Writing

A Writer? So why aren’t you Writing?

This is the second in a series on marketing.

When writers start learning about how to reach their audience, they are told to build a platform across multiple channels to reach their audience. Then they get frustrated when no one appears to be paying attention to their posts, so they stop posting.

Big mistake.

Even if you aren’t a writer, but especially if you are, you must keep putting yourself out there. I’m tired of the word “content,” but content is exactly what you need to be producing. You must do this whether or not anyone is reading at all.

Think about it. How many television shows barely made it through their first seasons before they got noticed and became runaway successes? I can think of a few like Seinfeld and Everyone Loves Raymond. How many were canceled only to be reborn because the supporters — and writers — didn’t stop working the system? Star Trek, anyone? How many authors started out unnoticed only to become successful a couple of books later? What if they had given up after the first or second book?

No one may be reading your first attempts, but no one will ever read what you have to say if it never exists.

Realize you are competing for attention among millions of other people. Nathan Berry writes (via Russell Brunson’s Traffic Secrets), “There is so much content being produced that we can’t possibly discover it all. So we wait for the best to float to the surface after time. If step one in building an audience is to create great content, step two is to endure long enough to get noticed.”

Each social media platform is idealized for different types of posts, lengths of posts, and frequency. The first decision you must make is which social media outlets best suit your style and output. You don’t need to be everywhere, and to do so will just eat up valuable time. A regular website should be your primary home. This is where all your information can be found, your longer musings, and all other sites are a gateway back to the homeland. Then figure out which handful of other sites can benefit your brand. They may become more active as far as posts go, but have somewhere substantial as your foundation.

So how often should you write on your internet platforms? Some recommend every day. I think it depends on the type of site: Your main page should be at least once or twice a week. Sites like Facebook or MeWe, four times. Instagram, also four. I don’t like sites like Twitter or Gab for authors. Too short and flippant. Also realize I am talking about your author sites. Keep personal stuff on personal pages. While your home website is a better place for expanded content, if you find yourself posting quite a bit on non-author\writing topics, start another dedicated page. Most sites allow you to write multiple posts and save them for later, or specify a predetermined time to publish. This lets you write multiple posts in one sitting and have days or weeks of content ready to go.

Don’t be spammy. No one wants endless “buy my book” ads. This is the old way of doing things. Document your process. Detail your passions. Tell your Story. You convince readers to buy your book by not telling them to buy it. Rather, show them why your Story is so amazing. I once had someone try to sell me a product by giving me all the stats and figures — technobabble. I understand all that, but tell me why you are compelled to use that product. How did it change you? As an author, you tell amazing stories. Show people the path into your Story and why it will change them.

As Virginia Woolf wrote, “…in order to make you understand, to give you my life, I must tell you a story.”

Contact and connect with Darrick here. Watch for newsletter sign-up coming soon. Get your copy of Among the Shadows and choose a side. Will it be on the side of Light? Or Darkness?

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Want a Free Book?

This is the first in a series on marketing.

That got your attention. Everyone likes free stuff, but authors hate giving away their work. I saw one writer get visibly upset when she saw me give away a book. I get it. Writing is hard work and most authors want to make a living telling stories. However, when you are just starting out, you need to invest in marketing your book.

Giving away free stuff is Marketing 101.

How many times has a retailer lured you in with BOGO offers or deeply discounted products (“loss leaders”)? They do it all the time, every day. It’s hard to see your book as a product, but you’re on the hunt for readers, right? Readers are your customer, and your book is your product.

I’m not saying you should give away all your books for free all the time. It should be part of an overall marketing plan. Free book contests. Donate them to local libraries. Have you ever see those little community book exchanges in parks and other locations? Keep copies in your car. You never know when the opportunity may arrive to give out your book, free or otherwise.

Running sales, just as all other businesses do, should also be part of your plans. Once you have multiple books published, deeply discounting the first — or making it free — gives a no-risk invitation to new readers.

