. And each one of these individual scenes must be built with a structure most easily described as beginning, middle, and end. The beginning of each scene is the focus of this chapter.

The word beginning is a bit confusing, since some scenes pick up in the midst of an action or continue where other actions left off; so I prefer to use the term launch, which more clearly suggests the place where the reader’s attention is engaged anew.

In a manuscript, a new scene is usually signified visually by a break of four lines (called a “soft hiatus”) between the last paragraph of the previous scene and the first paragraph of the next one, or sometimes by a symbol such as an asterisk or a dingbat, to let the reader know that time has passed and a new scene is beginning.

Each new scene is a spoke in the wheel of the plot you started with, and the spoke must be revealed in a way that is vivifying for the reader and provides an experience, not a lecture. Scene launches, therefore, pave the way for all the robust consequences of the idea or plot to unfurl. Each scene launch is a reintroduction to your character and the situation she is embroiled in, capturing your reader’s attention all over again.

You can launch a scene using characters, actions, narrative summary, and setting, but this particular post will focus just on launching a scene with action.

The Action Launch

Many writers believe they must explain every bit of action that is going on right from the start of a scene, but narrative summary defeats action. The sooner you start the action in a scene, the more momentum is available to carry the reader forward. If you find yourself explaining an action, then you’re not demonstrating the action any longer; you’re floating in a distant star system known as Nebulous Intellectulus—more commonly known as your head—and so is the reader.

Keep in mind the key elements of action: time and momentum. It takes time to plan a murder over late-night whispers; for a drunk character to drop a jar at the grocery; to blackmail a betraying spouse; or to kick a wall in anger. These things don’t happen spontaneously; they happen over a period of time. They are sometimes quick, sometimes slow, but once started they unfold until finished.

The key to creating strong momentum is to start an action without explaining anything. A scene from M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts does just that:

When the key turns in the door, she stops counting and opens her eyes. Sergeant comes in with his gun and points it at her. Then two of Sergeant’s people come in and tighten and buckle the straps of the chair around Melanie’s wrists and ankles. There’s also a strap for her neck; they tighten that one last of all, when her hands and feet are fastened up all the way, and they always do it from behind. The strap is designed so they never have to put their hands in front of Melanie’s face. Melanie sometimes says, “I won’t bite.” She says it as a joke, but Sergeant’s people never laugh. Sergeant did once, the first time she said it, but it was a nasty laugh. And then he said, “Like we’d ever give you the chance, sugar plum.”

M.R. Carey plunges his reader into the scene in this novel. For a significant portion of the early scenes, the reader doesn’t know why Melanie, a ten-year-old child, is restrained in this way. The lack of explanation for what is happening forces the reader to press on to learn more. The action here gives the reader clues: Something about Melanie is either threatening or dangerous, though, based on her internal narration, we don’t yet know what. We want to know what grown men, including a Sergeant, no less, would have to fear from a child so much that he would have to strap her into a chair and point a gun at her the whole time. Clearly something more is going to happen in this environment, and judging from the tone of the paragraph, we can probably expect something intense and thrilling. Action launches tend to energize the reader’s physical senses.

Here’s how to create an action launch:

  • Get straight to the action. Don’t drag your feet here. “Jimmy jumped off the cliff”; not “Jimmy stared at the water, imagining how cold it would feel when he jumped.”
  • Hook the reader with big or surprising actions. A big or surprising action—outburst, car crash, violent heart attack, public fight—at the launch of a scene can then be the stage for a bunch of consequences to unfold. One caveat: You’ll be unlikely to pull this off in every scene.
  • Be sure that the action is true to your character. Don’t have a shy character choose to become suddenly uninhibited at the launch of a scene—save that for scene middles. Do have a bossy character belittle another character in a way that creates conflict.
  • Act first, think later. If a character is going to think in your action opening, let the action come first and the thought be a reaction. “Elizabeth slapped the Prince. When his face turned pink, horror filled her. What have I done? she thought.”

Scenes are the building blocks for any work of fiction—the DNA sequence that makes a novel un-put-downable and unforgettable. When writers are able to craft effective, engaging scenes, they
can develop a complete, cohesive story—and a mesmerizing experience for readers. Make a Scene Revised and Expanded Edition takes you step-by-step through the elements of strong scene construction and demonstrates how the essential aspects of a compelling story—including character, plot, and dramatic tension—function within the framework of individual scenes to give momentum to the whole narrative.

