Open Letter to Beta-Readers

editingDear Beta-Reader:

Okay, I’ve written my magnum opus. I’ve elicited friends, family and beta-readers to read it, and I’m waiting on pins and needles for the feedback. I’m sitting with fingers and toes crossed, holding my breath, checking e-mail every five seconds, hoping against hope that the readers will like it. Then I get the first response: “I liked it. It’s good.”

Helpful? Yeah, no. Of course I would love to have my first readers ooh and ahh over the book, but this very non-specific comment is not constructive. Nice as it is, it tells me nothing.

The purpose of beta-readers is not to stroke my writer’s ego. That job belongs to my mother. The purpose of beta-readers is to find all the shortcomings in my writing before I push the publish button. They need to take that puppy out for a rigorous shake-down cruise and find every bug, every glitch, every typo, misplaced comma, and inconsistent tense. It’s painful to get feedback with a laundry list of problems, but would I rather see that list now, in a private e-mail before publication, or see it pasted up in a lambasting Amazon review for all the world to read? Continue reading “Open Letter to Beta-Readers”

Art for art’s sake; English for god’s sake

Chris James
Chris James

Should fiction writing be art, entertainment, both, or neither of those things?

Let’s take a quick look at a few other branches of the arts to compare the basic requirements. A painter cannot create art unless she knows how to mix the colours on her palette. A photographer cannot create art unless he understands the relationship between aperture and shutter speed. A potter cannot create art unless she understands the malleability of the clay and the speed the wheel needs to turn. All of these requirements are basics, before any issue of imagination, creativity, skill or talent can be considered.

Writers have just one basic, raw material: the English language.

After nearly four years of looking at self-published books, I’m still amazed at the titles out there where the authors have not learned how to use the raw material. I’ve seen one independently published book with a typographical error in the actual title. When I contacted the author to point this out, they replied in such a way which confirmed they did not know how to use the apostrophe. Continue reading “Art for art’s sake; English for god’s sake”

Proper Author (Human) Behavior

thank you for not smoking signWhen someone invites you to dinner in their home, that’s a nice gesture, right? Normally guests offer to bring something, and sometimes, even if the host says “We’re all set, but thank you,” some guests bring a gift to show their appreciation. But sometimes, and I guess it doesn’t matter the reason, people just don’t think they need to show any sort of appreciation. Sometimes, people don’t think rules apply to them. Sometimes, people just don’t think.

So imagine, if you will… Continue reading “Proper Author (Human) Behavior”

Are You Prepared For Your Launch?

rocket-launch-67641_640You’ve got a new release coming out and you want it to be a massive hit. You’ve arranged a publicity campaign and told everyone about it, sorted various events, planned a big online launch party and sent emails to the press. You’re pumped and geared up to launch this baby way into orbit. Just before you go racing off in a frenzy of activity, take a moment to read this little post. Publicity is good. You need publicity, but alone it is one small part of a bigger strategic plan necessary to give a book and author a better chance for significant sales.

While book publicity plays an important role in creating awareness, there are several factors that positively or negatively impact book sales in spite of your valiant efforts. In order to have the best possible chance of attracting media attention and potential book buyers, authors need to consider doing the following to set books up for the greatest chance of success. Continue reading “Are You Prepared For Your Launch?”