Your Unique Author Picture – Research By A. J. Alexander

Picture courtesy of: http://gregceoblog.com

 

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I have been thinking about Author Pictures lately. I know very well what I have on my Social Media accounts right now isn’t a great thing to do. One of the main reasons for these overexposed profile pictures is the fact that I don’t like it to be on pictures. And from what I heard this can be seen in the picture.

 

No matter how often I’m told the pictures look great, and I’m supposed to be pretty, I don’t believe it. This does, in fact, have a psychological root which was planted in my childhood, but I think this is another subject and doesn’t belong here.

 

Now, since one day I will undoubtedly be published I will sooner or later have to think about my author picture, and that’s why I went for another round of research.

 

One of the first interesting and informative articles I found on Huffington Post where Heather Hummel talks about the relevance of a professional author photo. She not only talks about the quality of the picture but also shows certain problems that can come up and presents the respective solutions. For example, does she mention the expression on the picture, the quality, the background and presents some final thoughts. (Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/the-relevance-of-a-profes_b_4498575.html)

 

By going on with my research, I found “The Review Review.” Written by Randy Susan Meyers the article “Look Great In Your Author Photo” gives you tips and tricks on colors, clothes, and makeup and also describes what you can do to hide certain flaws and how to choose your photographer. I thought it is a great helpful post who I would recommend reading when someone needs a (new) author photo. (To read the post click here: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/look-great-your-author-photo)

 

On the Author Media website, I found a fantastic post, written by author Thomas Umstattd. He clearly states that his article is not for the author, but for the photographer! And I think he did an amazing job. Even though being an author I learned a lot by reading his article, and I might even be able to show it to my future photographer if necessary, to show him what I need the picture for. The article is enormously useful to us ‘clients’ too! (It can be read here: http://www.authormedia.com/how-to-take-portraits-for-an-author-website/)

 

The last impressive article I found on “Book In A Box,” written by Tucker Max, Chairman & Co-Founder at Book In A Box. He shows what’s good and what’s bad and not just said, some pics are good or bad but also explains the reason in clear, simple words. He provides us with different examples and gives us great advice on what not to do and what he would recommend getting a great picture. I decided to provide you here with a small part of his article:

 

The Author Photo Rule That Rules Them All

Here’s the thing that makes author photos so hard to give advice about: There is not one “right” way to do it. Like I talked about above, the “right” way all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. But there is one overarching rule that you need to sear into your brain when it comes to author photos (or any profile photo):

Know what you want to say to what audience, and make sure you signal it properly.

This is the key to everything. The author photo for a CEO of a Fortune 500 company should be totally different from the author photo for an up-and-coming comedian. Why? Because they are signaling different things to different groups.
Generally speaking, the CEO’s author photo should signal professionalism, effectiveness, reliability, and trust. The comedian’s photo could be wacky, pensive, goofy or even serious, all depending on his comedic style and what he wanted to signal.

To read the full article go to http://bookinabox.com/blog/how-to-take-author-photo/

 

I have to say I learned a lot by reading these four articles, and I’m sure I’ll find a great photographer who helps me. But then, maybe I’ll just hide under a stone and rather provide the world with my stories than my face.

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Author James Jones
courtesy of: http://www.jamesjonesliterarysociety.org/

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How To Organize A Blog Tour – Research by A. J. Alexander

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During the past years of activity on ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest,’ and the inquiries to publish posts and interviews for different Blog Tours I promised myself once I find the time I would do research on ‘Blog Tours.’ What is this? And why is it so important to writers? Who does organize them and if I have to do that myself, how to do it best?

What is a Blog Tour?

Alessandra Wike writes on “PR by the book”:
The age of the internet gives authors the opportunity to connect with thousands of people. Taking advantage of these seemingly endless possibilities, blog tours provide great publicity for a new book without the hassle (or expense!) of travel. Instead of an author traveling from bookstore to bookstore and city to city, an author’s book can travel virtually from blog to blog and garner hundreds, if not thousands, of views in a short amount of time.

To read the entire blog post, click here.

 

“Reedsy,” writes:

A blog tour is very much like a traditional book tour, where the author would go from town to town to sign their books and meet new readers; except this time, you go from blog to blog. There are countless fiction and non-fiction blogs that have emerged in the past few years, all written by passionate readers who want to share their love of books with other readers. They post book reviews, launch announcements, and interviews with their favorite authors. To continue reading the article on Reedsy, click here.

