Women Are Different, So Heroines Should Be, Too

Even though this is geared toward writers, I love Ruth’s take on making every heroine in her books different and why she does it. It’s a great article for writers and readers both. Enjoy!

Ruth Ann Nordin's Author Blog

This post is a semi-rant.  From time to time, it irks me that people think there is a one-size-fits-all heroine.  (Actually, there is no one-size-fits-all hero or villain or secondary character or kid, either, but I’m going to speak specifically about heroines.)

How Women Are Different

Just like fingerprints, no two women are exactly alike.

different women ID 67013990 © Andrey Arkusha | Dreamstime.com

This entire post is based off a comment I recently received after someone read one of my books with a heroine who wasn’t in major pain after her first time of having sex.  I don’t know why we have to assume every single woman on this planet will have a horrific first time.  I didn’t.  In fact, my first time didn’t hurt at all.  But then, my husband and I took our time and I was able to get ready for him.  I had no tearing, no bleeding…

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Author Blogs: Do I really need one?

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about writer’s blog.

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity. 😀

You are welcome to disagree with me. I won’t stop you. But I want to tell you why I believe the statements above.

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

Every writer is different. The goals for their writing are different. No one author platform is the same.

This blog is about writing, publishing, and marketing books, the niche is self-published fiction writers. It was started to share our thoughts and opinions on self-publishing when it was still a shiny bright toy. This is a non-fiction blog. We get 50 to 4k+ hits a day. It works because it is geared toward readers looking for information on self-publishing and writing.

On a personal note, it fills my need to write about writing and publishing. It’s not here to sell my books (Probably because I’m a fiction writer, not a non-fiction writer.) It doesn’t build my platform, unless I start writing non-fiction. It’s mostly a blog for you and me.

Blogging was one of those things created for non-fiction writers and those who liked to share their personal journals online. What better way to build a non-fiction platform then by sharing snippets of information found in your books.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

Fiction writers don’t need a blog. For the most part it serves little purpose other than to alleviate the guilt that we “should be blogging.” If a blog helps you hash out your thoughts and ideas, keep at it. However, if you hate blogging, can’t think of anything to say, and don’t want to do it, don’t. Create a website instead and use your blog as a latest news stream to let readers know that you have something coming out or places that you’ll be. Create an ‘Extra’ pages for fun facts and stuff for readers.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about your blog.

Before I became an author I never read a blog from an author. I visited plenty of their websites. But I didn’t care what they had to say about their daily lives, what contest they were running, what their life was like, if they were having trouble with the characters, if they’re busy or in need of a holiday, if they’ll be absent from the internet for weeks or why, or what their kids are doing.

Sorry, but I’m selfish that way and irrelevant information isn’t going to make me want to come back. And I’m not alone. Many readers don’t visit the author’s blog. They don’t care about the life of the writer. They care about the books. And reading a blog geared toward other writers is a turn off for many readers.

The top things a reader want when they come to your blog/website isn’t the blog. They want information on your books, what is available and what is coming out. They want to know about you, but not too much about you (About me page?). They want a way to contact you (Contact Me page). They want excerpt from the books (Books page). Possibly some fun facts about the books (Extras about the books). Maybe a FAQ page (Author FAQ or Book FAQ pages).

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity.

Yes, I see the irony of this statement and I still believe it’s true. I don’t think writers should tell other writers that they absolutely need a blog or that they don’t. Every writer is different. Their goals for their writing are different. Their author platform isn’t the same as another authors.

Besides, I didn’t tell you not to blog, merely that I didn’t think every writer needed to. I’m a blogger that shouldn’t blog. I can’t keep to a consistent schedule. I only blog when I feel like it and weeks can go by without a word from me unless I start feeling guilty or have a sudden burst of energy and write dozens of posts at that time. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts and title and no real passion to do most days.

What Your Readers Want….Are You Sure?

