I see Linked-In posts in the writer's and editor's groups, and sometimes the discussions inspire this blog. Today, one group asked whether or not you should read your own reviews. Let me start this by saying that I've never met a single author who doesn't read his/her reviews. Call it vanity, self-interest, or pure curiosity, but let's not act like we don't want to know what people are saying about our books. I'm certainly not going to act "above it all" here and say, "Nooooo, of course not!" LOL
Okay, BUT here's the rub. When you read your reviews be prepared for whatever it says. Here's the even bigger piece of advice: whether good or bad, don't take it personally!!! Now, one problem with Amazon reviews are those reviewers who do take a run for the jugular and personally say nasty things about the author. In my "book" we don't call those folks reviewers! We call them HATERS!
When I released my first fiction book California Girl Chronicles, I ran right into the haters (not many, but a few). A couple of Amazon reviewers said some pretty nasty things about me ... personally. I'm fine with taking the critiques from professionals; what I'm not fine with is being called names by amateurs. Most authors don't write to have their readers take pot-shots at them as human beings. If you don't like the work, you don't like it, but keep your opinions on the work, not the person. Ultimately, remember this one thing: the source of who said it -- HATERS.
On the upside of book reviews and the question of reading them, the answer is "yes" read them. You may learn something valuable from the reviewers. Even if the review isn't generally positive, some productive feedback maybe in action. Read it with an open heart. Don't be defensive.
When the reviewers are positive and love your work, take the blessings as gratitude. No need to now think you're the next big author on the block with a head bigger than your page count. Review the positives as a way to reinforce your talents and what you're doing right. Repeat those skills in the next book.
So, my ultimate answer: Read your reviews and use them as tools for your next project.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
My beloved has a name and a heart so large
He makes me laugh and laugh and laugh
He cheers me up when times are tough
He touches something so deep inside of me
He loves me with his touch
He adores with me his eyes
He sings to me and makes me smile
He is an amazing gift
He is a sacred blessing
He is the most wonderful man I’ve ever met
And he is mine
And I am his
And the love we give to each other – is our true gift!
~ Michelle Gamble
It’s not easy being a business owner. You experience a lot of pluses – personal freedom, flexible schedules, independent decision-making, and financial success when the wins come. What happens though when your business endeavors start to suffer? The risks have the rewards and the losses too, right? The biggest problem when business begins to decline is managing your outlook and keeping up your morale. As the owner of the business you have to keep a close watch on your attitude about challenges. If your attitude sinks it won’t help your business to increase. Negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive. Problem is when the negative is causing a major drain in your resources and finances you may find it challenging to keep a smile on your face.
Having worked on dozens of self-help and business books over the years, I’ve learned a lot about “attitude management”. My own business has faced several challenges this year. Some of those problems were unexpected and others just fallout from certain industry problems – and all of which has caused some personal evaluation on my part. I want to share some of the things I’ve been applying to my business to turn it around. If you’re experiencing any challenges, maybe this information will help you.
Monitoring your self-talk – it’s a big one how we talk to ourselves. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “if I talked to you the way I talk to myself you would hate me.” True. What are you saying even to yourself? The brain cannot tell the difference between what’s true or false. All it hears is what we feed it. What are you feeding your brain? Positive affirmations and “go-get-it-done” thoughts? Or … are you saying negative stuff like you’re stupid … you can’t do it … Listen closely to what you’re saying inwardly. You would be surprised to realize that your own words affect your attitude, and people perceive your attitude. No one wants to work with someone who has a bad attitude even if it’s not be said aloud, it’s being perceived.
Outflow gets inflow – expecting things to change through inertia is an oxymoron. Change happens through action and movement not through standing still. You want a change in your business then what are you going to do about it? Marketing and outreach! This article is one of my outreach activities. I try to do 5 things a day to promote my business. I post on social media. I blog. I try and contact prospects just to touch base and follow up. The more outreach you do the more likely it is that prospects will come to you – and often not directly from where you expect. Outflow of information alone will draw in more to you. So, tough times require you to move forward and not curl up and give up.
Center yourself and meditate or do some kind of relaxation exercise. I meditate every morning to center myself to take on a new day. Some of the greatest leaders meditated. Use meditation to clear your mind. Find a mantra. My personal favorite: I make money easily and frequently I am grateful for everything I have.
