Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

I didn't start out to write about this subject, but sometimes authors (published and unpublished) need to edit their promotional stance because unlike the promotions of Hollywood, bad promotion can hurt an author who is trying to build a platform for a chance at future publication or an author trying to promote a release.

I thought that I would share four lessons I've learned as I studied the art of self-advertising.

Others might disagree with me, but I do hope that I have learned something useful to pass along.

1.  The best time for promotion (especially tweets) is generally in the morning hours before folks go to work when they're taking a minute to check out social media. Another time is just after the noon hour when people are taking a break and checking out Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Then we have the early evening hours when work is done, dinner has been cooked, and the kitchen is cleaned, and people are unwinding by again checking their social medial.

2.  Sending out promotions, especially tweets that come through the cell phones and other devices of many individuals after 9:00 p.m. is similar to your kids (mine anyway) getting calls after 9:00 p.m. The kid calling didn't make a favorable impression upon me, and I got a little vocal about the lack of good manners. Don't take the chance on alienating your audience.

3. A constant and unrelenting self-promotion is like the use of two many exclamation points. People begin to ignore those posts after a while. Then when something relevant needs to be posted, that post is ignored as well. The best way to promote is to give something without expecting something. For instance, think of a way to provide good information to your audience. That something is always better if it fits in with the message of your book, but it can be anything that gives and does not expect reward. Readers are more apt to be interested in what you have to say when there is something in it for them.

4. Promoting others you believe in and having those who genuinely believe in your story promote your work is a better way to get the message across. Again, those promotions should probably be within the boundaries of the first three points made.

Happy editing.

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.
A doe & fawn
Bushy eyebrows
A red convertible sports car

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

The word characterization is tossed around quite a bit in a writer’s world, but what does it really mean?

Characterization is what makes a character who he is. An author draws upon several aspects to develop a character:

       Family background: A kid raised in the slums of New York is definitely going to behave differently than a kid who grew up on a farm in Oklahoma.
       Education: Someone with a fifth grade education isn’t going to see the world through the same eyes as someone schooled at Harvard. I’m not saying that the person with the fifth-grade education isn’t smarter than the Harvard grad because often times, common sense shows a higher intelligence than “book learning.”
       Moral values: We're not talking exclusively Christian values, although the ones who know Christ should have a pretty high moral standard. Overall, though, moral values can be good or bad. They are derived through childhood or through rebellion. They are what makes a person appear good or evil. They are also what provides depth to character--even when a character doesn't practice what he knows is right
.       Back story: Yes, back story is always important to characterization. However, not all back story is relevant to the story at hand except that it builds character. Only what is relevant to the story should be brought in, the rest should be a tool for development of character.
       Conflict: How a person deals with conflict shows the reader that character’s strengths and weaknesses.
       Repetitive actions, speech attributes, and mannerisms are a great way to develops a character.

Therefore, it only goes to prove that three dimensional characters are created when:

       They are given a unique pattern of behavior brought on by their background, education, and values.
       They are placed in situations that are not comfortable for them and then react in ways they normally would not behave.

A few modern-day characters exhibit a depth of characterization. Let’s dissect one of the most popular television characters for today’s audiences:  Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
  • Family background: Sheldon’s father was an alcoholic; his mother is portrayed loosely as a Christian. Sheldon has a twin sister, who does not have his high intellect, but both his mother and his sister exhibit far more common sense than does Sheldon.
  • Education: Sheldon is a highly educated genius, but he lacks social skills.
  • Moral Values: Like it or not, Sheldon does exhibit the moral values instilled upon him by both his mother and his beloved “Memaw,” yet his scientific exploration has him doubting the God his mother worships.
  • Back story: Sheldon was a childhood genius who was often picked upon. His genius propelled him through school and is most likely the reason for his social ineptness.
  • Conflict: Sheldon is a very me-centered individual. He’s also OCD, and he behaves in very funny ways when his comfort zone is invaded. He also, on occasion, shows compassion and a child-like persona, which adds depth.
  • Repetitive actions: Sheldon has created words such as “Bazinga,” and he has made the saying, “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested,” very popular. His OCD has him always knocking on Penny's door three times while calling out her name. Sheldon also insists that no one sit in his spot, and when someone brings him food, he has a lists of questions to ask about it. These all draw the audience to his unique character.
Characterization is important to a novel. It is the fleshing out of our novel’s cast members. When self-editing, an author should review his manuscript with an eye toward characters who live in an ordinary world yet who make that world extraordinary by the things they see, the conflict they face, and the way they see the world around them.

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

Conference time has rolled around again, and many writers are planning to attend writers’ conferences.

There are several reasons that authors should make conferences a priority.

1. Conferences allow writers to connect to people who think the way they do. Are you aware that not all individuals have ideas for a non-fiction project or characters for a novel invading their imagination 24/7? I’ve met a lot of folks I call friends at writing conferences.

2. Workshops at conferences teach everything from outlining a novel, pitching articles, story craft, marketing … So much useful information can be gathered in conference settings.

3. Editors and agents love to attend conferences. Why? Because that’s where we meet the talent that makes our jobs look easy. If a publisher doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, this is where an author might get the invitation to submit to that publisher. If a publisher does accept unsolicited manuscripts, this is where an editor can put a face with a name, and if a proposal is well-received, an invitation might be given to bypass the query process and move right into submission of a manuscript for review.

4. Friends, editors, and agents aren’t the only valuable connections a writer can meet at conference. Oftentimes, those who are invited as faculty to a conference have a love for fellow writers. They enjoy answering questions, helping authors work through plots, and generally providing encouragement. Conferences are a place where an author might connect with a mentor who will help them along their career path.

5. On the other hand, a writer might also meet up with someone who needs prayer, encouragement, mentoring, or friendship. After all, conferences aren’t always about what you can get out of it. Someone attending their first conference can become a blessing to others.

6. Christian writers’ conference often have a balance of worship in the midst of all of the busyness and business. This worship reminds the author the Reason they write.

I’m off to the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this weekend to meet with some pretty awesome folks, to learn, to acquire, and to encourage. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Happy editing.

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.
A tornado
A bag of gifts
An antique, embroidered sampler