Not sure why, but there seems to be this idea that readers want a certain type of book. That if a writer pulls away from the pack to write the story they have passion for, that it will be hated and not sell. I’m going to throw down the bullshite flag on this. It’s a myth. A writing myth. (Of which there seems to be a bushel full.)

Once upon time, when the only way to be published (yeah, I know there is more to that story) was go through a publisher, writers were forced to follow certain rules for the type of books that were acceptable by the publishers. As with anything, this grew into a fact of life that is mere mythology now.

If you are reading this blog then you are either self-published or you think of it. Self-publishers don’t have to follow this rule of the industry. They aren’t publishing for anyone else besides themselves, and possibly readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t follow the rules of storytelling, or have it edited for typos. You want to put out the best book that you can.

What you can do it experiment. You can try out new ideas. You can mix genres. You can write the strangest story ever.

There are readers out there for every type of book. Trust me, if you write the book and market it to the audience who wants it, it will sell. It might not sell like blockbusters, but it will sell and you will be happier for it.

Organization for a BETTER Writing Life

Yes, I just yelled ‘better’ at you. And yes, I know some of you subscribe to the “It’s an organized mess!” group. I know I spent the better part of 16 years thinking the same while the stacks of paper grew around me. However, the ‘organized mess’ really should be an ‘unorganized mess.’

Don’t believe me? How much time do you spend looking for things when you could be writing? Do you forget things because the paper you lost it on is lost in the craziness? For those who don’t have a dedicated writing space. How long does it take you to locate a paper when you sit down to write? Do you have to go to a different room to retrieve things you need?

It’s probably not surprising to most that writers and creative types aren’t the most organized person, after all, many of us appear flighty daydreamers to most people. It’s kinda part of the job description. It shouldn’t be a surprise that organizational systems that work for some don’t work for us. Our needs are as varied as any other business.

Streamlining one’s working life can go a long way toward better productivity and more writing time. Organization in your writing life can make it less stressful and better. Why? Because when you have a place for everything and everything is in it’s place (Oh! Just quoted my mom!), life is easier.

So my question is, what kind of organizational systems do you use to make work easier? Are you interested in learning to organize your writing and business life?

4 Great Ways to Target Your Readers Without Being Creepy

I love discussing writer related business with other authors and in my second business of cover design I get the chance often to talk about publishing and marketing. I was recently asked my opinion on audience targeting and how to do it. Ummmm…My advice was don’t until after the book is written. While you are going through the stages of editing and getting it ready for publication, when you have a firmer grasp of what the book is about, then it’s time to target your audience.

The author I was speaking with wanted to target their audience before they wrote the next book.

I’m not a big fan of audience targeting before you write the book. For whatever reason I have this image of an author in a mini-sub patrolling the Webseas, seeking out readers, and torpedo-ing their books in their direction. Some of these authors are targeting their genre audience, others every reader they find. I’m sure it works for some authors. As a reader, nothing annoys me more than authors and even readers who blast everyone in range with their “buy the book” message a million times. Aaahhh, let me think…will I buy the book…Um, not in a billion years. (Recent examples: Fifty Shades, Twilight, Harry Potter, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephen King, Amanda Hocking….and the list goes on.)

They might be great authors and their following seems huge. But I’ve heard about the book so much I already know what people liked, didn’t like, how it ends, and what was different in the books from the movie. Ok, can you tell how much it annoys me. It’s also a post for another day. Today I want to discuss ways to target your readers. And I’m still seeing the writer in a sub.

Writing for your audience is important if you want to sell books. If you are willing to place your marketing and sales before your creativity. However, there are good and bad ways to do it. If you don’t like the billionaire romances, don’t write them just because they’re popular. If you like Star Trek, create your own Universe and people, don’t copy and give them different names.

1) Decided who is your perfect reader is.

What I mean by this is who are you writing for and who is the type of reader you want to read your books. You can work up a character profile of who this reader is as some book marketing gurus suggest. I cringe at the very idea. I’d never look at it after the fact.