Giving away your books shouldn’t be the only freebie in your arsenal. Think about what other free content you can give out such as excerpts of your books, or short stories set in the same storyverse. Consider putting these together in a low cost book format (paper or electronic) and give them out at events or on-line even to those who haven’t bought your book (especially to people who haven’t bought your book).

As authors, we don’t see ourselves merely as a business, or our readers as customers. We are looking for a deeper connection (and we will get into all that in future posts). Ultimately, getting your book out there requires a business mindset.

Most importantly, keep telling stories. Don’t stop until you Find Your Purpose, Find Your Story.

Contact and connect with Darrick here. Watch for newsletter sign-up coming soon. Get your copy of Among the Shadows and choose a side. Will it be on the side of Light? Or Darkness?

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Why do You Write?

“Fall in love and stay in love. Do what you love, don’t do anything else. Don’t write for money. Write because you love to do something. If you write for money, you won’t write anything worth reading.” – Ray Bradbury

Read more of Ray Bradbury’s writing advice here.

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What Bradbury Taught us About Art & Imagination

This is why we need art — not only because art can address the problems politics can’t, such as problems of the soul…but also because art, in a real way, strips away the material to reveal the real.

If [Ray] Bradbury’s ghost could come back on his century, he would likely say the best and greatest gift we could give him would be to stuff ourselves with ideas and metaphors to fuel our imaginations in order to create. In that way, he would say, we could really be alive. – Nathan Stone

Read more about the legendary author Ray Bradbury here.

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Don’t be a writer. Be a Storyteller.

Tell your story. Tell that of others. Don’t be a writer. Be a Storyteller.

Consider a tombstone — a monument to one’s life…the inscription typically focuses on the years when a person was born and subsequently passed away, a person’s life is actually represented by the ‘dash’ in between (i.e., 1964-2042).

This dash represents the essence of our lives — the succession of joys, sorrows, successes, failures…If you could write the story of your dash, how would it read? Would it be full of regrets for the things you did or didn’t do? Or would it be a tribute to all that you attempted to do, be, and accomplish while you were alive?

– Anthony Paustian, writing in A Quarter Million Steps.

Find Your Purpose. Find Your Story.

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Darkness Falls

The newest printing of Among the Shadows features the latest version of Dark Snowfall, a Lost Tale in which Milena steps through the veil into a troubling winter encounter. This should also be in the ebook edition soon, so there is no better time to Join the War and Choose a Side.

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Interview with Darrick Dean, Fantasy Author

[Full disclosure: This is an interview with me, by me. Yes, you read that right…]

Today we are talking with writer Darrick Dean, author of the Watchers of the Light historical fantasy series. He has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to answer a few quick questions on his books and writing. Thanks for joining us tonight, Darrick, ready to dive in?

Good to be here. Let’s give this a go.

Q: So, fantasy stories are often set in other realms or alternate realities, but the Watchers of the Light is set in our own modern world. There is a catch, however. Not all myth is fiction. Can you tell us more about this premise?

A: I wanted to really blur the line between reality and fantasy, so I took some historical elements, and overlaid bits of myth and legend. Of course, another facet is that legend often has remnants of truth in it. Take the core of the Iliad — the Trojan War and the siege of Troy — turned out to be true. So did the Viking Sagas detailing voyages to America, and so on. Now the reader is left wondering where fact ends, and fiction begins, while being drawn deeper into the story.

Q: Among the Shadows has an archetypal villain, the shadowmancer Ahriman. What kind of threat will the Watchers face in Awakening?

A: Ahriman is largely a puppetmaster, controlling everything from afar. He isn’t overly complex in his motivations, but is certainly malicious and powerful. His past his only hinted at, which leaves an opening for future stories. In Awakening, we encounter a different sort of enemy. Darkness pervades her as well, but her story is more complex, her motivations more faceted.

Q: In the first book, much of the story centers around Ethan and his family, all gifted with different abilities. Does the focus change in book 2?