 

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 415

For today’s prompt, write an I Believe You poem. This could be a poem about someone’s vision for the future or someone’s story of the past. It could be a poem about a real person, a fictional character, or even yourself (written in the first person by someone else–or a “staring in the mirror” poem).

*****

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In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on WritersMarket.com. All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at an I Believe You Poem:

“The Incident”

From across the house, I hear it–
the kicking, slapping, and screaming.
Then, I listen to the feet pound
my way with warnings of “Daddy!”

The youngest says, “Daddy! He called
me names!” The name-caller says, “She
hit me real hard, and he punched me,”
referring to the teenager,

who makes his way slow down the stairs
while making little grunts before
laying out his tale of woe, “They both
teamed up on me, and were hitting

“and kicking and assaulting me.”
Then, they all begin lobbying
in unison before breaking
down into punches, kicks, and screams,

before I say, “I believe you
and you and you; I believe you
all, and there’s just one thing to do:
Apologize to who isn’t you.”

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). As the oldest of three brothers, he’s had to say his fair share of apologies on this planet.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Why I Write Poetry: Marie Elena Good

A few months ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in (details on how to contribute below). Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from Marie Elena Good, who writes, “I just enjoy it.”

Marie Elena Good daily watched her poems accrue, while posting and hosting a blog (or two). But life called, her muse stalled; regretfully she bid adieu. With publications next to nil (and dithering on kid lit, still), her market research does her in – she hardly knows where to begin. Her bio crashed, but still she’s blessed – she gets to poem with poeming’s best!

*****

Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.

*****

Why I Write Poetry: Marie Elena Good

Marie Elena Good

The first poem I wrote was for a second-grade homework assignment. Funny how someone who has a difficult time with memorization can effortlessly recall the final couplet of her first poem, half-a-century after composing it.

“Beauty is a stallion, running free and wild.
Beauty is the crying of a newly born child.”

I spent much of that day mulling ideas in my head, unhappy with every phrase I painstakingly forced on to the paper. I remember believing I would have to take a “zero” for this assignment. I went to bed that night feeling defeated. How would I explain to Sister Josephine that I had tried my best, but had nothing to show for it. I couldn’t sleep. Then I remember the above couplet slipping effortlessly into my restless mind. I knew this was the end of my poem, and that my task was to work in reverse to find the beginning. And so my very first poem was birthed backward, and long after I should have been asleep. (Huh. Self-prophesy, this.)

Though my personality leans self-critical, I was pleased with my poem. I took great pleasure in the marriage of rhythm and rhyme, imagery and emotion. I look back now and see it as a seed poem that remained dormant far too long. It would be nearly four decades before I would write my second, which was in response to a poetry prompt on April 1, 2009 (wink wink). Much to my surprise, I wrote and publicly shared a minimum of one poem every day that month. I continued writing daily for years, thanks to Robert and others willing to artistically splay their hearts.

Still, contemplating why I write gave me pause. Some express a need to write that nearly rivals their need to breathe. Perhaps if this described me, I’d be a better poet. Honestly though, I just enjoy it. I especially relish the short forms, as I delight in expressing much in few words.

In the interest of transparency, I have a confession: Though I enjoy writing, my joy is made complete when a poet, in whose words I find worth, finds worth in mine. (Which is just a nicer way of admitting I am an online, instant-gratification poem junkie.)

Finally, writing poetry led me to discover a deeply rooted feeling:

I may write a truth,
but it isn’t truly mine
until I poem it.

*****

If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/write-poetry-marie-elena-good

5-Minute Memoir: Feeling the Words You Write

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest


image from Getty

BY JAMES C. MAGRUDER

It’s 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning. Most people are hard at work trying to earn a living. I’m interviewing Katie, mother of three, who’s doing her best just to keep living. Katie is dying of ovarian cancer. She’s 27. She has three months left. Three months to agonize over what life might be like if her health care provider had approved appropriate chemotherapy treatment in a timely fashion. Katie’s goal now is to live till tomorrow.

