C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

The publishing revolution already happened.

Top Ten: Make your writing count

braingasm cover1. One is the loneliest number. It’s you, the author, facing the blank page. There’s no one with whom to share responsibility to write and no one to share the blame for when you get it wrong. You are alone in here until you allow the ghosts to come forward and their voices to speak.

2. Two is you and your reader. You become invisible. The reader disappears. That leaves the story as the bridge, hanging in the air between two indefinite points and reaching through time. If the story is strong, the ethereal is made real and two indefinite points connect in mutual imagination. This is the only magic I know.

3. Three, as in “Rule of”. No one knows why the Rule of Three works. It just does. Lists of two feel insufficient and weak. A list of more than three feels pedantic, overblown, overly long, simply too much and see what I’m doing here? If you do, then you are paying attention, astute and onboard.

4. Four is the number of years you were in university, supposedly learning how to write. If you fell for that, well…I did, too. We would have spent all that money better had we hit the road, read a lot and just wrote. You may want one, but you don’t need an MFA. You need a little recklessness and exposure to the world and curiosity to lead you to what you need to know. I learned more about writing in my first two weeks as a newspaperman than I did in four years of a journalism degree. 

5. Five is age five, as in when you start to remember things you can use against your parents in your first novel. Wherever a remembered childhood begins is where you begin collecting fodder, drama and trauma (see? Rule of Three!) that you will cannibalize until the Alzheimer’s gets its hooks in deep.

6. Six times three is the Number of the Beast and it sounds like “sex” and it was my lucky number when I believed in lucky numbers. Six is the number of degrees of separation and Kevin Bacon. Six represents the tentative connections upon which all fiction is built. Less than six is too linear. Six means you’re making fragile neural connections between ideas to construct something new and fresh and interesting. Shore up that spider web against high winds and less imaginative minds with facts and a realistic context that supports the suspension of disbelief.

7. Seven is the number of things scientists say we can do at one time. Don’t do that. Do one thing at one time. Do not multi-task. When you are writing, write. Until you can make the world go away, there’s no chance of building that bridge over the fog to reach readers.

8. Eight is a good number of beta readers and proofers. Chances are you can’t find eight excellent pre-publication readers willing to comb your manuscript. However, try for half that and use the others for specific skill sets. My survival expert and cartographer, for instance, knows where Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is.

9. Nine is the number of relatives you were sure would buy your book. At the family Christmas party, they will be disappointingly vague, clueless and heartless about your literary endeavours. Or worse, they will have read it and will shrug off the experience in crushing silence. Or worse still, they’ll ask you to ship them a free copy.

10. Ten is the top ten list you pray you’ll get on even if you don’t believe in God. Ten is the number of good reviews you need to get on many promotional lists. Ten is how you remember the date you took to the prom. Ten is a number representing what’s best. Ten is the number of digits on the hand that pulls you up from anonymity with a tweet of endorsement, a clap on the back and a congratulatory handshake. Ten equals Hope.

Today, you are one.

Write often, boldly and well.

Your writing will count.

Your readers will be innumerable.

~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I have a large Irish family and a large Japanese family. I wish they liked me enough to buy my books. Fortunately, #5.

 

Filed under: author platform, Top Ten, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

What to do now that #NaNoWriMo is done

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, with jokes.

By the way, Crack the Indie Author Code 2nd Edition is out in paperback at $9.99. Smaller format, but still has lots of jokes.

Start another book. Brainstorm or sketch out another book outline or write a short story or just sit down and see where else you can go at the keyboard. Keep that feather pen scratching. Keep going. 

People will tell you to celebrate. Writers (because we aren’t “people”) will ask, “What else ya got?”

You could take a break, sure. But now that you’ve done NaNoWriMo, don’t you feel you’ve got a good habit going? Habits are hard to break into. To get into the daily writing habit takes practice, just like you’ve been doing all this month. Why stop now? To publish, you must write a lot, rewrite, revise and edit. Good habits are too easy to drop for you to waste all that behavioural inertia you have steaming in your skull engine.

Now isn’t the time to put your feet up.

If you still have some scenes from your NaNoWriMo project that you didn’t fill in right away, you can do those now. Now is the perfect time. The context is still fresh in your mind. Tackle any empty spaces you’ve left behind so when you come back to it, you won’t become perplexed and stymied later. Otherwise, leave your NaNoWriMo manuscript alone.

