One Thing Every Writer Needs

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

A Christian Writing Site asked the question, “What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of writing?” Although writers answer this question in different way, I believe the most difficult and most important virtue a writer needs is patience. Patience is what makes or breaks a writer. The writing process take years to learn, and if you go the traditional route, the publishing business is so slow, that grass grows faster.

Perfecting Your Writing: The best authors have applied years of patience to perfect their writing. Editing is an ongoing process for a successful writer, and most writers I know have critique groups or editors to help them improve. Studying writing books and blogs and similar books to yours are also important steps writers in a hurry may miss. If you’re going the traditional route, publishable novels and unpublishable novels sometimes only have a fractional difference in quality accomplished by years of perfecting. If you go the self-published route, don’t make the mistake many make of publishing before you are ready. It’s easy to believe you’re ready before you are. The truth is you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re unsure whether you are ready to be published, have a published author read you book and ask that author to be brutally honest, or enter it into a writing contest. Whichever route you take, authors who have gone through the process of perfecting their writing before being published are the ones who “make” it in the business.

Write More Books: Some writers spend so much time trying to get their first book published, that they never write any other books. They lack the patience needed to start the next book and the next until something happens. A friend of mine wrote seven novels while waiting for a contract. After she was published, they wanted everything she had written. The average traditionally published author writes 3-7 manuscripts before one is accepted. If you self-publish, consider writing a number of books before publishing the first one. Writing more than one books gives valuable experiance and helps you perfect your skill. Another advantage is that agents and publishers like to sign authors who have written more than one book. It shows the author is serious about his career and his craft.

Right Agent/Publisher: If you haven’t given up yet, you’ll earn your patience stripes trying to find the the right agent or publisher – a very slow process. There’s a lot of work involved in this. You have to learn how to write a good proposal and query and research agents taking your type of book. And timing is everything. Many times, it will take three to six months to receive a reply from an agent. And if that reply is no, you have to start all over again. You know you’re making progress when you receive letters from the agent telling you why she didn’t accept it instead of the standard form letter. Then when you do find the right agent, or if you decide to forget the agent and try small publishing companies that accept submissions, you have to wait until you or the agent finds the right publisher. Sometimes, the agent’s contacts won’t work for you, and you’ll have to find another agent.

If an agent or you find a publisher to look at your manuscript, first the publisher will want a full read. You might be elated about this, but pace yourself. Aquisition editors at publishing companies are even slower than agents. Once the editor reads it, she might suggest changes instead of accepting or rejecting the manuscript immediately. Even if she does accept it, in many cases, it will go to committee and might be rejected there because they already have a similar novel or because that type of novel isn’t selling that year. Again timing is everything.

After the First Book is Published: You may think you have it made when your first book is published, but there’s still work that requires patience. Traditional publishers take up to two years to publish a book. Then they expect you to do most of the marketing. Marketing is also a skill that takes time to learn. With each book, you’ll gain more information about what works and what doesn’t. If also takes time to build a fan base. All these require fortitude and constant attention. Once you have this down, your next book might be a flop, and you’ll have to start all over again.

Many give up before all of that happens, but those who wait will reap the reward of becoming a successfully published author.

Do Book Promotions Really Work? Part I

by Carole Brownconfused frog free

Yes.

No.

It depends. What I mean is, it’s how you go about it. Today I want to post I few ways that promotions will NOT work.

For instance,

 

 

  • You share a post on Facebook about your ailing dog who needs surgery. You ask dog freeeveryone to buy your books this weekend so that you might use the money for your pet’s upcoming surgery expenses. More than likely, you will sell few or no books. Although your friends and acquaintances may sympathize with your poor pet and your feelings, it won’t be enough. Or…

 

no thanks free

  • Pasting one or more Facebook messages on others’ (especially those you scarcely, or not at all, know) personal pages about your book. No! That page is for friends and others to fellowship and share, not to try to sell your book. It’s a sure way to “turn off” any sales, and very likely will get you blocked–or worse. 

 

  • Unwilling to pay for any or all help, ignoring or downplaying other, more money freeexperienced authors advice or suggestions, especially with the attitude that you have no time for all that malarkey or that you know what is best for your book, etc, etc. Sometimes it IS necessary to spend money to get the best promotion, to study from others who’ve been at the business longer about the right approaches, the right tools to use, so be prepared and humble enough to do it. Don’t believe or go into book marketing expecting it all to be free or simple or that you have all the answers. No one person has!

 

buy icon free

  • This one particularly irks me: following someone, then receiving an immediate reply of “buy my book.” No, thank you. I don’t know you, don’t know your genre, don’t know how you write, if you can write, etc. This is a sure-fire way to get me to ignore you right now, and possibly in the future, depending how often I get such messages from you, delete you from that social network friendship status. 

