Category Archive: Writing

Aug 12 2014

Amazon & Hachette, What’s the Deal?

amazonLogohachette_book_logo

 

I got the email. The one from the Amazon’s Book Team, urging me to write a letter to the CEO of Hachette Book Group (HBG) to remind them that e-books are not paperbacks or hardcovers and shouldn’t be priced as such.

Here are just a couple of the points I will make in this post:

  • This issue is not about authors or publishers but about the consumers, the readers. Even though some Hachette authors are affected, Amazon and Hachette seem to forget that this is about readers who buy e-books. Happy readers make happy business and a profit for author, publisher and retailer. Readers want low prices. Eventually, readers will not buy high priced e-books and Hachette will be forced to adapt to publishing’s changes or fail.
  • Although Amazon is strict about carrying e-books with low prices, maybe the way they are going about it is all wrong. Yes, I agree e-books should be priced lower than physical books as there are no warehouse costs, shipping cost, printing cost, etc., to offset. However, is preventing preorders and sales of these overpriced books the best tactic? Maybe, if that compromises your brand as the largest online retailer with the lowest prices. Read on.

So what’s up with Amazon?

Amazon wants to be the next Walmart and cater to their online buyers by guaranteeing low prices. Amazon’s mission is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” As a bookstore this goal helps them beat out the competition, driving more readers to Amazon.com for low priced reads. How can they brand themselves as a “customer-centric company that offers its customers the lowest possible prices” if they are distributing digital books priced as high as the paperback?

So their statement to Hachette, in my words, are “You want me to help sell your books? You gotta play by my rules. Because I don’t want you exploiting my customers and taking advantage of them by charging them ridiculous fees.” Because even though Amazon gets a piece of the earnings of each e-book sold (30%), they’re reminded of their brand and their mission, the thing that makes them the go-to place for e-books and, well, everything else. Low prices. That’s essentially their thing. And they seemingly care a lot about their customers to prevent the sale of some titles to ensure their customers aren’t being overcharged.

Is this right? That’s the main question. And the answer varies from “yes” to “no” to “I don’t know and don’t care,” depending on who’s most affected by their tactics.

Why shouldn’t publishers play by Amazon’s rules?

Seems like a simple business maneuver (or bullying, depending on who’s talking). Want to work with me? Abide by my rules. Amazon is a business. The way they build their brand is by offering books at a low cost. I said it before, but it bears repeating. This is the difference between Amazon and Barnes and Noble, for instance. Barnes and Noble lists books at the price the publisher chooses. Amazon lists books at the price the publisher decides IF it’s a favorable price for their customers.

So what’s up with Hachette?

Maybe Hachette is a little behind the times. Maybe they don’t understand how publishing has evolved. Maybe they do, but don’t care. Maybe they’re just greedy and it’s all about money, money, money. Who really knows? In response to the letter by Amazon, chief executive of HBG, Michael Pietsch, had this to say:

“Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue,” he wrote.  “We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more. We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish—hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and e-book.

“While e-books do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries a share of all our investments in the book.”

The bottom line is that Hachette wants to charge high fees for their e-books and that doesn’t fit with Amazon’s business model.

So what if Hachette said, “Screw you, Amazon,” and only sold their books through other online retailers, leaving Amazon in the dust?

They would probably lose money from Amazon’s customers, or face complaints from readers who prefer Amazon’s one-click buy now convenience, and enjoy adding to their collection of books on their Kindle readers.

So what if Hachette lowered they’re e-books on Amazon.com?

Hachette would be forced to lower prices of their e-books at other retailer’s sites too. Otherwise readers would flock to Amazon to get the lower priced books, which is good for Amazon and good for Hachette because it’ll probably increase  sales from Amazon, but the sales will come from lower priced books. Meaning less profit for Hachette (not so good from their point of view).

But money is the name of the game.

Greed aside. Money keeps a business afloat. Sure. Plenty Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, including myself, complained about the royalty difference when pricing our books. KDP authors can select from two royalty options.

E-book priced at $0.99 – $2.99 = 35% royalty to the author

E-book priced at $2.99 – $9.99 = 70% royalty to the author

*$0.00 (FREE) e-books are only an option for Kindle Select participants = books are exclusively sold from Amazon

*All e-books to be priced under $9.99 

Here’s a more detailed explanation at this link.

OK, let’s think business here. Amazon crunched numbers to make sure when every book sells, they make a profit. Makes sense from a business standpoint, right?

I used to wonder, if Amazon really cared about the customer why not add to their database of free e-books by making it easy for KDP authors to upload free reads. I still have a book on Amazon (not enrolled in Select) that is free everywhere else, even Amazon UK and CA, but is still listed at .99 cents on Amazon.com US and other countries. This is so because Amazon uses price matching. If another retailer (competition) provides the book for free Amazon will (usually) do the same to stay on top of the competition.

However, by (definitely) offering the free option to books that are exclusive to Amazon through Kindle Select, they now eliminate the competition of Select titles altogether. As frustrating as this can be to authors not enrolled and want to distribute free e-books on Amazon, including myself, I get it. Business, remember?

Hachette—who I am not familiar with as a business, and never worked with—have an agenda and a profit to make too, to recoup the overall cost of producing the books, as stated above by the chief executive of HBG. If they make bad decisions by overcharging for e-books, over time, those mistakes will correct themselves one way or another. Readers will stop buying overpriced e-books, Hachette will be forced to adapt to the times, or buckle.

Bottom Line

Amazon must learn that although they are currently big and bad in the book industry, they are not the face behind a publishing revolution and they shouldn’t strive to be. They should do what they do best and provide e-books at a value by focusing on the consumer’s wants, but not tossing them in the middle of legal negotiations. Is going public really going to change the fact that these two companies want to do business together but can’t agree? How is a letter from little ol’ me to the CEO of Hachette going to change his or anyone’s opinion, especially if what I say is:

1) Bullet points at the bottom of their lengthy email Amazon prompted me to say

2) Things Mr. CEO already knows

Bestselling Hachette authors placing a $100k ad against Amazon in the New York Times, and Amazon mass emailing all of their readers, is simply putting us in the middle of a war that none of us deserve. The folks choosing sides are most likely the ones directly affected by the Amazon-Hatchette battle. Those on the fence are most likely the ones thrown in the middle and have nothing to do with either parties.