Practice an attitude of gratitude. I know in your bleakest moments you might wonder, what am I grateful for? Look around you – that is what I do. I live in a beautiful home and I’m surrounded by my own artwork and others’ works too. I have my birds that chirp in the background. I have two great kids and a wonderful life partner whom I adore. What could I not be grateful for? Even in the darkest moments, an attitude of gratitude will make you feel much better.
Be willing to do what it takes … but within reason. I’ve started driving Uber to supplement my income. I may drive for weeks or months, but I’m going to do what it takes to make money. Now my only caveat here is: be smart about it. I recently got hired to write furniture descriptions. After hours of going to meetings and numerous rewrites to meet their standards, I walked away with $165, which was less than minimum wage. When I drive Uber I can make up to $50-$70 an hour. Do the math and don’t be desperate – some jobs don’t pay the bills and make no sense.
Michelle Gamble, an award-winning author, owns 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com). She provides strategic content for eBooks, documentations, online publications and information services, whitepapers, and more. She is also a seasoned editor and marketing specialist. For information, email info@3LPublishing.com.
Monday, December 26, 2016
We are retooling and re-launching the Malo and Mallori children’s book project. Input from orthodontists indicated that most children aren’t nervous about their Early Evaluations and the monster as someone to soothe the fear wasn't working. So I decided to change it to an adventure. The lesson in this project is to figure out what’s needed NOT what you THINK is needed. A fail point in any business endeavor is to not understand what your audience wants vs. what you presume they want. Sometimes you have to test the waters.
When it comes to books, I highly recommend you put your book out to a focus group before you release it. Your focus group should be comprised of unbiased volunteers who will read your book and provide honest feedback. The problem I see is that many authors will have friends and family read their early versions. Friends and family don’t want to hurt your feelings. It’s not likely you’re going to get the kind of constructive feedback you need. I always suggest you use something like social media where your connections may not be personally close to you. I often take volunteers off Facebook. After all, the purpose of a focus group is not to give you pats on the back. It’s to help you get the best possible product on the market.
I remember watching an episode of Silicon Valley on HBO and they did a focus group. The inventor of the service couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t understand the users’ feedback. What did he do? He jumped in and had to explain it to them. What was interesting and an underlining point, he couldn’t understand their points-of-view! He was looking at the product through his own lens of knowledge, and that is where you get into trouble. You have to be open enough that when a common theme comes up in the critique of your book, you put your ego aside and HEAR it. Otherwise, it’s all been a waste of time and simply an exercise in stroking your ego.
One time I did a focus group evaluation of our award-winning book Second Bloom. What came out of it was invaluable information, but I do remember one thing. One person didn’t like the book’s title. ONE person – and based off that we ended up having a debate about the title. Here is the nugget: one comment doesn’t make the group’s view. So, you also have to weigh everything in perspective. Unless you have a common comment, it should be given only as much consideration as required. In other words, don’t spend hours mulling over one, single comment as true.
Here are some tips for finishing your book and having your ducks in a row:
1. Do a focus group, but don’t use anyone close to you. Social media is great for finding participants.
2. Ask for early testimonials for the back cover during the focus group phase. Scrambling to get testimonials when the book is nearly on press will delay your book’s release.
3. Add book reviewer comments on the second press run.
All right Friend-Os! Another year is upon us. How can I help you meet your goals for 2017! Call me at 916-300-8012 or respond to this email. Start your New Year off right! We can have your project finished and successful in a matter of months!!!
Thursday, December 22, 2016
I wanted to take a moment to give thanks to you all for making 2016 the best year it could be despite how it started out. I’ve learned so much about my own limits, resilience, and ability to overcome and begin the process of rebuilding to make my life even better.
This year started out with my discovery that the person who had become closest to me was deceiving me – not in a small way, but a really BIG way and over a protracted period of years. The personal and professional heartbreak at first numbed me out. I couldn’t believe what I found out was actually true. The enormity of the deceit floored me. It was a strange, surreal moment when the first big lie got revealed. I remember getting off the phone right after I discovered the truth and picking up a photo he had given me. I hurled it so hard against the wall it crashed through the plasterboard and left a hole. Mid-hurl I let out the most painful scream (which felt kind of good, BTW). How could anyone manipulate and lie to me at such a horrendous level and over such a long period of time? How does someone do something like that? For the first time in my life I understood what the word “sociopath” meant.
