Tag Archives: Kindle

How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

You want to write fiction, but you don’t know how. That’s OK. No one else knows either, because fiction flows from your imagination. Unlike nonfiction, which is grounded in facts, and depends on logic, your fiction wilts and dies if you try to use the same mind state in writing it that you use for writing nonfiction.

Consider that essentially: fiction is daydreaming and igniting experiences in your readers.

Want to write fiction? Get out of your mind

Children are good at daydreaming. If you listened to your schoolteachers when they said “pay attention” you might think that daydreaming is wrong. However, fiction writers know that they daydream their stories to life.

Big tip: it’s not about the words.

In my fiction writing classes, new fiction writers focus on the words. That’s natural, because you’re getting used to writing. However, as we suggest in step 4, below, there are no perfect words. More to the point, if you focus on the words, your imagination will sit in a corner and sulk.

Your basic fiction writing mindset is: dream first — and start with an emotion.

Here are some simple steps to help you to write fiction when you “don’t know how.”

1. Start with an emotion: emotions trigger memory and images

I like this list of emotions from Byron Katie; download the PDF.

If you’re a newbie fiction writer, try spending five minutes a day feeling emotions.

Here’s an example. Feel apprehensive.

Hard, right? You need a situation. Imagine that your boss asked you to take the company’s biggest client out to dinner. The client made a lewd remark to your wife. You hit him. The police have been called.

How do you feel? Do you feel apprehensive?

Just for a moment, imagine yourself in that scenario. How does it feel to be apprehensive? What thoughts go through your mind?

As an exercise, come up with a little scenario of your own in which someone feels apprehensive.

If you spend five minutes a day on this little exercise, you’ll make your imagination stronger, and that’s a good thing for fiction writers.

2. Grab a person, anyone will do

I talked about my favorite character-creation method in Plot Fiction: Fill-In-The-Blanks Plotting For Pantsers:

All you need to create a basic character is an adjective, combined with a noun. The noun is usually the character’s job. Some examples:

  •  Naive model;
  •  Bedazzled lottery winner;
  •  Hardworking hairdresser;
  •  Jealous chef.

You can come up with any number of these thumbnail “characters” in a minute or two.

Choose an adjective and a noun, and create your character.

Now go back to your list of emotions, and choose one. Let’s say you chose impatient.

Create a little scenario in which your jealous chef (or whoever) feels impatient. Let’s say that the restaurant owner is complaining to the jealous chef that someone left a negative review for the restaurant on a social media website.

Your next step is to keep asking WHY.

3. Keep asking: “why?”

Grab a pen and a sheet of paper, or open a new computer file, and talk to the character you’ve just created. Keep asking him: WHY — you can add “who?” and “how?” too, if you like. 🙂

Write it down, don’t try to do this in your head.

You daydream your fiction, but you also need to write stuff down, otherwise you won’t remember it, sadly. Day dreams are just like night dreams. They can be hugely involving, but the moment they’re over, they start to fade. So get into the habit of dreaming first, then writing what you dreamed.

Keep going, until the story becomes clearer.

Congratulations: you’ve just experienced plotting. Easy, right?

4. Assure yourself that there are no “perfect” words, just emotion

Many authors find that their biggest challenge in writing fiction is getting out of their own way. Avoid thinking too much. Just daydream, and write down the first words which come to you. You can tinker with your words in revision, but not when you’re writing.

When you catch yourself wondering whether “temper” is preferable to “rage” you’ll know that you’ve just jolted yourself out of the fictive dream, in which:

the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it…

(If you get the chance, read John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. It’s a wonderful book.)

You DO know how to write fiction: just day dream, and write down your dreams

That’s pretty much all there is to writing fiction.

You can now write a bestseller and get your revenge on all those teachers who called you a dreamer. Have fun. 🙂

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Kindle Authors And Amazon’s £20,000 For 5,000 Words Contest

Kindle Authors And Amazon’s £20,000 For 5,000 Words Contest

For Kindle authors, the biggest challenge is getting readers to discover your ebooks. Indeed, it’s your only real challenge, aside from writing, of course.

Some Kindle authors feel that since the release of Kindle Unlimited (KU), Amazon has made it even harder for authors to make a living. Others are happier than six-year-olds on Christmas Eve: they adore KU.

What’s with KU anyway? Amazon provides a clue with its latest contest, The Kindle UK Storyteller Award: “Winning author to receive £20,000 cash prize and be recognised at central London award ceremony this summer.”

What does the $25,000 prize (for upwards of 5,000 words)  mean to Kindle authors?

For one thing, it offers a clue that KU isn’t going anywhere.

After the trauma experienced by authors whose Amazon accounts were cancelled, ostensibly because of Amazon’s algorithmic hammer blows, authors grew wary. They’ve yanked their ebooks from KDP Select, and thus from KU.

Since KU is such a rich target for scammers, I wondered whether Amazon would shut it down. That’s unlikely, because Amazon’s introducing KU to more countries, and judging by author’s forums, more authors love KU than hate it.

The £20,000 prize, for a 5,000 and upward short story, intrigued me, as I said in a comment on The Digital Reader’s article on the contest, Amazon Disguises Kindle Unlimited Recruiting Push as Writing Contest:

As they say, follow the money… At today’s exchange rate, £20,000 is $USD 24,945.80. According to The Bookseller, this is the second time in a few months Amazon’s run a contest in the UK. Amazon must be getting a LOT out of it. They could have put that money into the KU pool, which would have added a little something for each KU author, and maybe inspiring some authors to stay.