To recap:

  1. Don’t try to sell your book by begging and asking for sympathy “buys.”
  2. Don’t forget your manners on social media
  3. Stay humble and consider advice
  4. Don’t be pushy with new friends.

Have you seen particular habits that irk you with certain authors? What is your least favorite?

Next month I’ll touch on a few absolute best ways to gain readers and sales for your book. 

Happy Writing!

 

Guest Author Donna Schlachter – 3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today, I want to welcome author Donna Schlachter to Word Sharpeners.  Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and  under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

By Donna Schlachter

Do you sometimes feel, in trying to get your book published, that you’re rattling at one locked door after another? Perhaps you’re struggling to find an agent, or maybe you’ve been submitting directly to publishers and gotten nothing except rejections. Or worse, silence.

It’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there. And we understand that while we trust God to open doors that nobody else can close, and to close doors that we aren’t to go through, we also know that when the door is open, we have to walk through. God won’t drag us kicking and screaming. He’s too much of a gentleman for that.

So what are we to do? Following are three things to focus on as you go through this process of unlocking the doors to publication:

  1. Pray. Seriously. Seek the Lord as to His direction for you. Perhaps He has a better plan for you right now. Maybe He’s holding back on publication because He knows that’s not the best thing for you. I believe He delayed my publication path because He knew that I am an all-or-nothing kind of person: if I got a contract, life in our household would have to stop while I pursued and completed that project. And He had more important things for us to do during that time, including leadership in an international ministry.
  2. Pause. If you’re anything like me, publication has been a main focus for your books, and anything else is second-best. I had to take a step back and ask myself why I wanted to publish a book. Was it to see my name on the cover? To show somebody I had what it took to be a writer? For fame and money? My first book, a devotional, was done as a work-for-hire project and my name wasn’t on the cover. It was in teensy-weensy little print on the inside. Talk about humbling. But this experience made me step back and ask why I wanted to publish. Which brings me to number three.
  3. Praise. Yes, you read that right. Praise God for the gift He’s given you to string together words into stories that touch lives. Praise Him that He is writing the most important story in you right now, long before the written word gets on to the page. Praise Him that He would choose you to be the first person to hear this story. And Praise Him for using you to reach a lost world.

I truly believe that when we put our writing in the proper place in our lives—never above God, never above our spouse or family—then He will honor this calling to write and will reward our obedience. Your publishing path might be traditional or independent; it might be paper or digital; it might be full-time or part-time, but the important thing is that your path leads you—and others—to know more intimately the God of Words. He is the Word, and He has placed that Word in you to give to others.

So go ahead, unlock some doors. You have the keys you need.

You can find Donna online at these locations:

Echoes of the Heart

A mail order bride who isn’t who she says she is; a crippled station master who believes no woman would want him. Can they find love on the Pony Express, or are they doomed to being alone forever?

The Pony Express Romance Collection

9 novellas in 1 tell the tale of love, romance, and deep longings set along the Pony Express trail. Can our heroines find the love they are looking for? Or will the Wild West keep them from their deepest desire?

 

The Demons in Writing

by Carole Brown

We all have them. The times of dryness, weariness and pressure in our demon freewriting attempts. It’s up to each of us to put on all the armor we can to fight against those demons of writing warfare. In my own life, they vary from day to day, but they are there and very real. Keeping watch over these problems is a constant battle and it never gets easier. But that’s no reason for me to give up. If for no other reason, I’m a fighter (in certain things and ways), and I WANT to write. I WANT to produce more books, and I pray that God gives me the help and strength to finish my writing course! 

Here’s a short list of some writing demons in my own life:

 

Time:

clock freeIs there ever enough time for everything? Learn (again) that time waits on no one. Take those precious minutes, half hour, early morning, late evening–whatever you can fit in–and jot down those fifty or hundred or thousand words. 

Not enough words? Of course, it is. If you hadn’t written those words, you’d have been fifty, hundred, or thousand words less. Appreciate every minute of the day and take advantage of those minutes. Every one of them count for something. Don’t let it be for nothing.

 

Busyness:  

Too many items on my calendar. If that’s the case–and I’ve often found that to be so in my life–busy freethen it’s time to prioritize. We CAN NOT do everything, so pick those things that are the most important.

I suggest taking the time to make a list. You can have more than one: a personal, only you can see what’s on it, that goes into more detail, and a more general one. Here’s what my general one looks like, and there are times I have to rearrange, temporarily, some of them:

  • God, and his work
  • husband
  • family
  • writing
  • friends

Remember: these will rearrange occasionally, and some overlap (such as God and his work and friends, etc.). Also I haven’t mentioned personal interests, like hobbies, exercise, temporary demands, or sudden happenings that occur in each of our lives.