Why am I telling you to start a new project as quickly as you can?

Because someone might be tempted to dive right back in so they have a novel by Christmas. You know you need some time to cogitate while the manuscript rests for a bit. Otherwise, the Nano haters will run in circles with their hands over their ears screaming, “I told you so!” None of us wants those killjoys to be right.

Besides, if you go back too soon, you might be discouraged at how much work the book needs. Or worse, some might think their rush job is still brilliant. That’s lethal to ever having anyone tell you they’re a fan of your work.

And now for the tough stuff. I’m asking that you hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at one time and act accordingly.

1. Congratulations! You beat NaNo! Good on you! I bet there were days when the words came quickly and days where it felt like your brain was full of molasses. However, you faced down time management problems and got it done anyway. Sometimes it wasn’t easy, yet, you got past 50,000 words! You did it! This is a huge accomplishment!

and

2. Writing a little less than a couple of thousand words a day is no big deal.

Yes, some writers are more precious about their word count and make a great show of how slow they can produce. Mostly? I suspect they’re counting procrastination time as writing time. Screw that. I come from a journalistic background where deadlines are not livelines. We slam it in and knock it out and we’re good.

At least take that attitude with the first draft so you’ll have something to gut and edit. Blank screens have no atoms and pixels bouncing off each other to create new neural pathways and fresh angles to feed reader rapture. The first draft is usually simple, straight narrative. I always find the jokes, dialogue and theme in the second pass.

Professional writers write to deadlines all the time and they do so consistently.

You know that now, so it’s not about what “they”, the writers, do anymore. It’s what you do because you’re a writer. Keep going.

We’re creative. Writing’s what we do to wield god powers and get back at our brothers and sisters. We do it because it’s much cooler at the Christmas party to answer “What do you do?” with, “I write.” Say that and you’ve got a conversation. (Try explaining your wage ape existence in middle management to a hapless stranger and they’ll run for the punch bowl.)

We do it for play, for love and money and hope and for readers. It’s fantastic to find a scene to write that, even as you’re knocking it out, you say, “This! This will melt their faces and make them want to read me for the rest of their lives and tell all their friends! Ta-freakin’-da!

Mostly, writing is what we do because it is who we are.*

*If you didn’t carry out NanoWriMo’s challenge this November, what better testament to your mettle than to do it on your own? Now. You’ll feel more smug and self-righteous this time around. There are twelve months in a year. You don’t have to risk waiting another year for the next party bus to take you to your life’s to-do list.

See you in the trenches in the morning

with 3,000 more words. If it’s a bad day.

Yes, you may stop writing

when you’re out of blood.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z's next and it's coming for you and the Queen's corgis.

Season One of This Plague of Days is the siege. Sutr-X was the pandemic. Sutr-Z’s next and it’s coming for you and the Queen’s corgis.

~ Robert Chazz Chute wrote a bunch of beastly books, including This Plague of Days. Season One’s in paperback. If you’re a writer looking for more inspiration, Robert also recommends Crack the Indie Author Code. But he would say that since he is me and we’re all about inspiring writers not to be weak. We’re all about the conquering and hefting the bale and writerly whatnot. And writing about ourselves in the third person apparently.

What? Still waffling? Still? After all that? Holy Jebus! Read this review of Crack the Indie Author Code then, for the love of Thor and for the love of the sweet consumer that is you and your writing career! And your family’s writing career. Don’t forget to get Mom one for Christmas, too.

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#Nanowrimo: You do not have Writer’s Block

This week I found inspiration for a new character. I got it from the Latin word “occubus”, meaning to rest (especially in the grave.) I love my Latin dictionaries and will miss them when I move on to projects beyond This Plague of Days. A blind stab, a finger pointing on a random page and wham! Something new to play with! A new chapter! That’s the joy of discovery in writing. The ideas don’t always flow so easily, but if you’re in a good place, the words always come.

Readers ask us where we get our ideas.

If you’ve made it out of the horrors of high school (or perhaps even more so if you didn’t), you’ve got enough material to start writing. That supply of disappointment, embarrassment and angst will last for your career.

