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Messages - Piano Jenny

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1
Writers' Cafe / Re: Rant: Stop telling me you like my book!
« on: February 20, 2018, 06:11:04 PM »
I'm just amazed that you guys actually have friends and family that read your books. :o

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it wrong for me to choose a life of privacy?
« on: February 20, 2018, 10:35:14 AM »
Personally, I'm not that nosy to wonder what authors look like.  Half the time I don't even know if the author of a book I'm reading is male or female.

I do enjoy seeing the authorís photo. I donít think that makes me nosy. If someone is communicating something to me for hours, I like to have some feeling of who the heck they are. It certainly isnít a requirement, but I do prefer it and it improves my feeling of connection with that author. It also helps me remember them better for the future.

Of course, the OP should do what they feel comfortable with, and it appears that many readers donít care ó which frankly, surprises me, but there it is. Just offering my own perspective since the question was asked,

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it wrong for me to choose a life of privacy?
« on: February 19, 2018, 10:04:50 AM »
While certainly you can be as private as you choose, I wanted to weigh in to say that I, for one, always DO like seeing author photos. The more, the better, and if I can see them in a video, even better! I like feeling connected to the author personally, and to me photos go a long way.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I had some mixed feelings about a certain author, but felt driven to read more books by her because I saw her in some videos I thought were funny and thought her blog was personable. I probably would have stopped after the first book or two if that hadn't been the case.

But I'm obviously in the minority on that one.

4
'Finding the story' sounds more like pantsing to me. Are you sure the outlining process is working for you? Usually, from my understanding, outliners have thought out all the various plot points and ensured they make sense before they start writing. The work is done upfront to ensure a solid story and the writing is more like filling in the blanks which should go much faster with few revisions to the original outline.

I consider myself a pantser because no matter how well I outline, it gets tossed out the window as soon as my characters begin their adventure. This is because I don't really know them well enough until I begin writing them in situations. Then, I realize they wouldn't do that, or they'd do this, or new stuff pops into my mind that enhances the drama. About the only things that carry through the outlining phase are the planned character growth arcs and major conflict points.

I guess you should take time to step outside yourself and analyze your process to see what's going on. Then decide if you need or even want to make changes. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. I think people get bogged down in word counts without remembering that this is a creative, artistic process and nobody is going to do things exactly the same way. We each have to find out what works best for ourselves. That it's ok to try other things, but also ok to be inefficient, slow, fast, pantsing, outlining, heavy editing at the end, at the beginning, rewriting ten times, or whatever.


Thanks for all the responses. The more I think about it, the more I think a lot of my problem is from worrying what I "should" be doing, and panicking that "the only way to get any success is to produce books quickly -- and if you don't, you'd better start writing faster, faster, faster!"

Hopefully my production speed will improve for me in time, but I need to stop being stressed and discouraged about it.

As far as my outlining, I outline using Libbie Hawker's method of the story core, characters, et. Then when I get to the actually scenes and plotting, I start morphing over into the Save the Cat structure. Those have been a huge help to me.

But yeah, I guess I do pants quite a bit as well, within that framework.

When I do the actual writing, character's names and personalities change, and the details change quite a bit. For example, in one story the "first date" was at a fancy Italian restaurant, but then it turned into a Chinese restaurant where they were laughing over using chopsticks and intrigued by the romantic fortune in the cookie. That's the kind of stuff that's not in my outline that takes some time for me to "discover."

I also edit as I go. There is no "rough draft" that I read through and edit from start to finish.

Again, thanks for all the responses. It helps to know I'm not doing it "wrong" and that I shouldn't feel embarrassed by my process.


5
Writers' Cafe / Re: Layoffs at B&N stores
« on: February 17, 2018, 06:19:07 AM »

I was thinking too about how books used to be handed down. Think of the classics your picked up from a great aunt or uncle, they read when they were a child and somehow you ended up with it, and how they came to be a treasured part of your childhood. I'm sure most of us have that memory, and probably still have the books, somewhere.

Wow.
No, Iíve never experienced anything remotely like that.

It does sound lovely, though.

6
Same here.

People will treat us the way we treat ourselves.

Our words have power (we're writers...we should all know this!). I started indie publishing waaaayyyyyy back in 2004. Even then, I never had people treat me poorly. But I never told people I "self-published." I told them that "I launched a micro-press." I've never been a "self-publisher." I'm a business woman. In publishing, I have always conducted myself as a professional. Even when I didn't have my crap together and my world was falling apart around me...professionally I have always put forth professional conduct.

