Understanding How Amazon Links to Markets
Understanding How Amazon Links to Markets
The most important step in getting your books into the reader’s hands is directing them to a storefront. Since Amazon has the largest market share globally, many opt to target them exclusively and gain access to features such as Kindle Unlimited.
Authors will typically provide a link to their book from Amazon.com or their regional counterparts. These links can be used on Twitter, Facebook, other social media, and the author’s blog. For example:
Does that link work for everyone? How about those that shop in a different market? Good question, but first we need to explain what an Amazon market is.
Amazon is separated into regional marketplaces usually but country. This is why you will find sites like Amazon.com (United States), Amazon.ca (Canada), Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom) and so forth. For various reasons, not all goods can be purchased in a market that is not your own, and this extends to Kindle Books. So how does this apply when people are sent to the wrong market? The answer is nuanced.
On a computer, Amazon will inform users that they are not in their market and will redirect them. That is not the case for mobile users, the example below shows a case where the user is not in their default market (Amazon.com).
Page viewed on Amazon.com, not the user’s default market
Since the user is in the wrong market, they are told that This title is not currently available for purchase. Some potential readers will know what is going on and change the link. Then they would then see the following page:
Page viewed on Amazon.ca, the user’s default market
What if the user is not aware this problem exists and/or how to correct? What happens then? Simple answer, the user moves on or contacts a confused author. Potentially leading to one less sale, and the opportunity to get a positive review or build a fan base.
So how do we fix this? Here are three easy methods.
Authl.it http://authl.it/ is a service that provides a jump page for the user. When someone clicks on the generated link, they will see the novel, synopsis and shows users various markets. This service requires no account and comes with a concise link mimicking services like Bit.ly http://bitly.com/.
Note that the page shows which market is most likely correct, reducing the chances for someone choosing the wrong market. Also, note that not all markets are available through this service.
BookLinker http://www.booklinker.net/ is a site that offers the ability to create market agnostic links. The links are free for the basic service, easy to create, and provides a simple link that you can pass on. These links can also be customized, so they are easier to remember. When users click on the link, they are redirected to their market, a process that is invisible to the user.
Universal Books Links
Universal Books Links http://www.books2read.com/links/ubl/create/ is a service offered by Draft2Digital http://www.draft2digital.com/ and provides a similar function to BookLinker. The difference is how this service also links marketplaces other than Amazon, such as Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. The service is free, and Universal Book Links are created automatically when you push books through Draft2Digital.
You can also add links that Draft2Digital will not target, such as Smashwords. Overall this is an excellent solution for those who go wide. Users who click on the links will get the option of choosing their market and going straight to the book. Links on this service can also be customized, just like BookLinker.
Launch page created by Universal Book Links
Note: All of these services can be paired with a web link shortening service such as Bit.ly http://bitly.com/. This can be invaluable on sites like Twitter with a limited character count and provides the ability to track links for statistical analysis.
In short, Amazon has multiple markets to sell Kindle books. A link for one country may not redirect users and result in a lost sale.
Using services like Authl.it, BookLinker, and Universal Book Links helps you provide one link which negates this problem. Users end up where they need to be, and you can grow your fanbase from there!
Evelyn Chartres is the nom de plume for a self-published Canadian author. The writer of three Gothic fantasy novels, Evelyn introduced the Portrait in 2016, the Grand in 2017 and the Van Helsing Paradox in 2018.
A fan of the phrase live to eat, Evelyn shares her recipes on evelynchartres.com. Her recipes have a loose focus on French-Canadian cuisine, featuring deep-dish meat pies, seafood, and desserts rarely seen outside of La Belle Province.
Evelyn is currently living in Ottawa, Ontario and is busy laying the foundations for her next project.
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Your story begins with beautiful, lyrical prose. You engage the reader's interest with your scenic descriptions, the protagonist's wounded backstory, and a hook that makes the reader hungry for more. Then it's time for someone to speak, and you feel like your characters can't string two words together.
Some authors struggle with dialogue, and if that's something you can relate to, I'll be offering a few tips to help you put just the right words in your character's mouths.
First, consider your genre, decade and setting. If your novel is set in a Dystopian future on an imaginary planet, make sure your characters' vernacular reflects that. I am also not a fan of filtering words or censoring my characters. Readers want to relate to the heroes in the story, and if someone stubs their toe on a coffee table really hard, you bet they are going to share an expletive or two.
