Monday, July 29, 2013

Listen to Your Reviewers

glass reflector sun catcher window art
My Glass Sunflower Suncatcher
One of the hardest things that any creative person has to go through is listening to another person critique their work. Usually, most people are kind and try to use pleasantries to soften the blow of their dislikes, but sometimes you get the rare bird that thinks they are smart when they let the world know just how bad you are and why. Well recently, I was reading through my author page on Amazon where I can read all of the reviews for my stories on one page. My reviews range from two stars to five stars and at first I frowned on the two stars until I read them a little more closely. Just about every slightly negative review mentioned that the story was too short.

Now most of my stories are written along the general guidelines for short stories. Wikipedia lists a short story as being under 7,500 words. So, if my length is within the boundaries, what's the problem? I think what my reviewers were saying is that they wanted more - they actually liked my stories and didn't want them to end. (Of course, I am not negating the fact that I still need to improve at my craft, but that is not my point here.)

So guess what? I am going to write more. That's all I can say for now, but stay tuned for future developments...

In the meantime, listen to your reviewers with an open mind and see if you can interpret what they are really saying.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fresh Off the Press

fiction, fantasy, short story, pine trees, oak tree hollowJust a quick note to mention that my latest story, Payter's House is now live on Amazon. You can get it for free download on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday as I introduce it to my readers.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Traveling to Write Like a Local

New England, fishing boats, coast, islands, Massachusetts
Trouants Island View
This weekend was a fun time for me as I traveled hundreds of miles north through several states up to the coast north of Cape Cod. Although the weather was extremely hot, (the car's thermometer read 105 degrees Fahrenheit) we had great air conditioning. Unfortunately our destination was almost as hot as home even though we jumped north over several degrees of latitude. In spite of feeling more than damp all the time, the trip was wonderfully refreshing.

Driving into an area where the plants are different, familiar foods are named strangely and everyone is speaking with an accent gives me a new background on which to write. I can read about other's travels, but when I experience a new location personally, there are so many more details that impress my memory. Writing about specific locations using real landmarks seems to add credibility and believability to fiction.

I was reading an article from National Geographic, Traveling like a Travel Writer where Robert Reid mentions that to really 'see' a place, sometimes it takes an outsider to look around. As a local, I see my own town in a certain way, often overlooking unique characteristics as they have become normal to me. While my husband drove, I could study the passing areas through my window - the ever driven women running in their exercise suits, homeless men that looked like they just stepped off a ship, different kinds of seagulls circling overhead, endless miles of rock walls and interesting road signs. (Why do snow plow drivers need a sign before every bridge telling them to take caution?)

If you find yourself unable to find inspiration from your local area, try a little traveling. When you come home, you will see things a little differently and might be able to write more effectively as a 'local' but through the lens of a traveler.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Keep Up To Date

foggy morning, Chesapeake Bay, lighthouse, Heide Braley, Maryland
North East Park Lighthouse Pavilion
One of the things that authors and anyone else with an online presence needs to do is to actively keep their pages up to date. In the business of everyday, I forget that people who only see me through an online page, only see the last picture I posted or the last link I left. If there are no changes within a lapsed window of time, the page seems static and out of date.

Today, I took my own advice from last week,  and made the time to update my Amazon Author Page with my newest information. It really didn't take me much effort, but for the possible reader in the deep recesses of the jungles of Brazil, my page might seem like it came back to life!

Obviously, everything that happens in my personal life will not show up online, but choosing events that apply to my life as a writer add interest and variation to my online presence. So, check it out today, Amazon Author Page/Heide Braley and then come back in a while and see if I am keeping to my goal of staying up to date.

Meanwhile, my second book is almost ready to go to print! Stay tuned.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Becoming Popular Online

short story, fiction, mystery, romance, fun, exciting, Chesapeake Bay
On Amazon now
One of the things that I never even thought about when I wrote my first book was that I had to sell the book. Don’t ask me why, but my only focus was getting the book written. I was more than surprised when somehow my handiwork didn’t sell immediately and people asked me how I planned to sell the book. I now realize that I wasn’t the only writer that thought this way.

Marketing your book so that you achieve the goals you have set takes time and effort. Thankfully, we live in a time when using the internet reaches people from all over the globe. On the site, The BookDesigner, the author mentions that creating a social platform where folks can read about you, the author, as well as your review of your work will help "level the playing field." In essence, you have every chance of becoming popular online if you take the time to get your name out there.

I found the site, CreateSpace, for my second book, The Meanderings of A Pen, and publishing became easier than I ever imagined. Amazon created the site to provide inventory freedom, free tools, professional services and support as you work through the publishing and marketing process. Then, I used their Kindle publishing site, Kindle Direct Publishing to publish in a Kindle format for easier viewing.

Link your social platform with others in the same field as your book marketing audience. I used Google Blogger for their free blogger pages. This will help them see your name and hopefully get them to read your writing. Another popular term used for this is networking. When you read someone's blog or an article written that peaks your interest, make a comment and have your signature link back to your personal page (your platform). For instance, Carolyn McCray has a great article, Best Practices for Amazon Ebook Sales, where she gives practical advice about setting up your author page on Amazon. Lots of people will read that article and even the comments so it only makes sense to go where the interest is.

There are so many ways of becoming popular online and these are just a couple of tidbits that should help move the sales of your book. Just don't sit back and wait or you might end up stacking unsold books in your garage.

Have fun!