Every Word I Write Is Genius and Other Things I Was Wrong About

By Shayna Krishnasamy

red penI write long. It’s what I do. My sentences aren’t tight. The meander and go off topic and then veer back. I can make a sentence go on for a whole page. I overuse commas. I love asides and parentheses and em dashes. When I’m writing a first draft, or even a second, I can get a little out of control. And then I have to take out the red pen. That’s when the agony begins.

A big part of being a writer has nothing to do with writing. No, I’m not talking about marketing plans or query letters or blogs. I’m talking about editing, re-writing, re-plotting, and cutting, cutting, cutting. If you write long, like me, the editing process will inevitably involve lots of red ink and teeth grinding and dramatic sighs as you try to wrestle your manuscript into submission. The bad news: It’s very possible that paragraph you love is next on the chopping block. The good news: There’s a way to handle the chop without sobbing uncontrollably.

Here are my top 4 tips for surviving the editing process.

Don’t Believe In Your Own Genius

Remember that part in Fight Club where Tyler Durden says, “You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake”? Well, keep that line in mind, because you’re going to be saying it to your manuscript pretty soon. Editing becomes a whole lot easier if you let go of the idea that every word you write is the best, most unique, most wonderful thing ever. Writers do most of their work in a bubble with little outside encouragement, months of hunching over a laptop in some forgotten basement, alone, frantically plotting and typing and hoping. Of course it’s important to be positive and buck yourself up while you’re toiling away in your own personal diamond mine, but don’t take it too far. Telling yourself the words on your page are going to blow everyone away might make you feel great while you’re writing the first draft, but it can really mess with your head when it comes to tearing your manuscript apart and taping it back together down the line. So, don’t put your book on too high of a pedestal, unless you want it to hit you on the head on the way back down.

Stop Looking Back

5034760960_2a16bf717c_oWhen I was writing the first draft of my first book I got into the bad habit of obsessively re-reading the chapters I’d already written and tweaking them to perfection. I know this was a bad habit because when it came time to edit out paragraphs, or whole scenes, I found it really painful. All that tweaking and polishing gave the text a sheen of permanency. After a while I couldn’t imagine certain scenes being written any other way. Like a movie you’ve watched a hundred times until you have the lines memorized, the dialogue I’d written seemed familiar and meant to be.

Editing that book was like murdering my pets.

We’ve all heard the tried and true writer’s rule, “Kill your darlings.” I believe in this rule. Some of the scenes I loved in that first book had to come out due to a plot shift, and some paragraphs had to be cut because the heroine wasn’t sad anymore, but angry, so her sorrowful flashback to the day her beloved childhood friend died no longer made sense. We all have to lose some gems during the editing process, but the loss doesn’t have to be agonizing. If you want to cut down on the pain, wait until your final draft to make your book perfect.

Make Sure You’re Sure

As much as it might pain you to cut characters or sub-plots out of your book, it can hurt even more to realize you have to put them back. Nobody likes to find out that they went through a torturous ideal for nothing, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have all your plot changes mapped out before you begin to avoid editing haphazardly. Or if you write in parts like me, at least be sure you’ve got all of Part One figured out before you take out your red pen. Realizing you don’t have to kill off Uncle Pete might sound like an amazing gift, until you realize that due to other plot or character adjustments you have to re-write all his scenes anyway. Writing a novel takes long enough as it is, don’t lengthen that process with indecision.

I Hit Save, Right?

I hope this goes without sayingdelete in the digital age in which we live, but don’t ever edit your manuscript without first saving a copy separately. I know I just cautioned against changing your mind, but it’s possible you’ll decide to keep the brilliant paragraph you just deleted. You don’t ever want to find yourself in the position of having to rewrite any part of your book from memory. Not only do I periodically email myself a copy of my manuscript (just to be safe), I also save a version of it before I begin each new draft (just to be doubly safe), and instead of deleting long passages I move them to the very end of my document for easy access (just to be triply safe). Some writing programs save drafts for you automatically, but it doesn’t hurt to take these precautions yourself. Trust me, I once lost a portion of the book I was writing as my final assignment for a university creative writing course due to sloppy saving. It’s not fun.

