Tag Archive | authors

Why I Love To Give Free Stuff

I’ve been giving stuff away lately, and I have to admit, it feels pretty good! And I’m not even concerned about getting anything back. That’s the best way to give, isn’t it? Pay it forward and all that. So when I give I try to do so with pure intentions and hope karma does the rest.

Free Works, Apparently

I was pleasantly surprised this month when I had my “free days” on Amazon. My first book, Unexplained, had almost four thousand downloads! I had run some promotions on social media and a few newsletters, and it seems to have paid off. All three of my Higher Elevation Series books are in Kindle Unlimited right now, and the sales and page reads have been better than I ever expected. The idea of giving away that many copies felt weird to me at first, but at least my books are out there, finding an audience. So I consider this a win.

I’ve also given away paperback copies, signed, of course. I ran Goodreads Giveaways, I gave away books through my Facebook Group, Renee Regent’s Readers. I gave away an Amazon gift card when I did a takeover on Facebook. This is nothing new, authors have been doing this and more for years, but I never realized how good it would feel to do it. I knew giving things away was a good business strategy, but it’s more than that. It’s something I actually look forward to. Even though it’s common now to hand out swag and free books, people still get excited about it, and for me, seeing their excitement is the fun part.

But Wait, There’s More!

All this giving away of goodies had me thinking, “What else can I give?” While looking through the statistics report of my blog for ideas, I decided to compile a free mini ebook. Or two. Well, I ended up with five, actually!

I’ve been blogging since 2013, and according to WordPress, I have over 2,400 followers. I’ve written over one hundred posts on various topics, some of which have been viewed thousands of times. I love blogging and have covered diverse topics over the years, so I compiled some of my most popular posts into mini ebooks by subject. They’re a quick, easy read, and I hope readers will find them fun and informative. Here’s a rundown:

Romance Novel Trends– a (sometimes humorous) look at the trends shaping Romance Novels today, from those ubiquitous “Ab Covers” to Seasoned Romance

Writing Tips on Marketing– the elusive Holy Grail of discoverability, and ways to find it

Writing Tips on Craft– Useful and practical information I’ve learned along the way. I put myself through the ringer so you don’t have to!

Supernatural/Metaphysical– curious about the Law of Attraction? Wondering if ghosts are real? Find out in this exploration of the unexplained, which often end up in my stories

From the Heart– In which I share stories from my real life experiences. There’s some humor, some heartbreak, and of course, love.

 

Whether you are a writer, a reader, or both, I hope you’ll find something interesting in these posts. They are available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. If interested, you can sign up here.

There’s also a page on my website called “Free Reads”, where you can read the first chapter of Unexplained.

When it comes to giving, I feel like I’m just getting started. I have plenty of stories and blog posts still in my head, so don’t worry, there’s more to come. If you were one of the readers who downloaded or bought my books, or read them on KU these past few weeks, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

That’s the best gift anyone could give me.

 

 

 

Making Peace With Unfinished Stories

How many unfinished stories does the average author have?

I recently took inventory of all the stories I’ve written, and was surprised to find how many I had started and not finished. I have published three novels so far, so finishing a draft in general is not a problem for me. Some stories seem take hold of me and I can’t rest until they are done, and others, not so much. But that pile of unfinished manuscripts has been staring at me almost as hard as my TBR (to be read) pile, and it made me wonder if there was a common thread, a particular reason why those stories didn’t get finished. Was there something wrong, or is it normal to have a backlog of unfinished work?

The Consensus
I polled several authors, both traditionally and indie published, and their answers surprised me. Just as every author’s writing process is different, so is their approach to finishing drafts. Here’s what I found:

Some or none? A few authors said they always finish what they started, but the majority did have at least some unfinished drafts, with the average being around 4-5. One prolific author had twenty-four drafts set aside.

Plotter or pantser? Some voiced the thought that having unfinished stories may have to do with being a “plotter” or “pantser” style of writer, but I saw no discernable trends in that regard.

