Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Taking Advice ~ Who’s Experience Do You Trust?

Blogs written by writers—like this one–=can be fascinating places to find experience that can serve as a guide for action.

But, they might be the worst place to trust another’s judgement.

It all depends on what guidance you’re looking for and the quality of the blogger’s experience.

Most writers’ main goal is to be published. Many of those writers want to make money, too.

The world of publishing is undergoing massive flux. Of course, flux doesn’t have to mean the industry will change beyond recognition. The new self-publishing methods are still in their early stages of growth and traditional publishing has some strong points that may never change

My novel is published and its Companion Volume is beginning to come to life. This was a perfect time for me to evaluate what I’d learned through my own experience with the novel (that learning is still in process, by the way) and find out what that evaluation might point me toward in the way of supplementary advice. And, as the Writerly Fates would have it, I found some solid information.

I’ve mentioned Joel Friedlander in this blog before and linked to his posts. Gonna do it again, right now :-)

The Completely Backwards Way to Amazing Self-Publishing Success, is advice from a man I’ve come to trust. A person who’s been there and done that and can speak his wisdom in ways I can understand and put to use.

Do read the full post. He tells the tale of being involved in a mind-mapping exercise that turned into a self-publishing outline for action.

I’m going to list his main points and make personal comments about what I’m working toward with the Companion Volume (a short story collection in the same universe as the novel).

Research the market: I’ve been doing this with the novel and it will continue as sales pick up.

Write the back cover copy: I love having this point so early in the process. I’ve read other writers say essentially the same thing–get a clear, concise statement about the book written as early as possible–make a beacon to guide your voyage.

Design the cover: Again, I feel the seemingly too-early position of this advice is sound. Make the book’s image Real–create a visible icon that can help you stay on course.

Write a sample chapter and outline: Enlist your creativity for writing a chunk of the book and form some kind of outline–again, committing to the life of the project.

Design the book: Some folks don’t really know what this means… I’d recommend exploring Joel Friedlander’s blog, very carefully

Test the concept: I’ll be checking in with readers of the novel (as well as a few other folks) with the test-pack produced in the last four steps to see how they feel about it.

Announce the book: Everyone I can reach who’s heard about the novel (whether they’ve read it or not) will know its Companion is being produced; plus, some folks in a few new “channels of interest”.

Write the book: I honestly feel some of this step will have already happened by this point in the process but I will hold off on “serious” writing until I’ve at least Tested the concept.

Launch the book: Joel’s comment on this point is, “Everything should now be in place for success.”

One more quote from Joel: “At the end of this process, you ought to have a book that’s in demand, has a compelling offer, is properly positioned in its genre, and which people are avidly awaiting.”

What are your thoughts and feelings on this process?
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11 responses to “Taking Advice ~ Who’s Experience Do You Trust?

  1. Karla Telega June 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Great article. Thanks for sharing that. As I start a new book in my mystery series, I know what I didn’t before – that a lot of planning needs to go into the plot, characters, AND audience before you ever start writing. I have a book full of writing exercises, and I was well into it before I realized that these were things that should be done in advance. I wouldn’t have thought to start asking people for their feedback before I had a clear passage to share with them. Instead of “look what I did”, I should be asking “should I do this?”


    • Alexander M Zoltai June 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      “Should I do this?”, is a completely valid question after the idea for a book hits you

      With Notes from An Alien I was determined to do it; so, my question was more like: “How do you think I should do this?”

      For, Stories from Angi, the Companion Volume, it will probably be something like: “I’ve already done this. What do you think the follow-up should be like?”

      Actually, that question has been sitting on the Notes from An Alien Forum for months but I haven’t been actively directing folks there until now :-)


  2. Simone Benedict June 8, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I’ve always liked Joel’s articles. They’re well-written and to the point. The advice in this post would work for someone like me. And, I can’t wait to read Angi’s stories! :-)


  3. Simone Benedict June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Sure, I can do that. Thank you.


  4. The Hook June 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Great post! You raise some excelent points, my friend.


  5. Blossom Dreams June 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Hi Alex :D Hope you’re well – it’s been a while! Love this article – I definitely believe that the planning is as big a part as the writing.

    I also believe that if you were to come up with a formula for writing a book, and it works for you, you should stick with it! I’m still looking for my formula… ;-)

    Chloe xx


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