As writers, we’re always either setting up some moment or scene, or paying it off. Since scenes are the building blocks of narrative, we should always be writing scenes.
While fairy tales are ancient, dating back to the Bronze age, fantasy turns out to be a revival movement, rising from the grave of the recent dead. Mention of the word fantasy is minimal through through the twentieth century, with some peaks here and there depending on your source. Around 1945, fantasy took flight, soaring up and up, well into the twenty-first century. Why the change? What summoned the word fantasy back to life in 1945?
In this 5 On interview, author and publisher Ian Thomas Healy shares what he learned from his experiences with literary agents, what to look for when submitting to small press publishers, his feelings about Amazon KDP Select, and more.
First and foremost: Set realistic goals. Is this book going to change your life? No. After publication, you will not be a different fifty-plus-year-old person. You will be pretty similar to the person you were before, only this fifty-plus-year-old person has written a book. So ask yourself: What are you hoping to get out of the experience?
Literary fiction’s subsumption by other genres and vice-versa has become so pervasive one must wonder what distinction if any can still be claimed by “pure” literary fiction beyond pretentiousness.
Why should you care that there are only two story types? It actually matters. Like a chef, knowing what defines the concoction you’re about to create will help you figure out how to make it work. And how to stop it from failing.
One reason behind the supremacy of the writing rule “Show, don’t tell” is that telling is, frankly, harder. To gain and hold a reader’s attention through action and dialogue is one thing. To do so through exposition is another.
Sometimes going back is going forward—especially if you refashion the old, sloughing off what became untenable. This is why I’m going back to blogging. While every writer won’t find my reasons of interest, plenty of writers might want to explore their possibility.
To those who may object that the mere fact of two opposite-sexed people sharing the first scene of a novel (and a cockpit) doesn’t—necessarily—imply a romantic future between them, all I can say is … yes, it does.
If your readers are going to put themselves in your skin and live your experiences, you need to be hyper-conscious of what those experiences looked, felt and sounded like before you write them.
I have had mixed feelings about ghost narrators. As narrative sleights-of-hand go, it strikes me as a little too easy, a bit too glib. It also requires suspension of all four laws of thermodynamics.
When I began working as a freelancer, I wanted to find clients to pay me in the thousands. Once I figured out how to land writing jobs, I was working long hours, always seeking more clients, and somehow still getting paid next to nothing. I was missing something on the business side of things—an essential piece of the puzzle.
When we read about routines in fiction, or in any kind of story, most if not all the pleasure we get from the experience derives from our anticipation of seeing the routine shattered, or, at the very least, disrupted.
Author, publisher, and book marketer Julie Smith shares what she loves to write—and read—in a mystery, how her writing obsession evolved into marketing, the mistake many authors make with their book covers, and more.
Book launches are intense and can feel very high stakes, so use the time between them to take a step back and consider how to build a career over many years, and many books, to come.
I’d like to highlight two common writing flaws that clutter the manuscripts of many aspiring authors. I call these culprits “hedge words” and “inflation words.”
There are real risks to working together on a business with your spouse or partner, especially if you are both still learning how to do it well and manage your household through the uncertainty of the start-up existence. Adopting formal agreements on how to interact with one another can help avoid stress and anxiety.
New authors have no symbolic capital. They are not (yet) known for producing quality books that seduce readers. Is it possible for self-publishing authors to create symbolic capital? Absolutely yes, and many have. In today’s increasing online world of book shopping, it is book reviews that build symbolic capital.
If people judge books by their covers, then typesetting is the difference between a brief or a lasting impression. The cover may grab a reader’s eye, but what the reader sees when they crack open the book is what will hold their attention.
Keeping up with the latest book marketing trends and learning new tactics can be expensive. Couple this with the growing cost of self-publishing, and it’s important that we be economically shrewd in our endeavors. Here’s how.
If you are an indie author on Amazon, in Amazon’s Kindle Select Program, you can use five free days to promote your ebook in exchange for three months of exclusivity. Many traditional publishers are increasingly doing free promos as well, and the competition is growing with thousands of free ebooks available every day. So how do you stand out?
