The Process and Power of Fiction-Writing

September 13th, 2014

I seemed destined to write nonfiction. The article fascinated me—how could so many different writers treat the same topic in so many different ways? My desire—my dream—was to write articles for magazines. And I did for many years. That’s how I made my living.

Over the years, I continued writing nonfiction books and articles on subjects I knew and those I wanted to research. Until one day, the fiction bug niggled at me. Many of you know I’ve been writing and publishing light mysteries (revved up cozy mysteries) now for two years. The sixth in the Klepto Cat Mystery series will debut soon. The seventh is completed and will go to the proofreader Monday. And yesterday I plotted out number eight.

I did the plotting a little differently this time. Usually I just start writing and watch the story unfold and the characters develop. This time, the complete story seemed to be whirling around in my head wanting to come out all at once. My writing was a bit stilted because the story was racing to be told and I couldn’t organize it in my mind fast enough to adequately tell it. What to do?

Yesterday, I sat down and outlined the plot in 45 segments—organizing my thoughts representing the progressive storyline. This exercise used up four and a half typewritten pages. Now I will refer to each section of the plot outline to guide me in writing the book. Now I can see what happens and what should happen next, and on and on. I can write in the details and nuances as I go—or later, if I decide to create the shell of the story first. Knowing my style, I will probably do a lot of fleshing out as I go along during the creation of the first draft. I generally wind up with 50,000 to 60,000 words after my first go-through.

How many times do I ultimately “go through” one of my fiction books? I should keep count because this is one of many questions I’m frequently asked. But I’d say no fewer than a dozen.

As a professional writer of nonfiction, I taught myself a process where I will self-edit numerous times for different purposes—focusing on different aspects each time. Once I feel the story is set, I’ll go over the manuscript again focusing mainly on punctuation—did I close all of the quotes and appropriately use commas, for example. I’ll go through checking for overuse of certain words and repeated words, as well as making sure certain slang and habitual words are attributed to certain characters. (You can’t have everyone using the same pet slang.) I might use one go-through concentrating mainly on character credibility. Is this the way that character would act/speak? Then I reread the story through a reader’s eyes—does it make sense, does it flow, can the reader visualize what I had in mind when I wrote it, is there just enough description/explanation, is the story told through action and dialog or am I putting too much of me in there?

I can write a novel in two months. My flow seems to be three and a half months per book and that’s with life’s flow and obligations—those things that interrupt your writing.

One thing I notice I don’t do is plan for future plots. I didn’t start thinking about the plot for the current book I’m working on—book eight—until I was halfway through with the editing for book seven. And I think that was because it was so hot. That’s when I decided that my little fictional family and their pet menagerie should spend some time on the coast. Then I had the task of trying to make this transition realistic.

I have to tell you, there’s power in storytelling—story-creation… I used to exert that power as a nonfiction writer. I could make readers think. I could change minds, even cause conflict and tension. As a writer of fiction, I can change a character’s mind, develop a new character, kill off a character, etc. at the strike of a key. And I can arouse a chuckle, a tear, even anger in my readers. That’s the power of the written word.

Help for Lagging Book Sales

September 11th, 2014

Are you a published author? How are your book sales? Have you produced a book that is wanted or needed by a large segment of readers or a strong niche audience? Do you know who your readers are? Do you know where they are and how to reach them? Are you doing everything you can to promote your book to this audience?

If sales are lagging—not quite meeting your expectations—perhaps you haven’t adequately responded to the last four questions above. Maybe sales are slow or nonexistent and you feel helpless to do anything about it. Do I have a book for you!! It’s a solution to lagging book sales. It’s a jumpstart for discouraged authors. It’s a one-of-a-kind ebook.

The Author’s Repair Kit: Heal Your Publishing Mistakes and Breathe New Life Into Your Book ($5.95)

Order your copy of this unique and useful ebook here: http://www.matilijapress.com (Ordering page: http://www.matilijapress.com/author_repairkit.html)

Should You Offer Your Book FREE?

September 3rd, 2014

Well, I finally did it! I signed up for the free book promotion through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program for my Klepto Cat Mystery series. I was only able to offer the book free for one day—not sure why. But in that one day, there were over 8,000 downloads of Catnapped. And the following day, orders for all 5 books in the series tripled!

