When I close my eyes at night, my sleeping brain fills with rich, vivid scenes that might as well have been cut out of a movie. It’s always been that way for me, since before I can remember. When I was in college, I took a required course on creativity in business where one of our semester projects was to keep a dream journal. At the end of the semester, most of my classmates submitted a 10-page-or-so, double-spaced document stapled together with their name on top. Mine was over 60 pages, single-spaced, with pictures, headings, and formatting, and the stack was too thick to staple, so I had to put it all into one of those 3-hole-punched portfolio folders. My professor was floored; didn’t want to believe I actually dreamed that often with that much detail.
Another late post (sorry!!) but I wanted to get this info out there ASAP.
If you’re on any form of social media and following an author, you’ve seen excerpt graphics before. They are basically pictures with text over them, sometimes info about release dates, the book cover, etc. Some are so great you look for the Buy link only to realize it’s still “coming soon!” And some you can barely read. In terms of marketing value, excerpt graphics are right up there with cover images. They make a huge first impression. I’ve done a fair number of these as well, and I’ve learned a trick or two from all the greats, the not so greats, and my own experiences. This is a quick guide on how to catch your audience’s eye.
When I began this series with the very first post, I told myself (and all of you) I would never tell you how to write. It’s not for me to say; I have been writing something or other since I could hold a pen in my hand, which gives me roughly 22 years of experience on the subject, and I still don’t feel qualified to give advice.
I have, however, received a lot of advice on writing, much of it unsolicited, some of it useful. Lately I have seen a lot of posts by bloggers, authors, etc. containing lists of rules for writing a successful novel. Rules for avoiding elements, things that are overdone in writing, things new writers do wrong… you name it, and there is probably a list out there for it. It’s a thing now, people want to know the secret. How did you do it? How did you get so famous? What do I need to do to break through into the NY Times Best Sellers list? TELL ME!
I won’t tell you. Mostly because I haven’t done it myself yet, but also because I believe all those lists and rules are a lot of snake oil. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. In the end, we’re the ones who decide the outcome. We’re the ones holding the pen. All the rules and guidelines in the universe won’t make your story stand out if you don’t have a good story to tell. They might even smother your book, diminish its potential if they make you cut out what makes your story unique. Because that is what rules do: create cookie cutter novels for public consumption.
Here’s how I approach writing:
I had a plan today. It was to sit my behind down at a computer and get in a solid word count for Wolfen. I am so close to the finish line I can smell it. But while I was doing my daily social media rounds, I came across an article that completely derailed my train of thought. It was about reading, and the decline in male readership. If you have a few minutes to spare, I encourage you to check it out here. The statistics and survey responses are really something.
So my plan changed. Instead of writing a chapter or two, I came here to write a blog. But what’s a blog without pictures? Therefore, in a separate tab, I opened a stock image site and did a quick search for “reading.” Here’s what I found: