Mark C. King Author Blog

Mark C. King Author Blog

Part 7: Advertising

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-04-08 09:53AM
So now you have written your book, published it in someway, and are now waiting for the sales to climb. But... they don't. This is the stage where your patience and fortitude will be tested the most - in my opinion.

Let me be clear on something: I am NOT an advertising expert. In fact, I think I'm bad at it. That said, I will share my experience for whatever it is worth.

First, new authors have to realize that there are hundreds, thousands, more? new authors just like you trying to do the same thing. Think about this: of those hundreds of novels that came out in the last month, how many have you heard of? Probably not all of them, maybe only a couple, or none at all. Hence the need for advertising.

To let you know how bad I am at advertising, let me share some basic numbers. I have published two books ('Sigmund Shaw: A Steampunk Adventure' and 'Whispers of Bedlam Asylum'). The first book has been out for a little under a year and the second book has been out for about a month. Between the two, I have probably sold around 50 books. That is a far cry from what my dream is.

Perhaps my books are bad and people don't want to read them. That is a possibility, however, of the folks who have read them, they have left very positive reviews. So, if I'm not a bad writer, why are more people not reading my books? The simple answer: Not enough people know about them.

How have I tried to tackle this? A couple ways. First is the social media approach. Using twitter and instagram, I have advertised my book. Can't say it has been greatly effective, but it is better than nothing. Regarding instagram, there is a whole community of book reviewers (they call themselves bookstagram) and I have reached out to many of them offering a free copy of my book. This has been very helpful. Not only do they post their reviews to their followers, I also get good feedback on my writing. A long the lines of giving away your book, I recommend giving it to anyone who wants it. Until your famous, getting your book read should be your only priority.

The second way I advertise is fliers. I have only recently started doing this, but figure any advertising I can do is good. Small signs with the book cover, where available, and a little, 'Support your local author' slogan is what I'm trying. I put these at bus stops, community boards in coffee houses, and anywhere that gets some traffic.

Again, I have not been too successful, so my methods are not necessarily correct. In fact, if you know of better methods, please let me know!

In this 7 part blog series, I have given you my experience and suggestions for writing, editing, publishing, and advertising your book. I hope you find it informative and maybe even helpful.

I appreciate any feedback you have, so feel free to reach out to me.

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Part 6: Publishing

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-04-07 04:15PM
Now we are getting into an area where I am not too knowledgeable. However, I can still provide my experience.

As much as I would love for a publishing company to take me in and publish my work, that is not an easy task. I'm not exactly sure the best way to go about it. Instead, I chose to do online publishing.

Amazon.com is where I started. They allowed me to easily publish an ebook version on my novel on their website. The process is free and was not too hard. It is cool to see your item on Amazon.

There are other site to online publish with - I also used one called Smashwords. This site is nice in that they make your book available at Barnes and Noble, ibook, Kobo, and other places automatically. They are free as well. That said, I have had more sales through Amazon.

What about a hard-copy of your book? Amazon owns a company called createspace that will do this for you. You provide the manuscript, the front cover, and the back cover (or choose one of their pre-formatted ones) and they will make the rest happen. Again, this is free. I just did this in the last few weeks and the hardcopy (along with the original ebook) is already on Amazon.

Of course, I bought a copy of each of my books (the author gets a good price), and it is truly awesome to hold your own book!

Next... Advertising

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Part 5: Editing

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-04-01 09:03AM
So you have completed your first draft of your novel! Congratulations!! This is a huge accomplishment and should not be taken lightly. Few set off on the challenge to write a book. A good number of those that try it don't make it. So, take a little pride in this accomplishment. :)

Now the bad news. It is not near good enough to publish. I'm sorry, but no matter how careful you are, it will have mistakes, lots of them. But don't worry, this is normal and happens to everyone on their first draft.

It is time to edit your work. There are times when I love this process and times when I hate it. The refinement and improving feels good, but the tedious of it can get to me.

How does one go about editing their work? Read your book. That's right. You just finished writing it, you have not thought about anything else, but now you are going to read it. Not only that, you will probably read it multiple times.

as you read through your work, you should be looking for different things. You might even read it with one goal in mind and then read again with another, and so forth.

Things to look for:
Spelling Errors
Wording Errors
Inconsistencies/plot holes
Weird 'flow' (stories should flow nicely from paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter)

How many times should you go over your book? One author (I wish I could remember who) recommended reading your story ten times. My patience has never let me get past four times. Still, the more you read the better the book will be.

One other extremely important step is to get yourself a proofreader. I am always amazed at the number of mistakes exist AFTER I've gone through the book multiple times. You need a second set of eyes. This person does not need to be a professional, but should be someone who can pay attention to detail.

Fortunately for me, my wife is an awesome proofreader. Our process is that I print out a copy of the book (she likes to mark up the physical pages) and she gives me the chapters as she finishes them.

Each person is different, but I would recommend letting the person have as much time as they need. Proofreading is not reading-for-fun. It takes some time to do it right. Give the person the time they need (if you are paying them, then maybe you push a little).

Next... Publishing

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Part 4: Time to Write!

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-31 11:26AM
If you followed my previous recommendations, then you have already put some time and thought into your story. You should be in a great position to get to actual writing! I will provide 2 suggestions for this part of the process.

First, do NOT get caught up in editing. It is really, really easy to write a chapter and then spend a lot of time reviewing it, refining it, rewriting it, etc. Do not get bogged down with that at this point. There is plenty of time later for this. You need to be focused on getting your story written. Like most everything, there is momentum when writing. Do not interrupt it with review. Just keep moving forward and churn out your chapters.