You also have to remember to add the bits and pieces of real life that would naturally interrupt a conversation. No one speaks in full paragraphs without interruption. The phone will ring, thunder might boom, or that pot of boiling water on the stove will need tending.
Give your characters a voice that will be hard for the reader to forget. Make them as real as possible. Admissions of love, for example, should sound realistic and not contrived or forced, or worse, cliched.
I like to write my characters as if I were directing them in a movie. Remember to add expressions, hand movements, or even music. During a heated argument, a person doesn't stand stoically. They pace, they stuff their hands in their pockets and do everything human. Add emotion to your dialogue accordingly. A death-bed scene will include crying. A celebration will consist of shouts of joy or contagious laughter.
Dialogue is every bit important as the rest of the book. Passion is key; realism too. Your readers will want to relate to your characters (or wish that sexy protagonist was speaking directly to them.) As the reader, if you feel like you're eavesdropping on something juicy and wonderful, then the author did a great job.
When all is said and done, read it out loud to yourself to hear the conversation just how the reader might interpret it in their mind.
Last, but never least, be bold. If you're unafraid of what your characters will say next, your readers will no longer think of them as imaginary people, but simply someone they would love to befriend. That's a great compliment to any writer.
Barbara Avon is a multi-genre author. She is also the author of three children’s books. Her books have been received favourably across the board, entertaining readers with an almost “movie-like” quality. Barbara has written since she was young, pursuing her dreams and vowing to write for as long as she can. She has worked at several different media publications and will continue to publish novels until “her pen runs dry.” She believes in paying it forward, and you can read about this belief as the theme is given voice in most of her books. Avon lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, Danny, their tarantula, Betsy, and their houseplant, “Romeo.”
You can find her engaging in the Writing Community conversation on Twitter: @barb_avon
Why do people clink their glasses when they raise a toast? Historically it was to ensure a drop from your mug of ale or wine landed in mine and vice versa, and if you poisoned my cup, then your cup would also be tainted. Says a lot about how people took breaches of trust seriously.
You’re walking down the street in medieval England, and you notice men missing their index and middle fingers. What does that tell you? Have they been caught pick-pocketing? Some sort of accident at the smiths? At the time, it meant they were archers, and they were captured by an enemy who cut off those fingers so they couldn’t draw a bow.
Now, take those two missing fingers and place them in another society and the meaning changes completely. In another culture, say one where healers use their index and middle fingers to check the energy or meridians of a patient, having their fingers cut off might mean they were banned from practicing because they angered the queen or that an occupying force is stamping out the knowledge of the practice by targeting the healers.
Context. Everything your characters do happens in a context. Your book might be contemporary, an alternate history, or occur in a second-world. Wherever they are, they have rules and norms that are known to the character. Sometimes, they follow the norms, sometimes they break them. But the norms exist and define what is acceptable and not acceptable in the world. And how your character interacts with them shapes the problems they face, their internal conflicts, and how they interact with others.
Take for example a man in medieval Britain with his fingers cut off. Members of his community might view him as brave and worthy of help getting back on his feet. But, in the context of a second-world, where pick-pockets have their fingers cut off, another community will not be as inclined to welcome and support the person because of the connotation of the missing digits.
Having a ritual or a behaviour without attaching meaning to it drags on the story. Why did that character go to that shrine and pray and not another shrine? Why do those characters clasp at the elbows in greeting? What’s the seating arrangement at the dinner table and what does it suggest that mother sits at the head and father sits to her left?
To bring out the world you’re shaping, pick 2-3 norms that your character bumps up against. Maybe one cultural expectation works in their favour and empowers them, and the other two disadvantages them or causes problems for them in one way or another that they have to overcome.
Building meaning into your norms enriches the world, characterisation, and adds layers to the conflicts your characters face.
For me, the process of writing a story is an adventure. As a writer of epic fantasy, people often ask, “How do you world build? How do you establish plot lines? How do you create characters? How do you build magic systems?” To each and every one of those questions, the answer is simple. I don't.
