Monday, November 19, 2018

Why do you have to be as much a marketer as a writer? ✍️

If you're about to publish your first book, it's time to sharpen those marketing skills! Let people know about your book, what it's about and most important of all, why they should read it.


  1. Make your front cover pop! Realistically, marketing begins with the cover. Make it eye-catching. If it grabs the reader, they're more likely to investigate further and see what the book is about, which brings me to...
  2. Create freakin' awesome description on the back cover. Your job is to make them want more! Choose passionate words and descriptions to captivate them. I always have difficulty with the back cover summary so often ask other writers for their help in order to capture what I'm trying to say in a couple short paragraphs. 
  3. Send out a press release with a cover photo. Start with your local media, smaller newspapers, free newspapers, radio, and televisions stations, send it everywhere! Not everyone will respond but at worst, you're creating awareness of your book. 
  4. Change your signature at the bottom of your emails. This allows anyone you send an email to know that you're an author, what your book is called and even add an image of the cover if you can.
  5. Post it on social media. This is one of the best tools in your toolbox. Social media is a FREE and outstanding way to let people know about your new book. Be creative. Present the cover, share reviews, events etc with your readers and friends. Have a page or account dedicated to your writing life so people can find you and learn about your book.
  6. Videos are nice. Not everyone is crazy about recording videos but I find it helps to let people learn about you, your books and it's another way to capture attention. It also gives you an opportunity to discuss your books, increase your confidence and make you more comfortable talking about your writing in interviews and events. 
  7. Ads are doable but expensive - so look for deals. You can pay next to nothing for ads or you can pay through the nose. Be careful who you're dealing with too. There are a lot of scammy, suspicious people out there. I receive an email from sketchy companies attempting to sell me marketing packages every week. 
  8. Bookmarks are the best! I have bookmarks made with all my covers on them and where to find me online. Remember, bookmarks travel, can be shared and are just fun to give out. 
Of course, there are many other things you can do, such as have book signings, speak at your local library and have book launches but these were just a few quick ideas. 

The important thing to note is that marketing will be a big part of selling your book. It doesn't matter if you're the most famous author in the world or an indie author who has just written their first book, this is as essential as turning on your laptop to write the first chapter. If you aren't sure, research online, see what other authors are doing and check out books on the subject. Good luck! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

How do you write books so fast? πŸ™€

One of the most common questions I get asked is how I write my books so fast. This is probably because I'm averaging a couple books a year for the last 2-3 years. Of course, there are a few contributing factors such as more time and the fact that I'm writing a series where I already know the characters which make it easy to pick up where I left off.

To begin with, I have made writing a priority. Currently, my living situation allows me to work part-time so I can focus on my books. This isn't by accident but a decision I have made for this point in my life. This allows me to provide an appropriate amount of time not just on the writing itself but on social media and other forms of marketing for my books. This won't be forever but it's for now so it's up to me to make the best of it.

That aside, I schedule very carefully. Depending on my work schedule or what I have to do, I tend to organize my time so that I accomplish something every day. I get up early to write (6 a.m) on my days off or when I have later shifts. Scheduling the time is very important because if I waited until I 'felt like it' or when I'm 'inspired', there's a chance I would take a long time to write my books. Inspiration is when I jot down notes but writing time has to be planned around my schedule.

I write one chapter per day. I try to avoid stopping halfway through the chapter because it's very difficult to get back into the same headspace if I walk away and return later. Editing takes longer and is much harder to schedule because some chapters are easier to get through than others and of course, there are many rounds of editing before the book is sent off to the publisher. Meanwhile, when I'm finishing a book, I also have to start thinking about what I want on the back cover for a synopsis (I usually have a couple people assist me on this one) and of course, the front cover; what kind of image do I want? What colors work best? What will grab attention?

On days that I'm working or busy, I plan other things that are also relevant to my writing. For example, I might record or upload a video on a morning before going to work (depending on the time) or, at the very least, prepare and check social media.

Social media in itself is time-consuming. I'm on a few platforms so I must keep it up to date, check notifications and always be thinking of new things to add to keep things fresh. I'm on social media every day. There are some places that I focus more on but unless I have no internet access or am physically unable to do it, I'm on there every day working up a storm.

It's essentially up to me how much time I want to dedicate to my writing and therefore, it's also up to me to make the best of the time I have each day.






Friday, November 2, 2018

Knowing the ending first 🀭

I know it is common practice for many authors to 'write the ending first' when outlining a book. However, I don't. In fact, there are two things in that sentence that I don't do. I don't outline and I don't know the ending when I start writing a book. I like the surprise element and always figured that if I was shocked by the ending, then the reader would be too.

But then...I geared up to writing my 11th book and something very strange happened. I knew the ending first. 

I fought it. I tried to push it aside but the final scene was much too strong for me to ignore. This forced me of getting out of my comfort zone and although it did make me hesitate for a short time, I eventually started the book with the ending crystal clear in my mind. 

I won't lie. This freaked me out. 

Of course, we're always a little freaked out when we go out of our comfort zone. That's just human nature. I'm now 13 chapters into the book (as opposed to the accompanying video that says 5; This was recorded a week or two before writing this blog) and so far, it's going pretty smoothly. For now, I'm just along for the ride and who knows, maybe things will still end up differently than I expect after writing the next 37 chapters. πŸ˜„After all, characters have an incredible way of surprising us.