 

Laziness:

lazy cat freeI just don’t feel like it today (or tomorrow and probably the next day). Oh, my, how many times have I faced this one? 

 

 

 

 

 

Strength (Weariness):  

I’ve been sick, too tired, or life is wearing me down. I’m worn down from traveling to and frosick woman free helping out, or shopping for needed items, etc. Or I’ve not had enough sleep. Too much on my mind. I’ve had to deal with other issues and can’t think straight. An accident, injury, illness with which I need to contend. The list goes on and on. 

With this one, you will probably need to relax and recover. If you can’t write during this period either give your mind and body permission to take a break from writing. When you are up to it, jot notes, reread your work and mark spots that need edited. Go at a speed and with a mindset that lets you stay relaxed. Approach it as a reader and not with any pressure that you HAVE to get work done. 

Another suggestion that works well for me, is to talk with, get together with a writing friend, or friends, and socialize. Help them brainstorm, offer to read a chapter or two, encourage and mentor someone else and keep the focus off yourself. You may find you come away revitalized and strengthened to begin work again.

 

Discouragement: 

discouraged2 freeWhat am I doing? Do I really think I can be a writer? Who am I kidding? Ah, the hound of discouragement nips at many heels! It’s okay to wallow a little, but don’t let it get ahold of you. 

A few things that always brings hope and life back into me when that hound visits me:

  • If you have a supportive companion, talk with them. Many times they can talk you through this slough of despondency and encouragement you to keep on writing. 
  • Share with your true writing buddies, or if you prefer not to let them know, then at least fellowship with a few. Just being around mine encourages me to go home and write. Lately, I’ve struggled to make headway (because of some of the above) on a certain novel I’m trying to complete. But at a recent writing retreat, I was amazed as we all sat working, that I was able to see the manuscript with fresh eyes, and able to write again. 
  • If you’re published, reread some of your good reviews, whether one or twenty, they can give you the incentive to keep writing.
  • Remember who you write for. God? Yourself? Others? To make a difference? To share the gospel? For entertainment? Whatever your reason it, you’re the only one that can do it. Stay true to your purpose and write.
  • Talk with God. He’s always our best encourager. He’s always by our side. Listen. Then obey!

 

What demons to you encounter in your writing? How do you overcome them? 

Happy writing!

 

 

 

So They Hate Your Book?

by Carole BrownDislike hate deny free

I remember the first “three star, bad” review I received. Devastation. Hurt. Disappointment. Bewilderment. Anger. 

How could they? 

Yet, someone had and did “hate” my book. I wanted to cry, to have my friends and fellow-authors sympathize with me, to share it with everyone how someone could hate my beloved, debut book. 

The advice I got from my friends? 

  • We all get those.
  • Three stars isn’t that bad
  • Get over it.

And, yes, they loved me. But I needed to grow up as an author. So, my advice to you today is, when you get a poor review:

Take a Step Back

  • Give yourself time to relax and distance yourself from your book and a bad review
  • If you can, work on a different manuscript, or at least, re-read your own book with fresh eyes.
  • Only then re-read the review

Evaluate

  • Once you’ve re-read the negative review, can you glean anything worthwhile from it?
  • Are there fixable errors, weak spots and/or possible things you neglected to include?
  • Can you see that the reviewer is honestly trying to give advice (even if a bit harshly or insensitively hurtful)?
  • If it’s obviously a “troll” review, forget about it and ignore.

Understanddislike child free

  • That some reviewers don’t know the proper way to review
  • That some reviewers consider “three stars” as a high rating. I received one “three star” rating, which had me raising my brows, but the review was filled with praise for the book. I learned that the three stars meant it rated highly with the reviewer. 
  • Just because the reader bought/received the wrong genre, that doesn’t make it a “bad” book, and reviewing it harshly for that reason is not the proper way to review. Personal preferences and wrong genres are not good reasons for poor reviews. Writing issues, weak research, and a lack of proper editing are.
  • That most, if not all, authors receive poor reviews. There are many reasons for them. Study, if you wish, the reason for yours and act accordingly. Meaning, ignore it and toughen up. If a person is planning to stay in the writing business, you’ll probably get more–many more–of those. Either quit reading them or put on your tough armor and get through it–unscathed! 

Move on

  • Too many negative reviews raise a concern: Did I write a “bad” book? It never hurts to re-evaluate your book. As stated above, make sure the edits are crystal-fine, that your research is impeccably correct, plot lines in order, etc. Never underminReviewer feedback writing freee your work with sloppy writing. 
  • Learn that when asking for an honest review, be sure the people you request from are interested in your mystery/suspense (romance, sci-fi, etc). If reviewers love your genre, you’re more apt to get favorable reviews.
  • When you find those individuals, ask for honest feedback. When you send arc copies, ask for a timeline and where and when the reader will be able to post reviews. 
  • Look ahead to your next manuscript. Plot, edit and write. Keep learning as you go. Stay humble and willing to accept suggestions from readers. Find the best critique partners you can; ones that will do you the favor of being gentle, but honest, who loves your work, and is able to see the “holes” you might overlook. When you find that person(s), be sure to show thankfulness. They’re hard to come by!

