By Kris Maze
You’ve written a book. Or three. Or three hundred.
You’re examining the road to publication. Or starting to query. Or multi-contracted.
You’re dutifully working through your first draft. Or working with an editor. Or a publisher.
Wherever you are in your writing career, it may feel frustrating, tiresome, or difficult to continue on your passion of writing a book. If your writing could use a boost and your writing enthusiasm is waning, consider making a calculated risk to revitalize your writing career.
Many writers have hit a wall with traditional publishing and while publishing their own books. Although I am not describing specific tools in detail to revitalize the sale and publication of your own books, I will highlight a few that I have been trying and give insights to my experience so far.
One simple way to add a little spice to your writing skills is to write in another genre. Writing outside your norm can benefit writers in many ways. By trying a new type of story writing you can experience these benefits. Writing in another genre...
In my recent writing experiences, I have toyed with writing longer works and shorter novellas based on short stories I have written for contests. Using feedback from the judges on the short stories helped me develop the new ideas into working longer books.
Writing in different genres requires writing in different word count frameworks. Epic Fantasy readers expect a lengthy, elaborate book, but some YA readers are as short as 10,000 words.
Not certain what is your genre’s word count expectation? Read this blog post from Reedsy.com to find out more. There is an interactive quiz that requires an email, but this respected resource sends you information about the genre you write.
Finding ways to incorporate realistic details into your work could involve learning a new skill or hobby. Here is a post I wrote earlier this year on the benefits of learning something new and how it can improve one’s writing.
I began my writing career with a sci-fi novella, but discovered my stories also resembled horror. After several of my short stories were returned to me with conflicting information about how it related to other speculative genres, it became apparent that my writing included scary, intense moments of fight or flight, and a force, or monster, to defeat.
Given my love of Gothic fiction by classic writers like Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, and Edgar Allan Poe, it made sense that what I was writing was at it’s heart, horror. It took me a while to accept my new calling to a genre I wouldn’t have claimed, but once I wrote longer scary works, the readership increased. These stories have significantly more downloads than my other speculative works and the readers are more willing to interact with me. Consider a new or adjacent genre to write and have fun with it.
Worried about distractions? Pop in the earbuds. Get a beverage of choice and goooo!
Take notes, but try not to be that creepy guy or gal. It helps you avoid the nasty stares one can get as a result watching a stranger and putting all their interesting interactions to paper or pixel.
Time away from your day-to-day at home can inspire your writing. Rent a place or borrow a friend’s cabin for a few weeks. It can reset your mind and help the words flow on the page.
Vacations can also provide you with details helpful in world building. Go to the place you are trying to write about. Find somewhere with a setting you want to include in your book and observe with your writer mind. Take a close look at what people eat and what they wear. Find out what people in this area do for fun or examine a tradition unique to their region. Putting realistic and engaging details onto the page should be easier after experiencing it firsthand.
Perhaps your “other place to write” is on online version for critiques. Don’t be afraid to make new writer friends. They may enable you to grow in your craft through accountability and new ideas.
There are several writing groups on Facebook that offer support to writers. Several writers I know use these online critique groups and enjoy working with writers from around the world. Some are also experts and can offer insights on details within their stories. One writer friend works with a scientist in their online group, which helps in editing her sci-fi novel.
Many writers don’t want to spend time promoting their work, but it is a valuable way to sell more books. Taking time to connect with your readers is an important way to build a reading base of people exciting to buy books and invest in your stories.
Try one of these tried-and-true methods, if you are not sure where to start.
Many notable social media management companies offer free plans for limited use. See if those from companies like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Later have the features you want. Using the trial can help you decided how valuable the resource is to your writing.
I am currently using Publer to schedule my social media posts. And have liked it’s features including:
Indie writers who have books to sell have been using the tools found in various ‘funnel’ services for years. I have been working with BookFunnel for 2 years and have been pleasantly surprised at how well the tools work for my horror writing.
If you are not familiar with what these services do, here are some ways that I use the online platform:
It will enable the author to giveaway the book with a link that can perform certain actions like limiting the amount of downloads or to request an email in exchange for the book.
In the past 2 years I have increased my email list to 1600 plus readers using this platform. It allows authors to upload their books together to join their promotional giveaways, for example, so that readers are directed to all the authors’ sales or promos. This is a powerful tool since it allows writers from different parts of the world to work together and share their lists. The cross-promotion adds new readers to all of the writers’ lists. This allows for exposure to potential new fans for your work and new author connections in the same type of writing.
Authors should be careful of sending their work to others for feedback, especially in the final editing stages. It would be heart-breaking to spend years and financial resources on a book only to have it ripped into the online underworld of stream-for-free without your consent. But how to writers protect their work while still building readership and getting valuable feedback?
Book Funnel has several options for sending a reader to your ARC, but the reader will read it in their app, keeping your book safe. As an author you can
Many of these services allow authors to sell their books directly to readers. If you have an email list, you can sell the book in the same protected ways that you can send an ARC. If your writing career could use some revitalizing, try these tools to share your work with readers.
As a part of my new focus on horror writing, I soon realized that my readers were more likely to like either horror or sci-fi, but not both. Not wanting to push away readers of either genre, I looked into updating my author website to incorporate clear elements of both types of writing.
My website had long been overdue for updates and had a non-functioning store. I worked with the amazing Lisa Norman on what ended up being 2 separate sites (one for sci-fi, KrisMaze.com, and one for horror and darker speculative fiction, KrissyKnoxx.com.) Working with a knowledgeable professional helped me create a clean, functional website that also acts as a store. It has revitalized my vision of being a writer as I have a few books to upload onto my own sites as a result.
Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing career, dear writer. It may be scary to write outside the genre or word count you usually do, but this may be a needed change to keep your writing fresh and interesting. Keep learning craft and dig deep into the elements of story and quality writing. Try new technology and tools that enable writers to connect with readers. This writing journey is more like a roller coaster ride, with twists and turns. Have fun and enjoy the ride!
Do you have an example of a big risk you took that paid off in your writing career? What tips would you share with our readers about taking a risk in your writing? We’d love to hear from you!
Kris Maze is an author, writing coach, and teacher. She has worked in education for many years and writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and the award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host. You can find her horror stories and keep up with her author events at her website.
A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors.
And occasionally, she knits.
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