For me, tomorrow is just another day—Wednesday. I’ll be writing a brochure for an architectural firm. On Thursday, I’ll write an ad for a Fortune 500 company. And on Friday, I’ll draft a speech for an executive. I’ve been hired by a local health care facility to write the story explaining how it helped prolong Katie’s life aft er a competing health care system failed her.

My tape recorder is running and as Katie answers my questions, her 4-year-old son, David, climbs into my lap and gives me a hug. Suddenly, I don’t feel like a writer. I feel as though I’m part of a similar story. My mind shoots back to a balmy June aft ernoon in 1965. My father just returned from the hospital. He calls his six children, ages 4 to 14, into his bedroom.

“Your mother passed away today,” he says. Panic seizes our hearts. My mother died aft er a short battle with cancer. She was 45. I was 11. I feel the eerie irony of David’s childhood colliding with mine. Tears well in my eyes as I know soon he will no longer enjoy the security of his mother’s embrace, the warmth of her touch, the power of her encouragement, even the fragrance of her perfume.

Back at my home office I write a lede for the story.

Cancer. Next to heart disease, it’s the leading cause of death in America. All of us know or love someone who has fallen prey to this impartial killer. If Katie Miller didn’t have to fight her former health care provider for an accurate diagnosis, she might not have to fight cancer today. Now, she’s not only fighting for her health, she’s fighting for time. This is her story.

This lede feels cold. Sterile. Empty. As I replay the interview, I sense I’m writing Katie’s story like one of my business articles—with my head. No heart.

I hammer out another lede, then another. Still sterile, unfeeling. Finally, I tap this out:

For Katie Miller, life is short. At 27, she’s just seen her last Christmas, her last wedding anniversary and her final birthday. She knows she will never see Jenny, her 6-year-old, finish the first grade. She knows she won’t be there when David, 4, loses his baby teeth. And she grieves knowing Joanna, 3, will never remember her.

Katie is dying of ovarian cancer. She has three months to live. But the real tragedy is it didn’t have to be this way.

I finish the article a few days later and send it to my client so Katie’s story can appear in a local publication.

Writing is a cerebral profession. Yet to tell Katie’s story, I needed to feel the words I wrote.

Perhaps Hemingway said it best: “A writer’s problem does not change. It’s always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.”

I suppose I could’ve learned how to feel the words I write from Hemingway—but Katie taught me first.

James C. Magruder is a writer living in Wisconsin. He is at work on his second novel, and he blogs about the writing life at thewritersrefuge.wordpress.com.


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Submit your own 600-word essay refl ection on the writing life by emailing it to wdsubmissions@fwmedia.com with “5-Minute Memoir” in the subject line.


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Marketing & Sales Perspectives for Indie Authors

I’ve considered myself a professional writer for a little over three years now, and I’ve learned a great deal about the publishing industry in that time. Much of how I think and what I do as an independently published author parallels the experiences of my traditionally published friends, but there are also significant things that set this path apart.

A wise friend in the business gave me some good advice early on. She said, “For an indie author, publishing a book is more like a marathon than a sprint.” Now, a few years and a few projects in, I have a better understanding of what she meant.

The sales model is different for indies. Indies shouldn’t focus on brick and mortar bookstore sales because there’s no mechanism to access that market. Publishing houses have the distribution channels and sales teams that indies don’t. Instead, indies market and sell directly to readers, bypassing bookstores in favor of online or in-person sales. It’s important to use this information to our advantage, and to understand the implications of it in our planning.


This guest post is by Tabitha Lord. Lord lives in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where she grew up. She is married, has four great kids, two spoiled cats, and a lovable black lab. She holds a degree in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and taught Latin for years at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. She also worked in the admissions office there before turning her attention to full-time writing. You can visit her blog at tabithalordauthor.com where she hosts guest bloggers, and discusses some favorite topics including parenting and her writing journey. She released her first novel, Horizon, in December 2015. It won the Grand Prize for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards in 2016. The sequel to Horizon, Infinity, released this June.


Here are some big picture suggestions for indies to consider when creating a marketing and sales strategy from pre-launch onward:

Build and maintain a vigorous author platform.

There’s a ton of information out there on building an author platform so I’m not going to cover that here, but I mention it because, for indies especially, it’s necessary. Remember, we market and sell directly to our readers, so our readers have to be able to find and connect with us, and we need a vibrant platform from which to present our work.