 

For all the writers out there currently in the middle of an edit, I feel your pain. Keep in mind that those darlings you’re killing right now will probably be a distant memory by the time your book is well and truly finished. And if they’re not, you can always slap a book cover on top and self-publish them as a companion title to your book, creating some extra income! Now there’s a great reason to edit with enthusiasm, if I ever heard one.

my photoShayna Krishnasamy is a Montreal author of literary and young adult fiction by night and the merchandiser for Kobo Writing Life by day. Shayna’s books are available on Kobo.

Click here to visit Shayna’s website!

 

How To Grab That Coveted Online Audience

By Adam Dreece

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There’s nothing like finding readers live tweeting your book as they read it, or finding them promoting your book to their friends. It’s one of those things that a couple of months ago, I looked at other authors on Twitter and wondered just how they did it, and could I do it? Now I’m watching it happen and have cracked a 1000 Twitter followers of my own.

I created my twitter account in February, and when I released my first book, The Yellow Hoods: Along Came a Wolf (Book 1) at CalgaryExpo in April, I had maybe 50 followers. At my booth, I figured out how to connect with people, but online I was still a couple months away from that. In June, something clicked. By early August, as I approached 600 highly engaged followers, I realized I’d figured some things out.

Understand Brand

My books (Along Came a Wolf, Breadcrumb Trail) are my products. They are part of a series, The Yellow Hoods, which is my product line, and Adam Dreece is the brand. In my case, my Adam Dreece brand is about smart, young adult fiction that’s layered for adults, has strong female characters and sees people as complex and human. The Yellow Hoods is adventure fiction in a world that is undergoing the beginning of a Steampunk revolution. You’d expect book 3 to follow that pattern as it is in the same product line.

Online, everything you post or blog, defines your brand. You should be conscious of what you post and tweet and how you engage people, because it affects your brand.

When people engage with you, they come to know you but more importantly, they come to understand your brand. If they like that brand, they will want it to be a part of that. They could mean buying your book, but that could also be advocating your book, posting tweets about it, blogging about it. They don’t have to be buying it to be ultimately helping sales.

Starting Out

I didn’t The Yellow Hoods: Along Came a Wolf (Book 1)have my brand all figured out when I started. I needed to start engaging people first. I followed a couple of good hashtags (#amwriting, #amreading) and started replying to people’s tweets. I ended up getting a good group of people to chat with, and they followed me and I them.

I quickly learned not to follow everyone back, but rather to check and see if they actually engage with people. I did this by looking at their timelines and then tweeting to them, asking them a question. If they engaged with me, I followed. If they didn’t, I might try again later. Some people are just interested in broadcasting to followers, I’m not interested in being broadcast at. It doesn’t help me build a following and audience.

Through trial and error, I came to understand when people were online (very important to time your tweets so that they have a chance of seeing them), and what would engage them. I then thought about how this communicated who I was and thus how people would interpret my brand.

Providing Value

A core part of building the audience is understanding the value that you can bring to them. When you engage people, it should be about items where you are providing value, as oppose to “I know what you mean” or “Oh, I’ve been there.” There’s room for those type of social ‘chit-chat’ parts, but it won’t likely build you a following. Providing insight into your books, your author’s journey, will. No matter where you are on your author’s journey, there are thousands of people hoping to get to where you are, and thousands ahead of you. I had to get over the idea that I had nothing to say about what someone could go through.

Using your blog is a key item to provide additional value, allowing you to break out of your 140 character prison. I try to blog at least once a week, and while it’s a huge time commitment in addition to working my full time job, having a 3 kid family and trying to write my next book, I do it with my readers in mind because I want to continue to provide them value. If I can’t provide a new blog entry, then I tweet a previous one as some people either may have missed it, or opted not to read it the first time around.

