Golden Rules for Writing you Should Follow!

The thing that irritates me the most about rules for writing is all the eccentricity involved. A lot of the rules, I feel, are there to make people feel slightly more elite. We are authors, not humans! You wouldn’t understand the pain we go through for our art. Most of it is a bunch of hogwash. Of all these rules for writing, there’s only one you have to follow: there are no rules.

Writing is a craft. Yes, it takes inspiration. Yes, it takes a lot of hard work. But the thing is, writing is also a job. Writing most certainly is something you can sit down at for a few hours every day, and crank out words. Do you get easily side tracked? Yep, but that doesn’t mean you lack focus and structure (or rules). Like me, you just need more discipline.

But, because so many people are looking for rules for writing, here are some of them that I’ve found (and debunked).

Every word has to be there for a reason. Yes, every word is there for a reason, and it’s called telling a damn story. But, the way authors express this rule means every word has to mean something more than just telling the story. Every word should have an alternate meaning, or express some hidden motive of a character. That’s false. If you’re writing literary fiction, where some stuffy group of readers is going to get together and use it as a psych eval of everything that’s ever happened to the character, then yeah, you might want to add in some words that are going to give greater insight to the character. Honestly though? Just tell the story.

blue curtains

Write what you know. This is a big one on lists of rules for writing. It’s WRONG! What we know is safe. It’s like a warm blanket on a cold day. Maybe your favorite book tucked in a pillow fort. Maybe even a great book, a pillow fort, and hot chocolate on a cold day. You know what too many of those days are going to do to us? Yep, you guessed it: they’re going to make us afraid of venturing outside; they’re going to make us stagnant. In this same regard, only writing what you know won’t help you grow as a writer. Does that mean you should write something you’re completely ignorant on? Not at all. Research. Become an expert. This doesn’t mean that you have to alienate your readers with seven billion different genres. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be something as simple as writing about a city you’ve never been to, writing about a stereotype you don’t identify with and figuring out why your character is labeled such.

Don’t search for a subject to write about; let it find you! Well, this is just a great piece of advice (sarcasm). It’s absolute trash. Do you want to make money as an author? Most of us do. So, what do you do? SEARCH FOR A SUBJECT! Whenever I hear someone say something like: I just need the inspiration to find me! I picture the starving artist type that loves being an enigma. They probably use words like “vintage” and wear dumb hats and haunt places that they find cool because they’re not mainstream. Finding inspiration is great! But control your inspiration, don’t let it control your writing. Go out there and search for subjects your story can fit into, research those hot subjects, and form your story around it. Don’t let your writing happen, MAKE it happen. As a side note, this isn’t talking about writer’s block. I get writer’s block and moments where I’d rather jam splinters into the quick of my nails rather than write. I do take time off (kicking and screaming, usually) but it’s not to let inspiration find me. Instead, I take time off to examine what’s wrong with the story, and why I don’t want to write it. It’s normally something as simple as not fully understanding my characters wants or needs.

Original Plot

Avoid tropes like they’re the plague. Don’t skip the tropes. Sure, there are certain things that sound like they’ve been overdone. If you look online for fantasy themes that people are tired of reading, and you try to implement all of them, you’re not going to have a story. Why’s this? Because there’s no original ideas. Furthermore, people rely on tropes to identify genres. You have a fantasy book, but want to avoid having too many tropes. Suddenly, it’s not really fantasy any longer. “I’m sick of reading about elves!” All right, then find a new genre to read. “OMG don’t tell me this is another story of a farmer that gets wrapped up in an adventure! Cry me a river. “Oh look, this is a story about a rich person who gets pulled into an adventure (yawn).” Okay, then what the hell should we write about? A middle-class, boring person? Tropes are there for a reason. For many genres it’s what helps sell your books. Honestly I’ve gone through fantasy tropes to make sure my books use them. Ignore the rules for writing on this one.

Don’t use three words when you could use one. Actually…this is good advice. But, like all rules for writing you decide to use, implement it when editing and revising. Don’t worry about it for the first draft.

Use active words instead of passive. Another bit of good advice to use when editing.

Active: The car suddenly stopped, flinging Martha forward.

Passive: The car came to a sudden stop. Martha was flung forward.

The big issue here is too much passive narrative can make the story boring. Keep people intrigued with active language.