If you are considering going digital with your novel, look into Amazon’s KDP program and take advantage of some of the promotions they offer.

For additional promotional ideas, check out my ebooks, “50 Ways to Promote Your Novel,”  and “50 Ways to Promote Your eBook.” They’re $1.99 here: http://www.matilijapress.com

 

6 Must-Have eBooks for Authors

August 30th, 2014

Are you a new or struggling author? Do you need help or information presented in a clear and simple form?

You can now order one or all 6 of Patricia Fry’s “50 Ways” ebooks for authors for $1.99 each at http://www.matilijapress.com.

Titles

50 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write That Book

50 Ways to Prepare for Publishing Success

50 Ways to Establish Your Author’s Platform

50 Ways to Promote Your eBook

50 Ways to Promote Your Novel

50 Ways to Sell Your Book Using Your Personality

Each $1.99 at http://www.matilijapress.com

Orders the one that resonates with you or the whole set today.

Changes Coming to Matilija Press and Patricia Fry’s Books

August 28th, 2014

There are changes and updates coming to Matilija Press. Watch for the announcements. We’ll have a new home page featuring just Patricia Fry’s books that are current and relevant to authors and those that are of interest to readers of cozy mysteries and cats.

We are about to make three announcements. Catnapped, the first in the Klepto Cat Mystery series will be offered FREE at Amazon for a time. I’ll announce the dates soon.

The 4th book in the Klepto Cat Mystery series, Undercover Cat, will be published in print form.

And the 6th book in the series, Celebrity Cat Caper is scheduled for publication as a Kindle book within the next few weeks. Wait until you see the fabulous cover.

Stay posted.

 

Write While You Walk

August 23rd, 2014

There are as many writing techniques as there are writers. I used to write stories in longhand and type them out on a manual typewriter. Even when I finally bought a word processor, I couldn’t think into it. I still did my writing on a steno pad (or spiral-bound tablet). Eventually, I succumbed to the charms of the computer, however, and can now create using one.

But I still do a lot of work away from the office. I’m currently working on a new book for my mystery series and realize that the story is developing during my daily walks.

I’ve been walking regularly for forty years. I started out walking in order to strengthen my back muscles after an injury and a year-long recovery. I’ve used my walks for aerobic exercise, meditation, contemplation, stress-relief, and problem-solving. I’ve also used walking to enhance my writing, to come up with writing themes, to work through a story challenge, etc.

Yesterday, just before I set out to walk, I’d completed a scene in my most recent Klepto Cat Mystery. I wasn’t sure where to take the story at that point. So I spent my forty-minute walk planning the next scene. When I returned home, all I had to do was start writing.

If you’re curious about what I write, check out my Klepto Cat Mysteries at amazon.com. There are five of them now. All of them are formatted for Kindle. Three are in print. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

If you need help understanding more about the publishing industry, book marketing, or public speaking in order to promote your book, check out my books, Publish Your Book, Promote Your Book, and Talk Up Your Book, by Patricia Fry. Purchase the print, Kindle, or audio versions.

 

Timing, Tools, and Tenacity

August 22nd, 2014

This morning I was finally able to remove a splinter or maybe it was a thorn that had embedded itself into one of my fingers. I’ve been aware of this foreign object in my body for a couple of weeks. The spot would swell, turn red, fester a bit and boy was it tender. But the thorn wouldn’t come close enough to the surface that I could remove it, until this morning.

Today, I noticed that the tenderness level was high and there was that tell-tale sign that whatever it was had finally come to the surface. Armed with alcohol, a needle, and a pair of tweezers, I went to work poking and squeezing until finally a teeny tiny, almost microscopic foreign object appeared. My operation was successful and immediately, the annoying pain subsided.

When it was over, I couldn’t even see whatever it was that caused all of the discomfort. All I know is that it was there and it needed to be dealt with.

This reminded me of ideas and plots. As a writer, do you ever feel a story festering inside you, nagging to be brought to the surface? Sometimes the idea will nudge you for weeks, months, or even years before you ever allow it to see the light of day. And once it’s out and you can see it in word form dancing across your computer screen, you feel a sense of relief from deep inside and, perhaps, accomplishment.

Let me tell you, success won’t come without some discomfort. For a writer, this may be in the form of uncertainty and even rejection. I suggest, however, that if you stick with your project, use the right tools, approach it with knowledge, you are bound to experience the level of success you desire.