I think sometimes authors get too wrapped up in "selling" the validity of self-publishing instead of just running their business professionally. People will treat you the way you present yourself. If your focus is on "self-publishing" then you are a self-publisher and that is how people will treat you. If you are focused on being a publishing professional, then people will treat you differently. Some folks spend more time worrying about what "people" (whomever that might be) think about self-publishing in general instead of focusing on their own professional image.

It is actually sort of funny. I have stood in rooms full of writers and watched authors so earnest to justify why they self-published instead of just "talking shop" about the business with everyone else. The more you act like you need others to validate your decision, the more likely people will do the opposite.

I've never used the term "self-published" either. Even when people asked me, "Oh, did you self-publish?" I tend to say, "Well ... it's an indie published book." (To me, a "self-published book" is an unedited word document uploaded to Amazon with an obviously homemade cover, and yes, I personally knew someone who did just that.)

To clarify a little, I don't think anyone ever actually used the words "how cute" in response to my books. But it is disappointing how some people have been downright indifferent (see above) and very few people seems ... well, impressed.

Or not as impressed as I'd like them to be anyway! But maybe that is just expecting too much.

 

7
I have a checklist of my typical screw ups. It's about eight items.

Do you mind sharing what any of them are?

8
I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you mean the editing process is slow, or when you go back to add more detail? Is it the formatting?

I start out with my book already formatted as in .3 paragraph indent, right justified, etc. I also use word text to speech to read it to me, which helps finding missing and wrong words. Don't know if that helps.


It's not the formatting. It's kinda what Flay Otter was talking about.

It's sort of editing, but much more than that. It's more like "finding the story."

For example, last August I spent a couple weeks writing several thousand words attacking a specific idea through all angles. I wrote outlines, tried different scenes, changed minor details ... and then finally decided it wasn't working. I didn't like the character, the motivations didn't make sense, etc.

So I *wrote* a lot of words, and at a decent speed too. But ultimately I *produced* nothing.

Other examples are throwing out scenes that ultimately don't fit, re-doing parts because the character morphed, going in a direction that doesn't seem to be working and having to backtrack ... that kind of thing.

Maybe that's normal. Or maybe not. I know one very popular indie author said in a video, "I never delete words ... I mean, not like whole paragraphs ... because if I did, well, then I just wasted my time."

So I unintentionally waste a lot of time!

(I think part of my problem may be that I'm comparing myself to others too much. I keep reading about successful indies who write fast, then edit for a week or two, and they're done. I'm soooo far from that kind of process!)

Oh, and BTW, yes, I always do outline. I can't imagine pantsing.

9
What about ranking on Amazon? Can you make any comparisons?


Her Kindle ranking has been in the 700,000s for months now (it's been over a year now since the book came out). But I bet most of her sales have been paperback as opposed to ebook.

Her paperback ranking on Amazon is currently at about a million -- but again, it's been a while. Earlier it was in the mid-hundreds of thousands. I have no idea what that translates to in paperback sales.

And I have no idea what she's sold in bookstores or to libraries, etc.

10
But who is making the most money?  :D

Good question that I've definitely tried to figure out the answer to, ha ha!  :)

Presumably, she hasn't had any out-of-pocket costs for editing, book covers, promotions, etc. so for that reason alone she has probably come out ahead of me on the money side of things. She did fly to two different cities with her publisher to give away signed ARC copies at BEA and some other librarian convention, and I always wondered if the publisher paid her way, but I'm not <i>quite</i> rude enough to ask.

I have no idea how many copies she sold, although I can't imagine it was more than ... I dunno, a few thousand at most ...? I do know her book was in at least some bookstores. And I will say that it got very positive Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviews.

Over a year later, I have more books out (and hopefully one soon on the way) while she does not (yet). If that continues, I'm guessing I would eventually out-earn her unless her next book is a huge hit.

Not that I'm competitive or anything ... (cough)

11
Completely understand, same here.
I whined about it once in another thread - it helped my wounded psyche for a while to hear that there were others in the same boat.
For me, whacking together the deathless prose is pretty easy; it's thinking up the plot, subplots, characters, twists, turns and general story stuff that actually makes the book interesting to all but MFAs that is difficult.
I'm not sure there's anything you can do about that.
And to be honest we aren't writers we are story tellers. So it's the story that's paramount and that's the hard part, right?
Don't give up, most of those "real" writers only manage a book a year, so beat that and you're ahead of the game.

Thanks. Do you have the link to the other thread? Maybe that will help.

12
I've written about this before, but I never thought of wording it quite that way until this week.

I've often considered myself a "slow" writer and said that I wished I could "write faster." But I recently realized that isn't really true. I do, in fact, write fairly fast. I've read Chris's book (as well as Rachel's) and have done the exercises, and done many many sprints. Whenever I've done sprints with other writers, I'm usually the winner with the highest word count My typing speed doesn't hold me back, either -- I forget the exact WPM, but I know it's considered above average.

