Sunday, December 01, 2013

Guest Post by Julius St. Clair

First of all, I just want to give a big thanks to Joe for all of his hard work and advice. I follow his blog religiously and the information I’ve gleaned from it has been a tremendous help to my career. It’s actually inspired me to give back to my fellow authors in my own way, and why not start now?

On my journey of turning from a “starving artist” into a full-time author, I’ve sure made plenty of mistakes, and the strategies that I have implemented correctly were either by accident, chance, or outright copying from someone else’s blog (such as Joe’s here). But one thing I noticed that have helped my sales and target marketing is knowing the difference between writing for the reader, and writing for the writer. Let me explain a bit.

As authors we have a variety of reasons why we write, whether it be for pleasure/fun, money, prestige, or just having your voice heard and understood, and I think it’s very important to understand your motivation because ultimately it will come off the page when people purchase your work. One of the big questions I ask myself when writing a novel is: would I buy this?

Seriously.

Would you buy your novel if someone pitched you the synopsis? Showed you the cover? Read a random blurb from within the pages? This causes us to take a step back and examine our words for what they are and not what we perceive them to be. That memoir you wrote, be honest, is it actually interesting? That blockbuster fantasy series – would you be in line at the midnight launch? Did you actually enjoy what you wrote? Because if you take an objective look at your work and put your perspective in those of your readers, suddenly, you’ll realize what it will take to bring your book to the next level - what could bring it from a casual upload to a success. We have to remember that in this day and age, we are often performers and entertainers, not educators. Though we are professional, hard-working, passionate individuals, all readers see when they start chapter one is the story, which should always be the true star and celebrity here, not us.

So if you’re writing just for money, perhaps you’re not selling as much as you could because readers may also feel your lack of passion. If you’re writing for prestige, maybe readers sense an ego or a self-important attitude. If you’re writing just for your voice to be heard, there is a possibility that readers detect your lack of confidence. Bottom line is, don’t be afraid to shine. And if you’re just writing for fun? It could be that your work needs a bit more professionalism. A tad more editing. A dash of color on the cover. A synopsis that makes their pupils dilate in excitement.

There are no right or wrong ways to approach your work because you are the captain and commander of your ship, but remember…there are other passengers on the boat besides you. Amaze us with your words, and write for us, your passengers – the readers…

So, if you are willing, allow me to invite you onto my ship. We have many refreshments and amenities during your stay that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. If you’re in the mood for a supernatural thriller then, please, check out The Deadly.  Or if you’re looking for a more light-hearted and fantasy affair, why not consider the first in the Angel Story Series: End of Angels?
    
I absolutely loved writing each of these books, and I know you’ll feel it coming from off the pages! Now set sail with your pen or laptop in hand, and do the same!

24 comments:

Mari Stroud said...

I would absolutely buy my books. Problem is, I'm a weirdo.

McVickers said...

Absolutely. If you don't love what you write, I weep for you when you're editing it for the fourth and fifth time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. The art on your covers is gorgeous! Who is the artist?

Julius St. Clair said...

A friend of mine named Marek. If you would like his contact information, I would be more than happy to share it with you!

Julius St. Clair said...

lol. you're so right McVickers. I can't even imagine...

Franklin Kendrick said...

That is exactly the question I'm focused on as I work on my second novel, which is close to being finished as a first draft. The characters excite me and the story is entertaining to me, but if I was just browsing Amazon, would I find it entertaining enough to click "buy"? I definitely think on the second draft I will have to look at everything through this lens. Thanks for bringing it up, Julius!

I've stood in many midnight lines for books, and also waited up until a few of them landed on my Kindle. Nothing can replace that feeling, and can only hope that with enough hard work, perhaps someone will get that same exhilaration checking out my own books.

antares said...

"Mari Stroud said...
I would absolutely buy my books. Problem is, I'm a weirdo."

Mari,

I'm a weirdo, too. That's okay. I am convinced that there are enough weirdos (weirdoes?) like me who will buy my books that I can make a living by my writing. You can, too. Like the man said, "We're all Bozos on this bus."

David List said...

Good advice. I was frightened that Julius was going the other way when he posed the question - Write for your readers.
This is a large reason I've chosen to self publish. I'm no longer chasing a fad or bound by certain rules.

And to you guys discussing being weirdos, I'm right there with you. Let's face it - Normal people are boring. No one cares what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

I vividly remember when I had the idea for a mystery series I am now writing.

I had the idea (main character and setting), and my very next thought was, "I would SO want to read a series like that."

I don't know if anyone else will read, but this thought, this memory, keeps me going. And I'm having fun, even if sales aren't there yet (self pubbed first book just last month).

Julius St. Clair said...