Another way that I provide value is that I answer questions and help people on their author’s journey. This often helps me come up with blog articles, which I then tweet, which then gets me more questions, creating a virtuous circle.

The Traps

Twitter and other social media can quickly start filling the lonely hole in a person, and then become an addictive time sink. This can consume your valuable time,The Yellow Hoods: Breadcrumb Trail (Book 2) taking you away from writing and promotion, but it can also make you forget the boundary between who you are as a person, and who you are as a brand and author. It’s an important thing to not lose sight of.

Another trap is always socializing with the same group of people, which can alienate other followers. You are engaging as an author, not someone just looking to hang out with friends, so keep that in mind. You want to meet people, engage with them, answer their questions, and be mindful when you’re playing favorites.

Ultimately

There’s a lot of things that we have to do as indie authors, and one of those is owning and building the relationship with our audience. There are other social networks out there, like Facebook, however I’ve abandoned that as they algorithmically determine what people see and don’t see, even if they Liked my page.

It’s hard work, and takes time every day, but it is well worth it. If you have any questions, give me a shout on Twitter.

Adam DreeceAdam Dreece is a Calgary author of layered young adult fiction. His first series is The Yellow Hoods, which is emergent Steampunk laced with fairy tales for depth. His books are available on Kobo.

Click here to visit Adam’s website, or find him on Twitter or Google+.

One Horn to Rule Them All: The Story Behind the Purple Unicorn Anthology

When Kevin J. Anderson visited Kobo’s Toronto HQ, he told us about the origins and production behind ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL, an anthology published by Wordfire Press, which Kevin runs with his wife Rebecca Moesta. This story is part lesson in professionalism, part demonstration of how efficient the publishing process can be, and we’re excited to share details about how it all came together.

UnknownWhat makes this anthology especially great? First, the stories are wonderful—you can buy the collection on Kobo here. Second, all profits from sales go towards scholarships for the Superstars of Writing Seminars. So you get to buy a great anthology AND support a wonderful cause.

We sent some questions along to Kevin, Rebecca, and the anthology’s editor, Lisa Magnum, who were kind enough to share details about unicorns, editing, and more.

KWL: Where did the idea for the anthology come from?

Rebecca: [Kevin and I have] been giving a Writing Professionalism workshop together since at least 2004, where we tell the class that they always have to do their best work on any piece, even if it’s, say, a purple unicorn anthology. You have to do the best purple unicorn story you can possibly do. That became a joke, year after year, and people kept threatening to do a purple unicorn story for our imaginary anthology. And now we’ve finally done it.

Kevin: When we gave our lecture at last year’s Superstars Writing Seminar and told the story about the purple unicorns, one of the other instructors was Lisa Mangum, editor for Shadow Mountain Books. She was so captivated by the idea that she proposed making it happen for real, and she volunteered her services as editor. One of our other instructors, renowned artist and author James Artimus Owen, volunteered to do the cover, and we published it ourselves at WordFire Press.

KWL: How did you choose which stories to feature?

The WordFire Press table at DragonCon, where the team sold copies of ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL to raise money for a Superstars scholarship.

The WordFire Press table at DragonCon, where the team sold copies of ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL to raise money for a Superstars scholarship.

Lisa: I had one month to read them all, select the final contents, edit them all, and prepare the file for publication. I started reading right away. Each story was assigned to one of three folders: Yes, No, or Maybe. For that first cut, I didn’t worry about word counts or genre. I just picked the stories that I felt were the ones with the strongest voices, the most imaginative settings, and the most creative inclusion of a purple unicorn… Once I had identified the stories I wanted to include, and made sure I was okay on my word count, I started looking at the genres. I wanted a good variety between first and third person POVs as well as a wide sampling of genres: noir, sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, humor, etc. I organized the stories so that there was a good mix between long stories and short stories as well as a balance to the genres.