Conflicts, fisticuffs and the world news are all fodder for the mind mill. Family, relationships, lack of relationships? Cannibalize! Books you read will feed books you’ll write. Whether you’re a monk on a mountain or a suburban wage slave, you are surrounded with input for your output.

An afternoon walk can spark an idea, especially if that walk takes you to the local courthouse. Arraignment hearings are best. One long court trial might yield a book. Bearing witness to the parade of arrests from last night will give you all the books you can write and make you wish you had the ability to type faster.

We are all dreamers, putting information together in new ways for new takes on ancient stories. If there is such a thing as writer’s block, it is not because of a lack of ideas to play with.

Writer’s block comes from a loss of enjoyment of play.

That sounds more like depression, doesn’t it? Or laziness that springs from too much sugar and wheat and not enough kale. If you think you’re suffering writer’s block, don’t complain about a muse deficiency. You can’t fight that, but you could fight an amusement deficiency.

A long time ago, I stopped writing for several years.

My “block” was really about rage. A co-worker annoyed me mightily. I went home and began to write a short story that was basically a tantrum on the page. I got about four lines into the revenge fantasy and realized, I don’t want to feel this way and I don’t want to write this. I didn’t write again until I fixed my life (or at least repaired my lifeboat.) I was unhappy with what I was doing and, instead of rage on the page, I resolved to change the underlying problem (i.e. working with twits.)

We often romanticize the miserable writer working in poverty as the creativity bubbles out of all that sadness. Mostly nonsense. You don’t get a book written when you’re so depressed you can’t face picking up a pencil. I mean that literally. I remember lying atop my unmade bed (a grubby futon on the floor, actually) and thinking, I can’t. I just can’t. The pencil stayed on the floor.

Depression sucks energy away and writing demands we put energy out. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Writer’s block is a vague, disempowering notion that, ironically, is a dangerous fiction. Instead, focus on concrete variables you can change: income, time management, who’s sleeping beside you, what goes down your throat, the exercise you do and what you allow into your mind.

Sure, inspiration is everywhere.

But maybe you need a doctor.

 

Filed under: NanNoWriMo, What about you?, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

The Secret Alphabet of Independent Publishing

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

“You will laugh your ass off!” ~ Author of Cybrgrrl, Maxwell Cynn

A is for All of it, which is what we want. (A used to stand for Agent.)

B is for Book, of course, and ebooks are “real” books, too. Literature is about the content not the container.

C is for Cutting prices. It would be bad for writers, but at 70%, we’re still getting paid more per unit sold than in traditional publishing. Also, price cuts sure make now a great time to be a reader.

D is for Deadlines. Don’t take forever to write your book. More time procrastinating doesn’t make a better book.

E is for E-books on E-readers. But you know your kindle is a transitional device, right? The phones are getting bigger again and tablets are coming down in price. We don’t want a device to do one thing. We want one device to be a web surfer, camera, phone, app catalogue, music box, GPS, ebook reader and best friend on our hip.

F is for Future. It’s the direction to look. If you don’t like it, you can change it whereas the past requires an annoying child named Sherman, a dog named Mister Peabody and a Wayback machine.

G is for Guidelines, because guidelines are malleable. There really aren’t many unbreakable rules worth obsessing over. You already know the rules because they’re obvious or you ignore common sense or you’re a slave to unthinking tyranny. The cool kids prefer more options.

H is for Hope. It’s good to have some, especially in this business. When there’s no reason to have any, that’s when you need it most.

I is for Intermediator. Have as few of these as possible. Upload your books yourself if you can, or get help from an independent contractor. This will allow you more choices of forks down the road.

J is for Just you. The myth and prejudice against independent publishing is that’s it’s just you. You are alone, except for the editors, graphic artist, beta editorial team, volunteers, publicity teams and whoever else you can hire or cajole into helping you get your book discovered. Sure, other than that little cyclone of industry, it’s all you.

K is for Killing characters. Killing someone readers love who they were sure would make it to the end? Delicious. (Note: killing darlings is overrated.)

L is for Love. It’s why we write. If you have other motivations, that’s fine, but releasing dopamine as you create is, like reading, a very rewarding addiction. The biological pharmacy in your brain simulates love. Endorphins won’t land you in a dirty rehab unit with a roommate who won’t stop telling that story about the time he tried to get high on burnt bananas and smoking his own hair.