I swear that people just feel the passion when you write for yourself. Usually I can tell when a writer is having a blast and when he/she is just doing it for the money. I read a lot of dean koontz novels (dont judge me!) and they usually interest me, but the one I'm reading now - "relentless"...wow. I can tell he's just going for the paycheck. It's dry, emotionless and while the premise is decent, it doesn't keep you. Sad, really.

M.C. Ward said...

I liked the post, but I'm going to go a bit the other way. Many authors (indie and otherwise) find it distasteful to think of their writing as a product or commodity. It seems almost insulting to think that there could be a degree of equivalence between a book that took months or years to complete and a jar of jam on a supermarket shelf.

But if you’re selling your work—for money—that’s what it is: a product. And it is worthwhile to give some thought to how a prospective purchaser might view your product(s) and how big the market for it might be. Something that always strikes me about literary fiction is that at times it seems like there are more people interested in writing it than actually reading it.

I know many people say that they choose indie publishing because they aren’t constrained by commercial or audience expectations. And sure, we all have different definitions of what constitutes success in a long-tail marketplace. But at the same time, I don’t think there are many indie authors who are indifferent or disinterested in having their books sell well. And adopting a little bit of a “reader-centric” mindset can only help in that regard.

Mario Jannatpour said...

I love what I am writing otherwise I wouldn't do it.

I have a day job and I wrote my first book during my down time and it's selling well on Amazon. A lot of the feedback I get on the book is that people like how I have personalized it and that makes it more interesting to the reader.

My second book I just published is a very personal book. I enjoyed writing it and love it even more now that I have published it.

Good post.

Thank you.

Julius St. Clair said...

I definitely hear what you're saying M.C Ward. There's a delicate balance between providing a product that the masses will enjoy while staying true to yourself and not "selling out" so to speak.

There are a couple books that i would love to write personally, but I have wait for that beautiful "cushion time" between great sales to write it. Other series pay the bills so they automatically get priority. The key, I believe, is not going too far on either end.

Still, if one isn't passionate about their work, why should anyone else be?

Scout Dakota said...

That was GREAT!

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

I love these guest blog posts! It's interesting to read the different points of view.

Thanks, Julius, for giving us your perspective. I write stories I'd enjoy reading... and so far, it seems to be working. But because I have so many different ideas and interests, I typically start with those that I think will sell.

Julius St. Clair said...

Thanks Patrice! And I think Joe has to be enjoying the breaks from blogging to some degree. Who knows? Maybe there will be a ton more guest blogs in the future. All for other good causes of course.

Jo said...

I think that one reason I have not yet started on a story or novel is that I'm not sure that any of the ideas I am passionate about would interest a large enough audiance to make the time and effort worth while. I also know that a reader centeric story is no garentee of success. I keep telling myself to just write what I like then see if there is an audience but I can't seem to get started.

Paul Draker said...

"One of the big questions I ask myself when writing a novel is: would I buy this?"

Julius nails it in one.

Write the stories that send delicious goosebumps of excitement down your spine. If your novel doesn't do that for you, then it won't do it for anyone else, either. Guaranteed.

I'm fairly new to this, but here's what I've learned so far: if you write stories you love and execute them with professional craftsmanship, you'll be surprised at how many other people will love them, too. You'll also be surprised by how different those people are from your preconceived notions about whom your "audience" would be.

Julius St. Clair said...

Don't even worry about the outcome, Jo. Just write it! Even finishing a story (whether a novel or a short) is a huge accomplishment that you should be very proud of. Just think of yourself as your biggest fan. :)

Maalaimalar said...


Thanks for the information... I really love your blog posts... specially those on Local Tamil News

Anonymous said...

it is worthwhile to give some thought to how a prospective purchaser might view your product(s) and how big the market for it might be. Something that always strikes me about literary fiction is that at times it seems like there are more people interested in writing it than actually reading it.
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Option Tips said...

Hi: Nice article, but couple points worth making:

a. We can’t confuse the evaluation of equities as a valid asset class with the timing of that investing. It’s true that investing in US equities at the present time – due to the run-up in the market, ultra low rates etc. mightn’t be a great idea. But in the grand scheme of asset classes, U.S. Equities are probably still a better than average vehicle to invest in, in the long run.

b. I want outsized returns: all discussions on return must be framed against a discussion of risk. The risk-return argument for starting your own business is very different from a risk-return argument on a well-run large cap company. I suggest readers both options logically and independently. Finally, i don’t think it is a useful attitude to approach equity investing as a gamble to hit the jackpot. The best, long term investors make solid singles and doubles that build into sustainable returns in the long haul.

I think you might have been better off titling the article: “An Honest Story about Losing $5,000 on Hot Stock Tips”

Thx Rajnish
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