KWL: This anthology progressed really quickly from concept to finished books in six months, with the bulk of the work happening within the span of four weeks this summer. Can you map out the timeline from story submission to publication?

Rebecca: Lisa set the deadline as July 1, and she chose her final stories by July 15. She asked for some rewrites and asked the contributors to complete revisions in a few days, and everyone did so. We gave the manuscript to our proofing team and then to our production team for formatting as both print and eBook. Meanwhile, James Owen was working on the cover—but he wanted to include a key image from every single story in his art, so he couldn’t even compose the piece until he knew what the stories were. We received some truly outstanding work from our people, especially Vivian Trask, Quincy Allen, Keith Olexa, Sam Knight, Peter Wacks, and David Boop.

Kevin: We really wanted to have this book ready for two big upcoming conventions—DragonCon in Atlanta and Salt Lake City Comic Con… James delivered his final artwork when our production team was ready to send the book to print and upload—and we sent the finished book to press by August 10, less than four weeks after Lisa selected the stories. We received our finished printed copies in hand by August 25, just in time to drive them out to Atlanta for Dragoncon.

KWL: Are there any drawbacks to such a quick turnaround?

Kevin: The traditional pace of publishing and distribution is glacial, usually taking a year or more to produce and release a book, and that’s how many of the traditional review outlets are set up, too. If you can’t send a book to a standard review publication 3-4 months in advance of release, then they won’t review it…but when WordFire has a book to that stage, we’re ready to put it on sale! So, we have to decide if we want to lose 3-4 months of sales in order to hope somebody might review it. Fortunately, a lot of other review platforms will review a book, even after it’s published. And we certainly didn’t want to lose all the sales on the table at those two big conventions! In those two weekends, we sold enough copies from our own table to fund an entire scholarship to Superstars.

We love this example of teamwork, which demonstrates how publishers and authors can work together (at super speed) towards a shared goal.  Do you have any great stories of collaboration, or unique approaches to publishing? Share them in the comments!

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To help fund additional Superstars Scholarships, buy ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL on Kobo. Interested in attending Superstars 2015? Registration for the conference, taking place Feb. 5-7, 2015, in Colorado Springs, is available here. This year’s special guests include Hugh Howey, Toni Weisskopf (Baen Books), and a representative from Kobo Writing Life.

My Writing Life: Melissa Foster

melissafoster

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

In the early ’90’s I realized that I wanted to be a writer. The urge to write came over me one afternoon and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Life is my inspiration. I write about issues and circumstances that readers can relate to, and am drawn to emotionally compelling situations. That translates into emotional stories for my readers.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

Stop worrying about the what-ifs and write.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Do I believe in it? Not really. I’d call it “Writer’s Hesitation”. I think we can worry ourselves into a corner, and sometimes we just need to change our environment or get to know our characters better in order to find our way out.

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

I would love to meet Jodi Picoult, because in 2009 she took the time to answer my emails and provide direction. Or perhaps Diane Chamberlain. I love her writing and she’s been very kind throughout the years. She reaches out to readers and she’s always accessible.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I love women’s fiction because I’m drawn to emotionally draining stories, and my guilty pleasure is, of course, romance.

What made you decide to self-publish?

There are several reasons that I chose the self-pub route. I write very fast, and it doesn’t make sense for my readers to wait a year for a book when I can put them out much quicker. I’m also a genre hopper. I write what I’m passionate about at the moment, and traditional publishers have issues with crossing genres unless I use a pen name. I’m not willing to do that. Readers are intelligent, and they can read a summary and decide if they are interested in a romance or a thriller. They don’t need to be duped by pen names.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

Tricks of the trade? Work with others, become involved with writing groups, and use the best editors that you can afford. Rules of craft–never rush to the finish line or skimp on editors and proofreaders. I use 5 editors and proofreaders, as well as a professional cover artist. Rules of promotion – just one. Never stop trying to reach readers.