But even though I can bang out hundreds of words in twenty minutes no problem and "won" NaNoWriMo without much stress ... it takes me months and months to actually *produce* a finished novella.

Is anyone else like this? Should I keep writing, and in time it will improve? Are there any exercises I can do to build that skill?

All I ever hear about is how to improve your writing speed, and how many words you can write in an hour. But that isn't really my problem. It's having those words actually amount to something finished, that actually makes sense and is something readable, that takes forever.

13
This thread for instance. Does anyone really think a trad book always does well? You would have to be living under a rock to think that. And quantify 'well.'

People here probably don't think it, but I bet most of the general public does.

An old high school friend of mine had a book published by a small press the same year that I self-published my first book. The difference in reactions we got from people was striking.

Our old high school announced her book release on social media and asked her to travel from another state to come speak to the students. She never even contacted them; they somehow found out about the book and contacted her.

I, on the other hand, wrote to the principal, school librarian, and music teacher (the book was about a musician) introducing myself as a former student who had just written my first book and either offering or including a free copy of the book. Two people never replied, and the one who did gave me a polite but brusque brush-off. (I sent a signed copy and a letter to the school librarian about a funny memory I had at the library when I was a teen, and she never even wrote me an email to say thanks. I have to admit, that hurt.)

On FB old classmates fawned over my friend, asking her to please sign their copies of the book for them. Countless people took pictures of their copies of the book when they received it and posted the pictures on FB. They asked her how it felt to be an author, made comments about how she was "living the dream," etc. They treated her like a celebrity.

(Mind you, this was even when the book was only available for pre-order and had absolutely no reviews or excerpts out, so they technically didn't even know if the book was any good yet.)

The same people, and other people in my life, had little or nothing to say about my book (and even to less about the announcement of my subsequent books.)

And that was not even a Big 5 trad deal, just a small press in North Carolina.

My point is not to whine about it -- although, yes, it hurt, and was also a little embarrassing. And I really would have loved to speak to kids at my old high school.

But my point is that I suspect most "normal people" think Book Contract with Publisher=Fame, Fortune, and Success.
Book You Published Yourself With Professional Cover and Editing=How cute.

14
Writers' Cafe / Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« on: February 12, 2018, 03:43:38 PM »
I hope you're now playing fun musical things!

Yes, and actually that could be a topic for a whole other thread.

Now I'm a free-lance working musician -- and I never play anything remotely like what I had to do in college!

The closest I get to that is when I play for a choir. But the bulk of what I had to do in college, and what we got graded on, was playing classical solo pieces, completely from memory

Guess how many times someone has contacted me asking me to do that? Um ... never. And why would they?

In contrast -- next week I'm getting paid $400 to play a slew of Disney songs for a wedding -- plus some WWF song; I think it's called "Glorious." None of it will be memorized, because thankfully nobody cares.

Kind of funny when you think about it.


PS -- When I play purely for myself, I really like to play Billy Joel.


15
Writers' Cafe / Re: I want to write everything...and nothing.
« on: February 12, 2018, 01:05:12 PM »
I read this in Cookie Monster's voice...made it seem more wise somehow.

Of course it did -- Cookie Monster is also Yoda!  :)

16
Writers' Cafe / My sudden insight about music and writing
« on: February 12, 2018, 08:53:31 AM »
This morning I briefly saw the post about "wanting to write everything and nothing" and had a sudden stroke of insight.

In college I was a music major. I deliberately did not play any kind of pop music or "fun" stuff I liked during the school year, as I thought that would be "goofing off" and that I needed to focus on the music for my exams. During my senior year someone even introduced me to some jazz progressions and exercises, and I thought to myself, "That sounds fun, but I can't work on something like that right now. I have to focus my energy on passing my senior recital."

I thought I was being responsible and disciplined by making those choices. No one ever suggested otherwise. In fact, I'm quite sure my piano professor would have been unhappy if she knew I had been in the practice rooms playing James Taylor and Indigo Girls songs.

BUT now when I look back, that is so sad to me. Playing around with jazz and rock and playing things "just for fun" wouldn't have hurt my exams and recitals at all. I would have played more overall, I think, instead of "taking away" time from anything.

Not only that, but it would have helped me grow a lot as a musician. In fact, if I were a piano professor, I would regularly encourage my students to play things that had nothing to do with their official studies, and to get their hands on songs of all different styles to play around with.

It wasn't until this morning that it occurred to me that writing might be the same way.

