Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tips for Authors

Now I am not necessarily the most qualified person ever to be giving advice to authors, but for some strange reason I found my self determined to give my two cents. So here is a list of a few tips for authors everywhere. (In no particular order.)

1) Put yourself and your book on Goodreads!

Most bloggers and book-lovers use Goodreads for everything book related. Goodreads recommends books, and puts out newsletters, and allows users to see what other people thought about a book and what their specific friends thought about various books. If your book is on there it will gets plenty of publicity and promotion, gaining you more readers! Personally, I go on Goodreads pretty much every day and when ever I get a new book or am looking for something to read that is the first place I go to tell friends what I am reading and what I think of it or to search for something new that I love. Goodreads provides so many opportunities for authors and readers and bloggers love it!

2) Bloggers. 

I know this may sound a little biased coming from a blogger, but hear me out. Bloggers are going to be your best friends. Or at least they should be. Bloggers will be your biggest fans and worst critics. What they think of your books is going to be put out there for the whole world to see and lots of readers love reading blogs to get a feel for the books that are out there. So, getting bloggers to read your books or interview you or connect with you in someway and put the word out about you and your books is going to be very helpful to you. Even if they review your book and they end up giving it one star and ranting about how much they disliked it, they got people to think about and discuss your book, and they usually explain why they didn't like it, telling you what you need to work on to make your future books better! Bloggers can be a bit of a double edged sword, but in the end if you find the good ones and befriend them you'll be better off.

3) Put yourself out there and be accessible! 

I love interviewing authors, learning about them, and keeping up on what is going on with their books and what new stuff they are coming up with! So, it is super frustrating to me when they don't really have a website or a blog or something similar separate from a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account, and when it is hard to contact them or find the information to contact them. Your readers and fans want to follow what is happening. Giving them a way to do this is super important not just because they want to know but also because it makes it hard to forget about you between books or events. Not everyone has accounts on every social media site, even the big ones like Facebook and Twitter. A website or blog of your own in addition provides an open, easily accessible way to follow you, without requiring followers to have an account. Providing some way to contact you is a big thing. Readers, fans, bloggers, they are all going to want to ask you questions, ask to interview you, tell you how much they loved your book ect. Giving them some way to contact you is practically a necessity. It allows your fans to connect with you and vice versa. This connection will provide many opportunities for both sides and can be fun. Remember to be safe about what information you put out there and how you use it ect. though! The internet is fabulous but it also means that we have to remember to be safe!

4) Respond!

I know this one can be hard for any big name authors out there, but it is still super important that to at least try. Depending on how popular or famous you and your book are you will get varying amounts of feedback, questions, comments, ect. from readers and fans. This is wonderful, but I am sure it can be overwhelming and daunting as well when you already have a full and busy life. However, I can't stress enough how important it is to try to respond to as many of the comments, emails, letters, ect. you receive. It means SO much to the people that contacted you. I have contacted countless authors for interviews and some reply, while others don't. I have a lot more respect for those that do respond even if it is way after I contact them, or if it is just a pre-set email response to tell me thanks for contacting them and that they are very busy right now. I never forget how busy their lives are so I don't blame them when they don't respond. When authors do respond though it means a lot because I know that they took time out of their very very busy lives to do so! When someone contacts you try your hardest to get them some kind of response even if it is short because it will mean a lot to them. This is your opportunity to give something back to your fans and readers who have done so much for you!

5) Be creative! Avoid too many cliches.

This one is a bit subjective. Personally, cliches annoy me and from what I have heard from most of my book obsessed friends, cliches tend to drive them insane too. Some times it's ok to throw one or two in but be careful. Cliches annoy me because I have heard them a thousand times and I am reading your book to hear YOUR words and see how YOU describe things not hear someone else's words that I hear all the time. This is your chance to let your creativity shine! Break out of the box, stop using cliches and show readers what YOU can do with words!

6) "Love triangles" are the literary equivalent of the Bermuda triangle.

