Welcome to the second guest post from authors sharing their writer’s tips. This week meet Elaine White.
Her bio tells us that she grew up in a small town on the east coast of Scotland and writes paranormal romance, crime and MM romance. Fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, while living comfortably at home with a pack of wolves cleverly disguised as one standard poodle.
With a bio written so eloquently, you know her tips will be worth reading.
1 – Edit Smart.
Your first, third, and fifth draft is never going to be perfect. Every time you make changes to your document, you’re going to mess up, edit too much or not enough. Then you have to go back and fix it. The best way to do this effectively is to edit your own story about five or six times (each time looking for a different aspect – plot, character detail, spelling/grammar etc) and then ask some professional beta readers to read it for you.
Don’t just ask any reader. Readers are great, but professional beta’s focus on what is important. I once had a beta reader who was a grammar Nazi, which was great, but I wasn’t at that stage of writing yet and when I asked about the plot I got “it was fine”.
Make sure your beta readers know how to give proper feedback. They’re not emotionally attached to your story, but you are. Any changes you make will be biased. You don’t have to implement everything they suggest, but don’t be afraid to consider even the biggest cuts or rewrites.
2 – Facebook.
Facebook is practically a must have for authors nowadays, whether you’re with a Big Five, Indie publisher or self-publishing. Even the likes of Anne Rice and J.K. Rowling handle their own social media. You’d be surprised how much these small interactions can help your creative process – giving you ideas, new characters or just a quirk that you see and like – as well as introducing you to readers who might not know you yet.
Interaction with fans is vital, but always make sure to follow these quick tips to make your time on Facebook more effective –
* schedule your Facebook page in advance. Do this generally, but especially if you’re going to be offline for a while. I can schedule as far ahead as 8 months in advance, but settle for three. I have a different theme for every day, so that people know what to expect. I can always add updates as and when they’re needed, but scheduling saves you a real headache.
* turn off notifications on groups you’re only going to use for promo. If you don’t intend to participate or there is no discussion participation in that group, turn off your notifications, to save getting a million a day. This can save you at least 50 notifications a day, depending on how many promo-only groups you’re in.
* be active. As long as you hold a presence on Facebook – in groups related to your book genre or in general writing groups, then people are going to recognise you and your name. People will get to know you, as a person, which means that if they come across your book or see your promo, they’re more likely to connect your sparkling personality with “let’s try this”.
3 – Keep Your Notes!
No matter whether you feel like you’ve written the next bestseller or the most love/hate thing since Marmite, you should always keep your story notes, half finished stories or full novels that you’ve written but don’t like. You never know when that story that just doesn’t quite work will come in handy, or when you’ll finally figure out what it is that you don’t like about it.
Personally, I had a story stashed for about 2 years that didn’t work and it was only after that time, by fluke, that I finally knew how to fix it. Now, it’s one of my biggest selling novels. And, if you can’t fix it, maybe you can use a scene or a character or a name from it in another story. Stealing a few pages from one of your old, unpublished works can save you hours of fretting or writer’s block, if it’s the right thing for the story.
4 – Avoid the Drama.
There is drama in every aspect of the writing world. Creative people always feel more passionately about things and aren’t afraid to express themselves. They’re creative, after all. But there are times when you have to pick your battles, keep scrolling and avoid responding to things.
The sad truth is that there are trolls out there – readers or non-readers who will take any small thing you say that it halfway critical or negative, and turn it into a major car crash. It only takes one person to get a reply from you that is defensive or argumentative (even justifiable) and they’ll take that to other groups, to other readers and spread their lies by twisting your words. Screenshots are your enemy!
5 – Reviews: Make Your Choice.
Every author needs to decide early on whether they’re going to read their reviews. I choose to read mine because, although there are some nasty ones out there, some that almost sound as if the person didn’t even read the story, there will be those negative or positive reviews that give you some useful critique. And those are like gold. If you can improve your writing or description process by reading reviews, that’s a bonus.
But, because of those awful reviews, you have to decide for yourself if you want to read them or not. But, if you do, beware of replying. The best thing to do is never respond to reviews – with a Thank You or a justification for something they didn’t like. Just don’t reply. Unless you asked that person for a review or you have open communication with that person, don’t reply, because the smallest thing can cause the problems mentioned in tip #3.
Thanks to Elaine White for sharing her tips this week. To stalk Elaine, check her out on Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad, her Blog, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. And if that’s not enough, you can read excerpts, view book trailers and see all her upcoming releases on her Website.
Next week we take a lesson from L.A. Fields.