So many people devote countless hours (some take years!) building a fantastical world. They spend days and weeks fretting over magic systems. They agonize until the sun comes up about the plot. I get it. There are a lot of people who require structure. Hey, if that works for them, great, but I don't have the patience, nor the time to devote to these things when I could be writing instead. I don’t need to stress over things my characters are going to sort out for themselves anyway.
What do I mean by that? Well, in some circles, I am called a ‘pantser.’ I had never heard of this term until a few months ago. It means I fly by the seat of my pants. Truth be told, I like to think I fly by the seat of my character's pants. When I sit down to write, I haven't spent weeks agonizing over scene development or crisis management. Heck, I don't even know what the land looks like around the next bend in the trail. The beauty is, I don't have to. My characters tell me everything I need to know as they experience it.
My worldbuilding consists of maintaining two detailed excel spreadsheets, which, by the way, are made and added to as the story progresses. Nothing is done beforehand. One spreadsheet, the places spreadsheet, has a tab for everyplace, road, river, etc. I put in the story—each with their own description. The other spreadsheet, the people spreadsheet, lists almost every character mentioned, with 3 subcategories: Physical Description, Clothing, and Other. (The obligatory guy that shows up and becomes collateral damage, doesn’t count.)
At some point, I generate a map, but not before the story is well underway. Why, because the characters haven’t told me what’s on the map yet. And magic systems? Huh? I write fantasy. Magic is an inherent part of the story. I don’t explain how people stay alive by describing the intricacies of breathing: oxygen enters one’s lungs via a tube called an esophagus and then passes through…you get what I’m saying? You just accept the fact that the character’s body is capable of breathing. That being said, I don’t need to explain how magic works—by definition, it’s magic!
There are days when the writing process doesn’t flow. Those days are tough. Some people like to hide behind the security curtain many refer to as writer’s block. I refuse to let myself do this. On the days writing doesn’t come naturally, my word count suffers for sure, but I still get a count. I force myself to write the word, ‘The,’ and then the next word, and then the one after that. You might surprise yourself. Once you change your mindset from “I can’t do it” to “I am doing it,” more often than not, the so-called ‘writer’s block’ disappears. Don’t worry if it’s not Pulitzer prize winning material—that’s what editing is for!
For me, writing a story is simple. I put a character in a room, or on a trail, or in a boat, and all I need to do is have them place that first foot in front of the other and give them a shove. The rest is easy. The land and their story will evolve before their eyes. My job as a writer is to keep up and tell the reader what my characters are experiencing.
Life is short. Don’t let it pass you by with your characters locked inside your head. If you don’t write it, no one can read it. Sit in front of your keyboard, look through your character’s eyes, and take part in the wondrous adventure awaiting them.
Richard H. Stephens
Born in Simcoe, Ontario, in 1965, Richard began writing circa 1974, a bored child looking for something to while away the long, summertime days. His penchant for reading The Hardy Boys led to an inspiration one sweltering summer afternoon when he and his best friend realized, "Hey, we could write one of those." And so, Richard did.
As his reading horizons broadened, so did his writing. Star Wars inspired Richard to write a 600-page novel about outer space that caught the attention of a special teacher, Mr. Woodley, who saw his talent and encouraged him to keep writing.
A few years later, Richard visited a local bookstore. The proprietor introduced him to Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks. Richard's writing life was forever changed.
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/richardhstephens
YouTube Channel: https://bit.ly/2NKpOhn
Three weeks into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I’m seeing a lot of people on social media say they’ve hit a wall when it comes to their work in progress (WIP). Let’s face it, churning out 2,000 or more words a day every day for weeks on end is a challenging pace.
When I’m stuck with a WIP, I ask myself what kind of inspiration I need. Sometimes, I do not understand a character. The way that I’m describing them is flat, they have poor dialogue, and they’re doing things mechanically and clinically. To get inspired, I watch a movie or two or three on a related theme that I’m writing on. Sometimes I’m trying to write something funny, so I watch a comedy in a setting that’s related to my books. If I’m stuck on a military character, then I pick a movie appropriate to the period of time I’m writing and focused on the rank that I’m writing (foot soldiers versus from Caesar’s perspective). I watch their body language and jot down notes to see how I can incorporate some of that into my characterisations.