Frankly, both sides are publicly presenting themselves as unprofessional. To go so far with their tactics to start a war over the rights and wrongs of e-book pricing. What should have been a private matter has now spiraled into authors and readers and others in publishing from all over, taking sides and pointing fingers. When if only Amazon and Hachette focus on the reader’s wants (which is a huge factor to consider in the publishing industry) this war would have been nonexistent.

This has been my two cents. Mind sharing yours?

[Image credit: Claudio Toledo]

Jun 10 2014

Wounded Beacon by Leslie Lee Sanders Out Now (free)

WoundedBeacon_ebook_Final

Not every day the world collapses.

Not many people can say they helped rebuild.

Not many survived, but for those who did, we need something or someone to help us stand strong and tall. Sometimes even wounds can serve that purpose by healing much more than injuries.

Available at : All Romance eBooks | Nook | Kindle | Kobo | Smashwords

During the annual Don’t Read in the Closet (DRitC) event hosted by the M/M Romance group on Goodreads, readers choose a picture and write a prompt for an author to write a complete story from. We authors select a prompt, and out of more than 200 I found the perfect one, resulting in my dystopian short, Wounded Beacon.

“I can’t wait to get into the [main character’s] head and feel his cares and worries and fears.” ~ Cari

The quote above are words from the prompter of this story, the sentence that set the goal for protagonist Luke before I began plotting his tale. I knew upon reading that sentence, that the story I write needed to delve deep into the psyche of the characters, and take center stage to the end of the world events, action, the sexuality of the main characters, or their intimacy itself. Although those elements are there—especially the romance, minus the sex—Wounded Beacon is a look at how traumatic events shape people.

Available today as a free read on Goodreads M/M Romance group thread (you must sign up for free to become a member of the M/M Romance group to read) and available as a FREE download to the general public as PDF, EPUB, and Mobi files at the M/M Romance Group website on or around June 15th 2014.

Read the first chapter below. Enjoy!

 

Photo Description:

Two silhouetted men embrace in a passionate kiss laced with a bit of sweetness and sadness, inside a dimly-lit room near a closed window where the branches of a tree are visible. One man seems to be determined, near desperate, and the other seems to be coming to terms with or accepting a situation.

 

WoundedBeacon_ebook_FinalWounded Beacon (excerpt)

Copyright ©2014 by Leslie Lee Sanders

Genre: science fiction

Tags: dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sweet/no sex, dark, prison/captivity, debilitating injury, hurt/comfort, fighting

Content Warnings:  None

Word Count: 16,117

 

CHAPTER 1

Instinct warned me not to open my eyes. Musk entered my nostrils, and a low hum of static electricity made the hairs on my arms react. He was there, just on the other side of my opened door. Watching me, sizing me up, debating if and when to strike. I suppressed a shudder and lay motionless on the corn husk cot, reminding myself to breathe normally. Still, adrenaline surged through my veins, preparing my mind and body to fight.

 

A chill crept down my spine and goose pimples pricked the exposed flesh on my arms as the dampness on my forehead evaporated. My eyes moved rapidly behind the lids and my fingers twitched. Would I be forced to use my blade? A vivid image of my hand swiping underneath my side and gripping the handle of the sharpened steel entered my mind. I could have my weapon in hand before he’d step foot past the threshold and entered my room.

 

A small scoff emanated from the doorway and my ears perked, attention averted back to him.

 

A low and husky voice called from the courtyard a short distance away. It was my onlooker’s buddy, calling his name. “Santos?” Seconds later, footsteps on gravel faded as Santos retreated.

 

My eyes snapped open.

 

In my periphery, I managed to make out no immediate threat. Even though my eyes had been closed, there was no mistaking Santos had been there just seconds ago. Instinct assured me, as well as the evidence he left behind.

 

Just outside my doorway, in the loose gravel, my dull, steel blade glinted in the moonlight.

 

My hand snaked under me to be sure it was mine and not a similar knife, and nothing but dried husks were beneath me.

 

Groans and whimpers came from the center grounds where the prisoners were housed. Their only crime was speaking out or attempting to prevent Santos and his friend from terrorizing the community. Now their nights were spent sleeping on rugged gravel without the warmth of shelter, blankets, or a respectable meal. And for a couple of them, they’d been there for over a week.

 

The thought of their cruel suffering caused fire to rumble in the pit of my gut. I got up and swiped the blade from the ground, aware of the threat it signified.

 

Do I wait for his return or screw it all and leave now?

 

Minutes passed and I had two choices. I could sleep with one eye open, night after night, or leave the camp now, alive. Pain shot through my jaw, and I realized I was grinding my teeth.

 

Anger decided for me.

 

Stepping foot over the threshold, blade at my side, I crept by each darkened room. I inhaled rank air that smelled of body odor and held it in. Snores echoed throughout some of the cramped open chambers, silence throughout the others. My lungs ached, reminding me to exhale. I did so consciously and as quietly as possible. Moonlight hit the structure in a way that cast shadows which concealed me from view. I slipped behind a wooden column, one that supported the complex I had helped build with my bare hands, and I waited in the shadows to listen.

 

The whimpering and chattering teeth of men came from the courtyard prison. These tough men had lived through hell, but exposure to freezing temperatures in the camp had them believing they would die, and eventually, when the torment had taken its toll, they wished for death’s peace. The prison was in the center of camp mere yards away from the column where I stood. The prison housed three men who were huddled together, arms tucked inside their soiled shirts. Wasn’t it enough that they were caged and kept away from their families and their freedom? Leaving them to starve and freeze was beyond cruel.

 

And yet, their poor handling was partially my fault.

 

Santos was nowhere in sight, but his burly buddy paced near the bolted lock of the prison gate. The metal blade of his makeshift knife was as long as a thighbone and could intimidate any brave warrior.

 

Quickly and carefully, I moved to the side of the rounded prison, and rested against the thick eight-foot tall wooden stakes that served as a barricade, keeping the prisoners inside and keeping me out. One of the men inside shifted and our gazes met. A loud gasp fell from his parted lips. Under the moonlit sky, it was hard to make out any detailed features, but a sense of familiarity hit me. I remembered his face, but there was something else about him I couldn’t recall. His body language triggered faint memories that ran a bit deeper than the brief acquaintances I had with the other villagers. My forefinger went up to my lips and the man nodded. His sign was slight but clear.

 

The countdown in my mind started at five, and when zero hit, I swooped behind the large man guarding the lock and covered his mouth with my hand. I brought my blade up and pressed the sharpened tip to his throat.

 

“Drop it,” I said through clenched teeth, and his weapon fell to the floor. He mumbled beneath my hand, but I squeezed tighter and pressed the blade firmer against his bearded flesh. “Shut up and open the cage.” With my lips near his earlobe, I kept my voice low. I managed to twist around, turning him to the lock.