Why do you write? I write because not writing isn’t an option. Writing is like oxygen. If I stopped I’d probably lose my mind with so many characters and stories in my head.

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Check out the Love in Bloom Series

You can also find Melissa:

On her Facebook: https://facebook.com/MelissaFosterAuthor

On her Twitter: https://twitter.com/melissa_foster

On her Instagram: http://instagram.com/melissafoster_author

On her Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thinkhappygirl/

On her website: http://www.melissafoster.com/

 

 

Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 022 with Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

 

Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks met in person for the first time at Kobo’s home office in Toronto in May 2014 and were interviewed by Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre about their individual works as well as the forthcoming collaborative graphic novel they are creating together and which will be coming from First Second Books in 2016.

Rainbow and Faith take a selfie at Kobo moments after meeting for the first time

Rainbow and Faith take a selfie at Kobo moments after meeting for the first time

The interview includes the following:

  • How these two “Twitter bro’s” just met a few minutes before the interview (at Kobo’s home office in Toronto in May 2014)
  • How Landline was a return to writing adult novels for Rainbow
  • The manner by which some of the travel, airport scenes and long distance phone calls to a family while traveling were somewhat predictive in Rainbow’s journey as a touring author (and what she called “having a ‘Landline’ moment.”
  • The speculative fiction element of Landline and Rainbow’s love of reading science-fiction and the “geeky time travel” elements of the novel which features a “magic phone.”
  • How Rainbow wrote the novel Fangirl during NaNoWriMo and how both that novel and Landline were the fastest books that Rainbow wrote
  • Faith Erin Hicks sharing the fact that she is a giant library nerd
Mark and Rainbow posing in front of the large Kobo logo

Mark and Rainbow posing in front of the large Kobo logo

  • The ARC of Fangirl that Faith rec’d from a colleague who knew that she would like it (and that it was the first book of Rainbow’s that Faith had read)
  • The cross-over in writing between the two women and Faith Erin Hicks’ The Adventures of Superhero Girl comic
  • Faith’s use of Canada in this 2014 Will Eisner Award winning comic – (professing to a lack of supervillains in Canada)
  • The “geekiness” factor in The Adventures of Superhero Girl and the fact that Faith wrote it with a reader like her in mind (to fill a gap that she saw in the industry)
  • The cameo appearance of Faith’s local neighbourhood comic book store (Strange Adventures)
  • Faith’s Mom recognizing Faith as Superhero Girl and her real life “golden brother”
  • Faith’s hilarious copyright notice for her work posted online and her belief that she wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for making her work available online for free
  • The way that Rainbow and Faith first connected via Twitter
  • The Twitter connection to First Second Books and how Rainbow and Faith’s collaborative book project came together (in a very “When Harry Met Sally” way)
  • How collaboration between two creators can be like a weird marriage
  • The “Sherlock” tangent that Rainbow and Faith can often follow
  • The importance of giving yourself permission to do something new and, importantly, the permission to try something and fail
  • The fact that there will definitely be kissing in their collaborative book (because Rainbow likes to write “kissing” and Faith wants to draw “kissing”)
  • The great fan art that exists for Rainbow’s previous novels from artists such as Simini Blocker
  • The mutual admiration the two have for The X-Men (particularly the “blue” characters for Rainbow)
  • Faith’s adoration of the character of Marrow from The X-Men (the least popular character of all time, according to polls)
  • The addictive nature and magic that happens when collaborations work really well
  • How someone at Groundwood Books tweeted (well before this project was conceived) that Rainbow and Faith we work well together
  • How KWL will continue to follow the progress of their collaboration (due to come out in 2016)
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Faith signing the “author wall of fame” in one of the Kobo Executive offices.

 

Mark then talks about what can happen when writers are open, social and collaborative in nature, reflecting on how Rainbow and Faith were mutual fans of one another, had connected in an online community. Mark shares his own experiences from a recent conference in which he connected with other writers, editors, publishers, librarians and booksellers, and explains the beautiful serendipity that can happen when writers take advantage of the connections and opportunities that can arise from engaging with the community.

