You wrote a book! …now what?!

Every 12 seconds, a new book is published (and 80% of statistics are made up on the spot). To be slightly outdated, but more accurate, in 2012 Bowker reported that there were 3,500 books published every day in the USA alone, and this figure doesn’t even include e-books. (I don’t math, so feel free to calculate the per-second volume in your own time!) Simply put: There is a ton of competition in the book marketplace. How can a new writer stand out with all this noise?

 

Is she your audience?

Is she your audience?

1) Define your audience. And no, your audience isn’t everyone from age zero-65, male & female. Get Stats Canada up in here and define your audience avatar: age, occupation, likes, dislikes, income, reading habits, preferred reading format (blogs, e-books, zines, print books). If you haven’t nailed your audience down this specifically, then your book will be, at best, a teardrop in the ocean. Everyone does NOT want to read your book – but someone does, so figure out who that someone is and go after them with a targeted approach: your marketing plan.

2) Get all Benjamin Franklin up in here! Old men (and women!) are always saying wise things like, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Your marketing plan should include pre-publication, launch, and post-publication activities. (If you just said, “Pffft! Marketing plan?! I don’t need no stinkin’ marketing plan!”, please take a moment to envision yourself taking all the money you spent on the creation of your book, putting it in a pile, and lighting it on fire.) Continue reading

Are you taking yourself seriously as a writer?

Remember: whether you’re writing fiction, creative non-fiction, graphic novels or a research paper on the mating habits of termites in Madagascar… (wait, whaaaaaat?!) there are some rules of the road that apply to everyone.  Today’s post comes from the co-founder of an exciting new literary venture out of Toronto, Nicole Brewer – hold onto your hats, check out her site, and when you’re done – get busy being a writer!


words(on)pages
is an organization created by emerging artists for emerging artists, so that we can help writers and poets find the validation and acknowledgement that every budding writer needs to keep going. We want to give writers the opportunity to showcase their work online, in print, and in front of an audience, so that they can value themselves as much as we do. Often, the most difficult part of being an emerging writer is getting yourself noticed, so words(on)pages wants to give you a few pointers on what you can do to help get yourself out there. We may not be experts (this is an art, not a science!) but it’s been working for us.

Take yourself seriously. If you don’t take yourself and your craft seriously, why should anybody else? Write like it’s your job. Write every day, regardless of inspiration or lack thereof. Writing isn’t just about writing, it’s about honing your craft, and that means rereading and editing anything you’ve already written. Don’t say you “want to be a writer,” say you are a writer, and participate fully in that vocation. Realize that a great deal of what you write will never see the light of day, and that’s okay. It’s practice, it’s improvement, it’s proving yourself. You don’t need to pump out War and Peace every single day, just write another paragraph of your novel, another verse for your poem, another entry in your journal. If you can’t write, edit. Still, you’re only human, so don’t beat yourself up for the days life gets in the way. Even the most successful writers need to have a day job.

dog 2Read. Read everything. Don’t dismiss anything because of its reputation, good or bad—don’t feel like you should hate a book because it’s commercial, don’t feel like you should love it because it won the GG. Read critically and feel confident in your literary opinions, but don’t let those opinions define what you read. As someone trying to find a place in CanLit, you need to know exactly what CanLit publishers have been doing. On those days when you’re having a hard time finding inspiration, your library should be the place you look for it—you won’t get better as a writer if you aren’t conscious of what came before you. Don’t be afraid to embrace different voices while you’re trying to find your own: there’s nothing wrong with paying homage, just don’t be a rip-off artist.  Continue reading

Manuscript Mark-Up: Are YOU a billboard punctuator?

A guest-post by Suzy Manuscript Marker

A warm welcome to the first edition of Manuscript Mark-Up.

I hope we’ll have all sorts of fun together, and talk about the stuff of writing without getting our shorts in a knot. This should be a relaxing experience. (Listen to this as you read along!)

Today I’d like to discuss an editorial phenomenon I call billboard“billboard punctuation”that is, the incorrectly applied punctuation used mostly by novice writers who believe these props will enhance words, phrases or messages in their work.

Unfortunately, the reverse is often true, causing (at best) momentary confusion with readers and (at worst) an eventual loss of the author’s credibility as a writer, and potentially as a subject matter expert.

Punctuation creates a road-map for your dear readers, and you want to carry them along the path gently and without distraction from your all-important message. Good writing is an art and a science. So how can you reduce or eliminate billboard punctuation from your writing?

Here are four suggestions to consider:

Continue reading

It’s not me, it’s you: Shepherdian logic

A few years ago, Internet was snarking at novelist Lynn Shepherd as her featured Huffington Post blog titled, “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It” masw the rounds. I wrote this in reaction.

The gist of her argument is this:

“…this is my plea to JK Rowling. Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can’t wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word… But it’s time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.”

Everyone loves a good underdog story, right? Imagine how much better they’d be if there were no top dogs! The pool of underdogs would shrink as each competitor succeeded and then left the arena – everyone would be given the chance to win! Gold medals and awards for everyone because LIFE IS PERFECT & FAIR, & PERFECTLY FAIR!

*sigh*

I gnash my teeth as I imagine how dull, and freakin’ AWFUL the literary landscape would be if prolific writers like Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and William Shakespeare put away their typewriters (and quills) after one successful book to make room for works like this.

Continue reading