 

He dug in his pants pocket. The jingle of keys caught the prisoners’ attention, and the familiar one stood. Not sure of his intention, I shook my head as a warning. He ignored me and moved forward, glancing over his shoulder a few times as he came.

 

“Let me help,” he whispered and reached through the thick wooden bars. It took a second for me to comprehend what he was trying to do until he grabbed the keys.

 

I glanced around the darkened lot as my mind tried to throw a quick plan together. What would I do with this guy once the door was open and I no longer needed him? Let him go? Knock him out? Killing was not on my list, never had been, and, hopefully, never would be.

 

I looked to the abundant trees that lined the camp. The growth surrounded our home and, at times, acted as an obstacle from whatever lay far beyond, like a prison wall.

 

The jingling of the keys would arouse the suspicion of Santos and anyone else wanting to stop me.

 

“You gotta move,” I urged, making eye contact with the prisoner. He nodded, but continued to fumble with the keys.

 

“Fucking Luke.” The calm voice came from my left, near the room where I had been. My sights set on the silhouette of the man, but there was no mistaking the rasp. “What’d you think you’re doing, man?” Santos’s hands were casually tucked inside his pants pockets and he nudged a pile of loose gravel with his foot. The silvery, jagged scar on his cheek reflected the light of the full moon.

 

“Don’t,” I warned. “Don’t move, Santos, or I’ll cut him.” Why couldn’t I have been this gritty at the first sign that he and his friend were taking over? If I had, maybe things wouldn’t have resorted to this.

 

He took a couple of steps, narrowing the space between us.

 

“You’re not gonna kill nobody, Luke,” Santos mocked. “You don’t got it in you. If you did, you would’ve killed those fuckers that killed that little lassie.” His sneer sent heated rage rising from my chest and into my throat. I imagined the stocky, wild-haired man in my arms and my blade slicing into his leathery neck.

 

“I’m leaving, and they’re getting the hell out of this goddamned cage before I go.” I glanced to my helper and his busy hands. The threat to my life and the struggling man in my arms upped my impatience. “Open the goddamned lock.”

 

He paused and the jingling stopped. He cocked his head as a pained look flashed across his face. Did my irritated tone surprise him? He continued to twist the key in the lock until it popped. As soon as the door swung open, the other two prisoners rushed out. Santos leapt toward me, but my helper stopped him in his tracks by lifting the large blade from the ground and pointing the corroded tip toward Santos.

 

“We’re leaving.” My helper’s voice was confident and nonthreatening, but the way he handled the hefty blade got the message across.

 

“Adios,” Santos said, the thick vein in his neck pulsed. “Just don’t let me find you. I’ll chop your feet off the next time I see you.”

 

My helper looked back and forth as if debating, then took the blade and ran toward the dense forest, following the others. I pushed the man in my arms toward Santos, hard enough that he tumbled at Santos’ feet.

 

Slowly, I backed away, surprised that they didn’t move. Santos calmly scratched his thick beard while his friend sat near his feet, their eyes on me as I disappeared into the shadows of the forest.

 

****

Read the rest: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1858566-wounded-beacon-by-leslie-lee-sanders-6-10

Download your free copy: http://www.mmromancegroup.com/wounded-beacon-by-leslie-lee-sanders/

 

Also available at : All Romance eBooks | Nook | Kindle | Kobo | Smashwords

 

May 10 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

writing heals

Thanks to author Eloreen Moon for including me in the Writing Process blog hop. Here’s where I’ll answer some questions about my writing process and introduce you to other authors participating in the hop. Those authors will then tell you about their writing process as well, and introduce you to other authors, and so on.

Maybe you’ll discover an author whose stories you’ll love.

Here we go.

1) What am I working on?

WoundedBeacon_ebook_FinalI’m currently working on a handful of projects. I just completed Wounded Beacon, an M/M short I wrote for the Goodreads M/M Romance group and their Love Landscapes event, which is a branch of their Don’t Read in the Closet (DRitC) event.

This story will be published as a free read this summer on their website (http://www.mmromancegroup.com), on Goodreads, and also in a free anthology on All Romance eBooks (ARe). Thanks to the event, about 200 stories are soon to be available this summer for your reading pleasure. If you’d like to know more and you are a Goodreads member, join the M/M Romance group.

Also, I’m debating (with myself) on a release date for The After: Odd Tales of the Afterlife, a collection of stories written under L.L. Sanders. These short stories are a blend of sci-fi and horror and deals with the afterlife or simply what comes after. This collection features the stories; The After, The Unveiling, and Dead End.

And finally, Darkness Eternal, a Refuge Inc. story, is still in the writing phase. This M/M post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel will be the next WIP I complete. And as it looks, will most likely be published either late 2014 or early 2015 depending on a few factors.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

DarknessEternal_ebook_Final_smallMy work on the Refuge Inc. series (mainly the three books in the complete collection) is a bit different than other books in its genres for two reasons; my “heroes” are everyday people, and the plot is rather dark and more thriller-esque than full on romantic.

My heroes are not shifters, vampires, police officers, militants, cowboys, were-creatures, elves, or anything super human, paranormal, or can be labeled. They are regular guys who have realistic flaws (like occasionally lying or self-loathing), believable internal conflict (like grief, fear, learning to let go), and relatable goals (like surviving, finding your place, discovering self).

Another thing that separates my stories from others in the romance genre is almost all of my stories has at least one major plot twist. My stories do not feel complete to me if the reader isn’t shocked (good shock) by the end. That need to surprise comes from the part of me that likes to be unpredictable. That said, my twists are never added just for the sake of having a twist, but are actually relevant or helps explain the plot.

3) Why do I write what I do?

At the core of why I write what I write is my love for storytelling. I love trail blazing. I enjoy travelling my own path in the publishing business and seeing where it takes me. The stories I write vary. I enjoy horror, suspense, male-male romance, twists and surprises. I enjoy short stories, complicated epics and everything in between. And I write the same way. Whatever subject or issue is on my mind at the time ideas are flowing, that’s usually the theme I tackle in my story. Once that story is told, I move on to the next problem or topic that I need to address. Almost like a therapy session; it’s a way to voice my thoughts and opinions.

Writing heals me and keeps me sane.

