Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Congratulations! If you are reading this; you are not a bottom dweller.

I wish that I could assure you that just by reading my blog, you will instantly become a better writer; that you will be the next Amanda Hocking or that agents will get back to you right away. I just can’t. I can’t even make those things happen for myself at the snap of my fingers, but there is something I can promise you, and it’s this: If you have made your way here, then it is likely you seek out other writers. That is good news because it means you are less likely to publish an ebook with the worlds worst cover (friends don’t let friends use clipart!) that you are less likely to write the wrong sort of query letter (YOU SHOULD TOTES REPRESENT MY EPIC MIDDLE GRADE FANTASY THRILLER SUSPENSE SOFT ERROTICA ALMOST ENTIRELY COMPLETED AT 250,000,000 WORDS. I AM AWESOME AND HAVE A DOZEN UNNESSISARY SEQUELS PLANNED) basically you are far less likely to make preventable mistakes.

Today I had some ones ebook land in my lap. I wont tell you by which means the birdie ended up there, but I will tell you this. It was that bad. The kind of book that SOME people think the indie and self service types are all writing, and I had to wonder; how did this happen? Will it happen to me? Will it happen to you? Not likely. I can’t promise we are all on our way to instant best seller status, but you would be hard pressed to make all of these errors.

haha

1) Error One Book Cover: This particular number had a completely unrelated stock photo (landscape) it did not even fit across the whole virtual cover, and it was BORING. Some people will fight me tooth and nail on this, but if you want to sell your book to more than just your friends and a hand full of other writers it needs to be in a pretty, or at least intriguing package. I don’t care how rich and creamy the center is. Keep preaching that people should be able to see how awesome your book is through the crap, I’m done listening because no matter how well you did, you would have done better.

2) Too much dialogue. Sometimes people should have just written a script. The book I read today made me need to double check I hadn’t stumbled into reading bad fanfiction by an 8th grader from another country. Dialogue is a great way to break up action, or so I have been told. No where do people discuss those who just write conversation pieces.

3) Failure to hook the reader from the beginning. The first sentence of this book contained a lot of words, and they were all written in English yet somehow they didn’t seem to go together in anyway that made sense. It was run on, it confused me. Give me crap, and I go looking for crap. Give me magic, and I look for magic. I wont tell you which side of that you should be on, but I read the thing six times and it made less sense each go.

So now the lesson: Today make friends with writers! And remember: Friends don’t let friends use clipart!

16 comments :

Jay Krow said...

This really needed to be said. I hear a lot of indie writers complain about not getting any respect and then when I look at their book I understand why. It's a simple rule: if you want to be treated like an author then you must put in the work and not just pump out something that's ugly and barely legible. Good post.

ajkulig said...

It's not that I want to be ugly. I am FAR from perfect, but it is so easy to improve if you have but one writing friend who is not your mom or married to you. The people who follow other writers around on the internet, appear more willing to imrove their skills.

Melanie_McCullough said...

Hilarious post, as usual. I am a huge culprit of judging books by their covers. Yeah, I know it's all about the writing, but I'm not going to get that far if your cover isn't appealing.

It's like watching TV. I can't watch an otherwise great show that lacks a character that I find attractive. It's just not worth the effort.

Melanie McCullough
http://melaniemccullough.blogspot.com

Patricia Lynne said...

There is someone I follow on twitter and he's posted excerpts of his novel on his blog and it sounds like an interesting read and the main reason I haven't bought his 99c ebook is because the cover is horrible! I bought his other one and sometimes when he wonders why no one is buying I'm wondering should I say something? I don't want to offend the guy because I know he does his own covers (and is an artist, he's posted very good drawings on his blog too.) Even then, it's like how can you not see the cover and think it's good?

I am also afraid that I will over look something in my story, some glaring grammar mistake and everyone will say I'm a crappy writer. I have to remind myself that people have already said they like my story and to expect a some people not to like what I write.

