Great Article about Trunk Novels

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the hard question for new writers, where I suggested that maybe, just maybe, it’s not a good idea to focus on what the rest of the publishing industry is doing if you haven’t honed your craft. Then, I followed up with a post about ditching the ego in favor of the basics, where I mentioned that it’s okay to write trunk novels and stories to pay attention to those skills.

I was doing some research for an upcoming article when I came across this article from S.V. Jones about trunk novels and the value of patience. In it, she writes that:

You have to know your temperament, and you have to block out the voices of your friends and family who constantly yell at you in passing, “This ebook thing is really taking off! Why haven’t you published your work yet? Hurry up and put something out there!”

Yeeeeaaaaah…no. I’m going to publish when I’m damn good and ready. I know that most of my work up until recently just ISN’T READY, and even the project I’m working on now will need lots of outside critiquing and revisions before it’s ready for prime time. — SOURCE: Author S.V. Rowle on Trunk Novels and the Value of Patience

I really enjoyed this take on the subject because Rowle and I share similar experiences. I have an undergrad degree in Creative Writing as well, and the program focused on a particular style of writing as opposed to ripping apart genre. (e.g. More geared toward literary storytelling as opposed to popular fiction.) Since I was able to create my own courseload, I really got a lot out of my program, but I still wish I had the time to take small business-related courses that are so sorely needed in today’s environment.

If you have doubts about how you’re doing, give the article a read.

Putting Yourself Out There but No Comments? Here’s why.

The line used to be “everyone’s a critic.” Now it’s more like “everyone’s gotta blog.” In my opinion, whether you update frequently or not, it’s essential to having a blog or personal website for your own name. (Sidenote: you’d be surprised how many people who reached celebrity status, don’t.) Well, when you get a blog, you have to do the work to promote it by commenting on other people’s blogs, writing good content and keeping it updating. You might say blogging is “high-maintenance,” which is one of the reasons why they get abandoned. It’s not just a “post and readers will come” sort of a scenario: it’s a “post, promote and hope readers will come.”

As writers, we all know how important content is for a blog. If it isn’t written in a language readable to humans, it probably won’t attract us (or Google, for that matter). Besides being well written, good content also means having something that is sooooooooo cool, so fabulous that people will gape in awe.

Finding that amazing content is a lot harder than it looks — especially for a writing blog — because a lot of sites make their money by being cool, almost like the Ripley’s Believe it or Not phenomenon for the blogosphere. Boing Boing, TechCrunch and ThinkGeek immediately come to my mind, but there are others. That’s not to say that your blog can’t get attention by “repurposing” or “pointing out” cool content (Search Engine Optimization, anyone?).

Enter the comments. The writer side in us loves the appeal of having people comment on what we write, because it’s like a teeny tiny “thank you” for taking the time to write a post. Yeah, don’t hold your breath. Just because it’s published online–even on a place where people are reading your work–there is no guarantee you’re going to get people interacting and commenting.

Here’s my take on why:

Why Readers Don’t Comment on Blogs

    Your Comment System Needs Improvement: From complicated log-ins to “yet another password,” overly complicated means of commenting can be a turn-off. One of the ways I want to improve my comment system is to figure out the “direct reply” WordPress plug-in, so that I can directly reply better to people who comment. (Here’s the WordPress Thread Comment plug-in from

    Timing, Timing, Timing: In my experience, comments can depend on when you post a topic and how long that topic is visible on your front page. They can also depend upon whether or not your content is hitting the reader when they have time to comment. If they’re at work, for example, maybe they physically can’t comment.

    Doesn’t Grab the Reader: If the content isn’t spectacular, and doesn’t hit the reader in that sweet spot, then they’re not going to post a comment. Comments require an emotional commitment on the part of the reader — they have to have a legitimate reason to want to post.

    Your Readers are RSS Feeders: RSS feeds are such a time saver, but they are also a barrier to commenting. I view RSS readers to be a lot like window shoppers; they can read headlines and snippets of your content, but they don’t have to click through. That “click” is their commitment to your blog. Asking them to comment as well requires another step toward reader-writer commitment, so you had better be ready to offer them something good.

    The Tone of Your Content isn’t Genuine: Blogs have the trouble of sounding too authoritative, because everybody is an instant expert. Something I struggled with when I started my blog, I try to go the route of “this is my opinion and your experiences may differ,” and that’s what has worked for me. Readers aren’t stupid, so if your content sounds too much like a sales pitch or talking down to them, then chances are your blog might get ignored.

Web Analytics Can Help you Prove your Theories

Anyone can make inferences as to why people aren’t commenting on their blog, but to get into the specifics you’ll want to check your web analytics toolkit and figure out “why.” For example, a post I did about two free fiction submission sites you don’t want to miss received a lot of attention and more comments than I usually get. Why? Someone thought the post was worthwhile enough to use StumbleUpon, causing it to be my highest-trafficked post on my blog.

From abandonment to click-through rates for RSS feeds, you can find out a lot of information about your reader’s behavior to ensure that you’re writing great content that they’ll want to read (and you’ll want to write). The same can be said for commenting, in my opinion, because they are somewhat related. I like to think about it like a party. Before you can ask people to have a conversation, you have to invite them to your party. Before you can invite them to your party, you should probably get to know them and engage them, to find the right group of friends that will stick around.

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Admittedly, I don’t always practice what I preach due to time constraints (and a touch of procrastination, too), but commenting is a good way to build community and to get other people familiar with your own work and personality. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have to find some blogs to go comment on today! Have a great one!

Beware the Self-Titled “Expert”

When I first started this blog, almost a year ago, I wanted to add my voice to a community of writers and hope that one day there will be this magical exchange of ideas where we all sit down and treat each other like adults. Almost every post that I write I try to take the attitude that even though this is my perspective on what has (or hasn’t) worked for me, maybe this same thing works for someone else. Most writers will tell you that in order to be truly successful in the field you have to be in the right place at the right time and be open to criticism. I feel I’ve achieved moderate success based on milestones that I’ve set out for myself: this year I’ll have two publishing credits for novellas. But–and this is a big “but”–I’ve never published a novel before, never dealt with an agent before. Maybe someday I will; maybe I won’t. Since I haven’t been there and it’s not on my radar, I haven’t posted about it yet because I’m doing the research to provide relevant and useful information from whaddaya know–actual agents.

For the most part, I’ve had really great responses because I’ve learned to put the caveat on what I say: I am asking this question because… or I am asking for your opinion. You’d be amazed by how quickly attitudes and egos get out of whack when you either post directly about anything or postulate a vague-ish question to generate some interest or camaraderie.
Read More…

Help me Out Here: What Industry RSS Feeds/Blogs/Sites are you Reading?

Hi everyone, just last week I was tipped off to a great new RSS feed aggregator tool that is more addicting than…well…cheesy nachos. (Only real cheese will do.) Once I have a chance to get it all set up, I’ll post about it with examples.

In the meantime, because this wondrous tool will allow me to separate out my RSS feeds by category, I am in sheer heaven. I noticed, however, that my RSS feeds for other authors, publishing houses, and industry blogs are sadly lacking. Can you help my lonely RSS feed reader? If you have the time, I’d really appreciate it if you left a comment on this post to promote your site, someone else’s site, or tell me what I should avoid.

Thanks (in advance). Happy feeding?!?! Er… Happy RSSeeding?!?

You know what I mean. 😉

Oh Hai…Reading this Blog?

After dodging sunbeams and causing a rain of words to fall on my black umbrella…

I’m sorry to report that my blogging may be a bit sporadic over the next two weeks because I started getting some edits back on the first part of the novella I’m working on for Aletheia. While this is not a bad or a good thing, this is a function of the work. So Abstract Nova Press owns my soul, as one of the other writers so eloquently put it. I’ll have a proper write-up to promote the other two writers once we get done with this but for now—tappity-tap-tap until this is done.

In the promoting of other writer’s work arena, I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Tad Williams–one of the first fantasy authors I’ve ever read. He wrote The Dragonbone Chair Series, the Virtual Reality Science Fiction Series “Otherland,” and is currently working on a number of projects including the conclusion of his “Shadowmarch” fantasy novel series. Folks, this is one of the writers who is in that lucrative 3% I-write-novels-full-time-for-a-living bucket, a veteran within the industry who more than fulfills my requirement for writing big, fat, interesting books.

I’m also thinking about ways to be more specific about some of my blog posts, because I take a great deal of inspiration from the newbies out there who are putting the words on the page for the first time. It’s hard not to be heavily influenced by the lack of business-minded leadership from my college daze; while I truly enjoyed my college experiences I can’t really consider what I learned applicable in terms of writing as a business, which is an affliction many who “major” in writing share.

In other babbles, I’m resorting to cheezburger speak, guilty pleasure movies, soy mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, the Justice League, and my idiot fuzzballs of kitty doom for intermittent entertainment. Going to see Iron Man this week–here’s hoping it does not suck. Hoping to see Indiana Jones when that comes out…I really hope that does not suck. Also going back to the gym whether it kills me or not; I can’t avoid working out and I’m excited the weather will be nice enough to do things outside but, like the rest of things these days, a bit spontaneous and unplanned.

Other than that, life is pretty status quo at the moment. Good news and change all around; it’s so easy to slip into the stream and be taken away by things you know will be positive.

Do you have any books or authors you’d like to recommend? Topics you’d like me to cover? Jokes you’d like to share? Feel free to post them in the comments and please, do not take it personally when I don’t respond to email during this busy time.

Protect your marbles and your doughnuts, folks. Things are no longer getting interesting–they’re already there.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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