Will they go back and finish? Most planned to finish their stories at some point, but some chalked it up to learning their craft. Only one person reported they had deleted their old drafts. Several authors mentioned having gone back to old manuscripts and rewriting them into successful books. Personally, I agree with keeping everything─you never know what might work in the future and there could be gold in those old manuscripts.

Does it bother them? Having unfinished stories has been bothering me, so I asked if others felt the same. Again, it depended on the author’s perspective. A few said it bothered them to have the unfinished stories, but others said they kept their main focus on what they were currently working on and had no time or energy to worry about anything else.

Why didn’t you finish? Many reported they loved their unfinished stories but set them aside for more saleable projects. For example, they got a contract on an earlier work, or had to keep working on a series, got an idea for a currently popular genre, etc. You have to go where the money is! But some authors said that certain stories just won’t come together, no matter how much you love the premise or the characters. It doesn’t mean the story is hopeless, though. Ideas for the stalled story could still come at any time.

 

The Conclusion
This exercise did tell me a few things about myself as a writer. First, I’m not alone or abnormal. Not finishing a draft or not using a completed draft is a natural part of the business. As long as you keep working, keep moving forward, it’s all just your body of work.
Taking time to examine my unfinished stories helped me in other ways, too. I was able to discern the common themes running through my work, and see the development of my voice. I can see how I’ve progressed with plotting and character development.

So I’m not as worried now about those languishing drafts, but sometimes the characters of those unfinished works start prompting me to get back to “their” story. I feel so guilty─I have let them down! But I guess I’ll just have to make peace with the fact I may never finish them all, and that’s okay.

How many unfinished stories do you have? Does it bother you?

 

Post-Publication Syndrome- Now What?

attractive woman with laptop having neck pain

You’ve worked hard for months, maybe even years, on your first book. You’ve dreamed of the day you can finally say, “I’m a published author”, and it’s finally here. You had the launch party, your friends and family have congratulated you. You’ve finally made it, your dream has come true.

So now what?

Preparing for that day, which I experienced in October 2016, I tried to imagine what I would do, how it would feel. I asked other authors, I read blog posts and craft books. Most of them said it’s a wonderful thing, and some of them warned that it was just the beginning of even more work and additional challenges. I understood, and was ready and willing to take it on and do the work. But there was something no one told me about. Or, maybe they did, but in my push to get published, I dismissed it.

I’m talking about The Let Down. The Post-Publication Blues. I’ve got it, and I didn’t see it coming.

Mission Accomplished

Now, I’m a practical sort of person. I had no dreams of grandeur, I didn’t expect to be a best seller or even a good seller out of the gate. I’m a business person, an entrepreneur, so I know I’m selling a product and it will take time to find buyers (readers). I’m not feeling down due to lack of sales or recognition.  With time, and perseverance, (and spending money on marketing) it can improve.

It’s just…I accomplished what I set out to, and now I have this sense of loss. It’s purely emotional, and not what I expected to feel at this point in my career.  How I went from hopeful enthusiasm to…a general lack of enthusiasm in such a short time is beyond me. I love my stories, I believe they are worth reading. I haven’t had many reviews yet, but so far they have all been positive. My negative feelings have nothing to do with the work I have published to date. It’s more to do with expectations and realities, and the emotions that go along with them.

So Back to Work…Right?

Being practical, I knew the best thing I could do right now, besides promoting my newly published series (Higher Elevation, Books 1-3), is to keep writing.  I had several projects on the back burner while the Higher Elevation Series was being published, so all I had to do was pick up where I left off.  I needed to get the pipeline going again.  But that proved easier said than done, and I found my post-publication blues were effecting my ability to write. I’d get going and then I’d stall.  I found myself procrastinating, which I rarely did before. Used to be I couldn’t wait to do something, anything writing-related.

It didn’t help that I’d spent the better part of this year editing, rewriting, and all the other business that comes with Indie publication.  My creative muse had been exiled, and when I asked her to get back to work, she had less enthusiasm than I did.  Clearly, something has gone wrong.