By the time I released my first novel, I’d been building my author platform for a full year. I’d established a solid social media presence and tended to my online community with regularity. I had a handle on what my author brand looked like, and I was having fun blogging on my own website and writing for a book review/interview site called Book Club Babble. When my book released, I had the means to connect with my potential readers through the network I’d been creating.

Put energy into pre-orders, but realize this is only the first step in sales.

For traditionally published authors, a book’s success can hinge on early sales. Much attention is given to garnering pre-orders in hopes of pushing a book onto a bestseller list during release week. Strong pre-sales also encourage retailers to order more books, and it certainly builds momentum towards the book’s launch.

For an indie this is important, too. Pre-orders and a strong launch matter, but an indie can and should orchestrate ongoing promotions, and employ a creative, long-lasting marketing strategy, imagining the book’s launch as one among several opportunities.

Having said that, the pre-publication phase should be an active and busy time. Here are some ways to create momentum:

  • Put the book on Net Galley for early reviews.
  • Get the book set up for pre-order on the major outlets and promote it on your author platforms.
  • Consider a cover reveal promotional.
  • Be sure to have the book listed on Goodreads so early reviews can be posted. (Amazon does not allow reviews before the publication date)
  • Consider giving away the first chapter to entice subscribers to your mailing list.

Once my book released, I had a party and celebrated! Then, after taking a few days off to bask in the glow of this accomplishment, I went to work again.


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Plan a book tour. Attend signing events.

For indies, time and money are considerations. After all, no one is going to pay to send us on a cross-country book tour! But meeting people and making in-person connections can be invaluable, and they create career-long relationships with readers. See what opportunities exist in your community.

With my first book, I attended every signing opportunity offered by area libraries and bookstores, and those hosted by my local writers organization. I soon recognized that I needed to be a bit more economical with my time, and focused my attention on select events. As a science fiction writer, I thought my people might hang out at Comic Cons so I bought a table at a few and had excellent success. Find out where your audience is likely to be and focus your time and energy there.

Easier and cheaper than travel, virtual tours promote your book to a wide circle, since obviously the Internet crosses geographical lines! Not all tours are created equal though, so be sure to do your research. Your book should be featured on blogs where readers of that blog enjoy your genre. And do interact with readers who took the time to comment on your work.

You have control over your backlist titles, the timing of releases and promotions, and the price of your book. Think strategically!

When I’m asked why I decided to publish independently, I can answer honestly with one word: control. Not that I wanted to shortcut quality or put a book into the world before it was ready, but I felt empowered when I understood that I was in charge of every aspect of the publication and marketing process. Here are some ways to use the control you have to your best advantage:

  • Use pricing as a marketing tool. You are free to price your books competitively. Research the best selling price point for e-books, print books, and audio books in your genre and set accordingly.
  • Backlists titles are a powerful marketing tool. Keep putting out content. More content creates more momentum. New releases will guide readers toward your backlist. If you feel a backlist title hasn’t reached its market potential, breathe some new life into it. Repackage a series into a box set. Give an older title a shiny new cover.
  • Use discounts in your promotional plans. During the pre-release of my second book, I ran a couple of discounts on the first, using services like E-reader News and The Fussy Librarian to help promote them. Discounting an older title can hook readers onto your work and drive them toward purchasing your newest title. I definitely recommend using discount services, but, as with blog tours, do your research. None will guarantee results, but some are far more effective than others.
  • Think creatively and strategically about timing. For example, while I was away selling and signing at the Big Apple Con in NYC, I ran an e-book promotional. Horizon, my first book, finally hit the Amazon bestseller list a year after publication while I was in NYC.

I haven’t fully tapped my market yet, and I’m learning new strategies all the time, but I know I still have time, and certainly plenty of opportunity. As indies, we don’t have large distribution channels and sales teams at our disposal, but we do have control. We also have creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance. And we have the collective experiences of our community to draw from. Remember it really is a marathon, not a sprint!


If you’re an agent looking to update your information or an author interested in contributing to the GLA blog or the next edition of the book, contact Writer’s Digest Books Managing Editor Cris Freese at cris.freese@fwmedia.com.

 

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/guest-columns/marketing-sales-perspectives-indie-authors

Monday, October 16, 2017

An Affective Singularity

Today’s guest post, an affective singularity, comes from Nate Pritts, who shared why he writes poetry back in July (click here to read).

