Where Ideas Come From

by Joseph Lewis

This is a departure from my normal fare, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless . . .

I have been asked over and over where my ideas come from. I only wish I had a nickel each time the question was asked. In answer, I have to say I subscribe to what Stephen King said.

He wrote: “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it's seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question 'What if?' 'What if' is always the key question.”

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How Do I Become a Writer?

“…then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world you would most want to read if you had your heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself.” -JD Salinger, “Seymour – An Introduction”

You would likely be amazed at the most common course of conversation I have with new students.

“Kathie, how do I break into publishing? How do I get my short story into a magazine? How do I get my novel with a traditional publisher?” New Student says.

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My Experience With Getting Book Reviews

Reviews. Who among us couldn’t use more? As the lifeblood of indie authors, they encourage readers to take a chance on our books, increase our exposure on Amazon, and get us that much closer to a coveted BookBub promotion. A good review can make your day and validate all those months (or years) of hard work. But what can you do to get them?

When my first book, Sarah, was published in December 2016, I went the NetGalley route. I’d been reviewing books from NetGalley on my blog since 2013, and knew Sarah would be made available to loads of readers and reviewers. And it worked. Sarah received sixty reviews just from NetGalley. Most of them were positive, and I was ecstatic! A few negative reviews were included, but that’s to be expected. You can’t please everyone, and it’s more realistic to have both positive and negative reviews for your book. If a reader visits your Amazon page and is met with a sea of glowing 5-star reviews, they may assume all are courtesy of your friends and family members. In addition to the reviews, I was thrilled to be accepted for a BookBub promotion about a month after my release.

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Ever Been Asked to be a Beta Reader?

What is a Beta Reader?

Through some phenomenal stroke of luck and maybe a healthy dose of Karma, my wife and I have managed to create three published books over the past four years. In all cases, these were, for us septuagenarians, major undertakings requiring the investment of huge sums of time, energy, money, emotion and sweat. We agonized over sentences, argued over the elements of plot, struggled with verb forms, squeezed out dialogue and tortured ourselves through the development of our characters. But one of the most difficult tasks was finding honest, subjective feedback of our drafts from our Beta Readers —avid readers who, when asked, cheerfully volunteered to comment on our manuscripts. 

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Why You Should Join a Writers Group

I began writing my first crime thriller, Things Left Behind, in 2011. Being new to writing what did I do? I bought a lot of How to books at the local bookstore. These provided a wealth of information. The problem with taking this as my only course of study is the lack of growth. I’m not saying don’t buy books to help you become a better writer, but I’d advise against making them your only source.

So many authors fail to get their work critiqued by other writers. We see our manuscripts as works of art, when in fact, the writing could be better. It’s difficult to gauge your own writing because we don’t see our mistakes. We’re blind to them.

The Panhandle Writers Group (PWG) started in 2003 in Pace, Florida. They meet every week. I joined in 2011 and I’m still a member.

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Marketing Materials that Work for YOU

When I started preparing marketing materials in anticipation of my second novel’s release, I relied heavily on what worked the first time around. Having two novels under my belt may not seem like much experience, but it has helped me figure out what marketing materials work for me and what don’t.

1.      Find a printer that fits your needs and abilities. I started looking at the many online printers, and the array seemed daunting. Early on, I received a recommendation for Vistaprint, but I wanted to explore my options. In doing so, I came across UPrinting. They had good reviews and made a list of best online printers.

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Laying Seeds and Making Friends: Using Facebook to Create a Platform and Brand Yourself

Writers are passionate people: expressive, intelligent, witty, creative and empathetic. So, how can we use that on social media to attract a fan base and develop a brand? Today we’ll take a look at Facebook and how it can be used by writers to build a platform and create a following.

There are over two billion Facebook users. Chances are, nearly all your potential readers are on it. With all the other writers out there and such fierce competition, how can you effectively use it to build a platform for your writing career? The most basic way is simply making friends, each of whom I see as a seed, with the potential of growing and blossoming and spreading the word about you and your work.

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Selling Your Books to Indie Bookstores

Selling online is essential and strategically beneficial in many ways. However, wouldn't it be great to sell tons of books to direct customers inside real bookstores?

Authors always imagine seeing their book on a shelf, having someone walk in and pick up a copy, read the back cover annotation, and then BAM! purchase the book! What a concept! And contrary to most authors' psyche, if you are focusing on the right bookstores, this is definitely a strong possibility. 

In the following blog post, you will learn:

  • Why big bookstores like Barnes & Noble aren't always the best fit

  • How Indie bookstore can be profitable to Indie authors

  • How to get Indie bookstores to stock your title and actively sell

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