What’s Next?

One thing I know I won’t do, is give up. Writing is like breathing to me, so I will keep going, even if the muse stays in exile. And I know negative emotions are usually temporary. But any advice or tips from other writers are welcome. I doubt I am the only one to ever go through this!

Do I just need time off from writing? Or should I push myself and hope it will work itself out?  Have any authors out there experienced a sense of disappointment or loss, even after achieving success? How have you worked through it?

 

Seven Things To Consider Before Submitting Your Writing For Critique

Woman Thinking

Are you nervous about having your writing critiqued?  Welcome to the club.

Just like reading reviews of your work, critiques are one of those things that most writers get nervous about. In my experience, though, critique, both positive and negative, is a powerful tool for improving one’s skills.

A friend who is just starting out recently joined our writer’s group. She was asking about how we approached critiques, and confessed to being a bit nervous about submitting her work. We assured her our goal was to be helpful and considerate at the same time, an approach we have refined over the years. Then a discussion ensued on the differences between helpful and potentially hurtful criticism.

Several of us have been on the receiving end of criticism by our peers which we found less than helpful.  We’ve also had feedback that was inspiring and constructive. My friend asked for more specific advice, so I mentioned my previous blog post on the subject, How To Survive A Negative Critique. Her question called to mind some other things I have learned in the past five years I have been attending my critique group, and I thought it might be helpful to new writers to share some things to consider before they submit their work:

Just Do It. Writing without feedback is writing in a vacuum. Being nervous is normal, but you won’t overcome it unless you put your precious words in front of some eyeballs. When you finally do become published, you will be judged by the entire world, so starting out with a few writers you know is a relatively safe way to begin. You may actually waste more time by writing without ever getting feedback, and end up having much more to correct and edit in the long run.

Start small. Start by submitting something short─a scene you are working on, or a first chapter. First chapters are actually great to start with, since the opening of a story is considered to be the most important part, and also the most difficult thing to do properly. New writers have a tendency to start the story in the wrong place as well, so don’t be surprised if someone points that out. Writing great openings takes practice, and feedback can help you to learn how to do that more efficiently and sooner.

Baby Steps. By starting with something small, you are not facing judgement of the entire project. Learning to take criticism and use it wisely takes practice. Separating your emotions from the feedback takes practice, too, as we tend to identify closely with our work when just starting out. The more you write, your perspective changes and you realize you can always fix what you wrote, or write some more. You will learn over time how to discern which feedback is structural (plot issues, grammar problems, etc) and which is subjective (the person giving the feedback is filtering through their own tastes).

Submit Clean. Always clean up your work before submitting! Go over it multiple times, use a grammar guide, run a spell check. No, it does not have to be perfect, but clean it up to the best of your ability. I’ve had to critique some work where the premise was exciting and interesting, but the grammar, spelling and general writing was so bad that it was difficult to understand what was happening. Some folks think, “I’ll clean it up after they critique so I don’t have to do it twice”.  No. Just don’t do that. It is a disservice to others who are taking the time to provide feedback when there are a billion other things they could be doing. Have courtesy for your readers, even when your work is in a “raw” stage.

-Alpha Readers. If you have cleaned up your work and edited it to the best of your ability, but you feel you still need major help with grammar and structural issues, consider submitting it to only one or two trusted writer friends. Family and non-writer friends may not give you the kind of feedback you need at this stage. They might be overly kind or overly harsh, depending on the relationship, or they may give neutral feedback to avoid saying anything. One or two trusted writer friends may be able to point out what needs to be done to prepare your work sample so you can submit it to a larger group for feedback.

Fair Balance. Be willing to provide feedback to others. Yes, this means taking the time to read their work and give thoughtful feedback. This process provides tremendous insight as to what to look for in your own work, and helps you to realize others are being brave and putting their work out there. Even though it sometimes made me uncomfortable, I submitted my writing to my critique groups and beta readers as often as I could.  I also reviewed the work of others as often as I could. A successful critique group requires this balance. If certain members only review others, and never submit their own work, or keep submitting but never offer critique to others, it can cause discomfort among the group. Besides, those who only do one or the other are missing out on half of the purpose of critiquing─to become a better writer.