The fallout was horrendous. It involved money and so much deception that I would spend the next three weeks making nonstop phone calls, confronting the ugly truth woman by woman by woman. I didn’t even cry at first. I just did what I needed to do. I wanted answers. Since the man wasn’t capable of telling me the truth I had to do this one on my own. I’m so proud of myself for being strong enough to call complete strangers and have to ask them if they too were involved with this man and what he did to them and what he had done to me.
I remember refusing to cancel my 50th birthday party because I wouldn’t give that much power to another person to wreck my birthday. I certainly didn’t want to party, believe me. I was in no mood. I was out thousands of dollars and in debt and heartbroken. A party seemed like the last thing to do, but I realized I wouldn’t waste another day of my life crying over the wreckage of what he had left behind.
But as we confront a New Year I want to share something profound I learned on this journey:
I am so grateful God gave me the means to find out the truth!
I am so grateful that what this man had done was so, so bad that I clearly and without regret could start to heal and close that door on that period of my life.
I am so grateful he’s gone because NOW I have true love and support! I met the love of my life, Chris Carter. Had I not had that old relationship so cleanly severed I would not have had the open heart to meet Chris.
So, you see I lived through something really awful. And while I once thought that this man got to walk away clean while I had to clean up the financial and emotional fallout, I realized I WON not him. He went back to his messed-up relationship and life built on deception and I went forward with a beautiful, new relationship built on honesty and love. Wow! How could I ever be upset about that outcome?
I shared this story with you today so you know that from the bad can rise the good. From the door closing on one thing the door can open on another thing. It doesn’t feel good at the time when bad things happen. It can hurt – and I mean really nasty, gut-level hurt, but once the healing begins something better is waiting out there just for you.
I’ve learned such important, critical lessons this year:
Time does heal all pain. I’m still healing almost a year later. Yet I know as each day passes I will get stronger and stronger and stronger. Soon all of it will just be a tarnished memory. When I have moments of reflection I buoy myself with the thought that soon this will be nothing but a fleeting memory I shrug off. No one wants to hear, “Give it time” when something bad happens, but it’s true. Give it time!
Forgiveness is for me not for him. Learning true forgiveness is being able to let it go. Forgive and move on. The anger and hurt only hold you back and hurt you some more. Don’t be a victim. Forgive. I now look at this man and think what a terrible life he leads – lying and deceiving your friends and family is no way to live. How much time and energy wasted on something so negative and ugly. What a waste. Forgive others and just let it go. Don’t forget though. If you don’t remember then you can’t protect yourself in the future.
Something better is waiting for you. I am so eternally grateful for Chris! My heart wants to explode when he’s with me. The way he loves me! WHAT A GIFT! How can I ever be upset or feel down when I have THAT kind of love in my life. He is uplifting, kind, sweet, caring and funny. He has been my best friend, rock, companion, counselor, lover and soon to be my husband. We already considered ourselves married, because we believe marriage is spiritual and not just a binding legality. He calls me his wife to anyone who will ask. The love we share is RARE. Just thinking of my sexy, sweet teddy bear makes me grin. We both know what we have is precious, and we are careful to safeguard and never squander it. Hours and hours of talking and hugs and kisses -- that is my life now. The other day he stopped and bought me a new vacuum cleaner from a vendor. How mundane you might think and not romantic ... wrong! Quite romantic. Quite needed. And exceptionally thoughtful -- that's Chris!!
So, I want to thank God for everything that happened! EVERYTHING! Without the bad could not come the greatest good and the most wonderful thing to happen to me in years – my beautiful, big and wonderful Christopher Carter. This is both my open letter to you, my readers, and to the Universe. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Monday, December 19, 2016
Did you know that whether you’re an author or business professional that you are the “storyteller” of your product or service? Yes, it’s a unique way of looking at it, but you are the person charged with either the oral or written history – whether it be a book or a widget. As Chief Storyteller your job is to inform the world about your product and share it. When you consider it as a “story” vs. “marketing” it puts it in a whole new light, doesn’t it?