For instance, in the Refuge Inc. Series there was a lot on my mind when writing. Things like; gay rights, gay men stereotypes, my definition of a hero, animal abuse, human rights abuse, government conspiracies, leadership abuse, science versus religion, religion in general, politics, corrupt leaders and the sheep who blindly follow, etc. There was so much going on inside my head when writing the series, it feels like a weight was lifted off of me when I finished it.

The After_ebook_TALES4) How does your writing process work?

I simply get an idea, jot down notes, and then I flesh out the details. Trivial things like characters names and physical features are usually the last details, unless it’s pivotal to the plot.

Ideas come from everywhere, but for me to commit to writing and completing a story, the idea has to have some sort of underlying message or theme. Once I got the fire and inspiration’s driving me, I start where the story begins and I stop when the story is finished.

Exposition and resolution are sometimes nonexistent in my stories for that reason. I like to get to the point and sprinkle pertinent facts throughout, the dusting propels me forward until the end. 

 

 

 

Next, we’ll visit:

 

Rhonda Lee Carver

Rhonda Lee Carver on May 12th

http://rhondaleecarver-author.blogspot.com/

At an early age, Rhonda fell in love with romance novels, knowing one day she’d write her own love story. Life took a short detour, but when the story ideas would no longer be contained, she decided to dive in and write. Her first rough draft was on a dirty napkin she found buried in her car. Eventually, she ran out of napkins. With baby on one hip and laptop on the other, she made a dream into reality—one word at a time.

Her specialty is men who love to get their hands dirty and women who are smart, strong and flawed. She loves writing about the everyday hero.

When Rhonda isn’t crafting sizzling manuscripts, you will find her busy editing novels, blogging, juggling kids and animals (too many to name), dreaming of a beach house and keeping romance alive. Oh, and drinking lots of coffee.

 

Mina Carter PicMina Carter on May 14th

http://mina-carter.com/blog/

Mina was born and raised in the East Farthing of Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England) and spend her childhood learning all the sorts of things generally required of a professional adventurer. Able to ride, box, shoot, make and read maps, make chainmail and use a broadsword (with varying degrees of efficiency) she was disgusted to find that adventuring is not considered a suitable occupation these days.

So, instead of slaying dragons and hunting vampires and the like, Mina spends her days writing about hot shifters, government conspiracies and vampire lords with more than their fair share of RAWR. Turns out wanna-be adventurers have quite the turn of imagination after all…

(But she keeps that sword sharp, just in case the writing career is just a dream and she really *is* an adventurer.)

The boring part: A full time author and cover artist, Mina can usually be found hunched over a keyboard or graphics tablet, frantically trying to get the images and words in her head out and onto the screen before they drive her mad. She’s addicted to coffee and would like to be addicted to chocolate, but unfortunately chocolate dislikes her.

 

 

You have any other questions about my writing process? Wish to share some of your own? Please share in the comments. 

 

 

 

[Image credit: mrsdkrebs]

Mar 02 2014

Darkness Eternal (Refuge Inc.): Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Info

DarknessEternal_print_webWORK IN PROGRESS

Darkness Eternal is still a work in progress as I aim to put together the very best book package I can, including improved writing, editing, formatting, marketing, promo material, and book cover. Speaking of book cover, I recently got the full print cover and promo material back from the professional designer.

TAGS: Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopia, MM, Sci-Fi, Futeristic, Sensual Romance.

DarknessEternal_ebook_Final_smallELEVATOR PITCH:

Darkness Eternal (A Refuge Inc. Story) is a stand alone title that takes place during a futuristic global catastrophe and follows new protagonists, Connor and Vince, on their fight for survival in an underground complex built to escape toxic air in the atmosphere.

SPECIFICS:

WORD COUNT: The complete word count or length is not final and might be longer than the proposed 25k word mark.

PLOT & CHARACTERS: The story is different than the preceding trilogy that followed Adam and Elliot. Darkness Eternal centers on a younger set of men in their early twenties who was raised in the underground sphere known as the Refuge facility. Like the previous books, it contains a lot of suspense and plenty of twists and turns while reminding you that it is indeed part of the Refuge Inc. series.  You will see slight similarities between Darkness Eternal and the other books of the series.

EROTIC AND EXPLICIT CONTENT RATING: Although Darkness Eternal is an M/M read, it’ll contain less explicit sexual situations in favor of mild and sensual male-male encounters. The violence in the story is present only in necessary and believable situations, and descriptions of death is very brief and not overly detailed or gory.

bookmarks_web_DarknessBLURB:

Shocking revelations about the Refuge facility’s underground complex thrusts two friends into a battle for survival.

Partners Connor Nichols and Vince Moore are preparing for active duty as peacekeepers for the residents of the subterranean Refuge facility. Before the catastrophe that wiped out the sunlight and forced survivors to live in an underground compound, the extraordinary details of a similar disaster began to spread as urban legend.

However, nothing prepares them for the harsh truths they expose about the leaders and the mysterious facility.

WARNING: Contains some sensual male-male practices, violence, and brief descriptions of the dead.

 

DarknessEternal_fbcover

(UNEDITED UNOFFICIAL) EXCERPT:

My eyes snapped open to a bright red light similar to the lights that announced our failure during tactical training in the simulation. But accompanying the crimson glow was a piercing ring of an alarm. It took a second for it to register, but thanks to the dozen or so drills we’ve had, it finally clicked that there was an emergency. A fight? Some sort of outbreak? Contamination? A deliberate chill crept down my spine.

Throwing the sheets aside, I tossed my legs over the edge of the bed. Still a bit disoriented from being awakened during a deep sleep. I stood and caught the glow of the hour on a digital poster: zero-three hundred.

Someone shouted and blurred figures rushed by me, left and right. Shadows wisped passed our opened room door, accentuated by the red hue. A voice called out orders, “Move it, cadets. To your gear. Move, move, move!”  The orders mingled with the sound of pained whimpers, panicked cries, and flustered breathing.

Chaos.

I scanned the space for the source of the commands. Then a tug of my arm pulled me from the room.

“Vince?” I asked.

“Snap out of it, asshole.” Vince gripped my shoulders and shook. “We got a job to do.”

“What’s going on?” The frightened expressions on many of the resident’s faces kick started my adrenaline, and suddenly my legs were keeping up with Vince as he hastily made his way down the hall, passed people and toward our lockers.

Inside the locker room I met some of the other male cadets. They each pulled on their combat gear, removing sleeping garments to slip on the tough, stretchy combat gear with their last names stamped on the left breast. Some were already suited and were quickly securing their helmets, weapons belt, and … ballistic vests?