For the contest’s winning author, the £20,000 jackpot will change his or her life. I’m all for anything which helps and inspires authors, so Amazon gets a big tick for that.

What can Kindle authors can learn from Amazon’s contest?

I’ve made a little list.

  1. Amazon’s encouraging shorter works into KU. Writing a 60,000 word novel is challenging. By setting the contest entries at upwards of just 5,000 words, Amazon is both encouraging shorter works, and new authors;
  2. As stated, KU isn’t going anywhere;
  3. If you’ve eliminated or downgraded your KU involvement (I’m guilty of that), you may want to write some short stories.
    Short stories are excellent promotional tools for your novels, and build your visibility;
  4. If you’re a UK author, or are someone who can be in London in the northern summer to collect your prize, you could be a winner… 🙂

Re being in London: Amazon UK doesn’t seem to be limiting the contest to UK authors, so you could be based anywhere around the globe.

My final takeaway from the contest for Kindle authors

Amazon is actively looking for new authors — that is, they want lots of fresh content loaded into KDP Select.

So, what are you waiting for? Start writing. 🙂

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Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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5 Tips To Rescue Your Failed Nonfiction Ebook

5 Tips To Rescue Your Failed Nonfiction Ebook

You wrote a nonfiction ebook. It failed. One of my writing students is in precisely this situation. At the start of 2016, she wrote an ebook, and… Crickets. She can count her sales on the fingers of one hand. She contacted me, to ask whether I had any ideas.

Of course I do. You ask, I deliver. 🙂

Nonfiction ebooks: can you still make money?

Firstly, let’s talk about whether you can still make money writing nonfiction ebooks. The Amazon Kindle store is crowded. That said, some authors report that 2016 is their best year since 2010.

Here are the tips I shared with my student.

1. Keywords! Update your meta data today (be creative, and persistent)

Discoverability is the biggest challenge for all authors on Amazon, as well as on the other ebook retailers. If your readers can’t find your nonfiction ebook, they can’t buy it.

Check your ebook’s product page, and redo your keywords and description. Start by putting yourself in your readers’ shoes. If you were a reader, looking for the information in your book, what words would you use?

You have seven keywords you can use, as well as 4000 characters (approximately 800 words) which you can use for the description.

In addition to discoverability, remember that once a reader reaches your product page, he needs to feel that your book can help him. Give a clear description of your book: the challenges it solves, and the benefits to the reader. If you have great reviews, add a snippet of a review to the description.

Once you’ve revised your ebook’s meta data, you should see an uptick in sales within three or four days. No results? Tweak the meta data again.

2. Create a bright and sparkling new edition

I love ebooks, because you can edit them as often as you please to create a new edition. If you have material you’d like to add, go ahead and add it. Happy with the cover image? Change it if you aren’t.

Put “2nd edition” on the title page of your book, with the year: “2nd edition, 2017.” Update your meta data as well.

Additionally, remember that updating your nonfiction ebook is news. Create an online news release, and promote your new edition on social media.

Consider creating a new edition of your ebook once a year, or once every couple of years.

3. Contact influencers (your blogging and Facebook page finally pay off): reciprocate on promotions

The more people who know about your book, the more people can buy it. One of the best ways to promote your ebook is to use other people’s audiences.

Contact influencers in the subject matter of your ebook, and offer to do a guest post on their blog, with a link to your ebook. If you have a following on any of the social media networks, offer to do reciprocal promotions with an influencer in your niche. You promote them, they promote your ebook.

Consider partnering with three or four other authors in your niche, to create an ebook. Each of you writes a chapter or two. Add a link to the signup page for your mailing list in the book, as well as a link to your nonfiction ebook.

Webinars are a great way to promote ebooks. Join with another author or two, and create a webinar. With each of you promoting the webinar, you’ll be able to expand your audience, and create buzz for your ebook.

4. Give away free copies: hint you’d like a review

While “free” is no longer the excellent promotional strategy it used to be, you can still use it. Give away 200 free copies. You can’t force people to give you a review, but you can ask.

Aim to get copies into the hands of influencers.

5. Write more ebooks on your topic: explore it vertically (find out how well your topic sells, first)

Consider your nonfiction ebook’s subject matter. Could you write another ebook, which promotes your first ebook? Write another ebook, exploring your subject matter more deeply.

A suggestion: do make sure that ebooks in your subject are selling. KindleSpy is a useful tool which can show you how many ebooks are selling in any niche. If you find that the bestselling ebooks in your nonfiction ebook’s area are only selling a hundred copies a month, writing another ebook on the same subject may be a waste of time. Can you find a topic which sells better?

Use the tips to rescue your failed nonfiction ebook

Start by updating your ebook’s meta data. You should see results within a few days. Then revisit your ebook’s product page every three to six months, and update again.

My writing student put the above tips to use, and is thrilled with her sales. She’s now consistently selling copies every week, and is confidently getting ready to release her follow-up ebook.

I wish you similar success when you use the tips. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Watch for free contests, writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Write AND Sell in Just 8 Hours: Create Top-Selling Ebooks FAST

Write AND Sell in Just 8 Hours: Create Top-Selling Ebooks FAST

$4.99
What if you could create AND sell an ebook or other product in just eight hours? The product could be anything: a Kindle ebook, a collection of articles, a short story… a new writing service for your clients. This program will show you how to think outside the box, get creative — and SELL what you create. More info →
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