Friday, October 26, 2018

Do writers need a high word count per day? πŸ’»

Something I've noticed a lot of author's comment about is their word count per day and often, their stress to meet a certain target in order to be successful. But should they be worrying at all?

I guess it's really a matter of opinion. Word count has never been a concern to me, other than whether or not I have too many words when I finish a book. It's not something I think about each time I sit down to write and I certainly don't check my word count per day - ever.

Having said that, we all need a way to measure ourselves when it comes to a successful day. I simply like to write a chapter with each sitting (note I said 'sitting' not per day. I firmly believe that it should be done in one shot in order to not lose your momentum or train of thought) and with that I'm happy. I don't feel like a failure if I don't reach a certain amount of words and in my opinion, neither should you.

The problem is that if you set your sights on so many words per day, what ends up happening is it can become your focus more than the actual writing itself. It also might end up that you create a 'wordy' piece of writing that you'll have to cut from later on. Also, a lot of words doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be pure gold. It's kind of like the girl who wears a lot of makeup; sure, some women will do it to perfection and walk away looking like a model, but most of us will end up wiping half of it off because we don't want people to think we have the makeup gun stuck on 'whore' (and yes, this is a Simpson's reference πŸ˜‰)

The bottom line is that I don't like to see any writer put stress on themselves to meet some crazy target because it actually can make writing feel more like work than a project that they love. And if that's the case, what's the fucking point?


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Should we allow readers to be our censorship police? πŸš“

I always tell the story about a woman who criticized my first book, Fire. She said 'If I took out all the F-words, your book would be half the size'. Of course, she was kind of a bitch on a good day, so I wasn't surprised when she made this snarly remark to me back in 2010. If you've read any of my books since that time, you already know that her thoughts did little to sway me and I continue to use a lot of profanity and graphic content in my books.

I don't do this for shock value (which has also been suggested by one particularly gnarly reviewer back in the day) but because it is my style. This is how I choose to write. I don't exactly sit down in front of my laptop and think 'what can I write that will shock people the most' but I do follow my writing instinct and admittedly, it sometimes takes me down a dark, twisted and even questionable road but one thing can be assured, I'm never bored. To me, this is a good sign. If the writer isn't bored, chances are good the reader won't be either.

The truth is that only in very extreme situations is a writer going 'too far'. There are 'how to' books out there that would make the most insensitive person a little ill 🀒and although there are some that definitely cross the line, for the most part, we have to consider freedom of expression. And the really beautiful thing about freedom is that it kind of goes both ways. I'm free to write what I want and you're free to not read it if you believe it's too offensive. πŸ˜‰


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Why words matter πŸ—£

If you've ever been in an argument or had a misunderstanding with another person, chances are you're already aware of why words matter. We often find ourselves in situations where words should be picked carefully especially when there's a risk of being misinterpreted.

Not to suggest that we're already great when picking our words. If you're like me, during particularly rushed or stressful times, an entire sentence can fly out of my mouth and not make any sense at all. It happens. We're human.

So how important are words in writing?

When we create a scene, a conversation or show what characters are doing, it's important that the best words are selected for creating the mood. For example, in And the Devil Will Laugh, I had help preparing the back cover because I wanted to be certain that I chose the best words that summed up my book. I wanted to show the intensity, the fierceness of the characters, to create a sense of what to expect....

...he and his loyal foot soldiers will muscle in and tear off a big chunk of it for themselves. 

This, of course, creates a pretty strong impression of what kind of characters can be found within the pages of the book. If I had chosen instead to simply say that Jorge planned to 'move in and with the help of his associates, would take over' it simply wouldn't have the same impact.

Also, keep in mind that each character has their own kind of dialogue. For example, Jorge Hernandez, the protagonist in my last few books, is known for often saying "I don't got time." When he says this, it's usually a sign he's aggravated and is about 5 seconds from rushing out the door and he wants a situation resolved now. Each of my characters has their own, unique dialogue patterns and expressions.

With dialogue, its also important to remember that it can vary according to a character's education, age, ethnicity, experiences, and even attitudes.

Words do matter. Pick yours carefully.






Friday, September 28, 2018

Start your book with a bang! The importance of chapter one 🀩

Chapter one is your chance to grab readers by the throat and make them want more!

We see it all the time in television show pilots. It's up to that original episode to captivate its audience and make them coming back for another week. Something has to shake things up in order to create an interest with the viewer and books are no different. 

So what do people want to see? It really depends. Some people are drawn in by action, adventure, drama, violence, and sex, while others might be intrigued by a unique character, an unexpected action or perhaps the protagonist is going through something that connects with the audience. The main point is that the start of anything, whether it be a movie, book or television show must make the reader or viewer want more. 

I always say that you should start chapter one in the middle of something relevant to the rest of the book. For example, in my last book And the Devil Will Laugh, the protagonist and his associate are visiting the (soon to be) editor of a large newspaper in hopes of swaying him to write articles in favor of both himself and a political candidate he is backing. Meanwhile, across town, the protagonist's wife is murdering the current editor, who didn't go along with his previous wishes. This ties in with the rest of the book because violence and media manipulation are a huge part of the entire book. Also, this is in the middle of the action. I didn't start chapter one with the characters discussing their plan to bully the media or the protagonist having breakfast before he left the house, I jump right into the action. 

Catching a reader's attention is very important. With so many other books, the Internet and of course, Netflix as ways to be entertained, readers can easily pass up on your novel and move on to something else; so give them a good reason to not want to put it down.