If I need to brainstorm more realistic interactions, then I pick an appropriate public spot, and people watch for a while. I’ll sit in a café and watch two friends interact, or go to a restaurant that is family friendly to see how families with younger children communicate differently than those with older children.
Even though I use an outline for the main plot points and a few character moments, I do sometimes write myself into a corner or get stuck on the next logical step to get my character from A to B. One thing that really helps me is to jot thoughts down. (I have so many notebooks I had to get new shelves installed). I brainstorm a few words or plot points, I draw a relationship map between the characters, I write down a few motivations and goals for the characters involved in the scene, and I’ll even sketch the movement in a battle. I find that writing pen to paper uses a different brain mechanism than typing. Things pry loose from the corners of my mind, and I can continue with my scene.
If the words aren’t coming to me, I write an outline for another short story or book. I’m still working on my craft and moving my projects forward, without working on my word count. I feel productive and satisfied at the end of the day.
One of the most underrated things to do when you’re stuck is to do something else. Go for a walk. Exercise. Read a book. Take a course to improve your writing skills. Play a computer game. Visit a friend. Do anything else except writing, and it will give your brain a break.
When we read how well others are writing, their astronomical word counts, and the staggering pace at which they release books, remind yourself that they too get stuck. All writers face similar structural and characterisation issues, all writers have written themselves into corners and have had to find ways out. Getting stuck is part of the craft, and with persistence, everyone can get unstuck.
I wear many hats, and in one of my non-writing hats, I’ve had a burnout that took me years to recover from. So when I saw a lot of people on social media become piles of frayed nerves about their word count for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I thought I’d write this post.
I’m going to keep things simple and define burnout as working too hard for too long until you can’t do it anymore. Sometimes you fall into a depression, sometimes everything physically hurts, other times you’re a ball of anxiety. The list goes on and on. Basically, you’re falling apart.
Not only is burnout demanding on physical and mental health, but it also takes a toll on the person’s willingness to work in that field again. Which is a huge problem for writers who started writing because they love writing, they enjoy creating. If they have a burnout from writing, it’s unlikely they’ll heal enough to return to writing.
Just like anything else that you’re passionate about, you have to pace yourself and recognise that there are other aspects of your life and health that need attention. The professional athlete who over-trains risks injury. The lawyer who is on top of their game working 120 hours a week will likely miss the warning signs their partner is thinking of a divorce.
A key factor in preventing burnout is to have realistic expectations. I have goals for my businesses, and I have goals for my writing career. And as ambitious as they are, I rein myself in to compare my time frame with my resources. I can write a best-selling novel. I know I can, just not in this current draft. I can take every course I can find on editing and writing, function (barely) on five hours’ sleep a night until the novel is of sufficient quality to publish it. But then, will I have the energy to write another novel?
It’s hard to have a career in writing if you’ve only ever written one book.
And it’s hard to access the resources to further your writing career when you’re struggling to maintain a paying job because you’re not sleeping enough, you catch every cold and flu out there because you’re run down, and you fall into a depression because you never see your family or friends.
Your brain needs a break. My advice for writers is to schedule time for social activities not centered around writing. Have strong social relationships outside of work helps people destress.
Your body wasn’t meant to be moulded to a chair. Even taking a fifteen-minute walk around the block helps stretch muscles and gets you away from a computer screen.
Your body needs real food. I eat junk food. I drink beer. I don’t live off of junk food and beer. Making sure you have reasonably balanced diet and are hydrated helps your health in so many beautiful ways and helps protect against the effects of stress.
You can take a vacation and not feel guilty about it. A change of pace a few times a year is a good thing. Don’t be ashamed to go to the cottage, visit family and friends in another city, or travel.
The worst part about burnout is that right up to the point of collapse, writers are on top of their game. They are writing the best prose, the most interesting characters and the strongest plots of their careers. Until one morning they wake up and they can’t do it anymore.
Take care of yourself first, lay the foundations for a healthy and balanced life, and then watch your writing flourish.
Jane Austen may have delighted in the idea that a young man with a fortune must be in want of a wife, but if you’re a writer with a book, what you really want is to get into the con game.
I went to my first literary convention about ahem years ago, and then hardly saw the inside of a hotel conference room for another ahem years until I had a book of my own to sell.