Marketing and public relations is about spreading the “message” about your product. What “story” are you trying to tell the world? It’s like you’re the oral tradition of your company and it’s being passed down only it’s not to your ancestors it’s to the masses. Your job is to craft a story that is:
1. Targeted to the right audience and what they want to know about or hear.
2. It’s compelling and demonstrates the benefits and value.
3. Most of all it’s a page-turner!
Yes, it’s a page-turner. If you are able to spin your marketing and public relations messages into a page-turner story, imagine your success. You have your audience mesmerized by your message and so intrigued they can’t stop getting enough of it. What an exciting way to look at your marketing.
Once more if you can humanize your story and make it real to people so that they emotionally invest in the idea, they will be moved to action and when they’re moved to action what does that mean?
Great idea + compelling and captivating story + action = SALES
As you go out and pitch your product or book, you need to develop the story. The story isn’t about some dry or uninteresting. Tell the story of your adventure in making it happen. Tell the story with passion. How did you get your product. How did you imagine it into being. Go out and sell it and pitch it and do speeches where you tell that story. Give it human interest, intrigue, “battles”, villains and make yourself the superhero. Can you imagine hearing that speech at your next meeting or conference. A speech about how good overcame the obstacles?
And that is why business leaders should indeed write a book. Not a book about how they got to where they’re at or about the technicalities of their trade. They should write the story of the product in such a way that it’s just an incredible yarn that people don’t put down. Imagine you’re a dentist or orthodontist or real estate agent who has written this incredible tale that relates to your business. In a competitive world when you give your prospects your story vs. your promo … Wow! The possibilities are endless. How could your prospect not see you as different from the crowd?
Below I’ve continued this discussion with my article “Nothing Sells Your Business Better than a Book”. Take a read and think about it. And if it makes sense to you, I promise you a book will completely open new doors and opportunities you never saw coming. It’s a New Year coming. The time is perfect to kickoff your new year with a refreshing project to make your business shine. If you read this article and you’re sure it’s your perfect marketing tool, contact me at info@3LPublishing.com. Not only can we explore what your book should be about, but I’ll sneak in a 25% discount! A great deal when you consider the overall savings.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Are you ready for 2017? Are you ready to win? Have you set your goals? I began thinking about it some weeks ago. I’m more than ready to sweep 2016 into the Hall of Go Away and move toward an exciting new year with all new possibilities and opportunities.
So what are your goals? Goals motivate us and give us signposts to signal where we want to go. Without goals most of us are just kind of haplessly doing and not necessarily thinking about what we’re doing.
My advice for goal setting is to do these steps (please feel free to use this as a template for your own goal-setting activities):
1. Set at least 1 audacious goal. My audacious goal is to make my forthcoming book The Abused a top-selling thriller.
2. Set at least 5 BIG goals for your professional life that are just solid goals. So here are my 5 goals:
1. Get our gross income increased three-fold
2. Attract 2 corporate clients who provide project work.
3. Hire a new assistant to keep me organized.
4. Increase my networking.
5. Attend at least 4 key book festivals
3. Now under each of the 5 BIG Goals set micro-goals, which is are tactics for how you’re going to achieve those bigger goals. Micro-goals should be executed:
Let me give you and example of my BIG goal and micro-goals to support it.
BIG GOAL: Increase our gross income three-fold
- Micro-Goal: Do 5 marketing activities each morning before I do the project work. (You would have to decide what marketing activities work. I do things like blog, check project boards for projects and contract work, post to all social media at least once a day, write this newsletter, etc.)
- Make 1 phone call per day to a perspective client.
- Follow-up with at least 1-2 prospective clients per day.
BIG GOALS + Micro-Goals = Weekly Success = Monthly Success = BIG GOAL Achievement
Here is the take away from this lesson:
Micro Goals are the most important part of achieving BIG Goals.
