The Art of Summarizing

Wisteria single flower 2“Summary sucks, please read” is one of the great proverbs of amateur fiction writers. Go ahead, type it into Google and count the search results. Fanfiction, original fiction, and even poetry is burdened with this well-worn disclaimer. I used to use it myself, tucked away in a corner of the high school library. “Summary sucks, please read,” I’d write before hitting “post” and refreshing my story’s statistics every five minutes to see if anyone had reviewed it.

Now, eventually, I had some people take me up on my requests. They’d read my stories, send me helpful or hateful or ecstatically encouraging reviews, and subscribe to my profile. Slowly but surely, my readership grew – but still, my stories never got that much attention until I put some effort into learning to summarize.

If my success as a teenage fanfiction writer was hampered by my poor summary skills, then imagine what this deficiency will do to your chances at success in commercial writing! Your summaries are not just asking your readers to take five minutes out of their day to read about Draco confessing his love for Hermione; they’re asking your readers to give you some of their hard-earned money in exchange for your story.

Your summary needs to not only give your readers a sense of your story’s subject, but also give them a sense of your skill as a storyteller. It needs to tell the reader who the characters are, tell the reader what the conflict will be, and give the reader some sense of the main obstacles in the characters’ way. It should be elegantly written, and it should end on a mysterious note (usually a question or cliffhanger) that has the reader clicking the “add to cart” button instead of scrolling down.

The summary of your book is one of your most important marketing tools. Make sure it’s an effective one, and your readers will reward you for the extra time you spent tantalizing hem.

Avoiding the Dreaded Info-Dump

BidetWriters must deal with a paradox when they work to make their fiction realistic. On one hand, the reader needs to have enough information about the story’s world that they can picture the scenes as they unfold. On the other hand, the reader also expects characters to talk like they live in that world and refrain from making long speeches about basic information.

Those of us who enjoy campy movies are familiar with the awkward, stilted effect created when a character explains facts that the other characters already know. In these moments of clumsy exposition, known as “info dumps,” the character’s speech becomes detached from the rest of the dialogue; while the words may be nominally directed at the other characters, they are useful only to the reader. Not only is the flow of the narrative disrupted in an awkward expository speech here, but the speaker also veers dangerously close to the “fourth wall” between the story’s world and the reader.

The easiest and most common way to avoid info dumping is simply spreading out your story’s exposition. Important facts about your world can be casually mentioned here or there when they flow naturally into a conversation. This happens all the time in real conversation, and this technique will provide your reader with a pleasant and interesting introduction to your story’s world. Mastering the placement of these expository snippets takes some time and practice, but your writing will be less awkward and more sophisticated as a result.

Authors in all genres must strike a careful balance when writing exposition. Too little information can leave a reader confused and bored with the story. Too much information at once, however, can produce an uncomfortable and stilted result that disturbs the world’s realism. Learning how to spread out your exposition in brief, well-placed snippets is critical to finding this balance.

Self-publishing: how to get an ISBN number in the UK and the US

ISBNWhat is an ISBN number?                                  

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number and every book has one. It is a 13 digit number which uniquely identifies the title, edition and format.

So, how do I get one?

The answer to this question depends on whether you want to register a book in the UK or the United States. To register in the UK, you will need to register with a company called Nielsens. In the US, Bowker are the company you’ll need to approach.

Bowker will sell you a single ISBN number for $125. This sounds pricey, but you can also buy a collection of ISBN numbers in bulk for a lot less. If you do this, the price can go down to less than $1 dollar per number.

Nielsens in the UK will not sell you less than 10 ISBN numbers at a time. It will cost you 125 GBP for ten numbers, which compares very well with a single number in the States! Again, buying ISBN numbers in bulk will save you money, and some packages will bring the price down to less then 1 GBP per book. If you produce a paperback in the UK, you will need to file six library copies with various ISBN agencies around the UK, so bear this in mind when buying.

Buying in bulk sounds like the best option. Would it be wise to have more than one ISBN number?

Yes, for two reasons – 1. if you have self-published or are planning to self publish several books, or 2. if your book(s) are going to be available in more than one format. Each format of your book will need a new ISBN number, whether that be mobipocket, hardback, paperback etc – if it’s a new edition, it will need a new IBSN number. Simple.

We hope this advice was helpful to anybody who may be looking to self-publish. Remember, we ourselves offer a range of services for self-publishers that may be useful. For more information on this, return to our homepage: www.anysubject.com.

Conventionality vs. originality

719082Creative people tend to be free thinkers. Writers especially, generally speaking, are very unorthodox people, in the way they think, live and work. This can often not only be in our daily lives, but also extend to our work. Which brings us to today’s question: if you are writing genre fiction or anything for a specific audience, should you stick entirely to the conventions? Or can you reach your target audience/fit your genre whilst still putting your own spin on it?

