Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Art of the RT.

To RT or Not to RT?

That is the question.

Many authors use Twitter to make friends in the book industry and to promote their writing. Do endless RT’s, given and received, sell books?
            When I began marketing my first suspense book, She’s Not There, I quickly became overwhelmed by how many avenues were available for promotion. It didn’t take long to come to the realistic opinion that it was not feasible do every type of social media and still have time to write. I came across an eBook by Kathy Lynn Hall called Blog and Tweet, advising authors to focus two things, Twitter and Blogging. This instantly appealed to me, since those were two formats that I actually enjoyed doing. Since then, I’ve accumulated 225 blog followers, and more than 800 followers on Twitter.
            I spend a lot of time RTing for my fellow authors and Twitter friends. While it is impossible to tell if this practice actually promotes book sales, it does do the one thing everyone says in necessary— it helps build an author platform.
            A few things I’ve learned NOT to do when adding RTs.
1.     RTing junk. I only RT a tweet that will aid the other person. RTing something they’ve RTed for someone else, or a piece of a conversation isn’t helpful. Take time to find the right one!
2.     RTing multiple thank you’s I’ll never understand why some people send out thank yous to multiple recipients. Seems like a waste of time to me. And RTing those things? Right up there with junk.
3.     Don’t use an automated RT service. Yikes! These will RT anything, even a simple “Thank You for following.” message. Another time waste.
4.     Don’t do too many RTs at any given time. It could result in a Twitter shut down for you, and you cannot tweet anything for hours. If this matters to you, keep your RTs to about ten every half hour.
5.     When building a following and a group of fellow RT tweeps, it might make sense to focus on authors of your own genre.

Dear readers,
I spend too much time on RTs! In order to get more writing time in, I’ve been forced to cut down. You can set Twitter to email you any time someone RTs you. As your following increases, responding to them all by RTing back can become extremely time consuming. I’ve mainly been returning RTs now with people I’ve known a long time on Twitter, and on writers of my genre, suspense. Sorry, but I can’t promise that RTing will reap huge rewards. It will make you some Twitter friends and get your name out there. Do it wisely.
Have a wonderful week,


Monday, October 7, 2013

Pitfalls of Writing Books in a Series

Serial killer or Serial Books?


What happens after your first novel is published? Is it set aside, thrown into solitary like a serial killer who’s gotten the ‘book’ thrown at him? Or is your first thought the one fan who wants to read more about your characters?
            Serials and trilogies are all the rage. As a reader, I tend to be quite judgmental of them, since they are difficult to do in a manner satisfying to both the people who requested the sequel and also to new readers who have yet to bond with the characters.
            The four major challenges of writing series books:
1.     The easiest to quit reading is the second (or fifth!) of a series that assumes the reader has not only read all the others, but has read it yesterday. The author of a series needs to find the right balance of information for the reader to make each book readable.
2.     Worst is the sequel that spends 50% of the book in a giant laxative dump, explaining every detail of the first book. Again, balance is everything. Add necessary back-story sparingly and when relevant to the plot.
3.     Another terrible-twist is the dreaded killer who manages to survive to make a comeback in every successive novel, managing to be more annoying to the reader than post-nasal drip.
Patterson is fond of this in his Cross series and I’m not sure Patricia Cornwell could write a book without a villain from the past in a starring role, or at the very least, the son, daughter, cousin, mother, father, or adopted child of said killer stepping in to repeat the pattern. Their are always exceptions, but the most successful series are those where the main characters remain the same but a fresh plot is introduced. Jonathan Kellerman does this brilliantly in his Alex Delaware novels.
4.     No matter how well written, unless a reader has read every book in the series, he or she will not have the same connection with the characters and their relationships. Often the relationships feel hollow because of it. One way to avoid this is by giving the relationships new problems, so readers can get involved in the characters' personal lives.
5.  Readers are annoyed by endings that are crafted with the next book in mind. This seems to be true more so in trilogies than series. A reader doesn't like to feel at the end of the story  like he's just been set up to buy the next in the series!

Since, as a reader, I’m so darn picky about them, I’ve been timid about doing a series. I'm working on my third suspense novel, and though not really one of a series, it does star a character from the first book, She’s Not There. My critique group has assured me I’ve added just the right amount of back-story for new readers. Unfortunately, my first beta-reader, even though she’s read She’s Not There, wanted more detail about the past! Proving, once more, how difficult it is to both maintain original readers and attract (and keep!) new ones.

Dear readers,
Please keep in mind the above suggestions and commentary are from my point-of-view as a reader. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, long before I became an author, and still find time to read. So, many of the above comments are personal opinion. Please give all of us the benefit of your thoughts and expertise on the topic by adding a comment.
            Hope you are all finding time to enjoy the wonderful fall weather.
Till next time,