Friday, March 11, 2011

Guest Blog by Russell Brooks - Part Three

Get it re-edited.

Once you’ve made the necessary corrections, based on the feedback you’ve received from your independent editor, then I strongly recommend that you have it edited a second time, this time a copy edit will suffice. Minor errors can easily be made with corrections. For example, an extra sentence here or a repeated word elsewhere that you missed. Your eyes tend to get lazier the more you read the same manuscript that you wrote. I don’t recommend having the same editor read over your work a second time. Editors, no matter how professional they are, are human beings too. And just as I don’t recommend that authors read over their own work several times because they may miss simple errors, the same editor may make the same errors too. And I’m speaking from experience. This is where an English teacher, or someone with a strong English background, could be of help. Many, especially if they’re retired, have a passion for doing this and would be willing to help.

Don’t stop writing.

That’s what bestselling author, Joseph Finder, once wrote to me when I inquired what I should do once I’m finished my novel and don’t know how else I can improve it. By doing so you accomplish two things: You keep practicing; if you publish what you wrote, it’s an excellent way for you to get your name out there and promote yourself. One thing I’ve learned from several years of experience in sales: “People won’t buy your work, they buy you first.” And people will buy you if they like you.  And once you’ve sold yourself to people, in the end it won’t matter what kind of book you wrote, your name will eventually sell your work for you. Furthermore, don’t expect your first novel to be your breakout bestseller. It may take at least three published novels for readers to discover you and to eventually like you. Why? Because having more good books to your name gives you more credibility. How can you dislike someone with credibility?

I’d like to thank Marie Francis for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and advice with all of you. And I wish you all the best of luck with your writing endeavors.

Russell Brooks
Author of Pandora’s Succession

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest Blog by Russell Brooks - Part Two

Have your story beta-read.

Here’s another reason why consulting with a professional is important. You can have them read over sections of your novel, if not the entire novel, to verify how accurate your descriptions are. When I wrote Pandora’s Succession, I knew that other than the average thriller fan, martial artists would be among my readers. For me to get them to become fans—and spread the word to others—it was important for me to make the fight scenes as realistic as possible. And it’s a good thing that I was acquainted with two professional martial artists—Wim DeMeere in Belgium and Marc MacYoung in Colorado—who were able to help me spot things that the average person, or author, wouldn’t. Keep in mind that professional agents and in-house editors are well educated. Don’t be surprised that they may know a thing or two about science, law, historical events, or the military. They’ve also read countless novels like yours and can easily spot a fake. When you’re a first-time novelist, you only have one chance to make a great impression. If you prefer to go the Indie route, your readers will act as your editors. You, as an author, will lose the number of returning readers if your subject matter or story is not up to par.

In another instance, you may not have written a novel with professional subject matter. For example, you may have written a fantasy novel about vampires, witches, or extra-terrestrials. I doubt JK Rowling sought out experts in witchcraft, unless she consulted with a history professor that specializes in the history of witchcraft and wizardry (which would be a smart move if she did). But in order to know how your story will fare with the general public, it’s a great idea to have the ordinary avid reader act as your beta reader. These readers are your test audience, and they are most effective when they are not close friends and family. Why? Because friends and family rarely are objective enough to tell you about any weaknesses your story may have because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. But if you can have a friend or a family member pass along your manuscript to someone that would be interested in the type of novel that you wrote, you can remain anonymous and have more of a chance at getting a more honest feedback. This will help you as a writer to learn from your mistakes. But it’s also important to be honest with yourself too. Some feedback you’ll agree with, and some you will not. But it’s important to read all of your feedback nonetheless. Who knows, you might even get an idea or two that could help you to improve. Oh yes, when you send them the manuscript, it’s important to remind them that it hasn’t yet been professionally edited, which comes in the next part.

Get your work professionally edited.

I once heard the saying, “If you put several editors in a conference room to discuss a novel, none of them will agree on what’s right or what’s wrong with it.” Or something like that. There’s some truth to that. An editor in the UK will have a different editing style than one in the United States, or even in Canada. One book that I recommend for all authors is the Chicago Manual of Style: \The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. If you’re a serious author then you ought to buy a copy of that book for reference purposes. And whether you, as an author, decide to find an agent to be traditionally published, or if you choose to become an Indie author, it’s very important that you get your manuscript professionally edited—both for content and also for style. It may be costly, but in the end it is worth it if you plan to be taken seriously.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guest Blog by Russell Brooks - Part One

I want to write too. Please tell me where to start.
By Russell Brooks

Thanks, Marie, for inviting me as a guest on your blog.