“What’s going on?” I cut my eye to Vince. Why weren’t orders being delivered over the P.A. system as planned during the many drills? Where was the infamous, “In the event of an actual emergency instructions will be given for your safety”?

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, grabbing a vest off the shelf beside the rifle rack where only a few of the weapons remain. He tossed the heavy vest to me. “There’s a contamination leak on Ten. We’re to meet dad on Nine for the rest of our orders.”

“Contamination?”

Toxins. The dense, murky pollutants that deprived Earth of its oxygen and eroded our bodies from the inside out within hours of inhaling it. Hell itself.

 

DarknessEternal2Coming soon to print and ebook! 

Find the complete Refuge Inc. Series here.

 

 

Feb 01 2014

How to Improve Your Writing by Reading Your Book’s Reviews

fivestar

There are three things you can do when it comes to reviews of your book. The popular advice is that you should not read them. This saves you from getting discouraged if readers bash your work. You can also read the great reviews only, which requires you to have a friend willing to look up reviews and send you the links to only the four and five-star reviews. Or you can read the reviews (the positive and negative) and learn from them. Here’s how I analyze reviews to allow it to improve my writing, and how you can do it too. But first things first…

Must do:

  • Read reviews when you are feeling your best. There’s nothing like reading a hate-filled review when you’re already having a bad day.
  • Go into it with an analytical eye and a blank doc (or pen). Think of it like an important assignment, you’ll want to take notes.
  • Focus on the common praises and complaints among several reviews. What’s the popular topic readers are commenting on? This is what you’ll have to address most importantly in your future works.
  • Focus on the things you CAN improve. No need to stress over the character’s names when you can’t change them in the next book of the series.
  • Be prepared to do the work. If it’s too easy, you’re not doing it right. A motto you’d want to pick up if you haven’t already (can be applied to anything too).
  • Remember reviews are highly subjective. Know a reader may love the very thing another reader hates. So take caution when making changes, and modify what feels right to you and your vision.
  • Understand this technique may not work for every author. Sometimes success requires a bit of luck. Still, don’t give up yet.

 

Must NOT do:

  • Respond to reviews, especially the negative ones. Don’t invite confrontation or bullies by publicly “defending” your work. Also, some readers are afraid to be honest when they know the author is watching.
  • Try to explain your intentions or correct the reviewer. Each person will take something different from your story that you may not have intended. Remember, that’s the beauty of books, it inspires discussion.
  • Don’t take it personal. Sure some reviewers attack the author. However, they do not know you personally and their words are just assumptions and accusations. Remember that.
  • Don’t focus on things you can not change. Your voice and writing style is unique to you. Don’t change what’s natural to you and what makes you stand out.

 

How to use book reviews to your advantage

When reading reviews ask yourself these questions:

  • What does the majority of the reviewers like? Discover what you’re doing right and continue to do it.
  • What does the majority of reviewers NOT like? Find what you’re doing not-so-good and stop doing it.
  • What specifically did the reviewers comment on? What topic dominated the review? See what readers think of your characters, plot, dialogue, etc., and improve it in your next project.
  • Were the reviewer’s expectations met? What did readers expect from your story or writing, and how did you deliver or drop the ball. Then correct it in your next project.
  • What do readers hope to read in your future books? How can I deliver? Do they mention they want to see more of a certain character, etc.?
  • What do readers want to read less of in future books? How can I axe it? Do they mention what they can do without?

 

 

How reading reviews worked for my series

 

The First Book

In 2012, the first book of my Refuge Inc. series was released. And the very first review was a two-star review from a reader declaring she wouldn’t be following the series. Okay. That was just one reader, right? I mean, the betas loved it. But as time passed and more reviews came in, I realized that although most reviewers liked the story, it wasn’t what they had expected.

So as the reviews continued to pour in. I began to take note.

What was the majority of readers saying? Well, one common interest most of them shared was their fondness of the four-legged companion in my story. One common criticism was my characters being intimate too soon.

So even though I had an outline for the entire series and knew where the story was headed, I knew I had to listen to the readers and alter a few things.

The Second Book

One of the major changes I made in book two was to axe the sex and up the action. And reader’s appreciated the changes. In a lot of cases they actually missed the intimacy! Since the dog was well liked, the dog became the characters’ chief motivation of book two.

As we speak, book two of the series is highly favored (estimated from current reviews and ratings).

The Third Book

So I repeated my actions for book three, which was released late 2013, taking notes from reviews of the previous books. In most cases, readers enjoy it equally or more than book two! (I got this data by comparing reviews of the three books by the same reviewer. In most cases, the reviewer enjoy each book more than the previous.)

To balance the “two much intimacy” in book one, with the “lack of intimacy” in book two, I added one intimate scene in book three. And so far, what I’m getting from reviewers is that it was just right.

Conclusion

I owe a big chunk of the series development to the readers, especially those who reviewed the series or publicly stated their opinions. If they liked the series or not, in a lot of ways, they helped me write it. From the mention of the character’s behavior, to the demands of an epilogue. I listened.

I constantly remind myself that reviews are just opinions, and the fate of the series can change drastically in the future, but (as of today) those opinions helped me write a series that the fans enjoy. And that was my mission.

I still get giddy when a reader says, “I’m disappointed that Adam and Elliot’s story has come to an end.” Only because it feels like I accomplished what I set out to do … create a world and characters most readers would enjoy.

 

 

 

Image credit [Emily Conwell]

Jan 14 2014

Big Blog Goals for 2014: Upcoming Posts, Book Releases, and Blog Series

2014fireworks

Happy 2014! Time’s flying, huh?

I started this blog on Blogger in 2010, then transitioned to WordPress at the start of 2013, though it feels like yesterday. I promised myself at the beginning of 2013 to write more helpful blog posts and to do it more regularly. My aim was to publish a minimum of one post a month. I’m glad I accomplished that goal. Now join me as I continue in 2014!

Here’s the direction this blog is headed:

 

NEW BLOG POSTS:

Look for the new blog post ‘Getting Started: Book Formatting and Interior Design for Self-Publishers’ to be posted soon. Currently gathering links to some formatters and designers. If you used a formatting service and want to recommend a company please do so in the comments. I would appreciate it and I bet other blog visitors would too.

I’ll post about writing, blogging, marketing, and other useful posts related to publishing. If you want to suggest a topic for a post, have a question you’d like me to answer, or even want to contribute to the blog with a guest post, shoot an email to me at: leslie[at]leslieleesanders.com or use my contact form. I love hearing from you!

