Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trimming Down Your Novel, Promotional Spam, and Making ALL the Things... my Accountabiliblog Holiday Spectacular


Thanksgiving is over, so I’m going on a diet. Literarily speaking, that is.

Cutting the fat

a new selfie, showing off my awesome holiday hat
For the month that ends the year, it has begun with destroying a beginning. Namely, the beginning of my novel… and I haven’t destroyed it as much as made it freaking awesome. My goal in life is to make a novel so good that it would be impossible not to publish. No, really. OK, momentary sidetrack:

Lately, I’ve been joining a bunch of random online groups for writing. It’s been my desire to find some magical perfect person to become my critique partner in crime. Someone who takes writing as seriously as I do. Someone that lives nearby. Someone with a willingness to edit and be edited…


SPAM MACHINE, ENGAGE!

But all these online writing groups seem to be nothing more than promotional vomit for self-publish authors (*and I’m not talking about the good ones, see below). My facebook feed has recently been bloated with a billion authors who post “Please, PLEASE, PLEEEEEAAAASE buy this” twice a day, usually to each of the ten groups I’ve recently joined. It’s spam. This blog once made a fantastic term for what these people are wishing will happen when they post spammy links to Amazon: a book-sales button. It’s like they think that if they just spam enough, people will buy the book. 

Think I’m exaggerating? Look at the screen capture on the side of this paragraph. It was my facebook newsfeed. This is real, only edited to delete the dude’s identification, and, you know what? It was only as much as would fit on my screen. I had about twelve posts from him on my newsfeed, all in a row. This guy posted like 10 times a day, spamming his books (I had to block him), but it wasn't just him. It's a ton of others. Spammers. Throwing links out onto writer's groups as if they'll find the secret magic to sales.

The formula:
Post spam on random facebook group
???
Profit


But that’s not how that works! Social media needs to be about making connections with other people. You know, being social. The best authors can get me to buy their book, based solely on the personalities they present through social media. Well, who’s going to fall in love with the personality of a telemarketer? Nobody! Spam is not going to work! Build real, personal connections, not a list of people blocking you!


Forget the Twitter Numbers!

For a while I thought it was all about trying to get a certain number of Twitter followers by Tuesday, but I had an epiphany: Quality is better than quantity. Why would I follow a thousand FollowBack spam accounts? To get my numbers up? Pish! I would take a hundred people who are actually interested in The Unraveler (and willing to recommend it to friends) over a thousand spam accounts following me (who don’t care whatsoever, except that you’re following back).

When my book gets published, then I’ll get followers the natural way. From people who actually care about what I have to say because they’ve read my novel and want to know more.   


Make it shimmer

So, I went off on that sidetrack because so many of these self-publish spammers have had, “Free, limited download offer” as promotion to their book. Just to see what these sorts of books were like, I downloaded a bunch. I read bits and pieces, but I realized something: Many of them had spelling errors on the first page. Many were formatted strangely. Many were littered with very simple problems that would have been caught if it were edited. So many of these authors claimed to be “fed up” with querying, and so decided to self-publish.

And that brings me back to my philosophy: When I finally decide to submit my novel to agents, I want my manuscript to be as near ready-for-print as possible. I think that’s the dedication it takes to find success. So many authors want it all now, like Veruca Salt. They think they’ve gotten the golden egg, but it melts in theirs hands. I guess what I mean is that they don’t put in that extra effort.

*I don’t mean to sound arrogant (that sentence always sounds arrogant, haha). I completely respect self-published types, and I’m not talking about all of them. I’m saying that there are those who just want to turn text directly into profit. Those that don’t take the time to make a product that is worth purchasing. If you write a poem on Saturday, don’t sell it on Sunday. Iron that thing out! Make it snappy. Fix the simple spelling errors. Use quotation marks for dialogue. Those sorts of things. Don’t blame the agents for hating your work if you’re not willing to make your work shine!

Novel trimming

That said, I’ve returned to the beginning. This must be the twelfth time I’ve read my novel in full. I think, with my last draft completed, my structure is refined. My characters are individuals. My plot is perfected. So, this new draft is going to be about cutting the fat. I feel like I was better about this as I wrote, so working through my first chapter has been a fun challenge. I’ve been tearing out hundreds of words from it. Oiling the transitions. Making sure that the excitement builds from the get-go. Making my writing snappy yet flowing. Removing any data dumping or details that are irrelevant to the plot.

And it’s been good. Really good. I’ve never been more confident in my beginning. I look at it and see intriguing part after intriguing part, with no fat in between (and it wasn’t always this way). It’s hard to cut the fatty parts you love. Little details that are unneeded yet loved. Breaks your heart, but breaking it is the only way to heal. Haha. It’s been extremely hard work. 


Side Projects. I do them

Beyond that, with all my friends in town for Christmas (that’s how the Midwest works, everyone goes away and comes back for the holidays), I’ve been shooting YouTube videos on the side. 

my stop-motion puppet, Woolo the Walker
I’m actually writing a movie script, which I hope to film this month. I also plan on doing some stop-motion animation and make some new music videos! Doing other things helps me be refreshed enough to continue the editing, so it’s great! Over New Years, I’m going to be traveling to DC for MAGfest, which I’m really excited about. I have so much going on, it’s great. I love keeping busy.

Anyway, you’re great. Really. If you’ve read to this point, consider me your number-one fan. Please, since you’ve cared so much about me, leave a comment and tell me about you! I would love to see who is reading this and check out your projects or blogs (or, if you’re in St. Louis-area, I still have open roles for my movie, you should join up).

That’s all for now! Keep being awesome!