What I learned from the total eclipse was this: What wasn’t phenomenal? Everywhere I looked, something grand was there for the taking.
The more your book is optimized for search at Amazon, the more often it’s going to come up in searches, and—consequently—the more you’ll sell. Part of making your book more discoverable is understanding how to set your categories and keywords on Amazon, which is accessible to any indie author.
Memoirists have to write their story, the events of their life, from a future perspective. From NOW. Now brings with it maturity, wisdom, insight, and grace. The mature self speaks from a place of distance but not detachment.
While there are seven deadly first-page sins I commonly encounter, there is one that’s most deadly of all: default omniscience. No point of view = no story.
What should writers do if they feel that an agent isn’t honoring their obligations, contractual or otherwise? What’s the best way to speak up?
Yes, it is possible to have a very successful writing career later in life—and doing something new later in one’s career helps to keep you young.
The gist of all marketing advice for authors essentially boils down to: try everything and see what works. Here’s what didn’t work for me.
Anthology advances are small, contributors have little stake in the sales of the book, and branding a collective group is hard. But anthologies are still valuable and worth the effort. Here’s why.
I started writing seriously after being diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. Now was the time to do it, or quit talking about it.
What’s the overriding reason for an author to find an agent and a traditional publishing deal? Is it possible that the reasons may be flawed?
More books are translated in France than in any other country: 1 out of every 6 books has been translated from a foreign language, many from English.
Opera is the single Western art in which voice determines character, or, more closely, expresses character. For writers, opera offers a set of finger exercises, if not pointers.
Many people want to be rock stars—and many people want to write books. But there are many ways in which a writing dream can crash and burn. One way is to be unclear about what you want with what you are ready to do.
Each scene in your book requires a beginning, middle, and end. Here are four paths to launching your scene—plus the questions you should ask about each one.
Giving characters painful backstory makes them feel credible to readers. But when it comes to describing what happened, many writers jump headfirst into an info dump, hoping a summary will create a shortcut to empathy and “catch readers up.” Unfortunately, this can have the opposite effect.
There’s a term thrown around in the world of writing that I’ve never fully understood: emerging writer. To emerge as a writer, or anything else for that matter, you must emerge from one thing into an entirely different something else.
Any author can successfully launch their book through crowdfunding if they are willing to put in the effort. However, it may not be the right path for everyone.
Four lessons for YA: Make it real, get rid of parental oversight, feature topics making the headlines, and include hope.
Lisa Tener shares important lessons learned when writing her first book, the ups and downs of co-writing, the most important platform writers should have, and more.
There are many good reasons to hire a professional editor, but also a number of compelling reasons to hold off and save your money.
If you’re pitching your book to agents or editors, the perfect title for your book will define your subject and grab their positive attention. It should be a label they can confidently share with colleagues in editorial board meetings and use to convince the powers-that-be to release money to acquire your book.
Series have become extremely popular, and secondary characters are now in the spotlight. Readers enjoy trying to spot the next potential hero or heroine.
Do you know what time it is in Mumbai, India? Knowing time differences in the countries where you sell books is key to social media engagement, and ultimately sales.
While Amazon sponsored ads haven’t been a marketing miracle, I also haven’t lost that much money—and copies of my YA novel have sold at a steady pace.
A self-published author breaks down her expenses and resulting sales after promoting on social media and email, paying for reviews, advertising, and more.
Author Dario Ciriello talks about breaking writing rules, what publishing other writers taught him about the business, and how little he as a writer cares about what other writers think.
When I work on a project—with clients, but particularly with my own writing—I start by acknowledging a blunt but important truth: Nobody cares about what I have made.
Screenwriter and novelist Nina R. Sadowsky shares screenwriting techniques that have influenced her novel writing, and writers can learn from the screen.
The two biggest mistakes in book publicity pitches: they are too long in length, and not pointed or provocative enough.