By Kris Maze
You’ve written a book. Or three. Or three hundred.
You’re examining the road to publication. Or starting to query. Or multi-contracted.
You’re dutifully working through your first draft. Or working with an editor. Or a publisher.
Wherever you are in your writing career, it may feel frustrating, tiresome, or difficult to continue on your passion of writing a book. If your writing could use a boost and your writing enthusiasm is waning, consider making a calculated risk to revitalize your writing career.
Many writers have hit a wall with traditional publishing and while publishing their own books. Although I am not describing specific tools in detail to revitalize the sale and publication of your own books, I will highlight a few that I have been trying and give insights to my experience so far.
Risk #1 – Write in another genre
One simple way to add a little spice to your writing skills is to write in another genre. Writing outside your norm can benefit writers in many ways. By trying a new type of story writing you can experience these benefits. Writing in another genre…
- Offers different story length expectations
In my recent writing experiences, I have toyed with writing longer works and shorter novellas based on short stories I have written for contests. Using feedback from the judges on the short stories helped me develop the new ideas into working longer books.
Writing in different genres requires writing in different word count frameworks. Epic Fantasy readers expect a lengthy, elaborate book, but some YA readers are as short as 10,000 words.
Not certain what is your genre’s word count expectation? Read this blog post from Reedsy.com to find out more. There is an interactive quiz that requires an email, but this respected resource sends you information about the genre you write.
- Offers ways to explore more interests in writing.
Finding ways to incorporate realistic details into your work could involve learning a new skill or hobby. Here is a post I wrote earlier this year on the benefits of learning something new and how it can improve one’s writing.
- Offers ways to develop tropes, characters, and worldbuilding as you focus on the demands of the new genre.
I began my writing career with a sci-fi novella, but discovered my stories also resembled horror. After several of my short stories were returned to me with conflicting information about how it related to other speculative genres, it became apparent that my writing included scary, intense moments of fight or flight, and a force, or monster, to defeat.
Given my love of Gothic fiction by classic writers like Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, and Edgar Allan Poe, it made sense that what I was writing was at it’s heart, horror. It took me a while to accept my new calling to a genre I wouldn’t have claimed, but once I wrote longer scary works, the readership increased. These stories have significantly more downloads than my other speculative works and the readers are more willing to interact with me. Consider a new or adjacent genre to write and have fun with it.
Risk #2 – Write in Another Location Find a New Coffee Shop or Pub.
photo courtesy of Eldred Bird
Worried about distractions? Pop in the earbuds. Get a beverage of choice and goooo!
People watch in a park.
Take notes, but try not to be that creepy guy or gal. It helps you avoid the nasty stares one can get as a result watching a stranger and putting all their interesting interactions to paper or pixel.
Take a writing vacation.
Time away from your day-to-day at home can inspire your writing. Rent a place or borrow a friend’s cabin for a few weeks. It can reset your mind and help the words flow on the page.
Vacations can also provide you with details helpful in world building. Go to the place you are trying to write about. Find somewhere with a setting you want to include in your book and observe with your writer mind. Take a close look at what people eat and what they wear. Find out what people in this area do for fun or examine a tradition unique to their region. Putting realistic and engaging details onto the page should be easier after experiencing it firsthand.
Find a local writing group and join them for writing sprints.
Perhaps your “other place to write” is on online version for critiques. Don’t be afraid to make new writer friends. They may enable you to grow in your craft through accountability and new ideas.
There are several writing groups on Facebook that offer support to writers. Several writers I know use these online critique groups and enjoy working with writers from around the world. Some are also experts and can offer insights on details within their stories. One writer friend works with a scientist in their online group, which helps in editing her sci-fi novel.
Risk #3 – Write to promote your work
Many writers don’t want to spend time promoting their work, but it is a valuable way to sell more books. Taking time to connect with your readers is an important way to build a reading base of people exciting to buy books and invest in your stories.
Try one of these tried-and-true methods, if you are not sure where to start.
- Update your readers with a regular newsletter. It could be weekly, twice a month, monthly, or once a quarter, for example. Whatever frequency works for you should work, but know that it is best to fulfill reader expectations. If you send out news once a month, try to keep it consistent.
- Make valuable material available to your readers. Creating interesting stories takes time and energy, but don’t neglect the other ways you can interact with your readers. Build up a fan base by sending readers what they want. Wow them. Make it fun. Fill it with freebies. Give them funny jokes and let them remember why they like reading your work to begin with. Tell a cute story about how an unexpected event turned into part of your novel. Let them into your cool-as-a-crazy writing world and let them know you appreciate their continued readership.
- Get on social media. It is easier than ever to interact with readers with many social media options. Some writers believe that it’s important to post across all media. And although it is a strategy, it may be better to narrow down your efforts to the online places where your readers like to hang out. Find out where your readers are and have some fun with them.
- If you find a mystery-loving Facebook group or an Instagram sweet romance author with many follows, study what they are doing when you use online tools to schedule your post.
- Look at other author’s posts that generate comments and follows and find out which hashtags they use. Consider using ones that resonate with your work and brand.
- Identify what types of media they use to attract their readers? Do they have short stories? Do they use book segments or dramatic readers to draw in readers? Are flashy, moving elements in their posts drawing in reader responses or not?
- Find out what works for your intended audience and then, try it out!
Many notable social media management companies offer free plans for limited use. See if those from companies like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Later have the features you want. Using the trial can help you decided how valuable the resource is to your writing.
I am currently using Publer to schedule my social media posts. And have liked it’s features including:
- Scheduling a post to 5 social media accounts
- An easy-to-read dashboard and calendar
- The ease of using links, photos, and other media in a post.
- It also integrates with Canva – another great tool I like to use for working with pictures and for creating new content to share with readers.
Risk #4 – Write with a funnel
Indie writers who have books to sell have been using the tools found in various ‘funnel’ services for years. I have been working with BookFunnel for 2 years and have been pleasantly surprised at how well the tools work for my horror writing.
If you are not familiar with what these services do, here are some ways that I use the online platform:
Upload a short story as a giveaway.
It will enable the author to giveaway the book with a link that can perform certain actions like limiting the amount of downloads or to request an email in exchange for the book.
Email list building.
In the past 2 years I have increased my email list to 1600 plus readers using this platform. It allows authors to upload their books together to join their promotional giveaways, for example, so that readers are directed to all the authors’ sales or promos. This is a powerful tool since it allows writers from different parts of the world to work together and share their lists. The cross-promotion adds new readers to all of the writers’ lists. This allows for exposure to potentia