You cannot try and carry an elephant upstairs all at once. If you’re trying to do something BIG then it needs to be broken into smaller parts. After all, skyscrapers don’t get built in a day. We mentally set ourselves up to fail when we don’t think BIG and understand that the inverse of achieving the big things is ACTUALLY (and here it is) a formula like this:
ACHIEVING BIG = ACHIEVING SMALL THINGS DAILY
Set aside instant gratification. Unless you’re in the grocery line and you want a Snickers Bar instant gratification is unlikely when you’re targeting a BIG Goal. Most big dreams and big goals get accomplished with slow, steady goal achievement. Sometimes it might not even happen in your prescribed time frame, but it will happen. The main lesson I’ve learned is to stay focused. I lose focus all of the time. Daily distractions and demands can turn my head as fast a speeding car. Yet I have to continually remind myself: FOCUS! Keep my eye on the goal.
I hope my lesson plan here has helped you! Just sharing it with you and writing it down helped me! So I thank you for reading!
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
I have a confession to make: 2016 was the toughest year. I have been scratching and promoting and trying to retool the business for increased prosperity. I’ve been reflecting a lot and hoping to regain some lost momentum. My life partner Chris Carter shared something interesting with me, and it’s an invaluable and something to pay attention to for other business people. He said that once you’ve started to achieve a certain amount of momentum that is the time to strike. If you don’t strike while the ball is starting to roll faster and faster, you will likely lose that stride and go backwards.
I’ve seen it happen to others. I see many authors who start to catch their momentum only to be discouraged or distracted away from their goals and fall off the wave. It happened to me due to my 2012 divorce. My book California Girl Chronicles was peaking. I was on tour and selling books like crazy, especially in bundle deals with my “Love My Coconuts” t-shirt and the second book. I remember going to the RT Book Lovers convention and selling an amazing $5,000 in merchandise in two days. For a convention that is a nice chunk of change.
Then the dreaded divorce got underway. With so many issues swirling around my head I got distracted away and lost my focus. A few more poor choices later and here I am. I lost that all-important momentum. The problem when your momentum loses speed is that it can often demoralize you. I went from confident and determined to insecure and uncertain.
Today though being in better head space and a stable relationship I’ve had time to reflect and consider how to get the train back on the tracks. Working on the book Habits and Attitudes really helped remind me of important things to keeping your success and positive outlook moving forward. As we go into a New Year with more opportunities I started to consider how am I going to regain my momentum? Well, I already took the first early steps and removed a few toxic relationships out of my life. Who are you surrounding yourself with? Did you know that positivity breeds positivity? And the reverse is true too.
So step number #1 is to regain my mojo aka confidence. I was so “in love” with my book series California Girl Chronicles that I brought that passion and love to getting it out there. I remember one woman saying, “I have to buy this book just because you’re so passionate about it.” I was bringing a fantastic attitude to my sales process. I loved the book and that translated to a commitment to sell it. Are you in the middle of selling a product or book? Are you excited about it? One thing Habits and Attitudes illustrated effectively was how your very attitude can affect everything and everyone around you. So tip #1:
Fall “in love” with your book and let your “glow” show to prospective readers. Take it with you everywhere you go and don’t hesitate to bring it out and show people. It’s your “baby” – be a proud parent.
Don’t let distractions get in your way. Determine your destination: best-selling book. Now don’t let anything change the direction –> BEST SELLER! PERIOD!!
Now what’s it going to take? Right now with my forthcoming novel The Abused I’m considering directions for it, but my number #1 focus is to get it done and get it done right. Know without any question it WILL succeed. Know how good your product is. Have confidence. Make a list of 5 MARKETING activities to do daily to get your book publicized. Don’t let the distractions stop you and don’t stop until your list is complete.
What should your list contain?
1. Pitch 5 book reviewers until you’ve pitched them all.
2. Now go back to that list and follow up with each person at least once.
3. Write a blog supporting the book – one a day.
4. Promote the book across all social media – daily.
5. Pitch 5 book clubs – daily.
Do at least one of these five things a day. Do NOT back off. Do NOT get discouraged. Stay the course and stay the direction. Direction –> BEST SELLER! PERIOD!
Now if you’re a business professional, these tips apply to any marketing activity. In your marketing plan we would call them TACTICS. You are in tactical warfare to achieve your dream – only it’s a fun, practical and willful battle loaded with faith, passion, commitment, persistence, and a willingness to go all the way.
