Monday, April 20, 2015

Million Dollar Emotional Appeal for the Right Audience - Personal Preference vs. Objectivity

Money Clip Art, Pictures of Dollars, Cash, Pound, Euro, Money Backgrounds, Animated Money & More!David Farland gave a nice webinar talk for the recent IndieReCon workshop, titled "Million Dollar Ideas". He expounded on the following main points: 1) A great setting, 2) The right protagonist, 3) Emotional appeal, 4) Keeping your audience surprised and intrigued, and 5) Using the best distribution plan for the type of book. All good stuff.

A segment from the Emotional Appeal section took me in a different direction. Farland asked the question, "What does the audience love?" He explained that this is influenced by gender, and changes as we get older. Children love wonder. Girls start to like romance. Boys want adventure. Adults like mystery and or drama. Later on, we might want something more intellectual. These generalities affect how we write and how we view the work of others.

It hit me that our likes and dislikes, because of age and sex, enter into our comments to a critique group or as a beta reader. One step further would be why book reviews get varied responses. Are we being objective enough or do we let our personal emotional appeal tastes get in the way?

In my critique group we have a Middle Grade writer of horror and adventure, a Young Adult fantasy writer, a Contemporary Sweet Romance writer, and me--Historical Romance base on the Book of Mormon. All are females, but I am half a generation older than the other three. Does this mean I might enjoy submissions by the romance writer more than the other two? Most likely, but not by a large degree. Any writing done well can be enjoyable. 

This means we should be just as competent critiquing any writing as with our favorites. Writing elements such as clarity, pacing, or sentence structure are similar across all genres. Whether or not you love it is personal. Of personal preferences versus objectivity, should one rule or should we strive for a balance as a critique group member, beta reader, or book reviewer? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Attention Freeloaders: It's IndieReCon Time

"Free" isn't always a good word. Sometimes it's attached to something else--like a 90 minute time-share presentation or having to buy the small drink and fries that will blow your diet to get it. But in this case, FREE is a very good word.

If you've ever wanted free, excellent advice and education about writing, publishing (especially self-publishing) and the marketing industry--whether or not you plan to self-publish--this is your chance. And you can even attend in your jammies!
IndieReCon 2015 runs April 15-17 on your own device. All you have to do is register. If you can't make it in real-time, return later to read the articles that apply or interest you most.

Yes, I'm signed with a traditional publisher, but I'll be there. Why? Because who knows when I will have hybrid opportunities. Why? Because I've learned some good things from past conferences. Why? Because many topics apply to all authors and I'm still a novice. I can use professional advice on creating a bestseller, planning social media campaigns, writing serials, self-editing, Pinterest, author rights, advertising/marketing, and much more. You can look up the schedule ahead of time and mark your favs. Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Freedom of the Written Word

With recent celebrations of Easter and LDS General Conference sessions (Mormons) fresh on my mind, I turn today to a deeply personal subject that has stirred the passions of many for thousands of years--the freedom to speak and write that which one believes. Kings have beheaded citizens for speaking their minds and armies have fought against losing such privileges. That which we think, we often share. Reasons include educating, debating, helping, convincing, soliciting change, socializing, expressing emotion, and negative purposes like hurtful gossip. There is mighty power in words.

My book projects have so far been devoted to a select niche of readers, hoping to inspire and entertain the LDS audience. My subject matter has only been possible through the acceptance of religious freedom. I must allow others to express their contrary opinions, as they must allow me the same. The individual has choice over which material to read, listen to, accept or reject.

In gathering and editing stories for my soon-to-be-completed narrative non-fiction books, Missionary Stories and Bishop Stories, I have been touched and uplifted by the experiences of others, and desire to share them. This would not be possible without the freedom of the written word. Whether or not these are traditionally or self-published, there exists today many options for writers to share their written works. I feel blessed to be able to participate in spreading the written word of that which I see as good.

The power to move others is in you. Move forward on your own writing goals.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Story Length: The Long and Short of It

I was asked to read and review a novelette. A what? It sounds like a shorter version of a story, but just what are we talking about here? It turned out that I fulfilled the request in a couple hours.  
Short stories (less than 7500 words) must focus on one character and a single event or it becomes too intricate for the length.
Novelettes (generally 7500-17000 words) still have a narrow focus. Like short stories, these are often written in first or third person narrative style.
Novellas (about 17000-40000 words) can include more characters, sub-plots, and twists.
Novels (generally 50000-90000 words, sometimes more) are full-length books that obviously include more complicated plots and elements.
Chapter books and Middle Grade (typically under 55,000 words) books have their own set of word counts and content.

Have you noticed the come-back of shorter stories? There are many reader and author benefits, including: a better time and money fit for busy reading/writing/editing schedules, a quick chance to "try out" a new author or keep fans interested between longer projects, a great place to gain exposure and grow readership, and a greater return over novel lengths for e-book rental programs that pay authors per book.

Collections (typically the same author or type of story) and Anthologies (feature various authors on a theme) are often grouped to form a novel-length book. These may be a single volume or continue on with more. Sometimes authors can get in on these by submitting to a contest or publisher; others are by invitation only. This is where networking may be valuable, or start your own group project. Seek the right market and follow submission guidelines. Authors of differing publishing companies that wish to collaborate can often work out an agreement via their publisher's project representative. Get permission and questions answered before you get too involved. Self-publishers, this is a great way to start out, write something outside your genre, or mix with other authors. In either case, understand your rights.

Lots of choices for readers and writers. Enjoy the book world.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Presenting: Authors Got Talent Author Idols: a light-hearted look at authors seeking stardom. We'll meet our contestants in a minute. First, let's meet the judges. That is YOU, the readers of America! You get to decide who moves on in the competition by voting for your favorite authors. Buy the full series or anthology and your vote will count as a super vote!

Let's meet the contestants sitting in the read, er uh red chairs. Just to be clear, when the chair lights turn green, that contestant is safe and will go on to the next round. The first person to be safe tonight is...Miss Historical Romance. She will sing a ballad for us tonight. Next to get the green light is Mr. Speculative Fiction, who knows it's all about the performance. The next safe contestant is Mr. Steampunk, who barely made it through because we really don't know who he is as an artist. Come on down, Mrs. Harlequin Romance. She didn't know if she would get voted through or not, but she will always remind the audience that she had a really good time. Finally, Mr. Non-Fiction will read for the save tonight. We'll be right back after the break.

Hasn't this been a wonderful show tonight, folks? (Applause) We have one last category for your enjoyment. That's right, the costume category--for authors who write in their jammies! They don't have to worry about the wrong outfit choice because no one will judge them. Before closing tonight, we wish to thank our mentors: Thank you, thank you to all the critique groups, beta readers, and conference teachers wherever you are!

Keep reading, America! See you next week!