♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What are your top five writing mistakes? Either mistakes you make or mistakes that make you cringe when you see them in print?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Mistakes happen. That’s something a writer has got to get comfortable with. Whether it’s a continuity error or grammar issue. This is why we are lucky to have editors and proofreaders. Make ample use of them to make sure your manuscript is as error-free as it can be.
Error-free is subjective. That’s something else a writer needs to get comfortable with. Easier said than done, I know. Rejections often don’t come back with feed back, or the feedback is minimal or unclear. Editors may make notes you’re not understanding. Keep in mind that feedback is there to help you improve. Hopefully your editor, or anyone providing feedback, is knowledgeable about writing. There are the rare occasions when you get feedback that is just wrong. That said, this isn’t an excuse to allow your ego to run roughshod over editing suggestions. You, too, need to know grammar and all that so you know what you’re looking at.
Now that we’ve got those two caveats out of the way. What are my top five writing mistakes?
- Not taking clear enough notes on something that requires me to return to it at a later date, and coming back to find I have no idea what I was on about. Boy, this is frustrating–like when you wake up from a great dream that gave you some amazing ideas, and you go to the bathroom before sketching down those ideas. By the time you get to paper, everything is a filmy fog of something you can’t quite put your finger on. The ideas are lost. I really hate this! It’s happened to me enough times that I shouldn’t be victim to it anymore, but I am.
- Typos! I cannot get them all, and it’s cringe-worthy seeing them in print. As an indie-author, it’s very difficult to be taken seriously. In some places, we’re still called vanity press–as if any author isn’t vain for submitting their work for publication in the assumption anyone would want to read it. The purpose of writing is to be read. Therefore, I’m unsure of what people who use this title are getting at, other than trying to fling cheap jabs. Is the painter vain for painting? The photographer is vain for photographing? Anyway, typos are mean little gremlins. They crop up even after editing and proofreading. They crop up in mainstream work, indie, and scholarly work. It doesn’t matter. These little blighters are tough to get rid of! Even worse is the sense of embarrassment we feel at the sight of them in our polished products.
- Not understanding that marketing is now my job as an author. This is something that has affected me over the past few decades I’ve been writing. I wasn’t aware when I started that I needed to be a marketing guru on top of it all. Maybe I just need that it that attracts everyone to you! Either way, I am wanting in these departments, and trying to educate yourself on marketing or influencing is an uphill battle. This isn’t an indie issue alone. A lot of authors think that if they get the contract from a mainstream publisher that the publisher will do this for them. Wrong. It’s all up to you. Part of your pitch is the following you’ve already built and your plan on expanding that to sell their book you wrote them. (Because now your book is pure product, and you need to sell if you want another contract for more products. Numbers will matter a great deal.) I’m at a loss because my growth has been organic, and when attempting to improve those numbers the methods tried-and-true failed. Not everyone will be successful in the execution. The ability to analyze everything is part of the package. Is the cover attracting attention? Is the blurb catching their interest. Are the first few pages maintaining the mystique and building on it? Are your reader numbers enough that their excitement for your work will compound (create more readers)? What’s your angle? What do you have that other authors do not? I could go on all day about how The Trailokya Trilogy is unlike any other series, but what makes it different? The short answer is: nothing like it has been done, and the execution–the places I take the reader and the story I tell them during that journey–is both frightening and inspirational. Do you want to hear more, like what’s in it for you?
- Thinking that you can’t do this. So many people want to write books who think they have all the ability and talent in the world, and not a thing stops them. The product they create is mediocre. What matters is they did it. They accomplished their goals. I have to wonder, how many amazing authors would there be if those with humility and self-defeating reservations made the attempt? So many capable human beings sell themselves short, make excuses, and put it off for another day. Their voices are silenced by their doubt. Even those among us who do publish and still think they have no business doing this, that doubt in your ability is maddening and defeating. I fall prey to this every time I have a new release. What am I even doing, I ask myself. It’s worse when you struggle to be read. It’s worse when you have anxiety. It’s worse with depression. It’s worse with a lack of support. It’s worse because your humility holds you down. I agree that humility is a necessary thing, but it shouldn’t be as overwhelming as others’ egos! Please write your book. You can do this!
- Not knowing who your audience is. When I write, I don’t have a specific audience in mind. Some genres/subgenres are easy enough to figure out. Let’s go back to my series, Trailokya, to see how that’s not always the case. Where would you list a book that deals with Angels and demons as ultraterrestrials (interdimensional aliens), aliens from our universe, domestic violence, possession, murder, rape, decadence, military, government, family, history, and romance? Stumped? So am I. If it were a movie, it would likely be cross-listed between horror and action. So, examining that and the types of books those people read, I’d probably be better off with a graphic novel. Unfortunately, short of a film, video-game, or graphic artist, this series is a novel. It crosses a lot of genres: horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, science fiction, action, women’s issues, romance, religious/spiritual fiction, historical fiction, and so on… I settled on the first three in the list. But from there, I start to loose focus on who those people are. Are they male or female? Do they fall in the teen, young adult, or adult categories (this text is pretty hyper violent, and parents of teenagers may not want their children reading it)? What does my typical reader look like and how will they feel about me as a female author (unfortunately, yes we still have to be concerned about these things)? Is this a geek culture book? Could it be a fandom? If you know who this group is, leave me a comment, because I am not at all certain.
I hope this list is of use to you, or gives you some insight into the writer life. Although these are writing problems I deal with in my day-to-day, they may not be the same as the other authors in the hop. Be sure to check out their answers, because you mind find some familiar problems and creative ways to deal with them, too.