 

“Bookmaster” for example gives us a hint on what it means to work on a Blog Tour by writing:

A blog book tour can be set up by a publicist, but if an author has self-published and doesn’t have a publicist, they can do the leg work themselves. The key is to find blogs that are relevant to the topic of the book that are interested in participating in the blog book tour. For example, cooking blogs would be the target if you wrote a cookbook and relationship blogs would be the target if you wrote a book that provided love advice. Depending on the topic of the book there could be an unlimited number of blogs, or there might only be a handful if the topic is extremely niche. Each book tour should include a manageable amount of blogs, as the tour requires a significant amount of time from the author. Even though it’s not an in person tour, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. (The article can be found here)

 

Now: what interested me most is: How do I really organize a Blog Tour? Of course, there are several hints, tips, and tricks from different writers; the basic work seems more or less the same – several have apparently had super-success while others complained that their echo was insufficient.

One article that impressed me was an article, published by Penguin Random House.

For example, does the post answer important questions like:

• What are the benefits of putting your book on a blog tour?
• What types of books work best for blog tours?
• How can an author ensure his or her blog tour is a success?
• How can an author work with his or her publicist to set up an effective blog tour?

or

• What are some best practices when preparing for a blog tour?

The entire article can be read here:
http://authornews.penguinrandomhouse.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-organizing-a-blog-tour/

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By researching further into the topic, I found another impressive and informative post on Joel Friedlander’s Book Designer’s Blog. He published a guest post, 7 Top eBook Blog Tour Sites, written by Greg Strandberg.

Greg informs about seven eBook Tour Sites, gives prices, information and his opinion to them. I think it’s worth checking them out. He as well links their names to their websites. (For copyright reasons I cannot do this below.)

1. YA Bound Book Tours
2. Xpresso Book Tours
3. Enchanted Book Promotions
4. Bewitching Book Tours
5. Goddess Fish Promotions
6. Sage’s Blog Tours
7. Rockstar Book Tours

If you like to read his opinion about these Sites, please check them out on his article by clicking here.

Finally, after hours and hours of research, I found an excellent post, provided by Mixtus Media on

How To Set Up A Successful Blog Tour + A FREE Guide

They not only provide us with an 11-step-guide on how to organize a Blog Tour, they as well provide us with a free Blog Tour Worksheet.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY YOUR IDEAL READER
STEP 2: RESEARCH
STEP 3: CREATE A LIST
STEP 4: DETERMINE YOUR RESOURCES
STEP 5: FIGURE OUT YOUR TIMEFRAME
STEP 6: CONTACT BLOGGERS
STEP 7: Stay ORGANIZED
STEP 8: CONSIDER GIVEAWAYS
STEP 9: ANNOUNCE THE TOUR
STEP 10: FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THE DELIVERY
STEP 11: FOLLOW UP

Each step is carefully described. To download the Worksheet, which I did, you are first subscribing to their newsletter. But I doubt that’s a problem. They do have more interesting information on their blog. (I didn’t have problems to download their worksheet, just in case your virus program is sensitive. Mine is, and it has carefully scanned the file and found nothing.)

After all the information I had found on Blog Tours I would love to hear from experienced writers how they had found it to organize their blog tours. Is it easy, is it hard? Do you mind providing us with some extra tips, tricks, and hints?

Character Voice – Research by Aurora Jean Alexander

 


A couple of months ago, visiting a successful and experienced writer friend he told me, he read one of my pieces. I still am honored and flattered he took the time. He has an amazing way of complimenting and encouraging me – but also bringing on constructive criticism which I apparently deserved. Just this time I had no idea what he meant when he told me: “You have only one character voice.”

 

— ?? —

 

I was a little shocked. Not that I didn’t believe him, I just couldn’t believe it.

 

He is a wonderful mentor and of course took the time to explain to me what he was talking about:

 

All of my characters talk the same way. I frowned. I know my characters in and out, I know their looks, their abilities, their character, and personalities, whenever I write about them I can nearly hear their voices in my head – and still, they all talk the same?