 

NEW BLOG SERIES:

Also, the Best-selling Book Blog Series (BBBS) is still in the planning stage. I’m working on interview questions and gathering a list of best-selling authors who wouldn’t mind answering them. Have someone in mind? Feel free to comment and tell us who you’d most like to hear from regarding best-selling books and how to create them.

 

BOOK PROGRESS AND RELEASES:

  • A couple of books are planned for release this year that you will hear about on this blog. The After will be published under my horror writer penname L.L. Sanders. It’s a collection of short stories in the horror/sci-fi genre, exploring the afterlife theme.
  • The Complete Darkness Collection (Refuge Inc. 1-3) is currently in audio production. An estimated 13.5 hours of MM, post-apocalyptic goodness.
  • I’m currently in the midst of writing Darkness Eternal (A Refuge Inc. Story). This story takes place a century in the future and follows new characters and different life altering mysteries.
  • Speaking of works in progress, I revisited a couple earlier WIPS that I had, um, abandoned. The Frozen Lake, a tale of young siblings befriending a young murderer in the isolated forest where they are sheltered. Deceiving the Herd, an LGBT Young Adult novel exploring the themes of loss, death, and grief. The Frozen Lake and Deceiving the Herd are non-erotic and will possibly be published under my pseudonym.

Other plans:

 

CONNECT WITH AUDIENCE:

In addition to providing helpful posts on publishing in general, I also considered being more open, getting rid of the introverted side of my personality, and actually showing more personality on the blog. It’s time to allow my readers, visitors, and subscribers to know a little more about who I am and how I can help.

 

VIDEO BLOGGING:

I tossed around the idea of video blogging and posting a series of videos on this blog every month or so. Still tossing the idea around, though.

 

NON-FICTION E-BOOK:

I’m considering updating, editing and combining all the 2013 posts on writing, blogging, marketing and publishing into an e-book to make for convenient reading for subscribers.

 

 

So there you have it. My goals for 2014. Jump on board with me and stay updated by subscribing to my mailing list. Let’s make 2014 a very productive one.

 

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[Image credit: Elescir]

Nov 06 2013

Write a Bestseller with Help from a New Blog Series

Let’s write a bestseller!

We all dream of writing a best-selling book, but most of us don’t begin a story with that intention. Some authors say, “Write the story you want to write. Don’t write in hopes of making your book the next big thing, or turning your book into a movie. When you write what’s true in your heart, the sales, rewards, and fame come later.”

If those are rules, I’m the one to break ’em. Let’s write a book with the goal of making it a bestseller!

BBBSIn 2014, I’ll be launching the Best-Selling Book Blog Series (BBBS). Twelve blog posts published over a twelve week period, discussing how to write and create a best-selling book. Now, I’m no expert, but my goal is to figure out if there is any truth to the whole “best-selling book formula” theory.

 

Yes, it’s absolutely free.

 

I plan to interview some experts. Get their opinions on writing a bestseller, compare their journeys on becoming best-selling authors, and squeeze some tips and tidbits out of them.

While simultaneously writing my next novel, I will discuss each step I take in the journey to find the best-selling book formula, and my attempts to create a bestseller using a “formula,” and how you can do it too.

This twelve week case study will touch on such topics as:

  • Setting goals

  • Creating a marketing plan

  • Story outlining

  • Interviews from best-selling authors

  • Affordable and effective book promotion tips and more

Your input will help get the series prepared for publication on this blog! I’m still putting all the pieces together at the moment, making this the best time for some reader feedback.

What topics are you most interested in during the Best-Selling Book Blog Series? Vote below, leave a comment, or send a private email (whichever works for you). Thanks in advance for your input!

Best-selling Book Blog Series
Topic I most want covered in the 12 week Best-selling Book Blog Series is...

Let me remind you, there is no fee. There is nothing to buy. However, this is merely a concept to an in-depth project. If you’re interested in where my research takes me, or you like the idea of creating your own bestselling book, be sure to sign up to my mailing list (if you’re not already) to be the first to know about any BBBS developments.

 

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Oct 19 2013

Pluck Great Advice from Abundant Information by Experimenting

overabundant

There is so much information out there. This expert says do this. That guru says do that. How do you find great advice among the plethora of tips, tricks, and tactics? One word: Experiment.

 

I’m skeptical of the one size fits all approach, and you should be too. There’s no formula to effective blogging, marketing, writing, or selling. If there was, that would mean blogging, and the rest, were easy to accomplish. You know, the one-two step of instance success. We know that’s not true. If it were that easy, why is so much advice given on these topics?

Simply because one approach does not work for all.

To figure out what works or what doesn’t work for you, you have to try it out. Apply the tactics, and use the tricks and tips you learn.

There is no one method for success.

Another way to see what advice suits you is to be open to new information.

I held onto a piece of advice I’d been given, and wouldn’t let go even years after it became outdated.

That’s a big no-no. Learn, grow, and adapt. It’s okay to change. Change your mind, change your beliefs, change your tactics, and see if a new voice can help you reach your goals.

Here are some common reactions some people have when presented with new advice:

  1. Accept it. Apply it.
  2. Question it. Reject it.
  3. Use what’s helpful. Discard the rest.

These are all normal reactions to the guidance we receive. I’m a number 3 type of girl, by the way. Even so, I’ll go ahead and add a BUT. No matter how you choose to take the information given to you, always keep an open mind.

Remember: Some might find particular advice helpful. Others might find that same advice useless. Test it to see which it is for you. Impractical or beneficial?

For example, one type of advice we hear a lot is: write engaging headlines.

A simple trick used to reel in readers. Write a witty, shocking, or controversial headline. Sure, this works for many, but some won’t bite because they see the hook and the line. My advice? Title your article for what it is (i.e. Do This to Get More Followers on Twitter). If your audience wants to know how to get more followers on Twitter, how effective would a headline like ‘Following is as Simple as Tweet is to Spell’? For sanity’s sake, just tell them what the darn article is promising to deliver, and deliver.

See? It’s all about what info works for you. Creative headlines do not always work for me.

Another example of advice regularly given. Write how you speak. It’s more personal.

Sounds good. This is great advice, BUT what if you’re are a normally a formal speaker. Are you too boring for your message to get across? What if your personality sucks? What if readers don’t like snarky or aren’t fond of curse words in every other paragraph? Run the risk of never getting blog visitors again because you want to display your character? My advice? Deliver your message the way that feels natural for you and your audience.