I write books that are designed to be tools for hopeful, struggling, and otherwise serious authors. Check them out here: http://www.matilijapress.com. If you’re not sure which one is right for you at this time, contact me here: PLFry620@yahoo.com

Should You Give Your Books Away?

August 19th, 2014

Today I want to talk about giveaways. Recently, one of my clients began planning a blog tour. She decided to make five stops where the blogger would either review her book, interview her, or she would be a guest blogger. Some of the blog hosts suggested that she participate in giveaways and she asked me what I thought.

It has been my experience that there’s more interaction at blog sites where there’s a book giveaway.

If visitors don’t leave a comment, you have no idea how many stopped by and read your review or blog post. And visitors aren’t apt to leave a comment unless they know the author, they are particularly taken by your book or the post, OR they have a chance to get something for FREE.

So what can you give away? I generally offer three of my Klepto Cat Mystery books on Kindle and, perhaps, a print copy. I specific that I’ll ship in the US only. When I don’t offer these books for free, there are very few comments left at the site. When I do, there are sometimes dozens more comments.

Amazon.com has a book giveaway program for authors. I know people who have gained tons of recognition through these giveaways. One author I know gave over 37,000 books away during one of these events. But I’m not sure it did him any good–in the present, anyway. This was his first and only book. I hope to do an Amazon giveaway–have a free-book day or two. But I have 5 books in the series. It makes more sense to give away book number one in hopes that readers will then purchase other books in the series.

Everyone loves a freebie. I saw people standing in long lines at a self-publishing company’s booth at a major book festival last Spring waiting to receive free books from authors they did not know. When we hand out little heart stickers from our booth that say “I love books,” we get visitors seeking us out in order to get one.  And people will sign up at your website for freebies that you offer. What is the percentage of people who ultimately purchase a book or tell others about your book, is unknown. I guess the closest we can come to determining the success of offering your books free is by the number of people who sign up and, in the case of the Amazon free-book program, the number of future orders.

To learn more about my books for authors and my new fiction series, The Klepto Cat Mysteries, visit my websites at http://www.matilijparess.com and http://www.patriciafry.com

I offer a freeby at my Patricia Fry website.

 

How to Make the Right Decisions for Your Book

August 14th, 2014

There are many ways to conduct research—lots of avenues to the material and information you desire or require for your writing projects. One is to ask an expert. I’m often inundated with questions from clients and I don’t mind responding, if I can. However, many of the inquiries are better satisfied through the author’s own research efforts.

I typically suggest that authors check with other authors of similar books to find out what’s working for them. This is a good way to choose an appropriate title for your book, website name, distribution method, promotional activities, book cover and so forth.

Study books within your book’s topic or genre. Visit author websites and do a thorough search. In order to discover how the author is marketing his or her book, for example, study their media page. Initiate dialog with other authors. Look at their Amazon pages. Google them to find out more about the author and the book.

I’m not suggesting that you copy anyone. Rather, you should study what works for others and use the premise for your similar book. For example, if successful authors of fiction are selling thousands of Kindle copies, put your book in the Kindle program. If most books in your book’s category use dramatic cover styles, consider following suit.

Who better to guide your success than others who are experiencing success with similar books?

If you are new to publishing, be sure to check out my book, Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author. It’s available in print, audio, and digital at Amazon.com and elsewhere. Or order it here: http://www.matilijapress.com/PublishYourBook.html

 

 

Devise a Marketing Plan

August 11th, 2014

You should have some idea about how to market a book before ever getting involved in the publishing industry. And you can start preparing for this enormous task before your book is a book.

  • Study books, blogs, and articles about book promotion.
  • Find out how other authors of similar books are promoting them.
  • Determine what activities are most conducive to promoting your particular book.
  • Inventory your skills related to promoting your book
  • Adopt and develop those skills you’ll need.
  • Make connections with appropriate individuals and services.
  • Outline those marketing tasks you plan to pursue.

Book promotion is a huge part of successful publishing. Do not treat it as an afterthought or a hobby you might pursue occasionally. If you were ever going to be obsessive about any portion of the publishing process, it should be the book promotion phase.

For more about book promotion, study my book, Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author. It’s at Amazon.com in print, audio, and for your Kindle.