I would suggest picking a reader you already have and respect, even if that reader is imagined, and gear your writing toward them and hope there is more than one out there. Although the better option would be to write what you like and make that perfect reader you. Yeah, I know you are an individual and oh, so different from everyone else, but really, the best reader for your books are readers like you. In my opinion you are your perfect reader and you should be writing books you would enjoy reading. There are more people out there like you.

2) Research your readers needs and wants.

You can browse the top 10 bestsellers in your chosen genre or genres, research the common threads that make readers love them, and compile a list from those common traits. You can then use those common threads in your writing. If you do this, please only use the ones that you are comfortable with.

If you are uncomfortable writing about incest, James Bond like spies, epic fantasies, cheating spouses, serial killers, or any of the other dozen topics, then don’t. Writing something you aren’t comfortable with will only come out in your writing as awkward  and stilted. Besides that it won’t make you happy and it can even bring down your confidence and respect in yourself. Not! what you want to do.

3)  Make the book unique

Yes, vampire and shifter novels have been done to death, however, if you add your own unique writing style, author voice, and spin to it, then you’ve made it unique enough to attract readers to it when you start promoting it. I’m not a vampire fan, but I love Joleene Naylor’s vampire novels. My latest book had creatures that were like vampires and shifters in it. No, I wasn’t writing to a specific market it’s just how the story unfolded. It also didn’t take place on Earth. It had a unique spin to it that has attracted readers although I have yet to market it. (Bad me!)

If you write a book because it is the newest craze or trend, you better make your book stand out from the rest. If it is just like every other book out there, then you are writing for a limited audience. They will eventually move on to the next craze and the book you wrote will be left behind.

4) Market and Promote your book.

There are two ways to do this. Jump on all the forums, popular hangouts, guest post on blogs, and start talking about your book to everyone that will listen and make friends with the hope that they will become fans of your book or at least buy the book because they like you. Or go the other route and blog about your book a few months before it comes out (on your blog or guest post on others), giving readers interesting tidbits and story samples, see if reviewers are interested in reading and reviewing your book, release the book, and start writing the next book.

I like the second approach personally, which is probably why I make just enough to enjoy my success and my writing career still. I let people come to me and readers suggest the book without guilt tripping them into doing it. I also don’t have the added stress that ‘over-the-top’ marketing brings and I’m happier with my writing career. All pluses for me.

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So there are my tips to targeting your reader. Most of them that I don’t follow myself because I’d rather write the next book which seems to work better for me.

Writing for yourself First

I was reading on a forum today where an author asked how he could get the joy of writing back. He was worn out and bored with everything he started. The thought of writing another word was akin to pulling his own teeth with a pair of pliers.

As I read through the comments it became very clear to me, despite all the great suggestions given on how to help him, that his true problem wasn’t writer’s block or burn out. It was gearing his writing toward what he thought readers wanted from him. It was suppressing his own creative voice in an attempt to give his audience what they wanted. And it was boring him to death.

You see, he loved his daily writing pages. He enjoyed warm up stage before the critic’s voice came in to kill the fun. He still daydreamed new pitfalls for his characters.

It made me start to wonder, how many writers start with the joy of writing only to lost the passion? How many authors gear their writing toward what they think readers want? How many writers are writing books they hate or would never read themselves because it sells well? How many of you are doing this right now?

Stop it. Stop it right now.

The best part of writing is writing what you enjoy for the fun of it. It’s what makes work a little less work-y. It’s what makes the right readers love your books. Passion in your writing voice will carry the book far longer than formulaic writing.

What Type of Writer are you?

Last December I come to that point in my blogging career where I don’t know what to blog about anymore. Maybe it is because of who I am, or maybe I burned myself out after 7 years of constantly blogging. Either way, my lack ideas gave me a way out reason to take an extended vacation from blogging…and social media…and basically everything online except lurking on blogs and reading articles. During those four months I realized something. Actually I realized a bunch of somethings about myself, but I want to focus one of those here.