Be Specific. When asking for feedback, indicate what you are looking for. If it is just a general impression, say so, but it will help you to consider what you are looking for specifically. Examples might be: Does this opening hook you? Does the dialogue in this scene sound natural? How much work do I need to do to clean up my grammar?  Is there too much backstory?

 

Taking it step by step will help you to build your confidence so that when you do get that first truly negative critique you’ve been fearing, it won’t hurt as much. You’ll be better equipped to take it for what it is worth, and learn from it.

I hope this helps those of you who are new to writing.  I still have a long way to go, and I will soon be facing the next level of critique of my work─the general public. I am sure to learn from that experience as well. Wish me luck!  I wish luck and great learning for all of you.

 

 

Becoming an Author-Entrepreneur- The First Steps

Empty Road At Sunset And Sign For Success In Blurred Motion

Want to find out if you’ve got what it takes to become an Author Entrepreneur?

I’m honored to be a guest on Jami Gold’s blog today, discussing the first steps to becoming an entrepreneur in the field of Indie publishing. It’s not as hard as you might think, but there’s still a lot to consider before you jump in.  And whether you are going with the traditional route of publishing, or self-publishing, chances are you will be handling many tasks on your own which require entrepreneurial skills.

Here’s the link to Jami’s blog: http://jamigold.com/2016/06/are-you-ready-to-be-an-entrepreneur-guest-renee-regent/

If you’ve never visited her blog before, you should─it’s always informative, but in a friendly, laid back way. Jami has a knack for digging through the layers of a subject, to find out why the topic matters. Her website has been designated as one of the 100 best Websites For Writers, in 2015. So, it is quite an honor to have my debut guest post on her blog!

If you are interested in the business side of writing, I plan to explore this topic more in the future, as I progress through the journey of my writing career.  As a lifelong entrepreneur, I am excited about the ever-expanding field of publishing, and hope you’ll join me. I’d love to hear of your experiences, too, so feel free to comment or drop me a line at reneeregent@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

Reader’s Pet Peeves- Why Writers Should Care

Not again!

Everyone has different tastes when it comes to reading. What one person enjoys, might make another reader want to fling the book or their e-reader across the room. Authors certainly can’t please everyone, so how much should they be concerned about reader’s pet peeves?
Common Complaints
A recent internet search revealed several articles and forum rants about various reader’s pet peeves. I focused on the Romance genre, but some also applied to fiction in general. After reading several, I found a few common themes to their rants:
Cliffhangers– this puzzled me because I have heard of authors still doing this, and that some readers don’t mind it, eagerly awaiting the next installment. But those who do hate it are vocal about their frustration. I am one of them, and I wrote a post awhile back on the subject, “When Romance Novels Finish Before You Do.”

Lack of Editing– This has become more prevalent with online publishing. Even traditionally published books have an error now and then, but when it becomes so noticeable it takes the reader out of the story, it’s a problem. Some readers are more forgiving, but there are ways to avoid this and ensure the product (book) is as accurate as possible before publication.

Clichés- This should be a given, but they still make their way into some stories. If you have to put one in your story, figure out a twist to make it ironic, humorous, or some other method to make it useful. Otherwise, leave it out.

Overused Tropes– the ironic thing here is, some readers love certain tropes and never get tired of them. So maybe the trick is, as with the cliché, to find some type of twist or fresh take on it. Maybe combine two or three? Take a trope from one genre and use it in another?

Inconsistencies- from timeline troubles to characters who change hair color randomly, readers notice details. After all, details are what draws them into the story. Keeping a list or series bible can help avoid these types of problems.

