Writers Engaging Readers: Shall We Dance?

Fred Astaire dancing with readersRecently I’ve had several different opportunities to get out and meet readers to talk about writing and publishing. Doing this was a good reminder of something I learned quite a while back: that the best way to sell books is by not selling.

What the heck does that mean? Let me explain.

Years ago, I was at a huge book festival. My table abutted the table of a man who’d written a non-fiction book about creating and maintaining quality relationships. A worthy topic, to be sure. However, this poor man was almost rabid in his sales efforts. If anyone got within five feet of his table or, god forbid, made eye contact, he was out from behind his table, book in hand, shoving it in their faces, talking a blue streak about the book and the ways it could benefit them. You could see the expressions in the readers’ faces change from mild curiosity to abject fear. As soon as the man broke his spiel to take a breath, they were pulling away, stammering excuses, almost running from the area. Then the man would sulk back behind his table, impatiently waiting for his next victim. Continue reading “Writers Engaging Readers: Shall We Dance?”

Should I Use MailChimp for My Author Newsletter?

mailchimp-logoWhat is MailChimp, and what is it good for? Of course, everyone does things differently, so I thought I’d offer a brief rundown on how I use Mailchimp to manage my mail-outs in a very basic way, and how it might be useful to you. This is not a review or an IU official endorsement. It is a slice of life that perhaps you can learn from. If you want to know more about creating a newsletter, see Jim Devitt’s post, Developing the Perfect Author Newsletter.

MailChimp is an email marketing service. You write your email; they send it to everyone you want and keep track of what happens to it after that. As far as the sending part, they don’t do much that you couldn’t do in your normal email program. For the analytical part, they provide information that I have no idea how to find myself, and this is the main reason I use the service. And on top of it, my newsletters look more professional. Continue reading “Should I Use MailChimp for My Author Newsletter?”

Storyboarding for Novelists

save the cat by blake snyderStoryboarding is a plotting technique used by screenwriters, but it’s also popular with some novelists. I like it since I’m a planner, not a pantser. Storyboarding is not a rigid plotting device. The whole point of the board is that it’s flexible. The greatest advantage is seeing exactly how your novel is “built,” just as an architect refers to a blueprint.

Now, I realize that some purists eschew structuring their work according to a storyboard. That is fine for those who wish to write Litrachure. But as popular Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins once said, “I have always held the old-fashioned opinion that the primary object of a work of fiction should be to tell a story.” I feel the same way, and I don’t think storyboarding need adversely affect good writing. Continue reading “Storyboarding for Novelists”