Cons come in all shapes and sizes. Some and this includes some of the best, are small fan-run affairs, with a committee made up of lovers of literature and many times those who are authors themselves. There are the mid-sized conventions that have established themselves and grown into a public space like a town hall or library. And there are the bigs, some of them venerable and well-established like BookExpo America, a massive affair with publishers, signings, readings, and industry events.
There is nothing like a con for connecting with the potential audience for a book. I attend some genre-oriented conventions over the year, some with a general theme and others specifically geared to science fiction, fantasy, or horror. I will often buy a table in the vendor’s room to display and sell my books.
The best part of conventioning for me is to be a panelist. Not all conventions have programming, but my favourites do. Topics can range from discussions on current television shows and movie franchises to the business of writing to the truly esoteric: how about a panel on trans-positive messaging in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
The panels are stocked with authors, publishers and, depending on the convention, celebrity actors, producers, and other industry folk. I’ve been sitting on panels since my first rather nervous appearance on one with Kelley Armstrong half a dozen years back. I’ll take any opportunity to get up in front of an audience: potential readers get to know me and a little about my work, and I get the chance to meet other people doing the same thing I do.
And of course, there’s the networking. It’s not just the panels where you get to interact with amazing people, and sometimes even your heroes. Even the most confident people can be star-struck, but that doesn’t have to stop you. Don’t be intrusive, but there’s also no need to be so shy you never even try. Stand a little away from the person you’d like to speak to and wait for a break in the conversation or for them to acknowledge you. If neither of those work, just suck it up and move on.
It pays to do your research before a convention; check the website for special guests and when they might be sitting on a panel, doing a Q&A (a conversation between them and a host usually) or a signing. Figure out who you just have to meet, and plan your days.
The best advice I ever heard about how to make a positive impression on the people you would like as peers is as simple as it is profound: show up, and ask intelligent questions. So go to a panel and put up your hand! Once someone you’d like to talk to has seen you at a few events, they’re more likely to be open to a chat, especially if you’ve proved you have something interesting to say.
The last bit of advice I can give is to remember self-care! Personally, I don’t usually stay out late at the inevitable parties. I take conventions seriously, although I’m not always serious at them. I make sure I get enough sleep and remember to eat—and not just survive on coffee!
When you’re tired, the best cons have a casual space, the “Con Suite,” where everyone is welcome to go and mingle, to grab a bite (or some coffee!) and to rest up for the next exciting bit of programming. It’s usually in a hotel room or suite, and you should be able to find out where from the program book or signs around the event.
A final word about length… Some cons are only a day, and they feel oh, so short like you’ve barely begun to have fun before it’s all over. Some last two days and those can be the worst if you have a long drive and are faced with the choice of driving and working two days in a row or springing for an extra night in a hotel.
The ones I love most are the long cons—the three or four-day conventions. These have a rhythm all their own, and each has its own quirks. Over the years, you come to know which have the best dealer or vendor’s rooms, which have the most inclusive Con Suites, which have the can’t-miss late-night programming that keep you up far too late, and where you’re most likely to find true intellectual stimulation from the panel topics.
Attending becomes a regular part of the writing life—the most efficient way to connect with groups of readers custom-selected for you by the subject of the con—not to mention an enjoyable one. Writing can be a lonely business, and a con might be the cure!
Jen Frankel is the author of the “Blood & Magic” series about young heroine/magic worker Maggie Stuart, as well as the vegan zombie romance Undead Redhead, YA science fiction Leia of Earth and short fiction collection Feral Tales.
Jen is also an avid screenwriter and an award-winning poet, as well as a great lover of fish, birds, cats, and all other living creatures. She even has a soft spot for human beings, provided they behave at least as well as their pets.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, catch her podcast “Jen Frankel Reads Random S#it” on your favourite app, and find out more online at www.jenfrankel.com.
If you are in any kind of author circles, even on the edge of one, there is no doubt that you know what time of year it is. Many people are designing costumes and decorating their homes for Halloween. They’re preparing what films they’ll watch and how much chocolate they’ll eat.
But for a certain few, there is no Halloween. There is no turkey prep. There may be chocolate, but that chocolate is fuel…
For National Novel Writing Month, the November challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
Deciding whether or not to participate in this challenge is the first big step, but a second question hovers just behind: If I do decide to write, what the heck am I going to work on?
