Episode 20 – Marketing Your Author Business Through Newsletters

The experts tell us that one of the essential aspects of marketing your books is putting out a regular newsletter.

Why put out a newsletter?

· Build your brand.

· Build a relationship with your audience.

· Keep people interested between books so that they haven’t forgotten about you by the time you put out your book.

· To make sure that you don’t only contact people when you have a book available.

Why write this one?

You need to be clear why you are writing this newsletter. Is it to connect with your audience, to get people to respond or to get them to act in some way? What results do you want?

How do you put out a good newsletter or write an exciting blog week after week? 

Well, it’s about finding your truth, being authentic and leading an exciting life. Easy, right? It explains why, although we know that’s what we should be doing, so few of us do it.

Practice makes perfect and like learning to write great novels; it’s about the number of words on the page. Like reading widely, it’s another skill to learn, and it helps to subscribe to other famous author’s newsletters. What do you like about it? What do you hate?

For me, it has also been about dedicating precious time to creating something that I’m proud to put out rather than pouring my ramblings out and expecting that anyone would want to read it.

How do you find topics?

I’m still learning this one, especially as I write under a pen name because of my day job. Balancing being honest without making yourself vulnerable seems like another skill to learn, and it’s difficult, although you’ve probably had loads of practice if you post on social media.

A while ago, I did an experiment where I put out a chapter a week of raw material on the book I was working on at that time. It made me commit to writing a chapter a week and gave me something to submit. It was about being vulnerable in a whole new way.

Journaling can be a good source of ideas.

 

Structuring your Newsletter

Headings break a newsletter up and allow busy people to skim the ‘headlines.’

 

Should you be political? 

I have chosen not to be, simply because I’m too political and don’t want that side of my life to spill too strongly into my author business. Not because I’m afraid that people who disagree with me won’t buy my books but because the politics in my books is subtle and often unconscious.  

Episode 19 – Revisiting Goal Setting

Anna and I discuss goal setting and revisit my goals from earlier in the year.

Why is it good to set Goals?

  • It is motivating. – Goal setting is a way of monitoring our achievements.
  • It helps us to use our time better by identifying activities that aren’t valuable or are a waste of our time.
  • It helps us to be honest with ourselves and identify areas where we’d like to do better.
  • Sometimes things change and that’s okay. – The process of reviewing goals helps us to recognise that we might have gone off track for good reason.
  • Just the process of setting a goal and committing it to paper makes magic happen. It set us on a path of achievement.

New Goals

Here are our current goals.

Anna

To print off three chapters of her novel and edit them to a good standard by the end of November.

To continue to produce poems and short pieces of work.

Lucinda

Release 3 books in the Cadicle universe with Amy Duboff.

To finish 2 books in the Barathrum Series.

To send out a newsletter every 2 weeks.

To produce a blog post every 2 weeks (once website is up and running).

Joint

To continually improve the quality of the podcast and gradually build an audience.

To continue to put out the podcast regularly, every 2 weeks.

To send out a newsletter every 2 weeks.

Thank you to Sites Built for You for a fantastic revamped website: Lucinda Pebre.

Episode 17 – Writing Conferences and Events

Anna and I have a conversation about the benefits and struggles of attending writing conferences. We talk in some depth about the 20Books conference that happened at the end of July in Edinburgh.

We agree that there are many benefits to attending events. They can provide the motivation to be more productive, to share and connect with other authors. 20Books was unique in some ways. There was a real collaborative feel, and it felt like every single person wanted to help others in some way.

It can be daunting to go alone and then there’s the cost of travel, accommodation and the conference itself. Overall, my experience is that the benefits outweigh the cost but it is worth considering a few things before you go.

Think about the purpose of the conference. Edge-lit and 20Books were two very different conferences; both valid in their own right. Like most things, you will get more out of the experience if you consider what you would like to get out of it beforehand.

Episode 16 – Secondary Characters

A secondary character should help reveal the details of the plot and progress the story in some way. They can either inspire the protagonist or oppose the protagonist.

Do:

  • Attach them to a place so that the reader can remember who they are.
  • Go shallow, go deep to make a rounded character. As an author know something superficial as well as a character’s greatest fear.
  • Use a character to illustrate the world you’ve created.
  • There ensure that there is a reason the character is in the scene.

Don’t

  • Have too many characters
  • Make them into caricatures or too black and white.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

All human beings have to have their lower levels needs, such as food and water met, before the character can pursue self-actualisation.

  • Food, water and shelter are the most basic needs.
  • Safety and security.
  • Love and belonging, inner wellbeing.
  • Accomplishments and self-esteem.
  • Self-actualisation.

Episode 15 – Six Senses

Anna and I talk about incorporating six senses into writing and give some tips on how to achieve this.

Anna talks about her experience of NPL (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to determine how people learn in different ways, and with a primary sense.

Anna reads an extract from Philip Pullman’s novel, The Golden Compass, where the author cleverly invokes three senses to good effect. I chose Sarah J Maas, Queen of Shadows, as a way of demonstrating how to the author brings emotion into a scene.