You don’t have to be conversational to get blog hits. Sometimes readers don’t want personality. Maybe they want specifics. So give them what they came for. My post, Proofreading Tips: Kindle and Microsoft Word’s Text-to-Speech, is one of my most popular posts on my blog. And guess what? It’s as straightforward as it gets. Honest headline and content that delivers what’s promised. Done.

My point?

The most basic advice and presentation still has value. So don’t reject it. Use what’s helpful.

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • Never let a surplus of information scare you away. You can find something beneficial in all advice.

 

  • Don’t take everything at face value. Just because something worked for others doesn’t mean it’ll work for you too.

 

  • Learn when to let go of a method, a source, or a piece of advice. It’s okay to change.

 

Although I am skeptical of the one size fits all approach to giving and taking instruction, I am fairly confident that the only way you will make the abundance of advice, or any shared information, work for you (including this very post) is to try it on yourself. Look at it from all angles before deciding how best to use it.

Do you agree? Please, share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

[image credit: daniel_iversen]

 

Sep 26 2013

My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers: Part 2

fiveI’ve been all over the Internet, dropping off tidbits of advice here and there that may help your freelance writing, book writing, blogging, and marketing efforts.

Below are descriptions and links to 5 of my own blog posts (published on this site and others) that I believe are the most helpful for writers.

Part 1 is here: My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers.

 

1. The Elementary Marketing Tactic You Don’t Know You’re Missing

Trying to make a name for yourself?

Yep, most of us are. That’s why we roam the Internet, visiting blog after blog, signing up to mailing lists, for webinars, tutorials, and otherwise investing in our freelancing careers.

We ask ourselves questions like: How can I reach a wider audience? How can I prove that I’m the expert my client needs? How can I become a recognizable face in my field?

2. How Your Past Mistakes Can Make You a Go-To Blogger

We all make mistakes.

Most people learn from their own mistakes. Some learn from other people’s mistakes.

Why is this important?

This is one way you become an authority, a go-to person, an expert.

According to my Encarta dictionary, an expert is “someone who is skilled or knowledgeable about a particular subject, skill, training, or who is experienced in a particular field or activity”. We’re all experts of something, be it parenting, football, writing, or Twitter.

3. 8 Ways to Generate Blogging Ideas

Having a hard time coming up with new and interesting blog post ideas?

Looking for a new slant on an existing topic, or even something more original to blog about?

Been there. Maybe we all have.

Here are 8 ways to generate some fresh blogging ideas no matter what field you’re in. They’ve helped me. I’m sure they will help you too.

4. How to Earn Recognition as a Writer

When asked the question, “What can a writer do to get noticed?” Some people may simply answer . . . write. They believe that all a writer must do for a little recognition is to write and write a lot and eventually you would have so many books or articles that someone is bound to recognize you.

Yes, writing is important as a writer and definitely one of the first things you should do, but you also must write well. Many newbies forget this rule. It is one thing to be known as “that woman who writes stories that pulls you in,” verses “that chick who uses the word agenda too much.”

5. Simple Solutions to Ten Common Writing Roadblocks

Writers are as different as the stories they tell or the expert information they provide. Even so, many things we share are the problems that plaque us as creative individuals.

Here are ten of the most common challenges writers face at one point in their career. But, fear no more. I’ve got the solution to all ten of your writer issues.

 

 

And there you have it. Part two to My Top 5 Most Helpful Posts for Writers. Feel free to share your very own helpful blog post or two for writers in the comments section below.  I’d love to check ’em out! (I’ve installed CommentLuv to make sharing your posts easier.)

 

 

Image credit: Andreas Cappell

Jul 30 2013

Simple Solutions to Ten Common Writing Roadblocks

help

Writers are as different as the stories they tell or the expert information they provide. Even so, many things we share are the problems that plague us as creative individuals. Here are ten of the most common challenges writers face at one point in their career. But, fear no more. I’ve got the solution to all ten of your writer issues.

Lack of Ideas

Where do you get your ideas from? Almost all artist have been asked that very question. The reason this is a popular question is because people are always looking for ways to be inspired. Coming up with creative ideas can be a tedious process.

Ideas for stories, characters, settings, plots and even articles come from everywhere. Here’s a list of places to look for some creative inspiration:

  • News stories. Everything from the weather (for apocalyptic tales) to announcements of the latest lottery winners (for tales of cursed families) can be a source of inspiration. News stories are often so fantastic that you don’t have to stretch the imagination much to plot a story.
  • Past experiences are not just a good place to look for writing your memoir. We all have a past, and by choosing specific and emotional parts from your experiences, you could spin it into an inspiring, entertaining, and memorable story.
  • Strangers. Play the guessing game. Guess a stranger’s life story, occupation, ambitions, secrets, etc., just by the way they look, sound, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, or what car they drive. When you play the guessing game it helps your mind invent some great characters and their motives.
  • Entertainment. Movies, books, poems, music, paintings, pictures, and even food can give you some great ideas. Their themes, messages, or the emotion they incite in you can be a powerful tool for gathering ideas.
  • Secrets, fantasies, and daydreams. Some of the best tales come strictly from what’s hiding in the deep, dark corners of our minds. Things that we’d rather not say or do ourselves but can allow our characters to say and act out, sometimes make for the most fascinating characters, situations and plot lines.

Lack of Originality

Has every idea that pops into your mind been overused, overwritten, and overworked? Even plots twists and character quirks are turning into clichés?

Put your own flair on clichés so the idea would be appreciated instead of being boring. Use clichés to your advantage.

  • Combine and create. Take multiple clichés and combined them to create something new (i.e. the popular high school jock also happens to be a lonely computer geek at home).
  • State the obvious. Purposely set up a cliché scenario and have the characters point out the cliché. By crafting your story using this technique, you say what the reader is thinking so they’re less likely to call you out on it. it’s also a good way to incorporate some humor.

Lack of Inspiration

Sometimes it’s a combination of lack of originality, rejection and self-doubt that can make us feel uninspired, or causes the fierce determination we once had to dwindle. Here are some ways to get back that motivation.

  • Go back to the beginning. Remember the reason you wanted to start the project in the first place. Reliving that passion might reignite the flame.
  • Envision the end. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll get once you’ve finished your project. Imagine the rewards you might receive (i.e. the ability to share your work, the inspiration you’ll give to others who read your work, the amazing feedback, the fan letters, etc).
  • Surround yourself with positive things. Decorate your office or writing space with your awards, fan mail, and other accomplishments and achievements. This should remind you of where you came from and where you’re headed, and encourage you to reach your goals.