With a few weeks to go, now is a good time to figure that out.
I, for one, am in just such a struggle. I recently released the first book in a planned trilogy. The second is drafted and about to start the revision process so the obvious choice would be to use NaNoWriMo to write the third, right? No?
The problem is this bright new shiny book hovering in the corner of my eye. An urban fantasy that is sexy and devious and full of such good fun. So there’s the dilemma: the logical next step or the fun detour? The one readers will be waiting for or the one that has hooked its claws in my brain and won’t let go?
The rest of the year, I’m able to avoid being distracted by said bright shiny detour by sticking to my schedule. I use websites like Trello and a hand-written agenda like my bullet journal to keep me on track to make sure each book actually reaches the end. November is different. It’s a time when you can allow yourself to play a little more.
Maybe you’re simply stuck between Idea A that you’ve been outlining since May and are finally ready to start writing vs. Idea B that only jumped into your head last month and is barely more than a glimpse at a set of characters—but those characters have really taken on a life of their own.
Or maybe you have a book that you need to write, but you’re playing with the idea of moving into the shadows and pantsing something entirely new just to see what comes of it.
The nightmare of lots of NaNoWriMo participants is that they’re going to get partway through the month and get bored, or get lost, and therefore not be able to keep going.
This will be my 6th NaNoWriMo (plus a few CampNaNoWriMos in between [CampNaNoWriMo if you haven’t heard of it, takes place in April and July. You choose your own word count goal and get assigned to a cabin—or build one with your writing mates. It’s low-key, very relaxed, and a great chance to finish/catch up on/revise your work in progress]), and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of these challenges: if you want to see them through to the end, you have to write what excites you.
The other eleven months of the year are there for you to work on what you need to write, but NaNoWriMo is all about the sheer rush of sitting down to write words on the paper. It’s challenging, it’s fun, it can be competitive if you want it to, and it’s an opportunity to lose yourself in the sheer joy of creating. For me, after fourteen publications, I find it important to use NaNoWriMo to remember what I love about writing. For me, it’s the sense of adventure and escape, of not knowing what’s around the corner when you start on that first draft, whether you’ve outlined or not. Stuck on this point? Try taking a break and running the story through your head like a film. Remember what scenes or characters made you sit down in the first place.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t outline, and, heck, if what you need to write is what gets you out of bed in the morning then huzzah! Easy choice! But no matter what process you choose, or what project, let it be something that gets you talking about it. Let it be a book that, when your friends ask you how you’re spending your month, you can’t shut up, until they’re just as excited as you are (and likely beyond that when they’ve gone all glazed-eyed, and you’re still describing your world’s social structure).
Choose the project you want. This month is all about you, your characters, your ideas. Have fun with it.
So… with all that in mind, I think I’ve made my choice.
See you on November 1, urban fantasy.
Like many authors, Krista Walsh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen. At eight years old, she wrote three one-page ghost stories that she still feels are her best work. From plays and short stories through to fanfiction and novels, stories have always buzzed around in her head. After her first publication in April 2012, a short story in a dark fantasy anthology, Krista made her way through various collaborations and anthologies until she founded the self-publishing brand of Raven’s Quill Press.
Any Gravelle (left) and Renée Gendron CanCon 2018
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In November 2018, I’ll have participated three times in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The purpose of the NaNoWriMo is to encourage participants to write 50,000 words in November. For full-time authors, this goal is easy to reach because it’s the length of a novel intended for teens and young adults. For other writers like me, NaNoWriMo gives me the motivation to write daily. The two manuscripts I wrote will never see the light of day, but NaNoWriMo allowed me to finish the projects.
To achieve 50,000 words in a month, you need to write 2,000 words daily. To accomplish that, you need to plan writing sessions, even if you’ve only got thirty minutes to spare. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write every day without getting sick of writing. In November, I concentrate on writing, and I gain twofold from this focus. At the same time, I tell people that the world doesn’t stop turning if you haven’t reached your 50,000-word target by the 30th of November.
If you’re stubborn like me, I advise you to plan your manuscript and to fill out a character sheet by the 1st of November. The more details you can plan, the more likely you’ll reach your goal. For motivation and support, it’s also a good thing to join one of the many groups at NaNoWriMo: https://nanowrimo.org/. I visit the site frequently, attend meetings, and review what others have written.