 

After my visit I went back to the piece he was talking about – and I wasn’t half through I thought I understood now what he was talking about.

 

Now: What do I need to do to change that?

 

I do what I always do in such a case: RESEARCH…

 

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On “Now Novel” I found an interesting and very helpful article which helped me define the problem I apparently have: “Talking about your Character: Voice.”

 

  • What is character voice?
  • Thinking about dialogue
  • Separating character voice and author voice
  • How to develop the voices of your characters

 

In four different chapters, the article not only defines my problem but offers a helpful and informative solution. It’s easy to read and explained in a simple and understandable way.

 

 

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On Joe Moore’s “The Kill Zone” blog I read an article, written by Jordan Dane: Five Key Ways to Create a Character’s Distinct Voice

 

Jordan offers the following, excellently explained five ways to create a character’s voice:

 

  • Word Choices
  • Confidence Level
  • Quirks/Mannerism
  • Internal/External Voice
  • Metaphors/Similes/Comparisons

 

Each one of them is explained in details and is logical and, as I think, easy to learn. We’ll see.

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As a bonus, Jordan offers a link to a New York Times online test, which of course I took. And this is my result: Look at that… according to this test I’m a Southern Girl. 😀

 aj_blog_post_voice2

 

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“The Editor’s Blog” offers a variety of advice in making the voices of characters sound different. I found this blog post interesting and helpful as well. Variety in Character Voices

 

  • Use different words
  • Use different sentence patterns
  • Add humor to one character
  • Cut of speech or thought
  • Let a character ramble
  • Have characters pay attention to different things

 

The article is short, simple and precise. I think it’s adding to my learning in this matter.

 

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The “NY Book Editors” blog provides us with another interesting article with six excellent tips: Character Development: How to Create a Consistent Voice

 

  • Create a Backstory for Each Character
  • Do a Character Study
  • Hone Their Internal Dialogue
  • Research How People Speak Naturally
  • Focus on Authentic Dialogue
  • Interview the character

 

Each of the tips includes a further explanation as well as an exercise, which I consider very helpful and I’m looking forward to learning more by doing them.

 

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The “Writability”-blog delivers us an excellent definition of the “character’s voice” by giving us examples and makes us feel how important the different character voices are for our writing.

 

The article can be read here: http://avajae.blogspot.com/2011/09/defining-character-voice.html

 

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Jackie Cangro has published a blog post on “The Writer’s Block” blog, providing us with the seven elements of our “character’s voice”:

 

  • Style
  • Tone
  • Personality
  • Perspective
  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Originality

 

She defines each of the elements in details and delivers descriptions which are easy to follow. I very much appreciate the easy read and learn-part of this blog post. The entire post can be found here:

https://writersblock.loft.org/2013/08/14/2641/finding_your_characters_voice

 

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K.M. Weiland has published a video post on her blog “Helping Writers become Authors.” It’s easy to follow and very educational.

 

“How to find your character’s voice” not only shows us the video but also delivers us the video transcript and help us understand the difference between authorial and character voices.

 

It helped me a lot to enter this topic and understand the basics.

 

The transcript and video can be found here: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-find-your-characters-voice/

 

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On the “Gizmodo”-Blog I found a post, written by Charlie Jane Anders  “All Your Characters Talk The Same — And They’re Not A Hivemind!”

 

This article too is very educational and gives us eight tips and hints to play with our character voices. Each of the tips comes with a detailed explanation and helps us develop our characters:

 

  • Listen to how people talk
  • Try to “hear” your characters’ individual voices
  • Realize your characters are not talking to you, or directly to the reader
  • Try giving each character a few unique verbal tics, or habitual words
  • Go one step further, and give them catch phrases and stuff
  • Realize that you may have, at most, three or four characters “voices” and refine those
  • Vary your sentence lengths, and play with punctuation
  • Adjust the French/Anglo-Saxon mix

 

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Each of this articles and blog posts has helped me a lot to get at least an idea on how to do better and give each of my characters an individual voice instead of them sounding like me.

 

But most of all I owe my writer friend a HUGE Thank you! He was the reason I started thinking about a problem I didn’t know I have! Thank you, Jim Spencer.

