Breaking Writing Sterotypes

Every genre has its writing stereotypes. This morning I came across a tweet decrying and asking people to leave a comment at this man’s blog in view of his post making fun of romance novels and readers. The post actually made me laugh as did some the comments–and yes, I do read and write romances.

The one thing I realized while reading his blog was that the people who commented live day in and day out with untrue writing stereotypes. They were fed up with people making fun of their hard work, but very few of those people were actually trying to break away from the stigma that they were so anger about.

Why? You might ask. Because traditional publishers dictated what rules they have to follow. Different is good. But not too different. Unique stories are welcome, but not always accepted.

As self-published authors, we are in the position to write what we like. We can move away from the writing stereotypes we don’t like. We can break the genre rules and take chances.

Please share the stereotypes you would like to see broken or changed, that you like, or that you hate. If you have a related post, let us know.

Don’t Annoy Potential Readers while Marketing your Book

When I was child I went door to door to sell my mother’s crafts. Now I think some of my success was because it’s hard for women to say no to a kid, but the other part is my penchant for asking questions. I showed a genuine interest in people. Yeah, I was there to make a sale, but I didn’t let that get in the way.

Now some might say I’m a horrible marketer, because I don’t employ any of the popular techniques of marketing and promoting with my books. I don’t want to be the Tweeter that posts nothing but book links. Once or twice a day is fine, as long as there are other statuses. But when it turns into the car salesman screaming “Sale! SALE! SALE! Buy now! NOW! NOW!” it turns me away from that author.

I’m one of those people who cringe at the thought of marketing, and there is a whole long story behind it, but in order to keep it short I will say this. I don’t care about sales rank. I don’t do contest. I don’t do guest posting or interviews unless someone asks me to. If I do a giveaway, I actually give the books away for free to anyone, no strings attached; although, I may ask them to leave an honest review at their favorite book sites. If I like an author’s work, I have no problem promoting them on my blog. And I try to stay away from reviews on my books.

In the three years since I published my first book, I haven’t done much more than create a blog/website, write more books, and connect with people whose blogs I like to read. But as a writer friend pointed out to me that other day, I sell more books in a month then some of the author’s she knows who employ a more aggressive style of marketing and have been published longer. I jokingly told her that if I actually put some effort into marketing think how many books I could sell in a month. But it really wasn’t a joke.

Yeah, I love my books. Yeah, I’m passionate about them. Yeah, I’d love to tell everyone I meet about the story I wrote. But I don’t want to do the telemarketer’s style of promotion and pitch my book to people who don’t care.

Over the years I’ve learned that part of good, non-aggressive marketing is realizing when you’ve lost the sale. If you meet someone and are having a good discussion and you mention to them that you are an author of whatever genre and they shut down, move on to another topic, because if you push the issue, you run the risk of annoying a potential reader and not only losing their sale, but others. No one wants to feel hounded. If they ask questions or show interest, be ready to answer their questions and maybe have a business card to give them.

Remember, word of mouth is the biggest seller. Readers share with each other. If you annoy one, they will tell other readers about your behavior, and you lose even more potential readers. If you impress a reader with your professionalism, they will tell others about experience, and you will gain readers. And who doesn’t want to gain readers.

What things do you see other author’s doing that you find annoying? Why would you repeat their mistake?

Q&A: The Stalker Reader

Question: Help!  Someone please make a post for me and for other writers who might be dealing with this situation because I am too close to the problem to be objective about it.

If you’ve been receiving emails every day for about two weeks from the same person who isn’t necessarily being rude but is obviously wanting to keep you answering them with questions like “What kind of house do you live in?” or “What is it like in the U.S.?” or “What are the color of your cat’s eyes?”  I mean, these emails have nothing to do with your books, but you suspect the person is lonely and probably wants to reach out and communicate with someone but you don’t have that kind of time to email this person every single day, then what do you do?

I don’t want to be rude.  But do I have a choice?  Is there a form letter I can send out? 

Answer: I wanted to have your question answered as soon as I could and later I’ll make a post on Author Etiquette. Most people on here might not know what Ruth means by form letter. This isn’t some cold letter that you copy and send out. In the last year that we have been conversing, we have made a dozen or more form letters. What they are, are letters written to answer emails that would otherwise make you send a heated email cussing the rude reader off for whatever reader reason. Our letters aren’t a publisher’s rejection letters.

First, they are written when you’re not upset. Second, they can be modified to answer specific points in the readers email, which you should do if it doesn’t invade your privacy. And third, it provides a credible, professional image.  

I’ll use Ruth’s questions for an example.

Dear (Reader’s name);

Thank you for your emails, however, I am uncomfortable with your line of questioning (or as Dave suggested, due to work / family commitments / time restraints, etc. I am only able to speak  you on the writing/reader basis.) If you have a reading or writing related question please let me know (at your email or you can place a blog address here). I also have an author blog at (address), feel free to visit and comment.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

Of course modify this for your writing style. I’m more formal in my letter writing then, Ruth. And I open this Q&A for anyone else that might have a better solution. Anyone?

Blogging Tip #2: Get Readers to your Blog

Yesterday I talked about writing your blog for you readers. Today I want to discuss how to promote your blog to get those readers.

First you have to start writing your blog. Once you have a few posts, its time to start looking for readers to read your blog. Yes, I know that readers will come looking for your content eventually, finding you through search engines and other people. But that is a very slow climb upward. Trust me.

My first blog was at LiveJournal. I created it so I didn’t have to keep writing the same letter to friends and family. They could read all about my day. When I decided to publish my novels and start an author’s platform I started another at LiveJournal. This lasted about a year until I decided to create my author website. The decision to go with WordPress meant that I had everything in one place. Blog, about me page, extra pages for books, etc..

The next step was to promote my new site. And the best way I found to do this was to find other blogs and forums that I enjoyed and befriend those people. I dislike the ‘look at me, I’m so great, buy my book’ commentors or the ‘I’m only commenting because I want you to buy my book’ commentors. This doesn’t work. An honest question or comment has me clicking on their website every time. Another way to get readers is to offer something for free. People love free stuff.

What are other ways you’ve found to get readers? Do you have any suggestions for future posts or questions? We’d love to hear from you.