Over reliance on narrative summary is one of the surest signs that a story, whether fiction or nonfiction, is written by a novice writer. The author, often because he is concerned with making all of his plot points, sounds like a school child giving a book report. This happened, then that happened, next another thing happened, the writer tells his reader. There is not much detail in his account of the story. The author / narrator distances his reader from the events he recounts because he tells the audience what happened rather than making his readers front row spectators as drama unfolds on the page. Narrative summary is often written in the past tense, while a story that engages its readers relies on the immediacy of present tense. Avoiding over reliance on narrative summary is relatively easy if you rely on a piece of advice from Mark Twain. “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
Jane Green is not someone you would think of as a self-publisher. She’s the author of New York Times best-selling novels The Beach House and Second Chance and is generally considered, along with Helen Fielding, one of the founders of the Chick Lit genre. But when Green, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, wrote Good Food, drawing on stories from her life and the food that runs through them. filled with recipes and photos, she decided to publish it herself. The experience taught her some lessons that are important for all self-publishing authors.
Have you considered using a pen name when you write? When I started my blog, I considered using one so I could write about whatever I wanted without it being traced back to me. However, I realized I would never be able to share what I wrote there with my friends or readers nor did I want to have two writing lives. Since my books were already so personal, I decided my blog could be as well. I can understand, though, someone choosing to use a pen name if they were writing in a genre they didn’t want people to know about or if they had a job their writing might interfere with. If you do choose to have a pen name, how do you market your books without revealing who you really are? Online is the easiest avenue for such a venture; you can usually go by a name you’ve created for yourself but did you know this is not always the case? While most sites let you make up a name, not all of them do. Here’s a rundown of the main social media sites authors use to promote themselves.
I never met my Uncle Cecil. He died June 17, 1944, just over two and a half years before I was born. But I thought a lot about him as we took a few days off over Memorial Day Weekend. That was appropriate because Uncle Cecil, known to everyone in the family as Squeak, along with so many other American soldiers, was killed in Normandy, near the town of Sainte Mere Eglise, eleven days after D-day. We are working on a second edition of Squeak’s War: Letters from the Front Lines of World War II...As we edit Squeak’s letters, and prepare pictures and documents for the book, I can’t help but think that there is no better way to honor someone who has served in our military than to remember that person’s stories so that generations that never had the opportunity to meet the veterans in their families will have a chance to know them and what they gave to defend their country.
As we move into Memorial Day weekend it is a time for all us to remember and honor those who served their country, and to reflect on how that service impacts their lives, and ours. Are you are a veteran? We urge you to tell your story. If you know a veteran, we urge you to encourage and assist them in making sure that their story is preserved. At Stories To Tell, we are always happy to help you preserve your veteran’s story.
There’s no better way to learn than to listen to a master. Last night Nancy and I had the opportunity to hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough talk about his new book The Wright Brothers. Today we’re in St. Charles, Missouri for the National Genealogical Society Conference which opens tomorrow. We’ll spend four days talking with people who are working on family history books about how to tell their stories. The best advice I might offer is three insights contained in McCullough’s talk last night in Washington D. C..
There are many important choices when choosing a printer for your self-published book. Author Sarah Hoggatt discusses the choices she made in publishing the third book of her trilogy.
As an author, your success all depends on connecting with your audience. You’ll need to let them know you have a book of interest to them, get it into their hands, (whether it’s a purchase or a free gift), and then hope they read and “connect” with your words, in their minds and hearts. Let’s face it – not everyone out there cares to read your book. These “connections” only happen with the right audience. There are three types of audience. The audience you target will affect many of the choices you make as you publish. One the one end of the spectrum, we have large-scale commercial publishing. On the opposite end, some authors write for a very small audience, just family and friends. And then there is an ever-growing segment of the writer’s market, niche publishing. Let’s look at how these audiences place authors on different paths.
Authors who want to self-publish a book, especially those self-publishing for the first time, usually find they need some help in getting their books ready for and into the hands of their audience. Who should they turn to? Let’s look at two very different paths into print: supported self-publishing and author services.
Sarah Hoggatt discusses how research in a genealogy museum in High Point, North Carolina helped her discover a treasure trove of information showing her connections to a “huge” family and in a database of cousins kept by the museum.
Take a moment and ask yourself: are you backing up your writing? Are you saving it somewhere besides your computer? If something happened to your laptop, what else would you lose? Here's some important advice for writers.
A friend recently asked me when I started writing poetry. Two words: junior high. Isn’t that when most people start writing poems? That moment in childhood when emotional angst is at its sharpest? It’s not what I would have chosen as my writing specialty but twenty-three years later, I’ve realized what a gift it is and I’m still at it I understand that poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea but here is the thing. Writing poetry, whether it is your passion or not, can greatly help all of your other writing by making it stronger and more colorful. Though I am sure there are more, here are three ways learning to write good poetry will help you be a better writer.
More and more genealogists are looking to DNA testing to open new avenues of research into their family histories. Stories To Tell's Sarah Hoggatt recently decided to take the plunge. She outlines what she learned about DNA testing providers and how she ultimately chose the provider she would use.
Why would an author who is self-publishing want to write a book proposal? Aren’t book proposals the tools authors use when seeking an agent or an acquisitions editor at a traditional publishing house to guide their book into print? Self-publishing eliminates those gatekeepers. Before we dismiss the need for a self-publishing author to write a book proposal, let’s take a moment to think about what a proposal is and why a self-publishing author might benefit from writing one.
Staying grounded is one of the most important things a successful author can do. Sarah looks at how to do it.