Great Stuff for Writers, April 8, 2013

Welcome to the first full-week edition of Great Stuff! We’ve got craft pieces on info-dumping, writing sex scenes, and overusing particular words; business pieces on publishing, KDP Select, and book bloggers; floundering through social media; a tech article on how Google Glass might be used to read books in the future—or might not be; and a writing life piece on building good relationships with your readers.

CRAFT

Ah, the dreaded info-dump. If, like me, you’re a current or former professional who also writes, you can fall into the trap of killing the flow of a story by dumping information on the reader. Independent editor Jodie Renner (@JodieRennerEd) provides strategies for providing Info with Attitude that get the key things the reader needs to know across while keeping the action going.

The info-dump has a craft-cousin: the windbag. The windbag tells the reader everything about everything. While Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) warns of the 4 Signs You Might Be a Windbag alas, she doesn’t offer much in the way of explicit solutions, except for this one: opt for brevity. That’s a good start.

For the person who doesn’t write erotica or porn on a regular basis—or at all—writing sex scenes has to be one of the more difficult things to do and do well. Jordan Dane’s (@JordanDane) Writing About Sex (Shh!) – Five Writing Tips might offer the clues you need to get past at least some of the awkwardness. Then you just have to hope your mother doesn’t read the scene—and correct it!

This realization shouldn’t dawn on you suddenly, but as Katie Weiland (@KMWeiland) points out in Why Suddenly Is a Four-Letter Word, it isn’t necessary as often as it’s used. Why not? Because it’s often possible to show the sudden action simply through your verb choice. That said, though, there are cases where adding “suddenly” clarifies a changing situation, making it valuable and appropriate.

What? Falling in Love with Words is a bad thing? Well, it can be when the author, Boyd Morrison (@boydmorrison) in this case, has one true love—“just” in this case. We can all fall into the trap of using a word over and over. It might be a simple one like just, or something more exotic, but sooner or later it’s going to start jumping out at the reader. That’s why it’s good to have a copy editor look your manuscript over, Morrison says, and he’s right.

BUSINESS

Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner) is reading Steve Jobs’s biography and wonders if what’s happening in traditional publishing is because this is what happens When the Sales Guys Run the Company; that is, when profits become more important than product.

Rachelle continues the series with Give Customers What They Want? Apple is famous for inventing things people discovered they wanted. Rachelle’s suggestion is that publishers, agents, and especially writers should dig deep to do the same. Rather than providing more of the same, “make it new,” as T. S. Eliot directed. Risky? Sure. Potentially rewarding? Ask Jo Rowling.

As a terrific counterpoint, Kris Montee of the P.J. Parrish sister duo compares indie publishing to the mostly-online sunglasses maker Warby Parker in The ebook future’s so bright that I gotta wear shades. Like Warby Parker, indie publishers cut out most if not all of the middlemen, reduce the price of their product, and still make a profit. Nice.

CJ Lyons’s (@cjlyonswriter) Amazon KDP Select: Is It Worthwhile for Authors? is the best—most thorough and balanced—review of the program I’ve seen. CJ discusses the pros and cons for both new and established authors. A long piece but worth your time if you’re considering using the program.

Got a book coming out, or already out, and you want (more) Amazon reviews? Lucille Zimmerman (@LucilleZ) provides links to some helpful resources on how to find and connect with top Amazon reviewers in The Surprising Thing About Book Influencers. One resource is nearly two years old and so probably out of date, but the other three worth a look.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Stevie Libra’s (@StevieLibra) probably a lot like many of us. She took Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Challenge, which you may or may not have done, and soon found herself Floundering, which, it’s a good bet you have done, as she tried to keep up with the “requirements” of maintaining a platform. She’s learning the secret of selectivity and regaining her sense of balance in the process.

TECHNOLOGY

Google is still working on the Google Glass project they were so intensely mocked for a few years ago when the screen was filled with “helpful” information you didn’t ask for. Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford) explores the possibility of them as ebook readers in Hands-free Books Are Coming. A realistic possibility? Maybe. At least they’d be a way to solve Robert Bruce’s (@robertbruce76) hilarious discussion about how to read “embarrassing” books in public.

THE WRITING LIFE

How much to interact with our readers, and how, can be a hard question to answer for new writers. Matt Mikalatos (@mattmikalatos) offers 4 Ways to Build Healthy Relationships with Your Readers. His third addresses how he responded to a particularly bad review—and turned a hostile reviewer into a friend and wise reader. Joe Konrath (@JAKonrath) also has some ideas on Dealing with Bad Reviews, but be warned, except for the very end, this whole piece is satire.

 

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