I know, I know, you've heard it before, but your love triangle is an exception, and every YA book has one. The Hunger Games has one and people everywhere still love it. Love triangles don't take away from the story or anything. Well, I beg to differ. This is another subjective one I know, and it also depends on the book. There have been exceptions and in some cases I have loved the addition of the love triangle, but it is tricky. It is rarely done right or well enough that I feel that way. Lots and lots of bloggers and readers rant about the awful love triangle in this book or that book or just how much they hate love triangles in general. So I have no idea why they are everywhere. I am not telling you to never write anything with a love triangle, I am simply telling you to write it carefully and make sure it actually helps the story or makes it better, because love triangles are like the Bermuda triangle.

7) Be careful when it comes to criticism and feedback. 

This seems like it should be a bit obvious, but I feel the need to address it anyways. Many authors will not read reviews of their books so that peoples's subjective opinions do not affect them. However, I don't know that this is necessarily the best way to go. Constructive criticism can be very helpful, not just to authors, but to everyone, but sometimes people don't always offer constructive criticism. Being able to take in criticism (constructive or otherwise) and feedback and then only listen to or only use the helpful and constructive information is a great life skill for everyone. It can be hard to listen to feedback and criticism when it is aimed at things we love and worked hard on but if we handle it carefully and well we can take a lot away from it and make things better. However, there are many times when the opinions and criticism people are offering are not helpful and aren't necessarily meant to be. Sometimes people can be rude and cruel and simply bash our work rather than offer ways to improve. In these cases we need to simply tune them out and move on.

8) Be unique! Write outside the box.

Yet again, this seems like it should be rather obvious, but for authors it can be hard. Pressure comes from every direction to write what you know, or write to what's popular right now, so that you sell lots of books, but I personally disagree with this line of thinking. I think it is time to "write outside the box" people like me that read all the time get tired of reading the same thing over and over again, so when we see something new that isn't like anything else on the shelves we are often eager to give it a try! As far as writing what you know, well I can see what they are saying and I can see how that may be beneficial in some cases, but if every author followed that rule there would be no fantasy! We wouldn't have these books that transport us to other worlds, that once only existed in an authors mind but now have been brought to life on the page! We wouldn't have stories about things like dragons or life  in galaxies with crazy names, or what life is like 100 years from now when the sun crashed into the earth! There wouldn't be much out there reading wise and it would all be the same. Writing and being creative is your chance to stand out, invent things, create, do what you want! If your book is unique it is sure to grab peoples attention, and pique their curiosity.

9) Sometimes one book is enough.

This sounds harsh, I know. I'm not telling you to stop writing all together after writing one book. Keep writing! Never stop! Stop and think before deciding if you need a sequel for your book, or a slew of books to fallow it making it a series or a trilogy. Sometimes one book is enough. Standalones are amazing! Don't get me wrong, I love trilogies, sagas, and series just as much as the next person, but sometimes the books that fallow the first book are a drag. Sometimes, all of the problems were solved in the first book and as much as I may love the characters, I don't really need another fallow up book. In fact, sometimes trying to add books to fallow a first book or make a series can take away from the first book. So just take a moment to think about whether or not your first book allows room for a fallow up book or books or if it would be better off on it's own.

10) T.M.I.

Sometimes your readers don't need to know every little detail. Describing things like the setting, characters, clothing, ect. is very important and makes stories more real, but sometimes you don't need to tell us everything. Give just enough of a description that people get the idea but not enough that they get bored. You can do a lot with a few strong adjectives, you don't need to go on and on for a paragraph of more describing something. Use things like strong word choice to make the imagery vivid rather than relying on the length and detail of your description.

Well that was my two cents. I hope you enjoyed, found it helpful, or thought provoking. Do you have any advice for readers? Or maybe you have some tips for bloggers or readers? I would love to here all your thoughts in the comments below!

On another note, the answers to the Valentines/Dooms day game have been posted on my Facebook  page. I will put the answers up here soon!

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