This doesn't mean you can't do any review, just be very careful. Books have stagnated and died because of this. Keep writing!!!

The other item I will recommend is probably something you already considered at an earlier point of the process, but I wanted to make mention. I read an excellent book by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game) about book characters. Being that I find his characters to be of high quality, I paid attention. Of the many fine points, the one that really helped me, was this: No one thinks that they are the bad guy. What this means is that from a person's point of view, they rarely view themselves or their actions as bad.

For example, the movie E.T. The bad guys were the government. As a viewer, you hated them because you knew that E.T. was a nice being that just wanted to get home. However, imagine if the movie was done from the government's point of view! An alien spaceship, a possible extra-terrestrial with who-knows-what kind of powers, technology, or even disease. Fox Mulder would be all over that! Those agents were just doing their job as scientists and protectors. Not bad at all, from that viewpoint.

Doing this will make your characters more real, more relate-able. In fact, once all the viewpoints are given, the reader may even side with the bad guy, if the argument is strong enough!

So, have fun writing. Do not get bogged down in review at this stage. And make your characters real!

Next... Editing.


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Part 3: Chapter Notes

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-30 09:06AM
Having an idea, organizing your notes, and creating an outline has put you in a great position to succeed! But I recommend one more step before you start writing your novel. Chapter notes.

What is a chapter note? As you probably figured, it is notes about your chapters. More specifically, it is a more granular view of your story. You went from an idea, then went more detailed with an outline, and then went even more detailed with your chapters. A natural progression of refinement.

Included in this would be the purpose of your chapters. Each chapter should have a reason for existing. Introduction of a character, raising a question, overcoming an obstacle, etc. This simple idea can really help your story to be coherent.

All that said, I find that listing all the chapters and meanings to be near impossible as I start the novel. But, I usually have 5 - 10 chapters outlined ahead of where I am - the more the better. Seeing the story in this way helps to identify gaps and/or strange transitions. Does chapter 4 happen 2 weeks before chapter 5? - Is that 2 weeks accounted for somehow to let the reader know of the passing of time?

No matter how hard I try, I will add more chapters. My current story needed a change of pace chapter so I stuck one in there (it has a purpose beyond change of pace, but seeing how my chapter notes were playing out helped me decide where to include this piece).

Of note, it is a GREAT feeling when you have all of your chapters outlined. When you have that, you know you have a complete story! Not that you won't tweak or add, but having a full story means you will not get lost on the way - which could lead to you giving up.

Example of Chapter Notes (Using 'The Goonies'):
Chapter 1 Outline: Man breaks out of jail with help from his mom and brother.
Chapter 1 Purpose: Introduction of the bad guys of the story.

Chapter 2 Outline: Brothers Mikey and Brandon commiserate over their pending move. Friend Mouth shows up as well.
Chapter 2 Purpose: Introduction of main characters. Introduction of problem they face.

Chapter 3 Outline: Chunk shows up and talks about big car chase. Data arrives by zip-lining from neighbors house.
Chapter 3 Purpose: More main characters introduced. Chunk is an exaggerator/liar and Data is an experimenter with gadgets - wishes he was James Bond.

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Part 2: The Outline

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-29 09:06AM
So now you have an idea for a story. You know who the characters are and the a very high-level premise of what will happen to them. Time to go down a level.

Next step is to create an outline. This takes the idea for your novel and refines it. It is not super detailed, but starts to give shape to the story.

Example:

High-Level Idea: An off-duty cop visits his estranged wife and ends up fighting terrorists (yep, Die Hard).

Outline:
- Christmas party at wife's prestigious downtown building.
- Terrorists attack (want the money in the vault)
- Husband arrives but doesn't know what is happening until he hears gunshots
- Contacts a policeman outside the building
- Fights his way up the building
- Comes across bad guy but doesn't know it (bad guy pretends to be a guest of the party)
- Police show up but can't get in the building
- Vault breached
- Hero stops the bad guys from escaping

Above is a very basic outline. There are many things that need to 'fleshed out', but the shape of the story starts to come into focus. Often times I will have more than one outline - a very basic one, and one that is a bit more detailed. Sort of the evolution of the story.

Now you have your idea, your notes, your outline - ready to write??? Well, not yet, still one more step that I would recommend.

Next... Chapters

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Part 1: Where to Begin

Writing Your Own NovelPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-28 09:31AM
So I thought I would record a series of blogs about how to approach writing a novel. I am certain that there is no one right way, but sometimes having a little direction can help a person down their own path. With that in mind, here I go with a little direction.

First and foremost is an idea. You need to start with some sort of general concept of what you want to write about. Is it an adventure story, a mystery, drama, etc. By no means do you need to have all the details and ins and outs of the story, but a general idea of what it is is kind of important. No doubt this is something you didn't need someone to tell you.

Once you have your idea, your options for the next step are wide open. I'm going to continue down the path of my process.

Notes, notes, and more notes. A story can get complicated very quickly. Characters, locations, random ideas, specific wording your want to include somewhere, time lines, etc. For me, it is hard to keep everything straight in my head. I want my story to be organized and proceed in a logical way (ie. no plot holes or distracting conflicts). Even though I spend a lot of time with the story in my head, I still can't always keep things straight. I highly recommend making notes of different aspects of your novel.

I use Excel, but you can use anything. I recommend a 'Characters' page, with names and short descriptions. I recommend a timeline page for events of the story as well as events that the story may reference. I also have a random thoughts page - I think of things that I want to include, but am not writing that part of the story, and don't want to forget them, so I write them down in my random page.

These basic thoughts are important pieces of your story, so it is a good idea to have a solid record of them.

Next... The Outline.

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