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Writing Craft

Successful Self-Publishing – It’s All About the Conversions

By: Ginger | Posted on August 2, 2019

Advertising expert Ginger is back this week with some more thoughts on what happens after you’ve written and published your book – specifically how to advertise, promote and hopefully sell copies to eager readers! Today, he’s talking about the cornerstone of any successful promotional campaign – conversions. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about how to make sense of your Amazon Advertising facts and figures – and I had a few questions from readers about one important aspect of that: Conversions. Conversions are the technical term for when you ‘convert’ a visitor to your Amazon product page to a paying customer; or, in short, when they buy your book! In terms of successful self-publishing, any promotional efforts you make to drive potential customers to your product page need to result in a good percentage of ‘conversions’ – otherwise you’re leading horses to water, but none of them… Read More >

Writing Believable Science Fiction

By: Larry N. Martin | Posted on July 26, 2019

Science Fiction readers often categorize books into one of two camps: Hard SF and Soft SF.  Hard SF generally means that the story focuses more on the science and making all of the SF elements plausible and realistic, while Soft SF doesn’t delve as deep into the details of how something works or even worry about whether it’s theoretically possible.  But whether you write hard or soft science fiction, the story itself has to be believable (even if the science itself isn’t), which means not forgetting to pay attention to more than just the weird and wonderful world you’ve come up with.  Today, Science Fiction author Larry N. Martin takes us through his process of weaving a believable story within his futuristic universe. There is no single answer to the question of how do you write believable Science Fiction. Readers are as unique as writers in what draws them to… Read More >

Making Sense of Amazon Advertising

By: Ginger | Posted on July 19, 2019

Amazon Advertising – until recently known as Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) – is an increasingly important part of any self-published author’s strategy but many authors are confused by how it works and how to interpret their results. Fortunately, Hidden Gems advertising expert Ginger is here to walk us through the basics – how to get started, what some common problems mean and how to solve them, and how to make it all work for you! The ability to have your book displayed as a clickable link on the product page of similar authors – presented to Amazon customers already searching for books to read – is a game-changer. However, Amazon Advertising has a notoriously steep learning curve, and successful advertisers need to keep a constant eye on their campaigns. In this post, we’re going to try to answer some of the more common questions would-be advertisers have, and help translate… Read More >

How I Became a Sensitivity Reader

By: Patrice Williams Marks | Posted on July 12, 2019

Messing up a few historical facts in your novel is probably going to earn you a few emails or even a handful of bad reviews, but far worse is if you come off as ignorant, biased, or even racist against diverse or marginalized groups that you included in your book but didn’t know enough about. That’s where Sensitivity Readers come in, and who better to discuss the topic than Patrice Williams Marks. Not only is she a successful author and screenwriter, but she also runs her own business as a professional Sensitivity Reader. If you’re writing about groups of people that you don’t have first hand knowledge of and aren’t already familiar with the idea of using Sensitivity readers, this is a must read! I grew up for the most part, in Washington State. I was one of only three African-Americans in the entire student body. My sister, Phyllis was… Read More >

Pantster or Plotter? Let Your Characters Decide!

By: Ginger | Posted on July 5, 2019

  “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing Whether you’re a ‘pantster’ or a ‘plotter’ – one of the best pieces of advice about coming up with a story is to let your characters take the lead. When it comes to writers, there are generally two breeds. There are the ‘plotters’ who carefully outline each stage of their book, sometimes right down the chapter, so they know exactly where the narrative thread is going. This is widely acknowledged as the ‘right’ way – and I’ll admit that I very rarely experience writer’s block when I’ve spent time plotting out exactly what happens on every step along the character’s journeys. However, the ‘pantster’ is the other breed of writer – who just “writes by the seat of their pants”… Read More >

How to Co-Write a Six-Book Series and Stay Friends

By: Eve Kincaid and Lily Danes | Posted on June 28, 2019

At some point in your career, you may consider the idea of writing a book or series with another author.  Finding the right partner is a key element, but there are a lot of other factors to consider as well. Luckily, the co-writing powerhouse team of Eve Kincaid and Lily Danes are here to walk us through how to do it right, and not wanting to murder your writing partner by the end of it! (Hint, there may be alcohol involved) Let’s start this off with a confession. I, Eve Kincaid, volunteered to co-write an article on co-writing with my co-author, and I have no idea how to do that. (Answer: she wrote the first draft, then handed it over to me to add snarky asides vital additional information. —LD) Lily Danes and I are the co-creators of the Lost Coast Harbor series—noir-inspired contemporary romance set on the rugged Northern… Read More >

Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules

By: Ginger | Posted on June 21, 2019

  “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso Times have changed, and so have the rules. Now, more than ever, it’s time to shed conventions and follow what’s best for your story. A few weeks ago, after watching the third episode of the final season of Game of Thrones, which showcased the epic Battle of Winterfell, I was struck by something. To me, the remarkable thing about that episode wasn’t the battle itself – although it literally defined the word ‘epic’ – but the fact that the wags at HBO let the episode run for a whopping 82 minutes; the longest episode in the series’ history. Why is this remarkable? Because it shows how much the carefully regimented face of entertainment has changed over the past decade. Prior to streaming content from YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime, the only place… Read More >

Don’t Get Lost in Translation

By: Désirée Nordlund | Posted on June 14, 2019

Many authors would agree that it’s hard enough to write in the language you grew up speaking, let alone trying to do so in a second language that you learned later in life. And if your native language happens to be English, you’d probably wonder why you’d ever bother trying in the first place.  But for writers whose native language is anything else, there are some definite benefits to writing and publishing in English – and some very obvious obstacles as well. Désirée Nordlund is an author who has taken this challenge head on, and we’re thrilled that she’s sharing tips and encouragement to other writers considering doing the same thing. I am one of many authors who write in English though it is not my native language. I am also one of many who gets this choice questioned — a lot. Why don’t you write in your native language? Because… Read More >

The Hidden Gems Amazon Keyword Organizer

By: Hidden Gems | Posted on June 7, 2019

You can have the greatest cover and blurb around, but if readers searching for something new to read can’t find your book in the first place, it won’t matter.  That’s why most authors spend a lot of their marketing time researching the best keywords for their book or genre, and why many of them are very secretive about which ones they use. But while there are lots of different tools and articles written about picking keywords and the rules around which words you should or shouldn’t use, there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there for helping you add your list of keywords into Amazon in the most efficient way possible. Until now. The Problem Amazon’s KDP provides very little in the way of instruction for self-publishers,  We’ve recently discussed the deficiencies in Amazon’s KDP blurb field and our solution for it, but it turns out that their keyword… Read More >

Hiring a Character – Tips on Character Development

By: Peter Gelfan | Posted on May 17, 2019

Proper character development isn’t easy, but when it’s done right your book gets filled with a host of memorable characters that keep readers thinking about your story long after they’ve finished reading it. But how do you produce and pull together this cast of personalities? Here to give you the techniques to do just that is author, editor and writing tutor Peter Gelfan. When creating a new character for a novel, a writer often approaches the task in a utilitarian way, just as we might hire someone. If we need a toilet fixed, we hire a plumber. A character needs a boyfriend, so we write a guy about her age, decent looking but no movie star, employed but not rich, likes wine but no drunk, done. And now the plot has the necessary boyfriend. But have we missed something here? Character development is much more important than simply creating characters… Read More >