Rejection

If you haven’t experienced rejection in your writing career, prepare to. Rejection is the most common experience writers share. Be it manuscript rejection from an editor or agent, or rejection from readers in their reviews of your book. One way or another, you will experience rejection. The trick to getting through this is to understand how rejection can help you.

  • Rejection helps you understand where you need to improve. It sets you up for later success by giving you an advantage on your next project. At least now you know what areas you need to focus on and develop in the future.
  • Rejection, and handling it properly, helps you develop a thick skin. No matter what, rejection hurts, but over time you will learn to take it in stride. Let it work for you, not against you.
  • Rejection happens to us all, even to the best of us. Stephen King’s bestselling novel Carrie was rejected thirty times before finally getting published, becoming a worldwide bestseller and made into the classic film, and later, a couple remakes. Understanding rejection is a part of the business–and that it happens to the best of us–will prepare you for it and help you handle it successfully when it happens. Never allow rejection to keep you from pursuing your goals.

Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a big one, and can usually come about because of our experience with rejection or not enough experience in writing or publishing in general. We tend to doubt that we have what it takes to accomplish our goals. “Do I know what I’m doing? Will I ever be published? No one will read my work. Who in their right mind would take a chance on me?” The list goes on and on.

Some of us struggle with self-doubt in many areas of our life, but the trick to overcome this debilitating power is to focus on your worth, your accomplishments, and your good qualities instead of dwelling on your failures and weaknesses.

  • Find your strengths. What are you good at? What can you do flawlessly? What are you most proud of? What have you accomplished so far?
  • Discover your value. What makes you noteworthy, respected, unique, or attractive?

Answering these question can help you rid yourself of that pesky self-doubt and bring back your confidence.

Poor Time Management Skills

Falling behind on projects? Find yourself being late or having to postpone obligations a lot lately? You find yourself not following through on commitments you’ve made? You may have poor time management skills. It can get the best of us, from the established writer to the beginner. Here’s some things to keep in mind.

  • Keep a schedule and adhere to it. Create an online editorial calendar (or update your smartphone calendar or even tack up a wall calendar) to keep track of deadlines, dates of submissions and other important dates, and never trust your memory to do the job for you.
  • Plan ahead. Managing a blog? Take advantage of your blog’s “Schedule Post” option. Write your blog posts ahead of time and schedule them to publish at a later date.
  • Integrate social media. Use social media integration to cut back on the time it takes to market your work and projects to your online social network sites. So when your latest blog goes live it automatically shares with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This is another way to automate your life.

Catch-22s

You want to pitch an article to a publication, but the editor requests published clips. However, you won’t ever get published clips if you can’t land a gig. Or maybe you need a published book to attract a platform, but you need a platform before you can sell your book.

These are just a couple of the many paradoxes writers have to grapple with. So what do you do? How do you get through it?

  • In need of some clips or writing samples? Pluck an article or blog post from your own blog, website or use a guest blog post in the related subject.
  • Can’t get website visitors to sign up to your mailing list or newsletter? Offer something of high value for free in exchange for them signing up. Offer exclusive information to subscribers. Give away highly valued information or secrets that will help your audience.
  • Need to build your writer platform? Write free guest posts in your field. Give away some great tips and advice to help build a following and a reputation, all with the help of another expert’s established platform.

There are many ways around the inconsistencies you might face in the publishing industry. Just use your creativity to think outside the box and get the results you crave.

Procrastination

One surefire way to avoid putting off writing, marketing or other duties is to avoid distractions and temptations. What you don’t do today may not always get done tomorrow, especially if you keep adding to your to-do list. Here’s how to keep procrastination from taking over your time.

  • Make a vow. Commit to a specific time frame or time of day to write. Vow to write at the prearranged time every day.
  • Stay motivated. Motivate yourself with incentives. Set small goals and reward yourself as you hit each goal.
  • Avoid distractions. Isolate yourself away from distractions while you work. Turn off the phone and internet, unplug the television, and put your tablets and reading devices away. No checking emails or status updates. Focus solely on writing for the allotted time.
  • Prevent interruptions. Make sure your family members have everything they need before you sit down to write, to limit interruptions, and that includes taking care of your own needs as well.
  • Do it now. Don’t put it off. Bestselling science fiction author Hugh Howey’s secret to success is “When I see something that needs doing, I do it.” Simple as that.

Fear of Failure

Just like rejection and self-doubt, the fear of failure can hold us back from what we could accomplish and often does. Fear is a powerful emotion, and the sense of failing can be just as powerful. So how do you combat this common writer problem?

  • Accept that you can’t win at everything. Understand that failure is an option but not the end all. You may have failed at one point in your career and will probably fail again sometime down the road, but you can handle it.
  • Imagine the worse possible outcome and come up with a plan to counter it. Come up with a just-in-case scenario. Having a plan will help you move on, but gives you the courage to confront and overcome your fear in case it manifests.
  • Live it and let it go. Imagine the worse possible outcome, live it in your mind, realized it’s not the end of the world, and get it out of your system. The fear wouldn’t hold as much power over your productivity.

Writer’s Block

Lastly, the infamous writer’s block. We all claim to suffer from this ailment from time to time. Sitting at our desks and staring at a blank document on the screen is nothing more than the result of the above plagues in many combinations; self-doubt, fear of failure, a little bit of procrastination, a sprinkle of poor time management, etc.

Writer’s block does not exist. That’s right. It’s only a name we give to the act of not being able to creatively produce. We should not give power to the illusion. Here’s how to break free.

  • Do not acknowledge writer’s block as anything else but an excuse not to craft. Definitely do not give it a name. Call it exactly what it is. Instead of believing you have some sort of mystical block and waiting around for a magical veil to lift and eliminate it, admit the true problem (i.e. I can’t seem to come up with any fresh ideas today). By understanding the underlying issue, you know how to better tackle it and resolve it.
  • Start somewhere. Anywhere. Start or continue writing your project at a more interesting part of your story or scene, like a love scene, the climax or ending. Or add a surprise or plot twist. Or simply start on the next chapter.  Add a new character or get rid of one. Write something. Anything.
  • Eliminate all distractions. No TV, no music, no phone, no checking emails or text messages, eat before sitting down at your desk so you are not distracted by hunger, etc.
  • Motivate yourself by setting a goal. Set a writing goal for the day or hour and reward yourself when you hit it.

 

Follow the solutions for these ten common writer problems and you’ll be back on track and on your way to making your writing dreams come true. Defeat your writer issues, don’t let them defeat you. Which writer roadblock have you recently hit or overcome?

 

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