 

My Personal Peeve
It seems like it should be common sense to avoid such things as cliché’s or overdone tropes, but the fact there are articles and people on forums ranting about them, indicates they happen with some frequency. So, here’s my question:
If an author is successful, and sells well, do they get a pass on committing the “sins” that drive some readers crazy?
I can think of several recent examples of books that have sold extremely well, best sellers, which contained cliché’s, cliffhangers, overused tropes and/or inconsistencies. Can you? Apparently, these “problems” are enough to irritate readers, but not enough to keep them from being published and promoted.
Here’s what brought this subject to my mind, prompting this post- I was with a friend at a bookstore recently, when I told her I had never read anything by a certain author who is considered the Queen of Romance Novels. I wanted her recommendation on the best one to start with, because I wanted to see what made this author so popular. I took my friend’s advice, and started reading the book that night.
It was a story about an old haunted southern mansion, right up my alley. I loved the descriptions, the setting, the author’s voice; her characters were engaging. But by the end of the second chapter, I was irritated because of the constant head-hopping!
Yes, the author is a celebrated, multi- NYTBSA, and she has the skill to “pull it off” as my friend pointed out when I complained. Yes, the author does pull it off, meaning, it doesn’t hurt the story, but it annoys me because I never know whose head we are going to be in from moment to moment. Then I become hyper-aware of it, watching for the change. Often I end up re-reading portions because the change is abrupt enough to pull me out of the story. In addition, I feel it makes it more difficult to get deep into the character’s head when POV switches frequently.
Writers Gonna Write
My annoyance with head-hopping may be my own personal taste, but I was surprised no one else complained about it in the articles and forums I researched. I have always heard head-hopping is advised against, in books on writing instruction, and it is mentioned as taboo in the submission requirements for certain publishers. Apparently, some readers don’t mind it, and some authors can use it effectively.
So I guess the take away from all this is, yes, writers should be aware of reader’s pet peeves, but take the information with a grain of salt (oops, a cliché)! If you do include something that you know may annoy readers, at least have a good reason for doing so.
What are your reading pet peeves?

Watching Writers Grow

flowers 004

 

I don’t have a “green thumb”, but I have learned how to keep most of the plants in my back-porch herb garden alive. In fact, last year I branched out (pardon the pun) to growing fruits and vegetable in pots, enjoying fresh strawberries and peppers, even a miniature eggplant. This from someone who was previously unable to keep any houseplant alive.

What changed? I finally reached a point in my life when I was able to devote some time to cooking, and had a strong desire to use fresh herbs and veggies, thus the garden. In a parallel manner, I also found time to devote to one of my first loves- writing.

In 2011, I had settled into my new home, my new town, and began looking for writing groups in the area. I was lucky to find one that more than suited my needs, organized by a published writer, not far from where I lived. I attended the first meeting of the newly formed critique group, and still belong today.

Our group of about 10-15 writers (it fluctuates) has been through a few format changes, but our core purpose is support. We critique as members submit projects, either samples or even full novels for beta reading. We give presentations to the group on craft, style, industry info, etc. We share links, resources, and attend conferences together. We celebrate successes- at our last meeting we toasted a member’s entry into the NYTBSA list (Congrats, Annabel Joseph)!   And perhaps more importantly, we help each other cope with the inevitable rejections, endless rewrites and other stumbling blocks writers must face.

I have definitely grown in my writing skills as a result of their influence- this blog itself is proof. Not sure whether I would have launched it if I was on my own. Now I have a full novel in edits and am deep into the first draft of Book One a four book series. Their feedback, encouragement and support have been a major factor in my growth, like sunlight, watering and nutrients have helped my garden to grow.

I have also had the pleasure of watching my fellow writers blossom. Seeing a first draft transformed into a full novel ready for publication is exciting. Taking part in the shaping of the final product by providing opinion and suggestions is an honor. Our group has talented writers in various genres, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, and Erotica, to name a few. Some of our members have already been published or are very near to being published. So watch out, world!

So excuse me while I go tend to my garden of word-projects. First you plant the seeds (outlining), then you write (watering and feeding), then you prune and weed (editing and revision). With luck and love, you will reap the final harvest- a finished novel, ready to send out to the world.