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Writing Craft

What Goes Into Choosing Your Genre?

By: Sloan Quinn & Katherine Stark | Posted on October 4, 2019

In your spare time you may read a number of different types of books for pleasure, but as an author, you need to focus on a particular genre to write in.  For some, that’s a fairly simple decision, but for others it may not be so easy.  So how do you decide? What factors go into choosing your genre, or your sub genre?  There are many ways to do it, but in today’s guest post authors Sloan Quinn and Katherine Stark offer up a few ideas based on the process they used. Romance as a genre is huge. There are so many different sub-genres contained within it: paranormal romance, contemporary erotica, thrillers and romantic suspense, romantic comedies… the list could go on for ages. We both are newer romance writers: Sloan Quinn writes the Dirty series, enemies-to-lovers romances centered around the criminal underground in Philadelphia (where she went to college);… Read More >

Successful Writers Write

By: Ginger | Posted on September 27, 2019

Despite all the marketing and promotion suggestions that we’ve provided in the past, if we could only offer a single piece of advice that would apply to authors everywhere, it wouldn’t be anything to do with getting reviews, or how to market your book, or even about where the best places are to advertise. It would simply be to keep on moving forward. Keep writing that next book, keep to a publishing schedule, and eventually success will find you.  There’s one reliable path to writing success – but it’s a lot of hard work! Whatever you do, just keep writing! When I speak to writers 1-on-1 with advice and tips on their advertising strategy, a lot of them are surprised by what I always feel is the most important factor – to just keep writing. Authors who write and publish on a regular basis are more successful than those who… Read More >

The Writing Craft: Dan Harmon’s Story Circle

By: Ginger | Posted on September 20, 2019

Looking for a new way to bring your stories and characters to life on the page? Dan Harmon’s “Story Circle” adapts and broadens the tried and true “Hero’s Journey” template to extend it for use with virtually any genre or story. Ginger takes us through how it works, and how you can apply it to your own novel planning process. Go from Pantster to Plotter with this invaluable template for crafting your stories. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the value of getting out there and interacting with your fellow writers. It’s gotten to the stage now in which my wife actively boots me out of the house on Thursday nights so I can meet with my writing group, and it’s done wonders for my mental health (and, by having me gone for two hours, hers too.) Last week, though, we had a session that really blew me away… Read More >

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Sticking with Amazon’s KDP Select, or Going Wide?

By: Ginger | Posted on August 30, 2019

One of the most frequently asked questions about self-publishing is whether or not to sell your books on Amazon exclusively, or to ‘go wide’, sending them out to a multitude of different online bookstores. There’s no one right answer, just like there is no one right way to write a book – so today Ginger is diving into the issue to give you some of the pros and cons – and also on what his choice is, how he made it, and some ideas on how you can decide for yourself. Of course, this is just one author’s opinion – and if you have one of your own, please let us know via the comments below. This is definitely a conversation that benefits the community most when we hear from many different sources… What are the benefits of ‘going wide’ when it comes to your books? So, let’s not beat… Read More >

Writing Groups – Fighting the Myth of the Hermit Writer

By: Ginger | Posted on August 23, 2019

Being an author is a solitary experience that only other writers truly understand, but it doesn’t have to be – at least, not all the time. There are benefits to socializing with like-minded people who share your passion of putting words together and understand everything that goes along with making that your career choice. As Ginger recently discovered, writing groups are a great way to get out there, and you may find that they inspire and energize you in ways you never considered. Writing is a solitary experience – but it doesn’t need to be. Make socializing with other like-minded people a priority, and your writing will benefit. I was recently watching a fascinating discussion between Stephen King and GRR Martin about the nature of writing, and King recalled an event at Radio City Hall in Manhattan, in which JK Rowling rolled her eyes after a discussion with her publicist… Read More >

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 >