Monthly Archives: August 2013

How to pitch your novel to a book blogger

If you have published a book, reviews are important. Reviews on Amazon and Smashwords help sell more books and reviews on book blogs present your book to an interested audience. So you go looking for some book bloggers who review your genre. Now you just have to convince them to read your book. How do you do that?

Know who you’re pitching to

Before you do anything, research. Don’t just look for an email address and get started. Read the blog’s review policy and make sure your book fits within the genres the blog reviews. If the blog has review submission guidelines, make sure you read them carefully. A busy book blogger will refuse or even ignore an incorrect submission.

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On reviewers, authors and online behaviour

I recently heard of a situation in which an author had allegedly been bullied so much by reviewers that she withdrew her book. Because she has expressed the desire to move on and a distaste for the drama and misinformation that has grown around the situation, I won’t link to her story. The fact is, though, it’s not the first time I’ve heard reports of authors being bullied by reviewers.

So I mean to set a few things straight here regarding the behaviour of both authors and reviewers. I will not be naming any names in this post as I don’t think it will do any good.

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Some writing exercises I’ve found helpful

Improving as a writer is all about practice. That’s why it has been said that you write a million words of crap before you write anything really good. After being involved in writing groups and online communities, I’ve come across quite a few little exercises that have helped me with my writing. Here are a few.

The Inanimate Object

This is about getting into the mind of your character, with a bit of a twist. You pick an inanimate object – a wine bottle, an old mobile phone in the back of someone’s drawer, a broken sign post, an apple in a fruit bowl – and you tell a story from the point of view of that object. What does it want? What thoughts and feelings might it have about its situation? What does it hope humans will do?

Continue reading Some writing exercises I’ve found helpful

Finishing something

I’ve said before that I have trouble with endings. I just don’t have enough practice with them. And it’s still presenting a problem. But I’ve realised recently that I’m not that good at finishing things in general. I start a lot of new stories that never get far, and I start a lot of Minecraft worlds that I give up on after a while. I’ve started a lot of games I’ve not finished, including the Nuzlocke Run on Pokemon Heart Gold. I’ve created a lot of new characters on Guild Wars and more recently Guild Wars 2, and deleted them in favour of starting another new character before getting far into the story. There are a few drafts to blog posts I’ve never finished.

Finishing things evades me.

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Review: The Three Fingers of Death by Tristan Gregory

The Three Fingers of Death by Tristan Gregory is a short fantasy tale set in the same world as The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth, which I previously reviewed here. Jon the smith, briefly seen in the earlier story, seeks out a master to teach him parts of his craft that have been largely forgotten, shunned because of the involvement of magic.

three fingers of death

I read this story very quickly – all in one day. The prose is accessible  and the tone is gentle, making this story very easy to consume. It has quite a storyteller-like voice. Where in Carn Nebeth, the voice was quite immediate, this is more of a “sit down by the fire and listen to my tale” sort of voice, and because of the time scale involved – the story takes place across years – this voice fits well.

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Eight Steps to a Better Blog Post

Today I came across an article online about how to write a better blog post. I wasn’t too impressed with it, though – the language and syntax was a bit off, like using “4th step” instead of the more common “Step 4”, and the line “I advice using simple words on your posts, all articles  in my blog are written in simple English.” I mean, seriously, that’s got three things wrong with it in advice about grammar. (“I advice” should be “I advise”, it should be two sentences with a full stop where the comma is, and there are two spaces instead of one between “articles” and “in”.)

And then at the end the conclusion had nothing to do with what the rest of the post had to say; it should really have been a ninth point, rather than a conclusion.

Anyway, it kind of annoyed me. And I know it’s probably some guy in India who got paid US$8 for writing it and thus the author and/or site owner isn’t interested so much in quality as attracting hits for ad revenue, but even so, it annoyed me. That’s also why I’ve linked the Reddit thread where it was posted rather than the article itself.

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Author engagement

Author engagement is important for an indie author because it humanises you to your potential audience and encourages them to be interested in you and emotionally invested in your success. If readers feel that you are their friend, they will be more willing to support you and your work.

But recently I’ve come across a few authors who just don’t seem to get it. They posted links to their blogs without getting stuck into conversations, or they tweeted nothing but promotional information about their books. From a reader’s point of view, this is off-putting. Nobody likes a spammer. What we want to see in our twitter feeds and on the forums we frequent is interesting information, helpful advice, people talking with passion about something they enjoy.

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Looking back and getting better: Discord’s Secret, scene 1

Learning from our mistakes is a big part of getting better. And every writer has an embarrassing old story or twelve they never want to see the light of day; a story they have moved far beyond, a story that they look back at and shudder.

Well, mine is seeing the light of day. Or parts of it anyway. In a series of blog posts over the next however long this will take (don’t worry – it won’t be the only thing I’m posting) I will look at a story I was writing back in 2006-2008 and examine the problems with it and draw lessons from it.

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Review: Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

The first book in the Heartland trilogy, Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig  is a Young Adult novel. It tells the story of Cael, a dissatisfied young man living in a dystopian world where wealth floats on sky flotillas and below on the ground inedible predatory maize corn is grown for fuel. Cael and his friends fight for survival, seek to improve their worsening lot in life, and dream about escaping the Heartlands and living in luxury in the sky above.

Under the Empyrean Sky

Under the Empyrean Sky has good momentum, carrying the reader forward in a manner than defies and denies sleep. The pacing is fast – perfect for the intended audience (which is a bit younger than me) – but with enough space left for character development, establishing the world, and the all-important suspense.

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