Posted in Exercises

Exercise: Pitch It

If you’re going to run a marathon, you probably start out doing basic, small runs and work your way up. Same thing if you’re doing MMA, or any other physical activity. It’s also what you probably do if you’re an artist: you start working on quick sketches and build up.

Writing exercises are like those little workouts, concept sketches and the like: they’re meant to help you flex your creative muscles.

If you’re intending to write for publication however, you often run into a problem: your pitch.

There are several dozen sites out there that will tell you what not to do, or what you should do to write a great pitch, but here’s a cold fact: How often have you actually practiced writing a pitch? Be honest here. Have you given your pitch as much effort as you do the writing? Do you have a stash of pitches hidden somewhere that you might drag out one day to work on some more, or to expand?

Chances are high that you’re answering no to most of those. So, we’re aiming to change that.

As an exercise: Write a pitch in 250 words or less for your favorite episode of your favorite TV show. When you’re done, write a pitch for another episode of another show. Then switch it up, write a pitch for a podcast episode or even a music video. Try to have fun with it and follow the general pitch guidelines: No more than one page and 5 paragraphs.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Posted in General, recaps

A Project Announcement

I am super excited.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed that I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I had a project I wanted to start showing off in July. Although that initial timeline ultimately didn’t go as planned, I’m finally at a point where I can tell you a little bit about it.

To start, you may remember The Spinning Wheel Trade which I released back in June. That tied in to my other short, Season of Preparing, both of which are set in the same universe as my novella, Crimson and Gold. All three of those are connected to my newest project.

Which, I have a cover image for.

I’m excited to share more about this in the next couple of weeks. Are you?

Posted in books

Crimson and Gold: Descriptions and Teasers

I’m so excited for January when I’ll be releasing Crimson and Gold. Although it’s only a short, it’s still taken a lot of work to get to this point, and now that I have my cover (and the above teaser) officially set and ready to go, it’s even more real now than before.

There are still a few small things to take care of before January rolls in. For me, the hardest part of any story has been writing a back description for it. I’ve redone my current one twice in the last week. It’s hard to distill an entire a story down into just a paragraph or two, even if that story clocks in at 13k.

To that end, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the back summaries of other fairy tale retellings (especially other red riding hood retellings).

Officially, I’m showing off the entire cover on December 30th, and Crimson and Gold will be released on January 15th. For now, enjoy the teaser and the summary:

Crimson and Gold

Twelve years ago, a wolf attacked Scarlett. Twelve years ago, Grandmother Rose chased off the man behind that attack.

TeaserNow, Ethan is back and Scarlett is the one responsible for defending Fairvale.  Doing that means finding the fairy spring and the only person who knows how to find it is the woodcutter, Carter. Carter has is own reasons for not getting involved with fairies and wolves. If Scarlett can’t find the fairy spring, Ethan gains control over some of the most dangerous creatures in the entire First Kingdom.

The same creatures he used to attack her twelve years ago.

Posted in books, writing

Creating a Launch Plan

One of the most daunting tasks I’ve faced so far with Crimson and Gold is figuring out how to share it with readers. It’s a little too long for most short story markets, and longer than I want to post here. The story itself doesn’t fit into a serialization either. That leaves few options, of which I’ve settled on self-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Shorts.

The next hurdle: figuring out how to launch it. Although I could easily just hit ‘publish’ and call it good, advice and evidence both say that’s not the best option. Like anything else,  it takes work to make sure it doesn’t get buried before readers even go looking for their next read. There are plenty of guides catered to launching full-length books, but what about something that’s only just over thirteen thousand thousand words?

It turns out finding any sort of short story launch guide is difficult. I won’t say impossible, but I also didn’t find any myself either. There are dozens of book launch plans however, and they all start months before launch, and some of them start years beforehand.

Given the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of publishing anything, that makes a lot of sense. Cover designers need time to work. A final copyedit and readthrough needs time. Buzz takes time to create and spread. All of that can take weeks and months to create and implement, so number one rule of creating a launch plan: Start several months before launch. 

The next part is figuring out what your launch plan needs to do. Do you have a social media presence to utilize? Do you need to start one and work on building it? What about getting your book or story formatted? Do you have a cover or any teaser images you can use to create buzz? Remember the more your launch plan needs to do before launch day, the more time you need.

Another part of how long you need is going to center on what you plan to do to create buzz. Are you going to have events or items at your local library, school or bookstore? What about a blog tour? Pre-Orders and reviews?

For Crimson and Gold, given how short it is, I’ve opted to keep my focus on making sure it’s formatted and put together. While I won’t be doing any massive blog tours and I’m still iffy on doing pre-orders for a short story, I do want to use teaser images and a cover reveal to get the word out. Those are all things that need to be timed and ready weeks beforehand. That means for something I started planning at the end of September, I’m looking at the end of January at the very earliest.

To actually create and write my launch plan, I gave myself goals and deadlines for each month and the weeks leading up to the intended launch date. Once I had the general goals, I could break each goal down into what needed to be done to complete it. I added general deadlines to each step and ended up with a pretty good structure of what needed to happen and when.

What are any tips or tricks you’ve learned for writing a launch plan? Any experiences you want to share from your launches?


Posted in Stories, writing

Publishing In the Internet Era

With the ease of self-publishing and the changes in how readers can get access to the stories they love, there are more and more questions to what exactly counts as ‘published’. Although it might seem like a no-brainer that anything put out for sale is considered published, it goes a little bit farther than that because of something called first print rights.

Like the name implies, these are rights that go to whoever gets the privilege of printing or publishing a story first. This includes digitally published materials, which doesn’t just include things that are published directly to e-readers. It also includes things posted on the internet in general.

That means if you post a short story on your blog, you’ve used up the first rights on that particular story. If you intend to later publish it elsewhere, you’ll have to look carefully at places accepting reprints and what their conditions are. Remember too that once on the internet it’s out there forever. Simply removing it doesn’t return the first print rights.

There are of course, benefits to sharing and posting pieces to your own platform, especially as you try to build your audience. Not only will it help you attract readers who will get a taste of your style and become interested, it can also help you get your feet wet and learn how to market your work and interact with your community.

This also means that you yourself automatically retain those rights without having to decipher the legal jargon of a binding contract.

There are pros and cons of publishing in all its forms, and like anything else, it takes careful research and analysis of the benefits and risks. Thankfully the internet not only brought new changes to the world of publishing, but also the tools to navigate those changes.