Nate Pritts is the Director and Founding Editor of H_NGM_N (2001), an independent publishing house that started as a mimeograph ‘zine, and the author of eight books of poetry, including Decoherence, which won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award and is available for order now. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of NY State. Learn more at natepritts.com.

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An Affective Singularity

We live in a time of conspicuous destruction. Material creation, the biological sphere, spiritual reality – each of these realms are being dragged apart resulting in a fractured world marked by implacable fragmentation, forced estrangement, a fundamental decoherence.

Nate Pritts

And in the face of this relentless annihilation, language has been reduced to mere instrumentation – a function of living rather than a vibrant and intrinsic occasion through which we live. Online bursts in a closed loop, binary programming, blunt and categorical statements without any of the nuance, or the wonderful searching uncertainty, that marks the workings of consciousness. A Facebook status, a live tweet thread, hashtag #Checkedin wherever we go in order to reassure ourselves that our lives are alive on the screen – the screen that’s open in front of us, wide open in front of everyone. And our once infinite horizons, both the vast external and internal without limit, are now confined to a small rectangle of unnatural light.

The implications are dire. I believe there is a connection between our capacity to think, to feel, and our ability to articulate those processes and sensitivities. But it seems our intellect is no longer elastic enough to encompass more than echoes, can’t conceive of leaps and connections beyond repetition, can’t process the rich subtleties of emotion without relying on blunt emphasis or insistence. And so we are in danger of losing ourselves as well as the larger environment we are enmeshed with.

As language and writing suffer and erode, so to does our humanity. Which brings me to poetry. I have a sense of poetry in which the form itself – the tension of the lines, the discipline of committing to a process that takes time – can become a restorative spiritual activity. It’s an act of communication with earnest effort and diligent love inherent in its form. And there’s a way in which poetry helps me to communicate what needs to be communicated, but also encourages and scaffolds the thought process, the process of feeling. Poetry, then, is a spiritual process – a type of soul-talking. It can generate the self, and enkindle the soul, furnishing the architecture of identity through writing it and reading it. The poetry in my new book, Decoherence, seeks to bring a sense of humanist wisdom to the ceaseless flow of data – all as a way of getting us to recognize the sacred space we already inhabit.

Mircea Eliade said that the sacred is “the experience of a reality and the source of the consciousness of existing in the world.” That seems a serviceable definition of what poetry can work toward. And it is related to Eliade’s sense of hierophany, a manifestation of the sacred, a trace of the supranatural. So we have both poetry as an activity we engage in and the poem as the hand of the divine. To me, this indicates that a reinvigorated sense of the sacred can help save the very soul of the world, and that we can get closer to this through the writing of poetry.

No matter how many data points are plotted or how deep the dive into layers and layers of information, our technoscience provides insights that remain intellectual, abstracted from reality and rely on a constriction of identity, forcing it to remain local.

But people are silence, continuously manifesting outside the lines of a spreadsheet, hungry for revelation. And the world is silence, too, but one that is evocative and charged, an invisible architecture we can recognize if we listen.

Perhaps inhabiting the sacred can facilitate an encounter between the penetrating mechanisms of science and the intuitive faculties of consciousness in a way that opens perception to a fuller picture of reality.

I write poetry as an attempt to draw closer to those energies resident in all things, to listen hard and to see clearly, as a way to recover some sense of the hidden workings of reality itself. It is an attempt to pay attention to the invisible, to the unintentional, and through that attention to become aware, to render those movements visible and to reclaim intention from the machine that seems so much to be driving us.

It is a means of harnessing and honing the very substance of reality itself, of demonstrating and performing consciousness at work. The activity of poetry is larger than its result. In fact, the poem is really just a by-product of a spiritual commitment to a way of life that can change the world.

And, in this way, poetry can take on a life of it own, in us and through us, can reach an affective singularity of wisdom and tenderness and love, can become again what it has always been – a means of survival, a path to understanding.

Not a credential but a creed.

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If you’d like to share a guest post on this blog, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with your idea. It can be on the craft of writing poetry, the business of selling poems, or whatever other ideas you might have. If I like what you send, we’ll figure out how to get your guest post on the blog.

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Find more poetic posts here:

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from Writing Editor Blogs – WritersDigest.com
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