M is for Money. It can happen, but probably not so don’t write for money. As above, write for love. If money does happen, people will resent you slightly less when you claim you never expected it.

N is for Naysayers. Most of them will never write near as many books as you will. Just say no to naysayers. If you sleep with your naysayer, someone’s in the wrong bed.

O is for the Obsession to know things. It seeps into the writing so you can drench your fiction with non-fiction and trenchant verisimilitude. For instance, This Plague of Days, Season Two weaves the Apocalypse with interesting tidbits about Irish legends, military history and the mortal wounds inflicted by the blue-ringed octopus. Mine is the only zombie/plague/autism story that teaches you Latin in an entertaining way, guaranteed!

P is for Portent. Warnings that something big is about to happen are especially fun when you give readers an earnest warning and they still don’t see it until it coming. They’ll only see the clues in retrospect. Secret trails to revelation and love of language are why people reread books. Do it well and someone might think your book isn’t just suspense, but maybe even “literary” or (praise Thor) “important”.

Q is for Quitting. If the project is wrong, quit. If it’s right and you’re just whining, quit whining and finish it. If you aren’t excited to write this book, find another you will be excited about all the way through or for our sake, please do stop. 

R is for Ripoffs. It’s a minefield out there: Fake agents who try to make money off reading fees; publishers who won’t pay; people who use disreputable business practices and call them policies. (R is also for Research. It’s how to avoid R is for Ripoffs.)

S is for Sustained Action. Promoting your work need not be an exhausting blitz. Dig in for the long game and promote at a slower pace. Don’t promote the same stuff to the same audience all the time lest you exhaust them. Keep writing new books. Don’t pin your hopes to one book. Sure, you might accidentally hitch your wagon to a star, but chances are excellent you’ll hitch your wagon to a stump, especially if this is your first rodeo.

T is for Trying. You’ll hate yourself if you don’t try. Losers will hate you because you did try. That’s why they’re called losers. They work from a different definition of failure than you and I. They confuse boring with winning.

U is for Unpublish. If something isn’t working, take it off the market and replace it with your tweaked story, new cover or new edition. Unlike traditional publishing, you have more options. You can adapt. Ours is a different, more flexible, business model. Use that advantage.

V is for Victory. There is no victory. Banish the concept from your life. There are only ups and downs and we’re all trying to make more ups.

Victory is very useful in fiction, however. Readers want to escape real life’s mundanity so it makes them happier when the protagonist achieves victory at the end of a story.

To go all Conan and see your enemies driven before you and to hear the lamentation of the Evil Mort from Accounting? That’s fiction. Working in a cubicle farm with no hope of retirement while Mort gets promoted and vacations in Brazil? That’s real. The real-life Mort is why we all crave escape into stories.

W is for Wit. They say brevity is wit’s soul, but I can take a pounding of wit in dialogue all day and all night, Mr. Sorkin.

Please note that snark is not quite wit. That’s a blunt tool meant only for peeling the outer layer of flesh. Meanness is the opposite of wit. That’s a blunt fool’s weapon. Wit’s funny and smart. When that sword cuts, we see light flashing down the steel blade. Wit allows the victim to take the hit and nod, “Touché!” with a smile.

X is for X-ray vision. All writers have this power. I can see into purses and pockets and the lives of strangers at the mall. I can work backward or forward to tell you who they are and their story of heartbreak in their senior year of high school. I diagnose disease at a distance. I know what you did last summer. I can give your life history and your death meaning, so do not screw with me.

Z is for Zero. It’s what we’re paid for writing. We are never paid for writing. We write for love, remember? If the money ever arrives, we’re paid for putting up with dehumanizing reviews, pretending to take them well and staying silent about them forever. We’re paid for the sad paperwork at tax time. We’re paid for the sting when someone sneers with casual cruelty, “So, are you a big deal yet?” We’re paid pennies an hour for the sacrifices our loved ones make so we can keep writing. 

Writing a good book is a happy, selfish act for the writer.

We are addicts, helpless in our defiance and desperate to monetize our work so we can have the freedom 

to score more of Creation’s sweet biochemical cascade.

