Welcome along to another #OpenBook blog hop, let’s take a look at this weeks prompt.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Where to begin?
Let’s first consider the whole publishing industry, as seen by a new writer.
Cast your mind back to Raiders of the Lost Ark, the opening few moments.
Indiana Jones is beset by problem after problem, spiders, bottomless pits, poison darts, a treacherous ‘friend’, and a huge boulder, amongst others. He perseveres; eventually escapes with his life, sadly minus the object of his quest.
That, roughly speaking is how my journey through the publishing world feels so far. Although to be fair, I still have my grubby hands on the prize (my work).
Without this turning into some sort of rant, let’s just say that there are some people and organisations out there who, for whatever reason (normally money; although moral superiority is also a factor), seem to take pleasure in all sorts of dubious practices, all designed as traps for the unwary. Promising things and not delivering, attempting to take control of your work, banking on your newbie status; I’ve had them all. People and companies who; in return for just a little bit more than you were prepared to pay, will make you into the next big thing. Some of them will seek you out. Approach these people at your peril. When someone offers you a deal, ask yourself, what’s in it for THEM?
Perhaps I was unlucky, I doubt it. Fortunately, I’ve managed to see through most of their schemes, but it was often a close thing.
Which is why I turned my back on traditional or assisted publishing and embraced the Indie life. What a difference; here I found people who were kind and supportive, who were willing to help, with no other expectation than that I would do the same for others. It’s a great system; if you need to know anything, ask politely and there will always be someone ready to give you sensible advice. I make sure that I always pay it back, or forwards, now that I have a bit more experience to offer.
Then, we come to the marketing trap.
It’s no good thinking that, because you have finished and prepared your book and put it on sale, your problems are over. There is one constant in publishing that is never explained, the need to market your work. That’s not just an Indie thing, even traditionally published writers now have to do most of their own promotional work. And nobody tells you how hard it is. Especially if, like me, you’re introverted and hate the idea of selling. Even now, after six years and eighteen books, I still hesitate to tell people about them, in case I sound boastful, or like some nightmare salesman. Again, there are plenty of ways to waste time, money and effort with little results. And plenty of people who will take your money (see above).
Turning to the product,
while it’s not my place to tell you how to write your book, there are plenty of traps here as well. One thing that I’ve been repeatedly been told is that your story has to move along, you should aim to avoid pages and pages of description. Of course, every book needs a setting and it needs to be described but nothing puts me, or any reader, off more than a textbook approach to facts in a novel. I had enough of that at school and college.
Personally, I try to impart description as part of conversation, as reminiscence between characters or even as a part of the journey. A sidekick for the hero is another great way to do this, they can describe and update, even in the middle of the action.
the largest potential trap is the conviction that you can edit your own work, you can’t. And nor, in general, can your mum, your sister or your friend from down the pub. Unless they are professional editors. Even then, they may be too close to you to be objective or honest.
One more thing, don’t ever fall for the negative trap. The state of mind that comes from a bad review. You need to understand that criticism is compulsory, it’s all part of the deal. Even the nasty, jealousy fuelled kind. You have to develop a thick skin and tell yourself that it’s all subjective, that there will always be someone who likes your style or content.
The job is finding them, the pleasure comes from giving them what they want.
Food for thought? I hope so. And I hope that I haven’t put you off. It might not have been easy but I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. One day, it’ll all be worth it.
While you’re here
My dual-time Sci-fi thriller Life and Other Dreams is only 99p for a limited time.
Rick is having a bad day, in his dreams, he’s been framed for murder, in reality, his wife has left him. Or is it the other way around?
One man; two lives, which is which?
You can find it at http://mybook.to/LifeandOtherDreams
If you want to know more; or ask me anything about self-publishing, please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to check out all the other great blogs on the hop before you go.
I’ll be back on Thursday, with a new Indie Showcase, featuring another talented author, see you then.