Many people have asked me the same question: “How do I complete my first novel?” There isn’t a single answer to this question because what may work for one author may not work for another. However, I’m sure that most authors will agree with me that the road to being published is a step-by-step process. Being a successful author doesn’t happen overnight. It takes passion, patience, and perseverance. Below I’ve listed a few tips that have helped me. Please bear in mind that these are simply suggestions.

Write about what you like.

This may go without saying, but I’ve read threads in online forums or on social network websites where a lot of people believe that they should only write a novel containing subject matter that they are experts on. Although being a lawyer may help you write a legal thriller, or being a surgeon may help you write a medical thriller, being an expert on a particular subject will definitely help a writer with being accurate on the subject matter of a novel. But it doesn’t guarantee that you will write a good story. This is why researching a subject matter is important. And the easiest way to research subject matter that we’re unfamiliar with is to contact the experts directly. Many experts are either accessible in the phone directory. Others often write articles in magazines or online publications and will either leave their contact information at the end of their article or will mention the name of their workplace where one can contact them. Once you contact them, simply tell them who you are and why you contacted them and ask for their help. Although this goes without saying, it’s also important to thank them, include them in your acknowledgment section of your novel, and inform them on when your novel will be released and where they can find a copy if they’re interested in purchasing it. Or what’s even better, offer them a free copy as a way of thanking them. The good news is that there are so many experts out there that even if one turns you down, there’s going to be one that will be kind enough to help.

To Outline or not to Outline

These are two techniques I know that authors use when they’re about to write a novel. Some authors feel the importance to outline their novel first in order to organize each scene before writing. Others will write their novel straight from their head. For those that are curious, I prefer to outline my novels before I write them due to the complexities of the subject matter. One method is not superior over the other. You’re better off doing whichever one suits you the most.

Your first draft will not be your final.

We all love our work. But it’s important to realize that we’re not selling our novel to ourselves. How we may see our plot, our characters, and our writing, may be different from the way readers will see them. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel, I thought that it was the greatest thing on earth. But agents, publishers, even my father, didn’t care much for it. I was devastated. But I’m glad that I didn’t give up because I’m happy today—22 years later—that I rewrote my novel, considering how much more that I’ve learned about writing (and biology). I’d be embarrassed if copies of the original draft somehow were leaked. My draft from 3 years ago got a bit more of a favorable response from professionals in the publishing industry. It wasn’t good enough yet, but I knew that I was onto something.

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Madness Book Hop


It's giveaway time, and I'm joining on the fun by doing the March Madness Book Hop hosted by Diva's Bookcase. What is a hop? Well it is a way to hop to tons of other blogs who are giving things away as well and to build up fan base for my blog as well as all the others, so make sure that you are hopping your way through the list. 

The hop will run from 12:01 AM CST on March 4th to 11:59 PM CST on March 6. The winner(s) will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond before additional winner(s) are announced.

So here's the rules:
  1. You must fill out this FORM 
  2. Must be a public follower on this blog
  3. Have a valid email address 
And the Prize is! For one lucky US winner:
What woman wouldn't be attracted to Niall O'Connor's soft Irish brogue and dark good looks? But Rosenwyn Tremain must find her father, and she isn't going to let a sexy, stubborn Irishman and his motorcycle distract her. Rose's intuition tells her he's hiding something, a secret even the cards cannot divine. Her tarot deck always reads true, but how can one man represent both Justice and Betrayal? 

Magic. Niall's body tingles with it when he finds the woman snooping in his room. Rosenwyn might believe she's a no-nonsense accountant, but her essence whispers to him of ancient fairy magic that enslaves even as it seduces. Her heritage could endanger those he'd die to protect, but her powers and her passion, if properly awakened, might be the only thing that can save both their families, vanquish a fairy queen bent on revenge, and fulfill a prophecy that will bind their hearts together with... THE MAGIC KNOT

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