Friday, 8 March 2013

Sometimes It Pays To Be A Realist!

Can creative writing be taught? It's complicated. Illustration by Dave Donald. 

So you’ve finished your book that has consumed the last couple of years of your life. From the hatching of the original idea in your brain to the countless drafts, constant rewrites, book cover designing and redesigning, editing followed by more rewriting. Now finally, one beautiful sunny morning, you smile as you look at your tired reflection in your bathroom mirror because you realise that it’s finally done, it’s all over – your book is finished and ready for the world to enjoy and share.

How will all those lucky readers react to that clever plot twist you carefully negotiated in Chapter Seven? Will they laugh when they read that bit near the end that reveals that the killer is not in fact Bill, as they previously assumed, and that the vampire is actually bisexual? How your mind bounces around with enthusiasm and anxious wonder. It’s all so terribly exciting as you wait patiently for all the glowing reviews and sky high sales figures and you greedily clasp your hands together thinking how you will be handsomely rewarded for all that hard work you put into writing your literary masterpiece.

Unfortunately, reality steps in and cruelly stamps on your dream. Noone seems to be remotely interested in buying or even downloading a sample of your work as they hurriedly get on with their own lives. Maybe putting the prices down might help, but no, still nobody seems to care! Eventually you realise that, even if you gave your book away for free, still no one would notice. In fact, you would probably have more success swimming out to sea and trying to sell your book to the hungry shark that swims around you in circles in the sea, waiting patiently for you to drown. “Please don’t eat me Mr. Shark, I’ll give you one of my books for free?”

Ok, that scenario was a bit far-fetched but I’m sure a lot of us can relate to it? We have all been there, struggling to sell our books to a seemingly disinterested crowd. It’s what happens next that counts. We all have a choice. We can either give in and get eaten by the shark or we can decide that our book is still worth fighting for and patiently swim back to the beach shore and try again. Looking at your situation from a different angle might be the answer. Be honest for a second and acknowledge that, in the present climate of eBook publishing, there is a staggering and overwhelming amount of written crap out there, all competing and jostling with your sacred mumblings for the buyer’s attention. It’s time to be realistic and ask yourself : “Why on earth should the buyer waste one cent of their hard earned money on my book? They are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying books?”

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”. Exactly! What you can do is change the things you can change! Think of the advantages ebooks have over printed books and rewrite the book or, as part of the learning process, start writing the next book. If you didn’t already, get a professional editor to work with and keep writing whilst absorbing every piece of criticism you can find out there about your writing. Perhaps the book cover needs more work? If so then do another one. Experiment with the book price, special offers and promotions. Read all the reviews, however terrible, and try and learn from what they say. Change your sampling ratio for free downloads? Change the title even? Above all, learn everything you can along the way. Right now, there are 3 free books written by Mark Coker, over on explaining how to format eBooks properly and how to market your books. Start reading them and you already have an advantage over half your competitors.

Finally, remember there is a lot of bullshit out there. You may know a friend who has fifty 5 star reviews on amazon for his / her book but don’t take that at face value as it’s usually a slightly warped version of the facts. Perhaps most of the reviews were written by their friends, all of whom have been emotionally bribed to purchase and write a glowing review? Who knows, as it recently surfaced in the news last year, perhaps the author is simply buying his or her own books with different accounts and giving themselves great reviews? Even more eye opening, perhaps they are using the services of a third party who they pay to give out numerous reviews. This is now big business in China and India! Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to get noticed and truth is the first casualty. Bottom line, be prepared for rejection, negative results and bad reviews. It’s what you do with it is what matters. You didn’t really think it was going to be easy did you? If so, it’s time to shake hands with Mr Reality and improve your craft to the highest possible grade. Don’t give up, learn and grow and you will find success. It’s going to take a bit of time though!

This is an article written by me for publication on our new website "Authors helping Authors" which you find at 



Being an author is much like being a starving artist when you first get started and we are trying to build a community of authors that can offer advice and tips about resources to help everyone. The focus is on providing support, information and resources to authors so they don’t have to learn the hard way.  The hope is that authors will pitch in by sharing helpful tips and links for others.

We have also set up a Facebook page be sure to LIKE the page and let all of your friends know about it – remember friends don’t let friends struggle through the process of being a successful author alone!

About AHA’s Founders

AHA was started by two professionals and published authors, Debra L Hartmann and Roger Gerald Scott.  Having found a common bond some time ago in helping each other by sharing tips and advise purely by a chance meeting on twitter, they also shared a sense of sorrow and wishes for change in the author’s world as it is today.  Anyone with a passion to write and a talent or potential talent should be able to find success in fulfilling their dreams.  Everyone benefits from that!  The writer is fulfilled and the reader has more great literature to consume.  As it is now, there are so many roadblocks and failures that many give up, many get through by cutting corners and fewer truly find best selling success.  The concept of AHA is based on being able to compile resources, advise and helpful tips in one place so they are easier to find, pulled from all of the wonderful authors that have already found a way through the mire of becoming an author and encouraging a helpful and user friendly environment for everyone to find what they need in order to do better in their craft.

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