Well, this puts you in a pickle that is familiar to most professional writers. Do you write exactly what your target audience wants, following the conventions of your genre to the letter, even if it’s not interesting or pleasurable to you? Or do you do follow your own rules, write what you want to write and enjoy a small (but very loyal) fanbase?

This entirely depends on where your interests lie in the bigger scheme of things. Do you want to write something purely because it will sell? Or does this sound more like selling out?

If you are aiming to one day make a living off of the books you write, then you will have to write something that is likely to sell well, no matter your feelings towards the genre or audience. If you don’t want it to be connected to your usual brand of writing, then use a pseudonym to disguise you. The only potential problem with this is having to market two different writers, which can be time-consuming. However, it may also turn out to be a blessing in disguise. If your ‘money-maker’ book gets popular and you find a lot of people following you (under your pseudonym) on social media sites, you can use this to your advantage to promote the writing you do for love, not money. It will just look like one writer recommending another writer to their fans – see? Sneaky, but effective. This way, you can draw in people who may not have discovered your writing otherwise and maybe even end up with a whole new group of fans!

So to conclude: conventionality usually (but not always) sells well, originality usually (but not always) doesn’t sell as well. A ‘Billionaire’ erotica e-book, for example, will sell better than a romance set in a space station. If the latter is what you like to write, then go for it. Always write what you love and believe in it. But writing the more conventional, popular stuff, even if you don’t like it, can aid your writing career in many ways if you are prepared to do it.

What to say in an author’s interview

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You need confidence, not these!

Many people find it hard to know what to say when they’re put on the spot – and an author’s interview is certainly one of those situations. If you have never done one before, here are some simple tips to help you through this sometimes daunting process.

Do:

  • Believe in yourself. If you appear as self-deprecating or under-confident, people will not take you seriously.
  • Be polite and pleasant.
  • Talk about yourself – but keep it relevant. Don’t go off on tangents.
  • Be slightly mysterious. Don’t give your whole life story away up front; a bit enigmatic makes you more intriguing.

Don’t:

  • Be pretentious or say something about your writing process that isn’t entirely true because it sounds good. You will come across as insincere.
  • Be self-conscious. You’ll look more silly if you’re constantly watching and judging yourself for fear of saying something stupid.
  • Talk badly about other writers, even if they are rivals of yours. Be honest, but do it tactfully. Being critical or spiteful about other people does not look good in an interview, especially if you’re just starting out.
  • Be arrogant. Be confident, sure – but don’t big yourself up too much or come across as your own biggest fan.
  • Tell people useless information about yourself. No one cares what colour your lounge is painted.

The most important thing is to try and enjoy the moment.

Choose a title

719005Some writers will tell you that the title is the most important thing about a novel/poem/short story. After all, it’s the title that will give potential readers the very first impression of your work. It’s certainly necessary to give a lot of thought to what it will be, but coming up with a title is not always as easy as it sounds.

(Note: I use the word ‘novel’ for the sake of keeping this article simple, but these five tips can be applied to just about any type of writing.)

  1. Write your novel first. Sometimes you might be lucky, and find your title comes to you very early on. But if not, don’t spend valuable writing time puzzling over what to call your work. Get it written first; you’ll have plenty of time to worry about what to name it later.
  2. Keep an open mind. Listen to suggestions from other people. Don’t settle for a title you’re not crazy about just because it seems like the best thing to call your work. When you’ve found the right title, you’ll know.
  3. Sit down with a large piece of paper, a fat pen and write down everything about your book. Write down keywords and phrases. Write down, in short, everything that has happened in your novel. Make notes of the themes, of the little nuances, scribble notes about your characters. This way, everything your novel is about will be laid out in front of you. Somewhere amidst your scribblings, you may just finds your perfect title.
  4. Keep it simple. Don’t be pompous or pretentious. Make sure your title is short and catchy, and accurately sums up the nature of what you’ve written without being an essay to read or a mouthful to say.
  5. Keep in mind, keywords. Make sure your title resonates with the genre in which you have written. Horror fans are not going to pay much attention to your terrifying story if it has a name which sounds like it could be a romance novel. And vice versa.

It’s also important to remember that your book publisher will have a lot to say about the title and what keywords it contains. Remember, also, that a title is a work in progress. If your book isn’t selling, consider changing the title, the cover image etc etc.

Times are changing

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Anyone can write a book (coughs)

When I started writing this feature, I thought long and hard about making a pun on the word ‘times’ using both its temporal and typographic meanings.