I’m doing it! Follow me on my own journey! When I’m done I expect every First Word reader will be clamoring to read my psychological thriller The Abused!!! Don’t forget I do public relations and marketing too. Want my help? Let’s create a Marketing Plan for 2017 and execute it. You can contact me at info@3LPublishing.com.
Monday, December 12, 2016
I thought I would pack this issue of First Word with some great marketing resources for books. I'm signed up on many different lists and newsletters. So here are some interesting resources and tips you may want to check out.
Sign up to do online book talks with Pearls of Creation. Several authors have said this one is good. Here is the information:
Email: Marge@pearlsofcreation.com or Pearlsofcreation@yahoo.com
com http://www.Pinterest.com/ 1000pearls/
Cross-promoting other authors on Twitter. Several authors help each other and pass book release information back and forth. When I posted some information about my earlier novels, I sold some eBooks. It definitely came from Twitter re-tweets of the material.
Write a great pitch to major media outlets. Don't be afraid of big names like the New York Times. The sheer intimidation factor can prevent some authors from even promoting to major media. Here is the reality: media outlets (all of them) need content to succeed. Without great subject material they aren't in business. Don't discount your book before it's even been pitched. You can't hear a yes if you don't ask, so ask.
Follow up once you've pitched. A major shortfall is that many authors either 1. Give up if they don't hear anything or 2. They do hear something and fail to follow up after the sample book has been sent in. Editors are busy people too. Just because you haven't heard anything doesn't mean your book is out of the running. So, do follow up at least twice before giving up.
Contact book clubs and offer to greatly discount your book or even give it to members if they'll write reviews for Amazon or their sites. In the beginning, it's about building following and finding an audience. I know because I've gone through it that the early days of getting a book out there might seem like a money pit. Like any business you have to spend money to make money. So your freshman novel requires investing in the marketing and giving some books away with the idea of building your audience.
One bite at a time - you have so many things to do each day to promote your book. Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly goals. Tasks to promote your book. Start with book reviewers, find podcasts and radio shows specializing in your genre, enter book contests, follow up, contribute blog posts to other bloggers. Do something each day to promote your book.
Monday, December 5, 2016
An interesting discussion came up the other day with one of my new clients. We were talking about public relations for this new product line. He was saying he wanted to send a press release out a week to promote the product launch. I looked at him and said, “Public relations isn’t about press releases and how many you can send out to get attention.” I’ve noticed sometimes people mistake advertising and marketing with public relations. I thought I would take a moment to clarify it.
Public relations is designed to raise awareness about your company, product or service. It puts your name out in the public domain and promotes your message. Problem is that some people confuse “message” with product promotion. Media doesn’t want to receive weekly notices about your product launch. Media wants headlines and news. When it comes to book promotion they want human interest and material that will spark discussions. Remember, media is in the business of “information” not advertising.
The reason you want to have, for example, book reviews done on your book is strictly to increase credibility that translates into readership. Book reviews also increase awareness about your book. Advertising books generally doesn’t help (especially new, unknown authors). Why? Advertisements are paid and give no assurance to the prospective reader whether the book is good or not. Book reviews provide that information. When readers are looking for a book, they want to know if it’s going to be a good read. Reviews give books credibility with the audience.
Now translate this to general public relations and why smattering news release out won’t help. Editors are looking for a news hook or for something that is newsworthy. As a former editor of a magazine I used to receive dozens of new product launch announcements per day. I know from that experience that a new product in and of itself is rarely compelling, and this is why I didn’t encourage my client to send out weekly product news releases. The sheer volume of nonstop announcements quickly mutes the message. Editors being inundated with your news releases will know to hit “delete” every time a new one hits their in-boxes.
So how should you do this to catch an editor’s attention?
· Look for trends and ideas to connect your book or product to a greater news story. Your publicist should tie your product/book to that headline.
· Tie the press release headline and idea to that major event, trend or news of the day.
· Pitched specific editors who cover these topics. Use your product/book as source material.
· Be specific and don’t just send news releases over and over again, but rather send it once and follow up with the editors. You are trying to build a relationship.
· Stay in touch with the editors and media contacts. How can I be of service? Can any of my clients’ information help your story? Your role or your publicist’s role is to serve the needs of the media not the other way around. Think about how you can provide that expertise they’re looking for.
