Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, August 30 and 31, 2012

Maybe it’s because a long weekend’s coming up, at least here in the US, that there wasn’t a lot out there on the blogosphere that really jumped out at me yesterday and today. That means a light (mostly) reading day for you.

The only piece on craft today comes from Neil Abbott (@NeilAbbott), guest posting on the WORDplay blog. Neil suggests that you Use Character Quirks to Grab Readers’ Attention and names two specific ways to do this: quirks as part of the story or as symbols for some aspect of the character’s personality. All fine and well, and I know I’ve done that in my WIP, but I think a word of caution is in order, too: don’t be heavy-handed about it. Readers won’t be so thrilled if you give a character a symbolic quirk and then beat them over the head with it to make sure they get the meaning.

Four things for you on the business side of the topic: one practical, two big-time warnings, and one practical and encouraging, in that order.

  • Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman) offers some tips for How to Find Out What Readers Want on The Book Designer. Joel suggests both on- and off-line places writers can go to find out and discusses techniques and resources for doing surveys.
  • Victoria Strauss (@VictoriaStrauss) brings a disturbing story to the Writer Beware! blog: Fake Jared And His Friends: Author Solutions’ Misleading PR Strategies. It seems that “Jared Silverstone,” a “Publishing Consultant” for Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), a company that’s been getting a lot of negative attention lately, both before and after Pearson Publishing acquired it, isn’t a real person. “He” even has fake Twitter and Facebook accounts. I can’t fathom what ASI is trying to accomplish by creating fake people for PR purposes. This is really bizarre.
  • In a similar vein, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (@kriswrites) posts a very long (again, *sigh*) jeremiad titled A Warning To All Writers Who Need Help Indie Publishing. The article centers around a many-times New York Times bestselling author who, apparently because she didn’t read the Terms of Use for a web-based company’s e-publishing “services” may now be locked into a horrible contract-like situation (even though no formal contract was ever signed) that might result, Kris says, in the author not only not ever getting any money from any of the e-books sold but may not be able to sell those e-books through another outlet if she becomes dissatisfied with what this unnamed company is doing. Kris’ ultimate point–read and make sure you understand what you’re signing up for, whether it’s in a formal contract or a contract-like document, no matter where it’s located or what format it’s in–is absolutely spot-on.  (That’s why I’ve boldfaced and italicized it.) I know we writers often don’t like to deal with all this business stuff, but I’ll bet we like getting screwed out of income that is rightfully ours even less.
  • Finally, and on a much more positive note, publicist Crystal Patriarche (@booksparkspr) announces Indie Authors–You CAN Do It on Writer Unboxed. Crystal offers five steps indie authors can take (well, four they can/should plus one they shouldn’t–buying positive reviews) that will help them achieve their sales goals. Note that the first three involve spending money to make money and require knowing what you’re signing up for when you do. Once again: it’s a business.

Have a great weekend. “See” you again on Monday.

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