Episode 14 – Goals

Anna and I talk about our favourite subject – goal setting. We discuss why it is okay not to achieve all goals.

Goals aren’t meant to constrain us. They are tool, like many others, that’s help us to get where we need to go. My goals changed when I discovered Story Grid.

I needed to find a way to structure my novel and one ways was to use Story Grid.

Anna recognises that life can get in the way of her novel writing goals and sometimes that’s okay.

I talk about how Scrivener has helped me, particularly in the planning process and how it can be used in conjunction with the Story Grid methodology.

What tools help you to write? What goals have you achieve or not achieved?

Shawn Coyne The Story Grid – What Good Editors Know

https://storygrid.com

Episode 13 – Conflict

In today’s episode, Anna and I talk about how conflict and motivation adds tension to a novel.

Almost every important character needs two types of conflict.

External conflict:

Character vs another character/nature/technology.

Internal conflict.

Character vs self.

Inner conflict is a vital aspect of storytelling because it creates empathy in the reader, which is one way of making the story compelling.

Outer stakes are related to the character’s goal whereas inner stakes equal a yearning. To create tension, the two should be in further conflict.

It can help to ask a question – what important decision does your character have to make?

Consequences

All action or non-action has consequences and tension is created when a character has to make a difficult decision or choose between two unpleasant options.

The greater the stakes (what’s at risk), the greater the tension. The writer should aim for a reader to be left with questions after each scene.

The character has to take action in line with their motivation and that motivation needs to resonate with readers.

This makes sense but the difficulty comes putting it into action. For me, this is only something I think about in the editing process, which is where the larger part of my work is done.

Attaining the Impossible

The greater the war within the character, the more satisfying the story. One way of raising personal stakes is for the writer to ask how they can make the goal matter more and then show the resulting internal turmoil going on inside the character. This will make the reader identify with the conflict and care about the decisions that the character makes.

Another way of making the story stronger is by giving the character multiple conflicts weaved together with the internal and external conflicts of other characters. Sounds easy, I don’t think so!

Characters can have a wound that’s a source of inner conflict. This can be due to a traumatic event, such as the murder of their family or a sad early life that taught them not to trust. Another possibility is that the character wants something that they daren’t go after which results in something missing from the character’s life.

The character might have a blind spot created by the trauma and their goal, which prevent them meeting his or her need.

They may have a wound that causes the character to live in a fantasy world or fear relationships or avoid all conflict. They could be bitter or angry at the world or seek attention.

What does your character want?

What’s the opposite of what they want? What reason is there not to pursue their goal?

Your character cannot have both so, how does this became apparent?

Other ways of creating inner conflict: –

A powerful fear and desire to avoid confronting it.

The antagon­ist forces the character to face their fear.

The character might have a secret fear that they are ashamed of getting out or it could lead to them getting arrested.

They might have a flaw that leads to trouble.

Other sources of conflict

In the podcast, Anna came up with a number of life issues, such as, where to spend Christmas and the resulting dilemma about a cause of action, guilt or self-doubt.

What conflict are your character’s dealing with?

Episode 12 – Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Introduction

Anna and I share our joy at going to see a play called Standing at the Sky’s Edge, written by Chris Bush about Parkhill flats in Sheffield. We go on to talk about character development.

Standing at the Skye’s Edge

Standing at the Sky’s Edge cleverly weaves together the stories of three families who all live in the same flat at different times. It explores the social norms in the difference time-periods, as well as the changes that happened to the block of flats over the years. It cleverly defies expectations and comes up with surprising plot twists, linking the beginning and the end in an unexpected way.

We talk more about character development and practical ways to achieve this.

Appearance

Anna reads out a passage where the protagonist first encounters Long John Silver in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, demonstrating how powerful a description can be when written by a master.

Does a character have to be nice?

I discusses the anti-hero in Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Fools and we identify what makes the character engaging. Anna talks about Steve Larson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Spider by Patrick McGrath.

We discuss the importance of the character arc and internal/external motivation.

Anna describes some exercises that she has done to get to know your characters. These include:

  1. Describe something a character carries with them.
  2. Describe a character’s belongings or their environment.
  3. Pretend to be Sherlock Holmes to uncover the layers of meaning about an object in the room (from the mslexia website www.mslexia.co.uk)

Internal and External Motivation

One way to make a character more interesting is for there to be tension between their internal and external motivation.

What do we mean by this? The protagonist may want one thing but need the opposite.

Anna and I provide examples, such as, a character who may believe that they want to win that race at all costs and be unaware that that their motivation is a desire to prove themselves as worthy.

Questions to ask your character

What secret is your character hiding?

What pain is your character suffering?

What was their childhood like?

What motivates them or what are they trying to achieve?

Tell us about your unique characters.

Episode 11 – Process and Goal Setting

In this episode, we talk about process and Anna helps me set goals with the aim of becoming a full-time writer in 5 years.

Each author develops their own process over time, but that process does not necessarily remain static. As knowledge and understanding grow so an author’s process might change. Consider your own process and how it might have changed after you took a course or read a non-fiction book or article.

Let us know about your writing process.