Escape reality. Get high on a story.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute, the author of Self-help for Stoners and this was the high I was talking about. This Plague of Days, Season Two scintillates brains October 1. Get Season One and check out all my books here. I hope to be your favorite candy man one day.

Filed under: author platform, Publicity & Promotion, publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fight Club: How 6 Rules of Combat Will Make You a Winning Writer

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

The mind virus is created. Spread the infection. Each of five episodes is only 99 cents each. Get the whole Season for the discount at $3.99. (And if you already have read it, please review it.) Thanks! ~ Chazz

I’m teaching my son hand-to-hand combat. He’s such a friendly, funny, sweet little guy, I’m sure his character will keep him out of lots of fights. However, there are things to learn that are applicable to the forces you and I combat. For instance, it’s often easy to predict who will win a street fight. Similarly, I can tell you why some authors will win the fight to have their work discovered.

The bigger person usually wins the fight.

The fighting analogy is obvious, but it applies to our book ventures, too. If you have published many books, you’re in more Also boughts. More shelf space means easier discoverability. The longer your book is available, the more sales it will eventually accrue. (My bestseller is still my first book.)

If you aren’t big yet, write more good books.

The person who strikes first usually wins the fight.

I’d rather my son run from any fight, but if threatened with no escape route, hit fast and hit hard and hit first. End it before the drunk gets a head of steam on the courage he got from a bottle.

If you got into self-publishing early (i.e. before the Amazon algorithms changed) or if you were a popular traditionally published author, you have the advantage of experience and legacy. You had a profile. You still have an advantage now. You hit early, hard and first. You’re still feeling the benefits of throwing the first punch.

The person who is better prepared wins the fight.

A trained fighter has an obvious advantage over a novice. The trained fighter will be less likely to panic when things go wrong and will know how to compensate for a temporary reversal of fortune. After losing sparring matches in training, the experienced fighter has knowledge that will allow victory.

Similarly, if a writer has written a long time, he or she will not lose confidence at a temporary setback. Sometimes you have no idea what happens next in your story and you’ve written yourself into a corner. Once you’ve written yourself into a corner many times, you don’t give up so quickly when you meet the problem again. You recognize opportunities or make new ones.

The person who is willing to do what it takes to win, will. 

Most people are unwilling to do the nasty things you do to end a fight decisively. Most fights start when an idiot tries to intimidate someone, but the bully often doesn’t really want to fight. There’s a good reason no one really wants to fight. It hurts. Even if you win, you’ll very likely have tooth marks on your knuckles.

You guessed it. Many people who say they want to write, don’t. Experienced writers get bored when someone complains they don’t have enough time to write or they have writer’s block. In most cases, that’s the sound of someone unwilling to put in the time to write, edit, revise, polish and publish.

Serious writers grapple with issues of craft, marketing and business. Serious writers have much more challenging time management problems than merely beginning to write. We do what we have to do. That always means sacrifice. 

The fighter with more muscle usually wins.

Even a trained, experienced fighter can be taken out by a shot with heft behind it. 

For the writer, skills are our muscle. We know what a gerund is and how it relates to passive voice. We can avoid a lot of problems because we have an ear for dialogue or paid attention to basic grammar rules in school. These skills keep you in the fight for readers’ attention longer.

The first rule of Fight Club is: Do not talk about Fight Club! 

Fighters don’t build up to the fight. That’s macho posturing and a sign of a silly bully, not a fighter. Talking is not where our energies are best employed (unless we’re being kind to each other.)

Fighters fight.

Writers write.

Filed under: author platform, book marketing, publishing, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Amazon launches Storyteller to turn scripts into storyboards — automagically

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

This could be useful for a lot of people in situations far beyond movies and scripts.

Robert Chazz Chute‘s insight:

This is a new storyboarding tool from Amazon. Check it out at the link.

One of the things I want to do is create graphic novels in the future. This won’t replace working with an artist, but it’s still a pretty cool app with an expanding library of props, backgrounds and actors and interesting potential. I can’t wait to experiment with it.

~ Chazz

See on venturebeat.com

Filed under: publishing, , , ,

Set Your Internet to Ignore (Psst! The fun is in the parentheticals)

Comment threads and reviews are interesting windows to the human heart. Well, maybe not always the heart. Sometimes the comments come straight from the toe jam.