A: The plan was always to give all the characters substantial roles, but to shine the light a little more on different people in each book. In Awakening we see that happening, including bringing to the forefront a person who was just hinted at in book one. She was a bit mysterious, bookending the first story, but here we find her in the thick of things. Also, with the establishment of the characters out of the way, I think we will see them grow more and be more comfortable in their chosen paths.

Q: Among the Shadows certainly was influenced by traditional fantasy in the sense of creatures and battles and searching for lost relics. Will the story continue down this path?

A: A little, but I want to move the needle just a bit. Not only don’t you want your plots identical, making some subtle changes in the atmosphere keeps things fresh. I like how the Mission Impossible films use different directors to give each film a slightly different look, yet still keep them in the same continuity. Not jarring change, but they avoid a same-old feel. Awakening has creatures and battles for sure, but there is an Edgar Rice Burroughs influence here. Think lost worlds and kinetic action. More crisp and tactile.

Q: What’s the best part of writing these stories?

A: Seeing them come alive on their own. Sooner or later in writing a story, people and places appear that you didn’t plan for. Character arcs you never outlined form on their own. When an author experiences this, he or she has left writing and entered storytelling.

Q: What’s the hardest part?

A: Editing. First you must find the best parts, the ones that just pop off the page, and compare everything else to them. You cut and delete what no longer works, or never did. Think you can’t delete your amazing words? You will once you realize how much more amazing they can be. First chapters, then paragraphs are refined. Next are sentences. Then you are down to individual words. Shaping and trimming like a sculptor. Then you’re done. Mostly.

Q: What does the future hold for the Watchers and their adventures?

A: Finishing Awakening is the first goal. Everyone thinks in trilogies these days, and that’s my initial plan as well. That could no doubt change, but this universe will ultimately have self-contained sets of different lengths. Two books I have planned will parallel the Watchers of the Light, and most likely intersect with it. Set in the same world with a different focus. There is a clue in Among the Shadows to what beings will be featured in the Servants of the Flame duology. I also plan to put together a collection of shorts — lost tales, deleted scenes — featuring various people we have already met, and yet to come.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to everyone. Where can readers find your book?

No, problem, it’s been fun. Among the Shadows is on Amazon, of course, plus most other booksellers. And be sure to check out some excerpts, character profiles and other cool stuff.

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Character Profile: Solana

Solana To you it is just a breeze. A wind on a wintry day. A summer storm across the plains. When I lost what was dearest to me, a storm was unleashed from within. The winds could terrify and destroy.

I tamed them, made them answer to the Light.

Now evil arises among the sands, in the shadows, and the deep sea. I am Solana, and I will hunt the Darkness, search it out, and call forth the tempest to hurl the demonspawn back into the Abyss.

Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!

[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]

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War with Resistance

Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, chronicles the war against Resistance, a war in which all writers engage. Indeed, it’s the on-going battle everyone must fight to achieve their purpose:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within. Between the two stands Resistance.

Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic?  Ever quit a diet…wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless…? Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

Look in your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still, small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times before, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you..you’re no closer to taking action on it that you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.

What I Do

…It’s about ten-thirty now. I sit down and plunge in. When I start making typos, I know I’m getting tired. That’s four hours or so…I wrap up for the day. Copy whatever I’ve done and stash the disk in the glove compartment of the truck in case there is a fire and I have to run for it…How many pages have I produced? I don’t care. Are they any good? I don’t even think about it…All that counts is that, for this day, for this session, I have overcome Resistance.

 
More from Steve soon. In the meantime, identify Resistance and tell it you won’t go down without a fight.

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Dark Snowfall

The following is an all new story — a Lost Tale of sorts — set in the world of the Watchers of the Light that was first revealed in Among the Shadows. Readers of AtS will have met Milena before (and this story takes place after the events of AtS). Those who have not crossed paths with this Arc Maiden are about to learn why the Darkness fears her. Enjoy…

Continue reading

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