Monday, February 3, 2014

My Top Ten Writers' Resources by Christine Locke

1.  A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
J. A. Konrath quite unselfishly shares his journey (click here for his extensive backlist) through publishing--both traditional and independent--in this informative blog.  This was where I found the courage to self-publish Open Door in 2012, and I've learned so much from that process that I've become much more confident in my writing and in sharing my writing.  Whether or not you intend to self-publish, the blog lets you know a lot about the practical side of being a "real" writer--which involves minding your writing the way your would mind a business you own.  Sticking your head in the sand regarding the money connected to your art/writing is NOT part of being a good artist/writer.  I think that stereotype is probably dying out, but it's still out there, and it makes some of us afraid to take on responsibility for producing and exposing our work.  It's not wrong to treat your writing like a business.  These days, it's irresponsible NOT to.  Read the blog.  It's helpful stuff.

2.  Follow Rachel Thompson on twitter: twitter help, amazon help, indie help.
Rachel Thompson is a great person to watch on social media.  She's even good at Google+.  You will learn a great deal about your own promotion style by reading her advice and watching her develop her own career as an indie-published writer.  I've found it especially helpful to follow her twitter account.  For one thing, she shares rules to follow (helping you avoid embarrassing newbie mistakes).  But it's also interesting to watch her start conversation hashtags (some work, some don't), and she shares a lot about why some stuff works and some doesn't.  Rachel tweets a lot; put her on a list so you don't miss out.  And btw, #MondayBlogs, yeah, that one worked out.

3.  Like the Writers Write page on Facebook.
These folks are wonderful; they always have inspirational posts aplenty.  Also, if you have other writers following your author page (you have one of those, right?), or if you have readers who enjoy sharing what inspires you, Writer's Write has no shortage of images and information to share to your own page.  You should also like Book Riot and The Millions for all the same reasons.

4.  Follow Neil Gaiman on twitter.  Follow Chuck Wendig on twitter.  Observe and compare.
Both these authors use twitter effectively, making it fun to observe their different styles.  One is traditionally published.  One uses both traditional and self-publishing.  They both self-promote successfully while balancing those efforts with the kind of humorous sharing and informing that social media is designed to facilitate.  I enjoy Wendig's #bdub tweets about his cute kid.  Also, I've noticed that both authors SEEM to favor twitter over other SM, like me.  That's just a personal observation; I have no idea whether or not it is actually true.  But it is true that writers who are "out there" on SM seem to catch on with some sites better than others.  I guess there may be psychologists out there who have something to say about that.  I think I don't want to know....

5.  Like Karina Halle on Facebook.  Like Teresa Ragan on Facebook.  Observe and compare.
Both of these women write compelling thrillers.  Halle's are more supernatural (at least her earlier self-pub'd series was), while Ragan writes thriller detective tales in addition to her earlier works of romance.  Both of these authors are on twitter (Ragan, Halle), but they are more accessible and active through Facebook--unlike me.  I only dream of inspiring the kind of Facebook engagement these authors command.  I'm watching and learning.

6.  Friday Night Writes on twitter
This is wonderful!  It's like a mini-NaNo with better engagement and a very real chance of meeting other writers from more than one country.  I don't often get to do this, since Friday night is usually family time at my house, but when I can, I'm so there!  If one of your writing blocks happens on a Friday, you ought to follow them and be inspired.

7.  CAMP NaNoWriMo and, yes, NaNoWriMo, really work.
I had my doubts.  A novel in a month?  Say what?  How could you possibly produce anything quality in that time?
Last summer I decided to get over myself.  I did not have a project ready to go from start-to-finish, but I soon learned that's not required.  You can finish a work that's stumping you (what I did in July), or revise a work, or whatever else is on your author's chore list of things you know you need to do, want to do, but just can't seem to do.  On my second go (November), I actually transcribed the first novel I ever wrote.  I'd been putting that chore off for years.  Of course, I could have just scanned it in, but transcribing was better.  Here's why: I edited while typing since my 20-something writing was BAD.  AND since I really got to know the manuscript again, I'm thinking about how to rework it into something I will want to have out there.  It's great to get that done!

8.  Subscribe to Poet's and Writer's Magazine.
This is a great magazine.  So far, it's my favorite for writers.  And their list of retreats and contests is like nothing I've seen anywhere else.  Here's what's really amazing about these folks.  You don't have to give them any money to use their wonderful lists!  Check it out.  And if that alone doesn't make you want to subscribe, the articles and appealing visual design will.

9.  Check out The Indie View, a list of bookbloggers.
I like to write book reviews.  Sometimes I review indie books, but I'm not what's called a "book blogger."  Those folks command my respect.  Sometimes I review a book when asked, and someday I will do more of that, I hope, but at the moment I'm just too preoccupied getting my own fiction out to develop that aspect of the blog.
Having said that, I've been at a bit of a loss with how to help indie authors who write to me wanting a review.  It's not that I don't want to read and review them; I'm utterly flattered by the offer of a free book.  But if I'm honest with them, I have to admit that if it's not gothic lit or magic realism I most likely won't get to it.  And, even if it does fit in those genres, my reading list is so long, it might take me a lifetime.
And then there's my writing.
So, here's my answer to all those other indie authors who need reviews and who I would very much like to help: query the bloggers on this list.  If you do it properly, you WILL get reviews.  I don't know how many, but it will happen.  Also, in the process you will learn a lot about how to talk about your book to prospective readers and how to make industry contacts in an effective way.

10.  Anything Stephen King has to say about writing in the last few years.  I don't know how I went 40 years of my life without reading On Writing.  Don't let it happen to you.  And now...he's on twitter!

And here's a bonus tip I use whenever my writing feels sluggish: pull up the "Make Good Art" Neil Gaiman speech and run it at least once a day.  You can subscribe to my YouTube channel if you're really lazy.  Hey, I'm here to help ;)

Happy Writing!  Happy Reading!  They'll both make you happier while living.