Scott D. Parker
It can be the little things that help you along.
SMALL ADJUSTMENTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Remember a week ago when I wrote about how WADING INTO WAR was getting purchased but the subsequent books in the series were not? My quick solution was to place links to the other books immediately after "The End," explaining the next book and where it fit in the chronology. I republished both the Kobo and Kindle versions of the ebook.
I checked the data yesterday morning and imagine what I saw? A sale of ALL CHICKENS MUST DIE, the second Ben Wade mystery?
Coincidence? Possibly, but I prefer to chalk up my small tweak as a win. If I got one new reader based on a small restructuring at the end of the book, then I'll follow through with all the other versions of the ebook published by Draft2Digital.
As a reader myself, I would immediately wanted to know what the next book of a series is. The Audible app does that with audiobooks. Why not ebooks? No reason. If the reader didn't like the story, they'd just close the electronic cover and never look back. But a road map? I'd want one as a reader, so I'm providing one as an author.
Interesting but unprovable observation: I made a sale of WADING and CHICKENS both on Lincoln's birthday. That's 12 February. WADING is more of a novella. I can't help but wonder if both of those sales were the same person. How cool would that be?
On a corollary note, ULTERIOR OBJECTIVES is the first book to feature Sergeant Lillian Saxton, US Army. It's a thrill-ride of a book (probably my favorite to date) that was a joy to write and tell people about. It takes place in May 1940 so it qualifies as a World War II novel.
I own a Kindle and there's always an ad on the lock screen. I never gloss over what's on display because sometimes, you can find something you can use.
There is a book titled THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS by Pam Jenoff. It showed up on the lock screen and its great cover caught my eye. I read the description. Not only did it draw me, but it had a World War II connection. I downloaded the sample and am reading through it.
But as an author, I took note of the authors featured in the Also Boughts as well as the Sponsored Links. Seeing an opening, I quickly wrote down all those names and created a new Amazon ad with those author names as keywords. I let the ad go into the world. I think that was about ten days ago.
Well, something happened. The KENP pages read for OBJECTIVES went from 63 on 6 February to 493 the following day. This after weeks of nothing on the KENP chart. It seemed some eyes finally noticed my book, its cover and description, and took a chance. Now, there were no actual sales of the book on those days which might have showed the story was good enough for someone to buy and finish the book. Can't do anything about that, but it is certainly worth noting. There was one sale, on the eleventh so perhaps...
By the way, if you're not using author names as keywords, start now.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK #1: Practice, Practice, Practice
Dean Wesley Smith was at it again this week. On Tuesday, he dropped a video "Tip of the Week #57...I'm too young." Basically, it's his discussion about yet another myth, the myth of being 'too young' in the business. That is, too little time in the chair writing. His basic response is "Yeah, I might be better than other writers...but that's only because I put in the time practicing the craft." By his own admission, he writes north of a million words a year. James Reasoner does this, too, and has for over a decade.
Just imagine how good any of us would be at ANYthing if we practiced the equivalent of a million words a year. Imagine how much better our writing would be if we put in that kind of time.
A few years ago, I read a quote that got me off my butt and in front of the computer:
"A year from now, you will have wished you started today."
SELF-DOUBT IS A KILLER
When you look at successful authors ahead of you in this long game, you might feel yourself getting frustrated or depressed that you are not at their level. You might also think they've solved all the writerly problems.
In this week's "The Creative Penn" podcast, author Joanna Penn talked about her own self-doubt. Specifically, Joanna talked about her self-doubt in the process. Like she said in the intro, it doesn't go away the more successful you get. You just have to trust the process and move forward.
And try to avoid Comparisonitis as much as possible.
WHY WERE THESE IMPORTANT TO ME THIS WEEK
I'm in the middle of my own self-doubt on the current novel. It's not moving forward as briskly as I would have liked. In fact, ever since that health issue I had, I've barely touched the novel.
So I segued to a short story. It was the opening of a story I sent to Dean when I took his Depth in Writing workshop. The short story features...Detective Ben Wade. This one is different, however, because I'm writing it in third person. The three Wade novels are written in first person. The style doesn't matter. What matters most to me is getting back on the horse and writing.
And wouldn't you know it, the more I'm writing this short story, certain lines of creativity have opened in my brain. Not only is the story coming along swimmingly, but I'm starting to think about the novel and what the logjam in my brain is. So, when I get Wade's little tale done, I'll likely jump back onto the novel.
Trust the process. Trust what I've done before, knowing I can do it again. Same for you. There are always struggles. Heck, I sometimes struggle in the day job writing. Happened this week, but I worked my way through it.
For more on this topic, check out some of the comments on Dean's Tip of the Week.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK #2: Jason Bateman's Speech
In case you didn't see Bateman's acceptance speech at the recent SAG awards, it's well worth your 2-3 minutes. What he says about work and the next job is priceless. Apply it to your writing.
JOY OF THE WEEK: Alan Alda's Clear and Vivid podcast
Growing up, M.A.S.H. was that show my dad watched in reruns when he got home from work and watched live on CBS. I didn't understand all the humor and war conditions, but by the end, I was old enough not only to tape the final episode and watch it more than once, but I cried just about every single time. It is a powerful piece of TV that stands the test of time.
Alan Alda hosts a podcast called Clear and Vivid. It's about good conversation and how we can better communicate with each other. A couple of episodes ago, he brought together the surviving members of the MASH cast, including Loretta Swit, Mike Ferrell, Jamie Farr, and Gary Burghoff.
Let me tell you: within moments, they were laughing. They reminisced, told stories about their time on the show, the cast who have passed away, and generally what the show meant to them.
The warmth, the humor, the camaraderie are all on display for your ears. It is so good to hear them talk with each other and be the fly on the wall. It was the best thing I heard all week.
How was your week?
Well done, Scott. Lots of good stuff to digest here.
I subscribe to Ken Levine's blog, "BY Ken Levine." Levine is best known for writing for CHEERS and FRAZIER among other great comedies, but he got his start working for Larry Gelbart on MASH. He regularly recounts stories of working with people form all of those shows and his description of the MASH cast and crew matches perfectly with what you describe here. It was a very close operation and remains so.
Thanks for the tip. Just subscribed to the Levine podcast and will give it a listen.
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