Faith and Rainbow in a group discussion with members of Kobo's Content team

Faith and Rainbow in a group discussion with members of Kobo’s Content team

 

LINKS

Rainbow’s WebsiteLandline

Rainbow on Twitter

Rainbow on Tumbler

Rainbow’s Books at Kobo

Rainbow interviewed by Kobo Director of Merchandising, Nathan Maharaj for a Kobo in Conversation about Fangirl (Video)

 

AdventuresofSuperheroGirlFaith’s Website

Faith on Twitter

Faith on Tumblr

Faith’s Books at Kobo

 

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically capture episodes as they go live -even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life blog – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using the RSS feed link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast

READ HOPE, WIN A KOBO H2O AND $5000: Kobo’s Going Going Gone Contest, featuring Hope Sze

kobowritinglife:

We are delighted to have worked with KWL author Melissa Yi on this exciting project, helping more readers discover her amazing Hope Sze character and a chance for someone to win $5000 and a Kobo Aura H2O . . .

Originally posted on Melissa Yuan-Innes, Writer:

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1. Do you like money?

2. Do you love to read? Like, all the time? At the beach, or in the bath, even?

3. Do you like my crime-fighting doctor, Hope Sze?

Well, now you can scoop up $5000 and read about Hope under the Atlantic Ocean, if you want to, through the generosity and creative engineering of Kobo!

Cover_GoneFishing_CainAndAbel_20140812

This is my Cinderella moment, so bear with me. I am so excited about this.

You could win five thousand dollars and a Kobo with Hope Sze, thanks to Kobo’s Going Going Gone contest!

Download three Hope Sze Gone Fishing mystery stories for free, solve one riddle per story, and you could win five thousand large and the world’s splashiest e-reader, the waterproof Kobo H2O!

kobo-aura-h2o MT swim

I love my readers, but I sometimes feel guilty taking your hard-earned money. Now Kobo is giving money to YOU!

Read it, solve it…

View original 252 more words

Kevin J. Anderson visits Kobo HQ!

Kevin J. Anderson sat down for a chat with KWL Director Mark Lefebvre at the Kobo officeAward-winning and #1 international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson was in Toronto last week and stopped by to visit the Kobo head office. Kevin is the author of more than 125 books, more than fifty of which have been national or international bestsellers. In addition to this, as the publishers of WordFire Press, Kevin and his wife Rebecca Moesta have released more than a hundred eBooks from over 25 authors. He also hosts the annual Superstars Writing Seminars, which teaches writers the business of being successful in the publishing industry.

Kevin sat down with KWL Director Mark Lefebvre to be our Writer in Residence for the evening. In the audience were local KWL authors and Anderson fans. Over drinks and snacks Kevin shared with us the story of his success and how he got to where he is today. Here are some of the main points:

  • Always write – Kevin discovered a love for creating stories at a very young age, writing his first ‘novel’ at 8 years old. Growing up he was always stealing moments to write before dedicating himself to it full time.
  • Be persistent – rejections go hand in hand with writing and shouldn’t discourage you. Kevin received over 80 rejection letters before his first story was published, proving that persistence pays off.
  • Write about what you love – being passionate about what you write is very important. Kevin found success in the genre he loved, sci-fi. The success of his original works led to him writing several novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes. As a huge Rush fan, their music influenced his writing which later paved the way for collaborations with Neil Peart himself.
  • Be open to change – the publishing industry is changing more than ever before. Rather than shying away, Kevin embraced the change and found success self publishing his back catalogue and becoming a publisher himself with WordFire Press.

We’re very grateful to Kevin for stopping by and sharing his story with us.

You can find Kevin’s books on Kobo here and if you’d like to explore more WordFire Press titles, you can find them here.

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