Sunday, March 17, 2013

Busting Through the Block by Lynn Emery

Some say writer’s block is a myth, a form of procrastination. Other authors insist it’s real, and they’ve suffered through it. As a therapist I’ve learned that if a person is convinced, it doesn’t matter if others say something is real or all in your mind. The bottom line is you need to work on the problem, whatever it is. Here are some tips to shock your unconscious muse back to life.
  • If you are blocked on what a character should do next or how they would react to a story event/plot turner go back and work on characterization. Chances are you need to flesh out more details on who she is- what are her goals, values, motivations, beliefs, etc. It might help to get to know her again. Most often hitting this kind of brick wall means you need to do more work on your character(s).
  • If you are blocked on what will happen next in your story (plotting), go back and review your story outline. O maybe you need to do one if you were writing by the seat of your pants. What story questions must be answered? What are the internal and external conflicts? What are the character motivations? What are the character goals? What is the dark moment when all seems lost? What is the climax (main characters must make a decision and take action)? What is the resolution? How are the main characters changed by this journey at the end?
Writing Exercises
Kick Start Your Brain

  1. Start a scene with your protagonist arriving or leaving some place in your story setting. Describe this setting through her eyes, including emotional reactions. Describe how secondary (or other major character) view the setting and the arrival of the main character using facial expressions, body language and dialogue. How does this affect the scene where you hit a block?
  2. Write a character’s worst moment, something that changed her or him in a basic way. Now write a scene where the effects of that event color how the character lives and now views the world in a way that affects your plot.
  3. Write a scene in which your character is arguing her viewpoint, some subject that she feels strongly about. This could be high concept (e.g. testifying before Congress, negotiating with a hostage taker) or discussing a subject with another character (relationship problem, family problem). Either way make the stakes high, in other words something terrible will happen if she doesn’t prevail. Throw in barriers that might keep her from prevailing. How does she overcome these?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Why are More and More Authors Faking Their Way to the Top of Bestsellers Lists?

By TaNisha Webb

Since the introduction of e-readers, avid readers have been blessed to gain instant access to their favorite authors’ works without any delay. It has also made it easier for authors to upload short stories in order to tie their doting fans over until their next novel is released. 

With the creation of anything good, there’s always something bad that comes along with it - however great or small. Some of the major downfalls since e-readers has seen the light of day are: the decline in paper and hardback book sales for authors (which means less money earned by traditional authors); the closing of major and indie brick and mortar book stores; and shortened to non-existing book signing tours for our favorite authors. With more and more avid readers converting to e-readers these variables will only worsen for authors.

Because anyone can publish a book nowadays, the industry has become increasingly competitive in order for authors to remain relevant. One of the ways for some authors to remain relevant is to become a bestselling author. Now don’t get me wrong – there are many authors that truly earned the accolades and praise that they receive. This is shown through consistently releasing great books that creates a strong fan base and due to the author creating a relationship with their readers. So with that being said - how is it possible that so many authors are making best selling lists that hardly anyone has heard of? 

Well one of the ways that some authors are getting on the bestsellers gravy train is by way of free and dirt cheap e-book price points. Cheap price points will help to embellish sales but doesn’t necessarily mean that the author’s work is worthy of the download. Many readers get caught up with clicking that download button for those bargain deals. Truth be told, these books hardly ever get read, which doesn’t always help the author to create a fan base. Temporary lowered e-book sales prices can work for authors as an effective marketing tool if the author already has an established fan base, which can help the author’s book go viral if their fans help spread the word to others via social media.

So here’s where the foolishness turns straight into mayhem with some of these so called “bestselling” authors. Some readers have noticed that not only are authors taking advantage of slashing the price of their e-books for eternity but they are also faking their way to the top of bestsellers lists by deliberately placing their e-books in the wrong genres in order to gain their undeserving bestselling status. This is a low-down dirty shame because not only are these fake bestselling authors being dishonest to readers when they claim they are a bestseller but they are also stealing…yes I said it…they are STEALING a spot from an author that actually do DESERVE and has rightfully EARNED their bestselling title because of these manipulative, greedy and starving for attention wannabes!

So how is it possible for a fiction e-book find its way in a non-fiction category?  Well when an author uploads their e-book onto Kindle and Nook, they are given the choice to place their e-book in up to three different genres that best describes their book’s content. If the author places their book into one or more genres you’ll see it listed on the e-book page in the book description area. You’ll also see where the e-book ranks overall and in the specific genres that the author has placed their book in. (Look at the example below). These “mistakes” aren’t an, ‘Oops, I accidently placed my book in the wrong category, gosh darn it!’ type of accident. This is more so like a ‘fake it ‘til I make it’ type of tomfoolery that some authors are using in order to make their numbers look better than what they actually are because many times the genre categories that the author chose to place their book in more than likely doesn’t generate many book sales, which makes it easy for the author to climb the bestsellers chart.

What can avid readers and book clubs do? Stop supporting authors that are cheating their way onto bestsellers lists! Even if you’re purchasing a paperback book take the time to click onto the author’s e-book page and see which genres they are placing their book into. Also, stop downloading cheap books unless it’s something that you KNOW you’re going to read. This will stop authors from being placed on the bestseller’s list when they haven’t earned it. If you see a book in a fiction and non-fiction genre, email the author and ask them why. The only books that are able to straddle both parts of the genre fence are autobiographies that are built on lies, which would make them fiction! 

What can the literary industry do? Create some type of price point for e-books per the size, just like traditional books have in place. This will help to separate the good from the bad. I think Amazon and Barnes and Noble should not allow authors to place any books in both fiction and non-fiction categories. Obviously, some authors don’t have the truth in them and simply won’t do right. 

What should the fake bestselling authors do? Stop faking the funk and get your act together. Hard work pays off…not deliberate acts of deceit. If you’re truly a great writer, let your work be your weapon and stop being a weasel! You are a constant reminder of what’s wrong with the literary industry today. Because of you, “bestseller” doesn’t mean much to avid readers because we still have to sift through the bad apples to get to the great authors. So unless you can prove that you have earned a bestselling title on a list that actually carries weight…we don’t care. There are no shortcuts to success. The lessons that you’ve bypassed on your seedy path, while faking your way to the top is making you look like a fool and a cheat! Get it together so that we as avid readers will want to support you and help you build the right foundation for success as your fan before we have no choice but to give up on you altogether. You’ve been warned! 

How do you feel about authors using these types of tactics to become bestselling authors?