All right Friend-Os, time to get past “Monday-ing” … thank you kindly for spending this five minutes reading information I hope will serve you.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I get asked all of the time, “How do I write a page-turner?” My answer may sound simple, but it’s not easy to do. The main ingredient to writing a page-turner is to create constant intrigue. Your reader must be interested and intrigued enough to want to keep reading.
How do you create intrigue?
Tip #1: Show don’t tell. Last night I read a chapter from The Abused. “I love the way you built up the tension. How did you do it?” So let me give you the set up scene from the book…
On this outing, Frank was in his usual laid-back mood. Jonesy had gotten up early ready to jog. They were standing in front of the morning fire watching the gray tin coffee pot that sat on the grill begin to bubble up. Jonesy wore a green jogging suit, and Frank had on a woolen shirt with Levi’s. He stood with his hands in his pockets fighting off the morning chill.
“So, what’s the plan my man,” asked Frank.
“Do you always have to say that?”
“Christ Frank you sound like a moron.”
“Thanks!” chuckled Frank.
The insult never bothered Frank. He knew Jonesy was chiding him.
“I’m taking a run. How bout you?”
Frank laughed, “Um no.”
“Fuck Frank you’re going to fall over some day from laziness and too much cholesterol.”
Frank grabbed the iron skillet and held up the eggs, “Tell you what! You take your damn jog and by the time you get back breakfast will be ready. That is if I don’t die of a heart attack.”
“Eh, fuck you!” said Jonesy as he turned to jog off.
“See you later Lucy,” called Frank.
Jonesy held up his middle finger and flipped off Frank, who just laughed again. The morning rolled on, and Frank began to scramble eggs. He set the bacon on the grill. BBQ bacon tasted the best. Then he began making hash browns from the frozen packs where the potatoes were already squared off. He didn’t like frozen hash browns as much as the real thing but when camping and having limited storage space, he would settle for it.
He had just sat down for a sip of coffee when campers started gathering at the edge of the trailhead. A lot of tittering and talk was going on. Frank’s “Spidey sense” went up. He wondered what was going on. People seemed distressed. A woman walked past, and Frank stood up.
“What’s going on?”
The woman shook her head. “Some guy fell off the trail.”
Frank became alarmed. Fear simmered inside of him like the coffee beginning to brew. He wasn’t sure if he should go look or just blow it off. “No way,” he thought. Anxiety grew in him like multiplying bacteria. He slowly started to make his way toward the crowd. People were talking. He heard one man say, “Yeah, he’s like crushed.” Now Frank felt even more concerned. Crushed? That didn’t sound good at all.
Finally, riding on a wave of sheer panic, Frank got to the edge and could see down. As his eyes focused on the mangled body below, he knew … within a second he turned and vomited on the dirt. Jonesy was dead.
His best friend and companion of years – dead and mangled on a pile of earth and rocks next to the sea.
Notice what I highlighted. I’m “showing” what is going on and not just saying “Jonesy fell off a cliff.” The build up … suspecting something is amiss (see red highlight). The tension conveyed through metaphor. Fear is simmering. Anxiety growing … what is happening? Frank moves toward the answer. Panic is consuming him. Crushed! Someone is crushed! Frank gets his answer.
Now a new writer who doesn’t understand the build up and tension would go straight for it – Jonesy died. This approach would read like this:
People stirred and were talking. Frank got curious. He wondered what was going on. He walks toward the crowd and peers over the ledge – Jonesy’s body is at the bottom. He’s dead.
No tension and no intrigue and no curiosity piqued. The reader is served up the answer right away. Try and think of each and every scene you write much like life. You are rarely given answers. You go through experiences to get answers. Describe what is happening before the answer arrives. Put your curiosity in the readers’ minds. Show it like you would see it unfold on a movie screen. When I write I actually see my story unfolding in my mind’s eye. I use my words to walk the reader through the experience.
I provide literary coaching and editorial services. If you would like me to critique or provide analysis of your manuscript, contact me at info@3LPublishing.com or call 916-300-8012. I will gladly discuss your project needs and how to get your book out of your head and onto paper.