Being a writer is nerve-wracking.

Angela Scott said...

First, may I say, right on sister! Please for the love of God get a decent cover. I'm a judger. I am. I judge. I can't help it.

Second, anyone named Angela is pretty darn cool in my opinion. I don't even need to fully know you to know that :)

I keep flip-flopping between continuing the horribly long journey of traditional publishing or stepping into the ring of self publishing. Self publishing scares me. I've been researching like crazy.

If someone says I suck as a writer, I want that completely based on my content and not on my cover choice or because I had my "mommy" edit my book for me. (I plan to hire all that out-professionally).

What scares me the most is the whole marketing aspect. I have yet to find someone say, "Hey, I marketed this way and it worked really, really well."

Anyway, I can not say enough about covers. Get a good cover. Don't create one on the paint application on your computer. Don't do it. Just say no.

JenA said...

You are too funny! Love the post and Love Amanda as well! Thanks for keeping it reelz!

Lyn Midnight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lyn Midnight said...

Just so you know, I removed the previous post because it had very annoying typos. Sorry! :D

I just wanted to say: Well said.

First of all this -- I AM AWESOME AND HAVE A DOZEN UNNESSISARY SEQUELS PLANNED -- is sometimes how I sound in my head, lol. I try not to come across like that though.

Second --

'The book I read today made me need to double check I hadn’t stumbled into reading bad fanfiction by an 8th grader from another country.'
I shudder at the thought of reading my own 8th-grade fanfics (see, I'm Bulgarian), though I don't remember using too much dialogue. Just a deluge of cliches strung together in an inconherent text... Sigh.

Third, I like your style. Like someone said before -- funny -- and because I eat funny for breakfast, lunch and dinner (at night I eat vampires), I'll be checking out your blog. Thanks for the read! :)

Orlando said...

Great information. I would even say 2 & 3 apply to self publishing or traditional publishing.

ajkulig said...

Lyn, that shall not be judged for a few typos on this blog. The day I need to hire an editor to read my posts (or have the money to do so) becomes the day that I never again leave my writing cave.

You are pretty funny yourself, about the fanfiction you should check out some of the stuff on fanfiction.net and before anyone gets bent out of shape I know ALL of it's not grabage... just the large majority. I too wrote fanfiction in the 8th grade, of course I had already written 9 novels and 2 plays so I was a bit of a lit snob ;)

Orland, you betcha. Even number one of course if you are a legacy publisher then you don't have control over that. However, this one series, and I wont name names... Such HYPE good first book, moderatly annoying second book- but they were both good covers. Third book and the chick on the front is practically deformed. Yuck.

K. C. Blake said...

That's horrible. This is the reason why I keep running into people who make a face when they hear I self-published. Their eyes glaze over, and they change the subject fast.

I think my cover for Vampires Rule turned out okay considering I did it myself. It isn't a stock photo. I took a picture of a silver dagger charm and changed the colors of the jewels because the girl in the story has the charm and it's kind of important. So far everyone who has read it has given me an enthusiastic thumbs up, but the problem is getting people to try it.

cynthiarobertson said...

First time I've ever visited your blog, Angela, and I have to say, I agree wholeheartedly with this post. If you are going to self pub, do it right and do it well. Save up, if you have to, so you can hire an editor and a graphic artist who does covers. Read up on formatting for the sites you plan to use to distribute so it doesn't come out all wonky and odd.
But first, of course, first before anything else, write the best book you possibly can!
Nice blog =)

ajkulig said...

cynthia- YEP do it right. There are way more ways to do it wrong, but there also quite a few ways to do it right. I think authors need to learn to lean on eachother. Editors are pricey, but a well rounded critique group can preform the same task on a different time frame. I have also met many artist/ writers on twitter that would be more than willing to trade off art for other things. More on that later though.

Also if anyone needs a cover artist @JenBrookman over on twitter is mine and she is AMAZING. I am also not required to say stuff like that. ;)

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