Saturday, September 28, 2013

Made To Suffer

Are writers gluttons for punishment?

I have been hearing the words of C-3PO in my mind all week saying, "We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life." What writer hasn't thought those same exact words at one time or another about themselves?

Writers are a particular breed. It seems like there are many of us, but really, I only know two or three in my general circle of friends. I also only know of two people in my county who have published something on Amazon. Since we're part of a smaller community here in Maine, I find that personally, I tend to fall prey to different things that are trying to steal my time and money.

The biggest leach of a writer's time and money is a book on craft. There used to be only a small handful of these books on the shelf, many of which I own and love - but now, with eBooks, there are hundreds of writing technique books that claim they have the secret to wealth, fame, and fortune. We all remember what happened to Indy when he stepped into the Temple of Doom looking for fortune and glory. He almost lost his heart down in a pit of volcanic fire!

I'm not saying that all writing technique books are a waste of money. I've purchased two or three this year that I found to be really interesting and gave me some pointers that I am now using. But, if you're the kind of writer who buys anything on Amazon that says it has the secret to writing best-selling fiction, fight the urge to click "buy"! There is no real secret to being a best-seller. We've all seen this throughout the ages, and even digitally now. How did the writers on the best-seller list on Amazon do it?

With a good story that connected with readers en-masse at that particular point in time. It's not the keywords (though these are incredibly helpful) and it's not a marketing scheme. It's a good, old-fashioned story that connected with readers. They have great covers, great premises, and great characters.

I can speak from experience. Keywords can only get you so far. Your book needs to be discoverable. That's true, and that's useful. But, how many books have crossed my path on Amazon daily as I look for something that catches my attention? Hundreds of thousands. I just want to point out that because these books came in front of my face didn't mean that I bought them. I judged them the way that others have - and that's by seeing if the cover catches my attention - is it a work of art? Does it look beautiful? If it did, then I clicked to read their blurb.

Honestly, the list of reviews in the description generally turns me away because I hate scrolling down to read what the book is actually about. It might get the writer a few more sales, but in my case, if I had great reviews, I would put them after the blurb about the book. Essentially, if it's your cup of tea, then you buy it. If not, you pass it by. There is no secret. It all comes down to connecting with readers on the store level, and then on the page level. And it takes time. I fully expect it to.

So, if you're looking for a book about craft to read, make sure you choose wisely. There are a lot of fleecers out there looking to make a few bucks off the indy writers looking to hone their craft. We want to be educated, but we don't want to pay the cost of tuition to do so. We also don't want to pay $4.99 for a piece of vague filler. There isn't room on our Kindles for that!