Mark C. King Author Blog

Mark C. King Author Blog

Bad Review

General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-20 03:09PM
So I received my first bad review from a reader. It was inevitable, you can't please all the people all the time.

How to handle this is the next question. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I'll tell you what I went through.

First, I was super disappointed. I want my book to be loved by everyone, everywhere. Not realistic, of course, but why not aim high. Okay, so my work is not beloved by all. Back to being disappointed. It is amazing what you can go through in a matter of minutes. I questioned whether or not I should even consider continuing writing. I questioned the competency of the reviewer. I felt miserable, angry, tired, exasperated... you get the point.

After a few minutes, I started to realize that this is normal. Even better than that, I realized that the reviewer had made some very helpful points. This is not always the case with criticism, but when it is specific, it can be used to your advantage.

Example: You stink! (not all that helpful)
Example: You stink at spelling (something specific, much more helpful)

The reviewer talked about certain word choices, mistakes, and so forth. Despite my wanting it to not be true, they were exactly right. Breathe.

I listened to the suggestions and was able to incorporate them in a revision of the book (this may not always be possible, but it was in my case). Because of this bad review, I think my book just got better!

Again, this is due to the specific, therefore helpful, feedback (still negative) that the reviewer gave.

I went from being kind of angry and disappointed to actually being thankful.

Will I always handle bad reviews like this? No idea. I certainly hope I can continue to see the help in what is provided.

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Write, write, write

General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-16 02:27PM
There are times when I really feel like writing. There are times when I feel like writing and feel particularly creative - those times are awesome!

There are many times, however, when i don't feel all that creative nor feel too inspired to write. This doesn't appear to be something unique to me, which is nice to know that at least I'm not alone.

But what should you do when you feel this way? I can't speak for everyone, but my answer is to keep writing. Maybe you don't write a lot. Maybe you don't write anything that is particularly good. But you keep the process going. Writing becomes a habit.

The thing to remember is that you are going to edit your work before it is released to anyone to read. So even if you end up writing some poor stuff, that is okay - you'll fix it later.

The important thing to do is keep going. One regret I have was when I stopped jogging. It took awhile to get into a groove, but once I was there, I actually enjoyed it. After a running event (which was the reason I started jogging) I took some days off. Then I took some more. Before long, running was a chore again. If only I didn't take those days off!

Writing is not exactly the same, but I firmly believe that consistency will help you to keep going. Creating a novel is not an easy thing and takes time. Don't make it even harder on yourself by taking long breaks from writing.

Remember, good or bad, taking time to write is an accomplishment!

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Workshop

General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-09 02:52PM
I attended my first writing workshop (at the Watch City Steampunk Festival) and found it to be very enjoyable.

I really didn't know what it would be like and wondered if there would be a way to leave if I didn't like it. A few minutes in and I was sure that I wouldn't be leaving early.

Why was it beneficial for me? A few reasons. First, it was very nice to hear other writers having the same experiences that I have had. Made me feel that I was not alone in my struggles.

Second, I enjoyed a little brainstorming session we held. Ideas were bounced around and it was great to see different perspectives on a single topic. Quite an interesting premise came out of that session...

Third, it was nice to make some more contacts. I did not go into this workshop with the notion to let anyone know that I had published a couple books - and certainly no intention to try and sell. Being that the group was small, we did introductions (including our writing history), so my 'secret' was out. When the session was over I talked with a few others and we exchanged emails. Also, if anyone was interested in reading what I had done, I offered to send them free digital copies.

All in all, if was fun and kept my interest in writing steampunk at a high level.

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Research, Research, Research

General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-04-29 09:51AM
One of the general requirements of writing is research. When talking about places, landscapes, buildings, and so forth, you want your reader to feel like they are there. the only way to do that is for you, the author, to have that same feeling.

If you are writing about a modern day house, that probably is not too hard to imagine. But what if you are writing about a place that you have never been? Perhaps your protagonist lives in a castle, or they are travelling to a country that you have never been to? How do you make these locations real?

The answer is research. My current story takes place in Egypt, just outside of Giza. In addition, it takes place over a hundred years ago. Being that I have never been to Egypt, and will never be there a hundred years ago, I needed to do a lot of research to get a feel for the area. Much of my digging revolved around old photographs and paintings. Paintings have an advantage as they are in color, whereas photos of the time were in black and white. I spent hours going through images, reading websites, and so forth. Interestingly, those hours have amounted to about two paragraphs in my current work. That might seem like a small payoff, but to set the scene is, to help transport the reader to that time and place is something I value greatly.

Another tool that is very helpful is Google maps. Maps in general show you where things are (obviously) but I got a new appreciation for the area by using Streetview. My first book was set in London (another place I haven't been) and I took a kind of virtual tour via using streetview. I 'walked' around London, the Thames, alleys, all the places that made up locations for my story. It is not a substitute for actually being there, but it was incredibly helpful.

There are many other reasons for research, but I thought I would take a few minutes and share what I have been doing currently and how it has helped me.

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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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