Focus. Focus Is The Key

Well, focus is something I have to work into this mixture with this whole independent author journey.

Hi!

I’m A.D. Ellis, author of A Torey Hope Novel Series. I started writing in October of 2013 and published in April of 2014. I followed my debut with a release in July, November, and the newest released January 19, 2015. Four more books are scheduled for 2015.

I wish I could tell you that I got all of this done because I was focused. But that’s not what this article is about.

I’m a mother, a wife, a teacher, and an author. I am the queen of multi-tasking and I think that’s why I’m able to get a lot done. I focus and give my best to all I do, but I have to work on several things at once.

If I was not being a mom and a teacher and a wife, maybe I wouldn’t have to multi-task, but I have to so I do!

This post is going to multi-task. It’s going to focus on a few of my biggest tips for success.

They are in no order, they don’t require 100% focus (although, you WILL have to put forth effort and do your best), and they can be done along with several other things all at once.

Engage with your readers:

  • Ask their opinions.
  • Invite them to send you their thoughts and feelings on your work.
  • Open yourself up to their comments and questions.
  • One of the very best parts of being an author is getting to meet and interact with my readers.

A side note: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT engage negatively with readers EVER. Not on review sites, not on emails, not on social media. Keep it positive. It never turns out well and you’re trying to build your name up and reach readers; you don’t need to get a bad reputation.

A side note on my side note: Just because you publish and are (hopefully, but very honestly likely not) a huge overnight success, this does not give you the right to start slamming others and expecting that every single reader will love your book. Stay humble.

Back to engaging with your readers…they are the most important people in this whole thing.

Readers leave reviews, readers tell their friends, readers buy more of your books. Treat them right.

Focus is the key

Research to get it right: If you’re going to take the time to write and publish a book, take the time to get the details right. My first couple books had some topics I knew a lot about from my years as an educator; no research needed there.

But, there were some topics on addiction and recovery that I wasn’t familiar with. Sure, I knew what I saw on television and movies, but I wanted to get it right; I talked to addiction and recovery therapists to get their insight.

I don’t have a medical background other than watching ER years ago. In my newest release, there were medical scenes and I wanted them spot-on. I spoke to paramedics and nurses. There were some scenes involving police and laws, I spoke to people in the law enforcement field.

I’m currently writing and need background/input on construction and the point-of-view of a gay man. So, what am I doing? Talking to those in construction and having a blast talking to families of gay men and gay men themselves.

What if you don’t know nurses, paramedics, police officers, gay men, therapists? JUST ASK! I promise, if you’re on social media and you put out a plea for information, you’ll get at least a couple people willing and able to help.

Read the whole article here.

The Art of Literary Critique

According to the dictionary, to critique something is to give your opinion and observations. If you are a member of a writing group that offers critiques, you can expect to hear a variety of opinions about your work.

This is a good thing, as you want to know how readers are reacting to your writing.

What you should not expect, however, is an edit of your writing. I have heard writers complain about critique groups because the members of the group did not understand what critique meant.

Sometimes when a person is asked to critique a chapter, that person thinks he or she is expected to edit for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Other times the critique comes back as a completely negative commentary, taking the word critique and thinking it means critical.

I have had people tell me that they dislike doing critiques because it is sometimes hard to find something wrong with the piece.

“A well-written manuscript deserves a positive commentary.”

Of course, a critique is also an observation, so if there are many mechanical and/or structural errors in the manuscript, mention it, but not as a line-by-line edit.

A simple statement something like this will do:

“The overall theme of the manuscript is clearly identified; however there are several grammatical errors on page three that can be easily fixed with a line edit.”

This technique, called cushioning, starts out with a positive comment, followed by a constructive comment.

You can also surround the constructive comment with positive statements, thereby creating a sandwich effect in your observation.

The Art of Literary Critique

Read the whole article here.