My day planner becomes my best friend in November. To ensure that I’m well organised, I pick the writing groups that are closest to where I live. If you live in Ottawa, Ontario, the meeting groups meet throughout the city. If the meetings are too far from where I live, I schedule writing time at home to avoid wasting time travelling.
I also give myself some slack. If my week is hectic, I give myself permission to slow down on the writing goals. I know that I’m busy in other areas of my life, and all I’ll do is sit down in front of the screen and not be able to type. During my first NaNoWriMo, I finished my manuscript and started editing it. It was there that I realised the work involved in producing a polished novel.
If you’re like me, then the slightest noise distracts you. It’s important to choose your writing groups wisely because many of them meet in cafés where there is a lot of background noise. To improve my productivity, I decided to work from the library or from home. While working, I’ve learned to put a wall around myself, to focus on the writing, but it’s not always easy ignoring everything that is happening around you. Despite my best efforts, I’ve had many lapses in concentration, and I wasn’t as productive as I would have liked.
During my second NaNoWriMo, I made the mistake of picking a subject I found interesting but didn’t know much about. I suggest that you write about something that you know well and are passionate about. If you’re writing about something you don’t know well, then I recommend you do your research before November.
For those who reach 50,000 words, I suggest that you put off sending it to beta-readers and an editor. It’s the first draft, and it will have to be reworked before you can share it. 50,000 words are about half of the length of a full-length novel targeted at adults, and you’ll still be writing your manuscript at the end of the month. I know that you’re eager to receive feedback on your work, but wait until you’ve improved it to the best of your abilities before sending it out. The first draft is just a draft. Editing takes twice as long as writing. It’s important to put yourself in the mindset of the readers when you’re editing, take into account how they see the book.
Above all, the first thing you need for NaNoWriMo is a passion for writing because during the month you'll, doubt yourself and your abilities. If you’re posting your manuscript online or just sharing it with your friends, you run the risk of rejection and negative feedback. There are many more that become discouraged when they realise just how much work goes into writing a finished book. There are countless times where I’ve been at tradeshows and fairs for up to six hours, and I didn’t sell one book. Keep in mind, not many readers are willing to pay full price for a book. It’s important to stay grounded and to keep your expectations realistic and to be cognizant of the effort required to produce a finished book. It helped me to join two professional writers associations and to discuss my challenges with them. It’s also good to surround yourself with people you know and trust.
I wish you a fantastic November full of adventures.
I fell in love with books when I was a child. At first, I wrote stories about the tv shows I watched, and I started to create my own characters in 2013. This is how I discovered what I want to do with my life. I wrote two short stories Alyson and un voyage interrompu, and one poem Les différences that have been published in an anthology in French called Plumes en liberté in 2017. Four other stories will be released in Au-delà des mots in 2019. Most of my stories are about relationships, and I often add a cute cowboy. I’m also a member of the Ottawa Romance Writers Association and of les auteurs et auteures de l’Outaouais.
Voici le lien pour la version française de l'article d'Any: https://anygbauteure.blogspot.com/2018/10/nanowrimo-2018.html
Have you experienced goosebumps when listening to music? Noticed your body tense up watching a suspense-filled movie? Felt sympathy for a fictional character?
Emotion can make or break music, writing, visual art. It's an ingredient that we are often not taught. When we add elements of emotion and love of creating while painting, or writing, or making pottery, or whatever your passion is, the piece will turn out that much better because it was created from a place of caring, of passion, of love. Interestingly, this expressive side is not explicitly taught in art or music school. We are often told to show the emotions, but not given the tools to know how.
Composers, film producers, writers, artists and other creatives know that the most successful art forms engage the viewer to enable us to experience a connection and feel emotion. And it has to be believable to at least provide the possibility.
So how do we, as artists and writers, do this? There's no formula that I'm aware of. But we can look to what has worked for the most successful in the various art forms and decide what may work for our own creative ventures.
For example, a visual artist may suggest emotion through the use of colour, which can say a lot about the mood of a picture and how the viewer interprets it. Strong colour can add energy and emotion. Anger may be depicted through reds and blacks, happiness through sky blue or yellows, dark colours for a howling Halloween evening. Gestures, brushstrokes, rhythm and gradation are also elements that convey energetic or calm emotions.
