Tag Archives: Author Platform

As a writer, what are your favorite words?

I wasn’t a normal kid. By that I don’t mean  I was abnormal. I didn’t have horns; wasn’t born with three eyes, or two hearts. I experienced the same childhood illnesses and complaints other children did and went to school on the correct chronological spectrum.

Where I was different, though, was in the material things kids want.

Growing up, children my age would ask for Christmas and birthday presents like a new bike, or an Easy Bake Oven. Barbie dolls were big, as were roller skates. When it came to writing out a Christmas wish list every year, I typically had three items:

  • Rock’em Sock’em Robots
  • Books
  • Pencils and paper

I was never going to get Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots, my mother explained, because that was a present for boys, not girls. Hey, this was the ‘60’s. People were still unbersexist and not afraid to talk about it.

But I did get the books I asked for and the writing instruments. My favorite present when I turned 8? A Webster’s Dictionary.

See? Not a normal kid.

Even as a child I loved words. Words lived in dictionaries. Words led to sentences, which turned into pages, then chapters in a book. And I loved books. More than anything.

I used to try and learn a new word everyday after I received my dictionary. Words like escarole and calliope; diminutive and xanthene. These wounds rolled off my tongue, harsh and alien at first, but after practicing them a thousand times, they were familiar friends.

So, with all the hundreds of thousands of words in our language, which are my favorites?

If you ask a parent “which child is your favorite,”what response do you get?

If you ask a chef what is their favorite taste, or flavor profile, what do they tell you?

Can an ornithologist choose their favorite bird? Will a philatelist be able to select a favored stamp?

My response would probably be the same as these: I don’t have a favorite because I love them all.

Words have power. They have depth. The can signify courage, fear; describe emotions and colors. They can make you think of a thousand reasons “why” and answer a thousand more times “why not?”

As a writer I use words to tell a story. But I use them for so much more, really.

Here’s a quick story: John meets Mary, falls in love with her, and they marry. Eleven words that tell a story. None of the words are repeated, all but two are monosyllabic, and yet they complete a circle – beginning to end.

It should be enough. But you know it’s not. How did John and Mary meet? Why did they, with the millions of other people on the planet to choose from, fall in love with each other? When did they marry? Who are their children? Their families? What do they do to make a living? All of this is the actual story  I can tell with – you got it – words.

Quite simply put, words make me happy. I like reading them on the page, speaking them out loud,  hearing them, learning them, using them and playing with them.

I can’t chose a favorite. It’s impossible for me. But then, maybe my favorite word is…words.

 

 

 

 

 

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You write WHAT?!?

For years I never told people my secret. I kept it between myself and my laptop. No one knew, suspected, or had any inkling what I did with my free time. Then one day, quite by accident,  I let it slip. The look I got from the person I told was comical and just this side of insulting.

“You write WHAT?!?” I was asked.

“Romance,” I replied.

“Why would you write that kind of book? You’re happily married and successful.”

I asked what that was supposed to mean and what connection it had to the kind of book I liked to write. The response floored me. “Romance books aren’t very interesting. I mean, the plot is always the same. Nothing new ever happens. They’re not very stimulating.”

Okay, did I say just this side of insulting? 

Romantic fiction has gotten a bum rap for a number of years, yet the sales statistics are staggering. Over 1.5 billion – that’s billion with a capital B – dollars in revenue in 2012. Compare that to its next highest competitor of mystery sales at just over 7 hundred million, and you can safely say romance sells. So why the bad rep? Why do people – professional writers included – feel that romance novels are the second class citizens of fiction?

You can probably get ten different reasons if you ask ten different people, but I’ll tell you the ones I’ve personally been told by friends and acquaintances.

“I don’t like books that have a lot of explicit sex in them.”

“The basic story line is always the same. The ending, predictable.”

“If I’m gonna buy a book,  I want to read about more than just  the two people in  the story.”

“I don’t like mushy writing.”

These are actually things that have been said to me when I asked. I’d like to address them individually.