If you want to be disillusioned with the future of the human race, read YouTube comments. You won’t have to read much before you actually welcome the massive meteor that will destroy Earth this Friday afternoon around 2 pm EST. (Wear a sweater.)

Recently some fool seemed said anyone who criticized a single Amazon policy was against capitalism. No point worrying about people who conflate one thing with a different thing. (“Brainless communists are behind every rock and tree!” is so ’50s.)

In another thread that was very anti-indie, a snarky commenter replied to an indie’s post by correcting a minor typo. The indie made great points about the industry, but the message from the traditional author was clear: A single typo invalidates your argument. (I almost commented, “Bitch move, traddy.”)

But then it occurred to me, I am not a lone genius. If I see it, everyone sees it.

When you read an illiterate one-star review or when someone slips into a screed about  unrelated topics, everyone sees it for what it is. That’s a good feeling isn’t it? I’m even starting to regret that meteor strike burning up all the planet’s oxygen before the next Game of Thrones. (Perhaps I should cancel the order. Hm.)

This week a person of my acquaintance was criticized because, at the end of his post…wait for it…he dared to point out that he sold stuff for a living. As if that’s a bad thing. (Wait! Maybe Communism is coming back, after all.)

Stop worrying

These comments don’t hurt you as an author or blogger. They hurt the snarker. I’ve gone out of my way to block people who are mean to others. I report abusive reviews that libel the author instead of talk about the book. I know who’s naughty and nice. If the offenders are authors, they are banished and I never buy their books. I’ve gone out of my way to purchase books because of egregious reviews.

 

Here’s the math:

Idiot reviewer hates book + nastiness + condescension (+ possible libel) – a kind thought =  it’s probably not a book nasty, condescending idiots enjoy < I’d like to think I’m not an idiot, therefore, I give that book a try. (Was that condescending?)

Don’t act like a knob

No, you don’t have to be sunshine and sweet cakes all the time, but if you’re going to be mean, you better be twice as smart and savvy with facts. (For instance, Scalzi, Konrath and Wendig can be cutting, but they’re always smarter than they are savage.)

Act like a knob and you’ll be treated like a knob should be treated:

I won’t give you more thought.

I won’t think you’re clever.

I’ll set the Internet to Ignore.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and I sell stuff. 

Filed under: author platform, authors, book reviews, ebooks, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Write! Like a Boss!

One of the movies we love here in the secret bunker is The Incredibles. I love a good Bond movie and The Incredibles is superheroes in a Bond movie. It’s a lot of fun, though, for me, the most effecting scene is where the missiles close on the plane with kids on board. Having kids makes you cry easily and I’ve cried during that scene several times over.

Kind of a Spoiler

In the original plot for The Incredibles, the plot called for the plane to be piloted by an ordinary human — a sweet old man and friend of Elastigirl — who gets killed in the explosion. That was revised when they decided it was too dark a turn for a kids’ movie.

The best scene

For my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, the scene she always brings up first is the attack on the city.

Samuel L. Jackson, primed to defend innocents and come out of retirement, really sells it when he sees the devastation and shouts, “Honey! Where is my super suit?!” 

His wife’s reply: “Oh, no you don’t! I have been planning this dinner with the Robinsons for weeks!”

Honey! Where is my super suit?!” 

The juxtaposition of the mundane with a superhero’s clothing needs is funny, but it doesn’t stand out as much for me. She Who Must Be Obeyed is not wrong. (That can never happen.) However, it underlines that we can’t predict how our writing will be received. We must write for ourselves and hope others of like mind will find us (or we must find them). When I wrote for magazines, I was often surprised which bit of a column provoked outrage and what spurred letters of admiration. People won’t necessarily unpack your book the way you thought you sent it.

And then… 

Yesterday I read one-star reviews of a few of Shakespeare’s plays. One star. Really? I know it’s a subjective universe, but The Freakin’ Bard only gets one star? 

Write more. Worry less.

You could concern yourself with the trend of reviews. Report the abusive reviews. Consider correcting fallacies in reviews (like author Elle Lothlorien). Refuse to read your reviews (like author JA Konrath).

Reviewers are not your boss. You are your boss. Being boss is one of your best reasons to write. Don’t give it up. Write! Like a boss!