Never use words ending in -ly. This is rubbish. Have the people who write these rules for writing ever read? People aren’t going to pass your book by because you use the suffix -ly here and there. Just look through Harry Potter and see how often J. K. Rowling uses them. I will wait.

Avoid comparing things with “like” and “as if.” Some of my favorite books use comparisons. Her eyes were as green as leaves. or Excitement bubbled through her stomach like hundreds of butterflies freshly birthed from their cocoon. It gives me a visual, and I enjoy it.

Honestly, this list could go on forever. There are people out there who want to beat us to death with rules for writing. Just write. Do it. Don’t worry about the rules because the rules mostly suck. Why color within the lines when you could explore outside the lines and make something amazing?

At the end of the day, it’s your writing. If you’re happy with it, to hell with all of the rules and all of those people who tell you the dos and don’ts of writing.

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Author Book Marketing Plan

SUCCESSFUL BOOK MARKET PLAN FOR AUTHORS

So today we are going to get a little more technical. Today we are going to talk about market plans. You may groan when you hear market plans (I know I sure did) but it isn’t just for small  businesses any more. If you’re taking your writing seriously and want to make a living off your work, a market plan is the best way to focus your energy and your efforts so you’re not throwing yourself at the newest fad indie authors are gunning for. A market plan is a great way to make realistic goals you can stick with, and figure out how to move forward toward that goal.

Author Book Marketing Plan

First, though, we need to know some of the basics. It is best with your writing if you have a plan and a schedule in place. Make sure you get your editor, cover artist, and format specialist on board and scheduled with at least a tentative date. As an author, I know that isn’t always possible, but if you can ballpark when you think things will be done, you can plan a tentative schedule. These are your book essentials, and will help you in the long run with sales. The quality of your book speaks directly to your brand. Also, being able to schedule your books release date well in advance will help all the other pieces fall into place.

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Now that you have that out of the way, think about the book itself. Come up with an elevator pitch of one or two sentences that captures the core story of the book. What is the theme of your book? Who do you think would be interested? This is the time you want to figure out your target audience. You will need to know who the book(s) are targeting, who might be most interested and why. What does your book give them that others don’t? Is it a book about a woman leaving an abusive husband and figuring life out twenty years after most of her friends have settled down? Then you’re likely looking at women in the 40-50 age range who are also struggling with abuse. Maybe there is an underlying story there of trusting again, you can focus on another target audience of women who have trust issues. Pin point the people who would most like your book, and then go out and join them. Find blogs and forums and social groups they hang out in, and talk with them, not to them.

Have you already published your book(s) and find that you’ve gotten a bit of an audience already? Great, you’re already halfway there with your target audience, they’ve started to find you! Survey them, maybe ask some questions about where they hang out and what they like to do or read online, then join them there!

While you’re at it, take a look at some authors that are out there already and writing in the same genre as you. What do they do that works? What aren’t they doing that you could do with your platform? Take a look at their site, their prices, their covers, their platform. While you may be friends with these people, they are your competitors, and they have gone before you so their path to success could help you find your own. Of course books aren’t like shoes, we don’t normally have to choose between the pair we want most and what we need most. Often we will grab several books, or go back to a book once we’re done with the first. It’s not about crushing the competition, it’s about finding our own audience.

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You also need a clear budget and a system of accountability. What do you consider success? Do you consider it just having more followers on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe there’s a profit threshold that you’re looking to achieve? Be honest with yourself and create realistic yet challenging goals. Figure up how much all of your marketing tasks are going to cost.

Don’t forget the four Ps of marketing: Product; price; promotions; placement. We already know the product, but this would be a great time to tighten up your author bio and your book blurb. Figure out the pricing by looking at your competitors and studying some of the prices of top sellers in your genre/category. Come up with a competitive price that’s not going to leave you broke. How are you going to promote your work? Are you just going to rely on free methods like blogging and social media? Are you going to try ads on sites or newsletters? How are you going to gauge if these were worth the money? Different techniques work for different people, so try it out if you want to, but learn from your data. Finally where is it going to be placed? Are you going to do KDP alone, or are you going to distribute to other retailers? If you choose KDP exclusively, how are you going to utilize their tools to best capture those sales?

Author Book Marketing Plan

A market plan for your author brand and your books is a challenging task, but it’s rewarding. It gives you focus on where you need to be online, who you need to talk with and target, as well as what the market trends look like and how you can work with them. Don’t think you will write this plan and then just stop, market plans can change as much as you do and as often as the marketplace does. Good luck!

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