“I don’t like books that have a lot of explicit sex in them.” This is so stereotypical that I’m pissed off I even have to address it. Romance novels come in all degrees of heat.  Everything from inspirational novels, where the two “love interests” don’t even kiss, to erotica, and everything in between. Some romance novelists are known for their heat level, jacking it up high and then cooling it down, just to fan it again. This is a normal romance roller coaster. The characters don’t hop into the sack on page one ( well, some authors in erotica do that). Their relationship grows in the novel until it reaches a point where the author either lets them act on their sexual attraction, or finds ways to keep them apart – interested – yet apart. It’s not all sesexsex on every page. That would be a boringly clinical book if it were, with nothing vested in the characters. You might as well read a sex manual.

“The basic story line is always the same. The ending predictable.”  Part of this statement has a smidge of truth – the last sentence. Almost all romance novels end the same way – with the heroine and hero discovering that they want to spend the rest of their days together. Marriage is usually the end product, but not always. The first part of the sentence is just flat out wrong. The basic story line of every romance novel is not the same. Sure, you have two main characters whom you’re rooting will fall in love, but how they get there, how they go on that journey, is different from book to book, character to character. Just like every person in real life is unique, every character in a novel is as well. Every person’s journey is unique, just like every character’s is. Nothing in life is predictable and neither are romance novels.

“If I’m gonna buy a book,  I want to read about more than just  the two people in  the story.”  This statement is surely made by a person who does not read romance. Yes, all romance books have two love interests. But just like in real life, there are people surrounding those main characters. Parents, siblings, friends, bosses, enemies and co-workers. Unless your story takes place on a deserted island and the main characters are shipwrecked, you’re gonna have more than two people in the story. Those secondary characters have their own story lines as well, again just like in real life. How they all intersect, intertwine and effect one another is the basis of sound story telling.

“I don’t like mushy writing.” Well, neither do I. Nor do I read it. What I read is dialogue that sounds natural, as if the two people were speaking in my own living room to one another. What I read is a plot that has a beginning, middle and resolution that satisfies me as the reader. I don’t read flowery sentences and purple prose, or any kind of drivel that makes no sense and makes my groan. I read well written, well plotted, superbly spoken works of talented writers. That these books have as their main premise a romance in them is frosting on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

Romance readers know what they want in a good story and romance writers strive to give them that with each and every book they pen. Numbers don’t lie and romance novels are here to stay.

Thank goodness for that.

 

 

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Building your Author Platform

Until a year ago I’d never heard this term before. What the heck is an author platform? And more importantly, why was I being told I needed one if I wanted to be a successful author?

In the barest sense of the word, a platform is something you stand up high on – like a stage – to be heard by people surrounding you. An author platform, therefore, is how you get heard. Makes sense. In the not too distant past, editors at publishing houses and the houses themselves promoted your book. They did the advertising, arranged author book signings and tours, morning chat show visits to let the world know you had a new work out and arranged for you to be interviewed by trade and popular magazines. Not any more. The houses themselves now run very low budgets for all these things so it is basically up to the author to sell their book to the public, unless you hire a publicist, which can be costly. And let’s face it, you want more than just your family and friends to read your book. You want to reach a wide audience and build a fan base so that when your next book comes out, you’ve already got willing readers who will put down the dollars to buy your work.

And how do you do that? How do you generate the buzz needed to inform people about your book? How do you sell that book? How do you reach the multitudes of readers you want to reach? By having An Author Platform.

In a really good article by Ali Luke “Why You Need an Author Platform – And how to Get one, she outlines three key ingredients in how to accomplish this from your laptop:

  • build a website
  • get a really strong and involved email list
  • use social media to the fullest

By doing just these three cyberworld things you can potentially reach more people than by attending any number of author signings or speaking engagements. A quick internet search drummed up over 100 articles on how to use social media to build your platform and all of them say the basic  three things that Luke does.

So, if you’re a media virgin, get going. If you dabble a little on Twitter or use Facebook to catch up with friends, go deeper and use it for announcements. There is this saying I  heard a few weeks ago: “You have to realize if you are talking to one person on facebook, you are really talking to hundreds.” Unless you have unbelievably rigorous security settings, this statement is true. Pinterest, LinkedIn, any number of sites will get you coverage. And a website is an absolute must these days.

In today’s world we live and exist on our computers, laptops, smart phones and notebook devices. We do business on them, we keep in touch through them. Why not make that work for you by helping you build that much needed and wanted fan base.

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