The Introverted Writer. 

This lead to thinking about the Extroverted-Introverted Writer and the Introverted-Extroverted Writer (Yes. There is such writers out there.) and how their marketing and promoting techniques would be different.

Every author/writer, just like every person, is different. Some of us aren’t made to interact in the world, at least not well and no amount of training help will change that. It’s not only uncomfortable for us, but it’s awkward and weird for others, and possibly detrimental to our careers. There are others out there, of which I’m not one, who are perfectly suited to be salespeople and interact with the populace at large just fine (Amanda Hocking?).

As self-published writers we are told that we need to market and promote our books through blogging, social media, guest posting, etc., etc., etc. Some articles tell us we have to do it, but give no directions on how to do it. And, yes, some of us need instructions on how to deal with the outside world. Others give directions on how they did it and why their method would work for you. Um…Usually it doesn’t help. While others tell you to do it, give directions and disclaimers, and unleash us on the world. I cringe at the idea.

Introverts and Extroverts

Writers for the most part are considered pure introverts. But that isn’t always the case. There are different levels of Introversion and Extroversion. You can be both an extrovert and an introvert.

Introverts are more likely to:

  • Be absorbed by their thoughts and ideas
  • Seek quiet and calm
  • Think before speaking and even over-think and not speaking
  • Draw energy from their inner world (ideas, emotions, and impressions), the external world drains them
  • Proceed carefully when meeting people and avoid crowds
  • Lose sight of what others are doing
  • Participate in selected activities
  • Not offer ideas freely and wait to be asked their opinions
  • Reflect and act cautiously

Extroverts are more likely to:

  • Talk out their ideas and thoughts
  • Energized by the external world
  • Seek out others to energize themselves
  • Love to meet and talk to people
  • Participate in the activities that offer
  • Rash and sometimes reckless (don’t always think through thought or actions)
  • Offer ideas and advice freely, without being asked

I’m sure some of you are looking at the lists and thinking, I do this and this but not that. This will help you figure what kind of writer you are, your strengths and weakness, and where your efforts would best serve you.

The Extroverted-Introverted Writer

This might seem contrary to what many people think when they think of a writer, but there are a few out there. My uncle just happens to be one of them. Rather be hanging out and doing things then writing, although he has his bouts of writing. The Extroverted-Introverted Writer has more extroverted traits than introverted ones.

If this is you, congratulations, the whole entrepreneur thing won’t be so hard for you. The business world of promotion will probably be easier for you to navigate and enjoy because you like to talk to other writers and readers about writing, publishing, books, and anything else on your mind. You’ll probably see the rewards of your efforts quicker. However, be wary of too much promoting and not enough writing. The next book is important. So balance your marketing efforts with your writing efforts.

The Introverted-Extroverted Writer

This type, like the one above, can be a great combination of writer and entrepreneur. Their list of traits are based more on the introverted side which can be a benefit with their extroverted traits. If this is you, you’ll probably be active on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, blogging, trading emails, etc. Many of these writers are prolific writers and make money from their efforts because they balance the promotion with the writing. Long term they do better because they have the backlist to back up their promoting efforts.

The Introverted Writer

Most or all the listed traits on the Introverted list above and very few to none of the extroverted list apply to the Introverted Writer,  You might find little value or desire to blog or be active on social media, you might even be forcing yourself to do it. Promoting yourself is like pulling teeth and you tire of it easily. Being online is a drain of energy.

If this is you then a better use of you time and efforts might be directed toward writing the next books, with occasional updates to your blog and social networks. It’s a slower process, but one that might be more beneficial to you since the more books you have out the greater chance of being discovered by readers. You might also have greater success with website pages that show an inside look into your books rather than a blog.

As always, I love to hear from you. If you want to add to the discussion, comment below, and if you liked this post, please share with others.