How To Write A Great Book Review – Research by A.J. Alexander

 

Lately, I’ve been asked by a fellow writer if I read his book and would be prepared to write a review. Even though I know how much work, effort, and heart blood a writer invests into books, I know as well, a writer is honored by a review. I was told this numerous times already. I read truckloads full of books since my childhood and of course, couldn’t review all of them. (Let’s not talk about the school book reports). And I found, even if I didn’t like a book too much, it wouldn’t be nice to ‘rip it to shreds.’ It might not be a bad book – just not the right book to read for me.

I liked what I read this time, and I agreed to write a review. If I only knew how to do so. This needed some research.

I started and found hundreds of articles, books, blog posts and lists. Are they all different? No, more the opposite! They all seem to be similar, some more simple, some more detailed, some complicated and long, with little variations. So I picked what I needed from some of them.

 

  1. The purpose of a review

I find it very important to learn what exactly the purpose of what I’m writing is. What is a review for? One of the first articles, referring to “reviews” in general, more than book reviews, in particular, was written by Karol K, a freelance blogger, and writer. He writes:

  • to learn the pros and cons of a given product
  • to find out if the product is meant for them
  • to find out if the product is of high quality and easy to use
  • to find out about alternative solutions
  • to find out about other users’ experiences with the product
  • to ultimately learn if the product is worth buying.

With those needs in mind, let’s look at what you can do to craft a truly valuable review.

His entire article can be read on: http://www.problogger.net/how-to-write-a-must-read-product-review/

 

  1. Writing Amazon reviews

Neal Wooten, author, writer, blogger, and comedian published an article on the Huffington Post Website, using six tips to writing Amazon reviews and in my opinion did a great job. At least to me it seems valuable, especially considering the “start” use of the Amazon rating.

Additionally, he mentions something quite powerful: The responsibility that goes with writing a review. Let me give you a couple of examples I picked from his article:

What if a car manufacturer was to drop off a brand new car to a person’s home, completely at random, and explain they had 24 hours to drive the car? Afterward, they would take the car to another home at random and do the same thing, and repeat for three months. They only asked that the homeowners/drivers would write a review of the automobile. What do you think would happen?

I suspect most of the drivers would do exactly what they should. They would write intelligent and informative reviews about how it handled, how it drove, gas mileage, the comfort, the power, the sound system, etc.

But there would be some drivers who would abuse this privilege. It’s human nature. Some wouldn’t even drive the car. Some would complain about everything from the visors to the texture of the floor mats. Some would complain about the color of the free car they were provided. Some would get drunk, drive 100 mph, wreck the car, and then write a bad review.

And that sums up Amazon reader reviews. While most are very helpful, many are just people exercising their basic nature to be useless. So here are some tips.

Then his six tips follow. He gives simple, easy to understand and helpful advice. To read his tips, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neal-wooten/tips-for-writing-amazon-r_b_6959118.html

 

  1. What do I write about in my review?

Fran Stewart, the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries, writes in her “Southern Writer’s Blog”: Questions to Spark Book Review Ideas 

Her idea is, to ask the reader questions which I can build my review on. Her questions refer to the characters, the settings and the plot.

This, I decide, might be a great start for my review.

To see all of Fran’s given questions, please go to http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/2015/05/questions-to-spark-book-review-ideas.html

 

  1. Am I scared to write a book review?

You BET! I’m a writer myself, of course, I one day would like to get positive reviews for the book. I want to honor the author, his ideas, his talent, his magic, his story, his efforts, his work and his masterpiece. I want to make others read the book I loved so much. I don’t want to spoil it for the other readers.

Rosie Amber wrote four quick ways to overcome your fear to write a book review. It helped me a lot. If you are suffering from the same fears, read it here: https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/4-quick-ways-to-write-a-bookreview-and-overcome-your-fears-mondayblogs/

 

  1. Rules for book review writing

These are the ones that are more or less the same all across the internet. One of the blog posts I particularly enjoyed reading, is the one Tara Sparling published:

5 Book Review Rules Which Could Make Writers Hate You Less

I think, the post is very helpful – and a great read too!

 

Oh well, I figure now I’m armed with the basic knowledge of book reviews. Let’s see if I really can get a review that is as helpful as I want it to be to other potential readers!