Some will create only using positive energy and thoughts to transfer into their creations. You may have heard that food tastes better when cooked with love. Quilters who make quilts for Victoria's Quilts Canada infuse their creations with hope for physical and spiritual comfort for the recipients of the quilts who are living with cancer.
Titles are important too, whether for a written work or song, art piece or play, and are what may first attract someone to a piece of writing. The title needs to capture - or hint at - what the book is about, but also reflect whether it is a romance, fantasy, non-fiction etc. Titles can play to the emotions of the reader. Referring to the picture below, if I had named it "Clothesline," well, it's kind of dull. But change the name to "Laundry Day," and we start to tap into the senses and memories, of the viewer. What did this title conjure up for you? Clothes flapping in the wind? A summer day? The fresh scent of line-dried clothes and sheets? You get my meaning. Whatever title you choose it needs to convey the mood you have selected for your written piece.
An author at the Ottawa International Writer's Festival talked a few years ago about how he develops the characters in his books. Much like an actor getting into their role before filming or for a play, he too would step into the roles of his characters, to better understand them, their feelings and thoughts, and to help them grow in their roles. The writing was done from the perspective of the characters, rather than his own. This role-playing would last several months until the preliminary writing was done, but was very effective in helping him portray the people in his books as real and authentic to his readers. By writing in first person rather than third person, he would become the character, understanding their thought processes, could create a history for them that would support their reactions to situations, and develop the character into seemingly real, authentic people. It's important when stepping out of one character and before stepping into another that transformation steps are taken, such as "brushing off" the role, shaking the character off the body, perhaps going for a walk to step away from their thoughts. This helps prepare the writer to then move to the next character.
Music composers and performers have the added challenge of not only infusing emotion into their compositions and songs but also of getting back into the same frame of mind when performing the same piece. Not an easy challenge.
Interestingly, some of the hit songs and most popular singer/songwriters are not necessarily technically proficient at what they do - they are good, yes, but following a melody perfectly or always hitting the same notes during a chorus doesn't necessarily translate into adding the emotion needed to take a piece to the level that will draw in the listener. Instead, they find the nuances, make the slight changes necessary to imply emotion, whether in rhythm, loudness or softness, tempo or other aspect of the music. Consider the difference between long chapters with lots of descriptions and character development versus a book that moves quickly with short chapters containing lots of action. The rhythm and tempo chosen for the writing and chapters work in concert with the style of book or story being written.
It's also important to pay attention to the silent parts - the pause between words, the silence between notes, a quiet spot in a painting - to give the reader a chance to reflect and to anticipate what may be coming up next. This can be done by changing direction after a scene that builds tension or suspense or anticipation. The next scene (and often the next chapter) could move to a description or give more insight into the characters (without dialogue), move to a different scene or idea entirely. The idea is to provide something temporarily that is much quieter or muted or peaceful, giving the reader a chance to rest before continuing the previous scene. The reader knows you will come back to the theatrics and has a chance to catch their breath while for a few paragraphs or pages while preparing for what is to come.
One final thought. I came across this quote recently which I think sums up this topic quite well. Although it's about musical performances, it applies equally to writing, visual art and other art forms.
"....most operas, symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and string quartets have a definable meter and pulse, which generally corresponds to the conductor's movements; the conductor is showing the musicians where the beats are, sometimes stretching them out or compressing them for emotional communication. Real conversations between people, real pleas of forgiveness, expressions of anger, courtship, storytelling, planning, and parenting don't occur at precise clips of a machine. To the extent that music is reflecting the dynamics of our emotional lives, and our interpersonal interactions, it needs to swell and contract, to speed up and slow down, to pause and reflect." 1
1 Quote from This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin
Anne Warburton is a Fibre Artist, exhibiting her work at various shows around Ottawa, and is current chair of the Navan Fine Arts Group (www.navanarts.com) She writes a blog "Musings of a Creative Journey" at https://annewarburton.blogspot.com/, and worked for many years as an events planner and facilitator. Her website is https://www.needleartsonpaper.com/
Word Crafting is a blog to help writers strive for excellence. If you would like to be a guest blogger, pitch me an idea.