When Kindles first began appearing, there were relatively few e-books about. As always, there were plenty of people who cried “It’ll never catch on!” and “Readers want real books!” but, bar a few die-hards, they’ve largely disappeared: e-books are the ‘now’ and the ‘immediate future’ – like it or not. In those early days, just about any book stood a chance of being bought. For example, in terms of the book’s cover, you could probably have got away with a black background with blocky white text saying “My Book” or even Amazon’s stunningly awful ‘holding’ cover (which is what you get if you don’t upload a jpg of your cover).

Not now.

The marketplace has since been swamped by every man and his dog who decided that they were capable of stringing a few sentences together. “Hey! (they no doubt thought) Here’s a chance to get rich. Let’s use the spellcheck, the free conversion software and have a go.”

The trouble is that a spellchecker can’t discriminate between ‘where’, ‘wear’ and ‘ware’, everyone knows that ‘alot’ is correct (groans loudly at this point) and that the words ‘could’, ‘should’ and ‘would’ are all followed by the word ‘of’ (as opposed to ‘have’ which is completely wrong). Additionally, the free conversion programs are notorious for not removing the extraneous code that a certain popular word processing program insists on inserting (why?) – something which can cause e-reader devices to freak out when they encounter it.

Finally, many new authors decided they could stand out by using the fancy typeface (the typographical reference) which looked so blindingly good on their word-processed version. Unfortunately such a font would probably not be mobi-friendly and this, combined with the aforementioned strange control codes, resulted in a poor quality product which only served to deter would-be readers from buying the work of unknown authors.

Times have changed – times are hard. If you want your book to get sold, you need to get wise to the standard it has to be produced to. There’s nothing essentially wrong with ‘home-made’ as long as it’s been produced by professionals.

4 Easy Ways to Begin Promoting Your Writing

719093To make the understatement of the millennium, there are a lot of writers in the world and promoting yourself on the internet is not easy. When you’re just starting out, it can seem overwhelming. It is; making a dent on the internet, let alone promoting your work, is not a walk in the park smelling flowers. It’s more like a marathon through thousands of acres with bricks glued to the bottom of your shoes and sewage scented mutant flowers that bite you when you trip over them.

Okay, it’s not really that bad. But it is tough.

The following are four easy ways you can begin promoting your writing, blog, e-book etc instantly, on the internet and beyond.

  1. Don’t have Twitter? Get Twitter. Got Twitter? Good. Now start making the best of it. Sometimes you will see accounts where the owner is only following 200 people, but she herself will have thousands of followers. He or she has either been very lucky, or is Justin Bieber; it’s often unrealistic and not what you should be aiming for. To get followers, you have to follow a lot of people. Twitter will usually have a list of suggestions of people to follow on the home page. Follow them. Follow publishing houses, follow blogs, follow book promotion services, follow other writers, follow, follow, FOLLOW. It may take some time, but people WILL follow you back. Eventually you will find people following you without you having to do anything at all.Well, not nothing at all. Whilst you follow and get followers, tweet. Tweet your behind off. Tweet every time you make a blog post – some services will even link Twitter with your blog account to post automatically. Tweet intriguing sentences from your new book – just that, hook people with them – and provide a link to where they can buy it from. Every spare moment, tweet about what you do. Be witty. Be endearing. Don’t worry about being a nuisance – you can never tweet too much. For a small fee you can even find companies who will automatically post tweets for you several times a day.
  2. Be social – make friends with other writers. Whether this is through Twitter or not, support them and promote them and they will do the same for you. Read their work and write them a review. They’ll appreciate it and often return the favour. They know how hard it is just as well as you do.
  3. Whilst the internet might seem to be the best place to promote yourself, actually it’s not always. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to promoting your writing. No, really – don’t. Tell people what you do – friends, family, the postman, it doesn’t matter. Get people interested. My father, a car painter, once told one of his clients about my e-books. He googled me there and then. And don’t forget people tell their friends and family too; I sold a few books that way. A recent university project involved a group of friends and me putting together a collection of spoof fan-mail, which we promoted by sticking posters everywhere around campus we could get away with and telling absolutely everybody about. The result? A number of people at the course’s launch event, just to see us, and a local radio interview. Small steps lead to big victories.
  4. Make a Facebook ‘Like’ page for your blog, your book, or even for yourself as a writer. Fill in all the information and make sure you have a decent picture. Invite everybody on your friends list, regardless if you haven’t spoken to them in many years. Many people will see your name and ‘like’ it out of a sense of duty as your friend or acquaintance; others will show more genuine interest, or will have friends who will. The point is to get yourself out there. Get seen. Link with Twitter. Tweet about your page or blog about it. Go have fun.