Remember

  • Move past any useless negativity and use the constructive criticism to improve.
  • Never respond to negative reviews.
  • Never quit writing.

Have you ever received poor reviews? How did you respond? Were you able to move past the disappointment? 

Happy Writing!

Mystery Lovers, Beware!

by Carole Brown

mobile-home free

We love to travel and have done so since we’ve been married. From Washington state to Texas, from Alabama to Maine, we’ve gone traveling for business and for fun.

If you ask the Dentons, who love to travel, their vacation spots always seem to land them in mysteries. Now that’s an interesting thought and experience, but the Dentons take it in stride. Considering their love of fishing, buying new shoes and reading mystery books, it’s easily understood how they can get involved in any mystery that pops up at their newest vacation spots.

So far they’ve solved the Mystery of the Dead Motorcyclist in Tennessee (Hog Insane) and in New Mexico (Bat Crazy), they eventually found who was behind the Vampire Bats supposedly inhabitiFrontng a new cave.

(By the way, someday I’ll explain how I came up with these crazy, insane titles. Lol)

Now in Colorado, they’re helping long time friends Jeremy Meadows, who owns and runs a ski resort with his Down’s Syndrome sister Daffodil, discover the people who are tricking her and ruining their well-laid plans for the resort. And what do ducks have to do with the story anyway?

Can they succeed in finding the evil doer? Readers can find out in the third book of this delightful series: Daffy’s Duck, coming late 2017.

 

Check out the first two books in this series here:

Hog Insane:  Amazon.

Bat Crazy:  Amazon

Happy Reading!!

Iny, Miny, Miney, Moe…An Agent–or Not!

By Carole Brown

So you think you want an agent?

A writer is just that a writer. But he/she can, and many times are more than that.

  • Marketer. Sometimes a writer will find they’re very good at marketing. Learning what works and what doesn’t takes determination, attention, and perseverance.
  • Publisher. So you’re cheap. Or detail oriented. Or savvy with computer programs. Whatever. Many times writers find publishing your work is easier, better for you–timewise and moneywise–than working with an established publisher.

So do you need an agent? Here’s a few thoughts to help you make a decision:

Pros:

  • Literary agents have excellent industry contacts and most times good working relationships with editors and publishers.The level of trust between them gives them the confidence to work together comfortably. A really good agent can improve your chances of being published. Remember: publication is not guaranteed.
  • They know editors and publishers and that makes it easier to contact them. Editors and Publishers many times refuse to accept submissions unless agent-sent.
  • Agents have experience in the industry that enables them to negotiate favorable contracts and deals that won’t cheat you out of your royalties. They know their way around author-y contracts.
  • If need be and problems arise, they act as mediators between authors and publishing houses, softening constructive criticism, negotiating when contract problems interfere, and guarding that you aren’t robbed of your rights, regarding international publication and film rights.

Literary agent cons

  • Your literary agent will take between 10-15% of your royalties, depending on where in the world you are. If you go it alone, all the royalties will be yours.
  • You’ll have to wait twice as long before your book is published, this is because you first have to find a literary agent, who will make you jump through some hoops before sending your book to a publishing house, which will make you jump through some more hoops.
  • Again, if you are knowledgeable, you can “do the work” yourself
  • There’s always the risk of unreliable agents who will stiff you for work undone, for tasks unneeded and/or for small, meaningless tasks.

So, do you need an agent? That’s up to you. Just be sure to do your homework. Decide what your writing journey is and follow that journey. You’ll be glad you did.

March is read a book month! (But then, I think all months are “read a book” month!) Why not try a super fun and interesting new book?

With Music in their Hearts is a WWII spy book that is filled with music, teasing, romance and suspense!

One reader has this to say about this book:

With Music In Their Hearts is a mystery romance. This is the most adorable mystery ever! Emma Jaine is a strong character and I really like her. Not only does she run a boarding house, but she also takes care of her father and two younger sisters. She’s a spunky and pretty woman, and a few men at the boarding house are attracted to her.

Tyrell is a good-looking man and absolutely adorable when he teases and flirts with Emma Jaine. He is a reverend, a minister of a nearby church, but at the same time he’s an undercover agent for the government. His flirtations with Emma are appropriate for a minister and you can see the attraction between the two. I love the mystery that goes along with the romance. Romance and mystery make a book so much fun to read.