Stop worrying so much and just write your next best thing. The next best thing could be your best book ever (which someone will load down with a one-star review). Just write. Not everyone will love your book or they’ll love different parts of your book for different reasons. Those who dislike your work aren’t your readers of the future, so they don’t matter. They don’t pay you for your books so they literally don’t figure into the accounting. 

There really is no accounting for taste.

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes like a boss. Check out his books at AllThatChazz.com (where he also podcasts like a boss.) He interviews like a boss at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. He loses weight like a boss at DecisionToChange.com. He vines like a boss and writes about Vine here. He prepares an apocalypse like a ghoulish boss full of verisimilitude and magic realism at ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

Filed under: Rejection, reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

A free and easy editing program that works

TPOD 0420 2As I revise my upcoming horror serial, This Plague of Days, I find some passages that I can’t wait to share. There are plenty of big reveals to come, but a few teasers along the way are fun (so click here to get a taste of horror and weirdness.) As I plod along, I’ve found a helpful way to polish the writing I want to share with you and improve my manuscript. The good news is there’s nothing to buy and you probably already have it but haven’t used the program in this way.

Before I tell you about this helpful editing program…

I have to tell you there are other editing programs that aren’t nearly so helpful. They aren’t as good as human eyes (so always keep some human eyes in your pocket.) You can subscribe to these programs at varying rates, from cheap to expensive. Some are better than others. I tested one and it told me there were 43 areas of concern in the first paragraph. Of course, even a terrible writer probably doesn’t have 43 areas of concern in one paragraph. It wasn’t even a very long one! I shuddered, cursed and looked closer.

The problem was the program threw up red flags (as in vomited red flags) everywhere. In an effort to be thorough, it overshot into ridiculously unhelpful. The grammar problems weren’t grammar problems. The spelling suggestions were all just alternative words. Stylistic choices were only that. Of the 43 problems, I found two things I might change. Might! I get that from rereading any paragraph!

The signal to noise ratio was clearly way off in the program. If I ever hate a writer with OCD, I’ll be sure to gift him or her a subscription. We’ll never hear from them again and they’ll never write another book.

So, to the “new” suggestion

It’s not new, but it is useful. I write in Scrivener (which I love). When I find quotes and snippets I want to reveal as appetizers at ThisPlagueOfDays.com, naturally I post it into WordPress. I’ve found the WordPress editor has helped me reconsider some things. It suggests neither too much nor too little. It’s elegant, free and easy to use for that little added polish to make you feel excited about getting to your last draft and publishing your book. 

Grab a chapter from your WIP, paste it into WordPress, test it and consider adding it to your editorial production process. I like it.

 

Filed under: Editing, getting it done, grammar, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Was this post helpful to you?

I bought a book today by an author previously unknown to me. At six bucks plus, it was the most expensive ebook I’ve purchased in a long time. (Usually my ebook purchases are from indies, not trad publishers.) I bought this ebook because of one of its reviews. I did not buy because the review raved. The book caught my attention because the review’s tone was so damnably condescending, I had to make the purchase. This wasn’t a case of pitying the author. There were good reviews, too. Also, it helped that I suspected this was a book I would enjoy. It sounded smart and sure and people who liked it said it elevated and challenged its genre.

Whatever the book’s merits will be, the key component for the purchase was that the reviewer was too much of a jerk. What is it about bad reviews that so often reveal more about the reviewer than the book being reviewed? I emailed the author to tell him I bought his book. It sounded interesting and I wished him success with it. I look forward to reading it, but what can the rest of us take from this?

Take this post as a small salve to authors’ bruised egos.

People will love your work and others will hate it, but I want you to know that readers are generally intelligent people. They often see through the reviewer’s veil more than you might think. Readers divine intent when they read over-the-top malice and subtract value from a nasty review. Yea or nay, readers like thoughtful reviews. They get it when a reviewer sounds disrespectful or less than literate. Good readers (people who buy a lot of books!) aren’t easily impressed by cheap shots and snarky remarks. When a review is especially egregious, you might even get a sale out of it. 

I’m not saying bad reviews are better than happy ones, but don’t take the bad ones too much to heart. Also, when you spot a really nasty one that goes at the author personally instead of the book? Be sure to click “No” beside the question, “Was this review helpful to you?”

Filed under: reviews, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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