These are just four solid, simple and very useful ways to get started. It takes work and it takes time – but be committed and patient and you’ll find it goes a long way.

10 things that are best left out of a book’s description

Cigarette butts

You need something to pay for that habit

You’ve uploaded your novel and now you need to write its description – the bit of text which (historically) your publisher would have added to your book’s back cover in order to entice readers to buy it. But, hey, you’re a self-publisher so you get to do that yourself, too.

Assuming you actually want to make some sales, here’s a list of 10 things not to do:

Copy text from your book

The easy option – just copy a chunk of the book. Trouble is anyone can just ‘look within’ so what’s this adding? Nothing.

Use your existing reviews

Well, you’re lucky to have some good ones. Chances are, they’re still the copyright of the review’s author. By including them, you’re in breach of copyright. Yikes!

Give it some hyperbole

You think your book’s the best, the greatest, la crème de la crème, don’t you? Trouble is, so does every other author about their own work. Just give your readers the facts and let them decide.

Rubbish another author

Of course your book’s better than X’s (and it probably is). Saying so, though, just makes you look tacky (at best) and (at worst) starts a libel suite. Don’t do it unless you’re into researching for a courtroom drama.

Pan-handle

You’re a poor writer stuck in your freezing garret with no cash to fund your nicotine and alcohol addictions, aren’t you? As a result, you desperately need money from book sales – just hold that thought, don’t share it.

Spend time writing it

Just let the book sell itself, eh? Well, that’s like banking on catching Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and then following on with a spot of luncheon with E.T., all on the same day – a lost cause in other words, so make the effort!

SHOUT

What’s wrong with everyone? Why can’t they SEE HOW GOOD YOUR BOOK IS? ‘Shouting’ just gives people eyestrain and eyestrain means they’ll be too tired to read what you’ve got to say. Get the point?

Fib

Stretching the truth a bit is one thing but fibbing is another. Claim your book is something it isn’t and you’ll get lots of returns, stinking reviews and plenty of original content for your ‘Hate Mail’ folder. Leave the fiction to the book’s contents – don’t put it in the description.

Boast

There’s never been a book that was all things to everyone so it’s a pretty safe bet that yours won’t be either. Unless you just want to look silly, aim for a target market and make sure that you hit it.

Goad

You can’t believe it – there’s some recluse out there who’s never heard of you. Where have they been? What’s wrong with them? These are questions best kept to the confines of your own cranial cavity.

Your book description will be the first thing your customers read and it may well be their last. Take care over it in the same way as you would if you were sending out RSVP invitations to an important function you were hosting.

About us

Any Subject Books is a top book publisher company which provides a full range of competitively-priced services to the self-publishing author such as cover design, editing, formatting, brainstorming, marketing, direct selling, interviewing, arranging blog tours, producing book trailer videos and allocating ISBN’s. All of our work is undertaken by real people who care about the quality of the finished book and that care translates to more sales for our authors.

 

Free Advertising For Your Book

Craps table

Setting up a blog for your book is a safer bet

That’s right – free advertising!

Now don’t panic, that’s not me offering free advertising on here, I’m talking about the value of setting up a free blog for your latest book.

The advantages of doing this are multi-fold. For starters, Amazon really values backlinks to your book page – something which is no longer a good idea on Facebook. This will be your blog and (within the bounds of the law) you can say whatever you want to on it.

Besides the backlinks, you’ve got the facility to create a contact form (thus saving your email address from being spammed to death) and a chance to say more about yourself, your latest books etc than any ‘About the author’ page is entitled to.

Creating a blog costs nothing bar a few hours of your time. Choose either WordPress or Blogger (this really comes down to preferences – arguments rage either way over this)  and create a simple blog consisting of separate pages for:

  • About you
  • A summary of the book and where to buy it
  • Some snippets of text to entice readers (like Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature)
  • Contact form with a Captcha box
  • Other titles/forthcoming work

By all means include extra pages about the principal characters, the location etc.

Note – one blog per book. If you’re going to create a blog about you as an author (great idea), make it a completely separate blog to that of your book. Remember this simple formula:

One blog = One idea.

Try to add snippets to the blog every now and then to show that it’s still live. Even if you don’t have the time for updates, your book’s blog is still an extremely valuable prop to your marketing campaign.

About Us

Any Subject Books is a top book publisher company which provides a full range of competitively-priced services to the self-publishing author such as cover design, editing, formatting, brainstorming, marketing, direct selling, interviewing, arranging blog tours, producing book trailer videos and allocating ISBN’s. All of our work is undertaken by real people who care about the quality of the finished book and that care translates to more sales for our authors.