 


 

A little knowledge…

Amazing blog post from Sue. Thank you so much for this great advice!!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

The desolation of Smaug. Images © Warner Bros. Pictures, Weta Digital.The Desolation of Smaug. Images © Warner Bros. Pictures, Weta Digital.

We are always told that we should write what we know. To an extent, that is true, but those who are writing murder mysteries, for example, are hardly likely to start poisoning/bludgeoning/shooting their nearest and dearest in the name of research or feeding them to the local dragon, though, in the case of teenagers, this may occasionally seem a good option. The thing is, that most of us, if we are honest, have experienced…even at the mildest level… the emotions that can when taken to extreme and pathological levels, lead to such acts. Being human, we have every human emotion in our library of experience, even if some of them are vicariously gleaned through immersion in book or film, or more abstractly experienced through dream. Even if we have to draw upon them and take them far beyond our…

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Layman’s guide to understanding scientific research

Bluebird Of Bitterness helps us understand Scientific Research in a unique way. I couldn’t resist re-blogging it!
Now we all know how it’s done. 😀

bluebird of bitterness

“It has long been known…” I didn’t look up the original reference

“A definite trend is evident…” These data are practically meaningless

“While it has not been possible to provide definitive answers to the questions…” An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published

“Three of the samples were chosen for a detailed study…” The other results didn’t make any sense

“Typical results are shown…” This is the prettiest graph

“In my experience…” Once

“In case after case…” Twice

“In a series of cases…” Three times

“It is believed…” I think

“It is generally believed…” A couple of other people think so too

“According to statistical analysis…” Rumor has it

“A statistically-oriented projection of the significance of these findings…” Wild guess

“A careful analysis of available data…” Several pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over my coffee mug

“It is clear that additional work will be required…

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What is it that I’m writing?

I was invited to write a novella for a bundle book which I am very proud of. In fact I am working on it right now. Knowing me when I sink into work I won’t pay attention to anything around me until I think I’m done. Reason enough to decide in time to find out what a novella is and how it is structured. Working on my full length novel I needed to know how long it can/should be and if it’s supposed to have chapters.

 

I found different sources, each of them saying something else. Even though its content is hardly ever engraved in stone Wikipedia at this time seemed to be quite informative.

 

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A novella is a work of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. The English word “novella” derives from the Italian “novella“, feminine of “novello“, which means “new”.

A novella generally features fewer conflicts than a novel, yet more complicated ones than a short story. The conflicts also have more time to develop than in short stories. Unlike novels, they are usually not divided into chapters, and are often intended to be read at a single sitting, as the short story, although white space is often used to divide the sections. They maintain, therefore, a single effect. Warren Cariou wrote:

The novella is generally not as formally experimental as the long story and the novel can be, and it usually lacks the subplots, the multiple points of view, and the generic adaptability that are common in the novel. It is most often concerned with personal and emotional development rather than with the larger social sphere. The novella generally retains something of the unity of impression that is a hallmark of the short story, but it also contains more highly developed characterization and more luxuriant description.

Robert Silverberg writes:

[The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms…it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.

Dictionaries define novelette similarly to novella; sometimes identically, sometimes with a disparaging sense of being trivial or sentimental. Some literary awards have a longer “novella” and a shorter “novelette” categories, with a distinction based on word count. 

 

Word count 

The word count is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Word counting may be needed when a text is required to stay within certain numbers of words. This may particularly be the case in academia, legal proceedings, journalism and advertising. Word count is commonly used by translators to determine the price for the translation job. Word counts may also be used to calculate measures of readability and to measure typing and reading speeds (usually in words per minute). When converting character counts to words, a measure of 5 or 6 characters to a word is generally used.

 

In fiction:

Novelist Jane Smiley suggests that length is an important quality of the novel. However, novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words, while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. There are no firm rules: for example the boundary between a novella and a novel is arbitrary and a literary work may be difficult to categorize. But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer, lengths may also vary by subgenre; many chapter books for children start at a length of about 16,000 words, and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be over 100,000 words.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America specifies word lengths for each category of its Nebula award categories:

Classification

Word count

Novel

over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story

under 7,500 words

 

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All right, so far so good.  I’m on the right track and have crossed the boarder from novelette to novella a while ago. I’m right within the frame.

And let me tell you: Writing a novella really is fun!