When I'm working on something, I feel like I have to "stay focused" and "use my writing time" for my WIP.

But what if I also allowed some time for pure play? What if I wrote things that may or may not ever go beyond the first page? What if I tried writing in a different genre for 20 minutes, even if I had no intention of ever finishing it, or even any intention of it being any good? What if I found some random prompt that had nothing to do with my WIP and spewed out something from it, for my eyes only?

Interestingly, that was how I used to write as a kid. I would just have an idea and scribble something in a notebook for a page or two. I also finished stories, but it never occurred to me to debate whether an idea would go anywhere, or if I had an entire plot, or even to wonder if it was any good. I just wrote what I wanted, for as long as I wanted.

Does this resonate with anyone? Maybe I'm just saying something that everyone else always knows, but for me it was eye-opening. Any thoughts?


17
Writers' Cafe / Recommendations for Swag Gift Giveaway Prize?
« on: February 06, 2018, 05:53:23 AM »
Hey guys, next month I am taking part in a group giveaway where we each has to contribute a "swag gift." I've never done that before and am looking for ideas that are kinda cute and fun and different. My genre is sweet romance.

18
Writers' Cafe / Re: Funny comments and questions from book signing events
« on: February 05, 2018, 08:32:50 AM »
Once I spoke at a local Emerging Author Event at the local bookstore. It was about my book about being a wedding musician.
When it was time to take questions, a man asked, "Who is the most famous person that you ever played for?"

I thought to myself, obviously you've gotten the impression that I'm more important that I really am.
The best answer I could give him is that when I was a music teacher, Raven Symone was a student at my school and I spoke to her once. :)

19
Writers' Cafe / Re: I can't figure out why my novel isn't selling
« on: February 04, 2018, 11:19:23 AM »
I'd say chalk this up as a learning experience and stop spending money on it. The readership isn't there. Indie lit fic is hard enough to sell, but when it's the same story we've all read a hundred times...

As someone who had to do this myself, I agree.

I know that sounds horrible when you've worked so hard and spent so much money, but there's no point in focusing much more on this book. My first book was not any real genre. (It had other problems too.) And I'd had multiple stories and articles published in various magazines before then, so it wasn't like I knew nothing about writing.

For myself, I had to learn more about plotting (the book Save the Cat was a huge help to me) and shift my writing so it felt better into an actual, with an appropriate cover to match. The next books did a lot better -- not amazing, but much better sales and reviews than the first.

When you publish the first book, it feels like, "Ta-Da! I'm finally here!" In actuality for a lot of us, though, it's really the first step.

But first steps are a good thing.

Best of luck.

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance Trope: Same Scene from Two POVs
« on: February 03, 2018, 09:47:40 AM »
Yes, exactly. In my case, one is a jewel thief who needs to keep her identity secret, and the other has hidden and nefarious motives that won't be revealed until later.

C'mon guys, no good examples? I read a romance book that does this--the woman had a St. Bernard dog--but I can't remember the title or author.

Kissing Frogs by Rich Amooi?

21
I tried this a couple months ago -- sent a couple emails to my list saying it would be a great idea for Christmas gifts, and even gave suggestions of which of my books would be good for which people in their lives. I also offered some sort of "bundle package" to make it more appealing to buy multiple books.

My mailing list was about 1400 and I keep them pretty regularly engaged, but only one person even responded to these emails. She wanted to boy a couple signed books, but I live in the US and she lived in Australia and we both decided that the shipping costs weren't worth it.

So that was it.

I still think it's a good idea, though, at least in theory. You should try it.

22
Writers' Cafe / How many *hours* does it take you to write a book?
« on: January 24, 2018, 06:01:02 PM »
I'm trying to come up with a schedule to successfully meet my next deadline, and it occurred to me to question how many hours it will take me. (Answer: I have no idea.)

Have you ever calculated or estimated how many actual hours it takes for you to write a book, from the time you start jotting down your first thoughts or outline to when you have something ready to send to an editor (or start formatting, if you don't use an outside editor)?

23
Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance Series Starters Promo
« on: January 23, 2018, 09:19:08 AM »
Thanks Christa -- just signed up!

24
Writers' Cafe / Re: Getting newsletter signups
« on: January 22, 2018, 07:05:58 AM »
These are good ideas.
I've also gotten over 200 subscribers from doing free promos with My Book Cave. Those folks are more engaged and stick around longer than the ones who signed up through Instafreebie.

25
Writers' Cafe / Re: In Need of Encouragement
« on: January 19, 2018, 08:59:55 AM »

Stick to the promotional outlets that give you a good ROI for your money.

What would those be, in your opinion? Thanks.

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