Well, let’s start out by letting me admit to something about my upcoming novel Fallen Star.
After winning last year’s NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words on Fallen Star, I have failed when it comes to completing this year’s edition of the writing competition. And the good news is that I am ok with that.
My goal with NaNoWriMo this year was to complete the re-writing phase of Fallen Star since I never finished the book after last year’s NaNoWriMo. You know, that is ok too. I am kind of glad I didn’t finish it because I was full speed ahead and realize that isn’t the way I should be going as I start my fiction writing career.
Look, it took me years to finish Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers. I put a ton of work into that book and realize now, looking back on it, that I didn’t put enough work into one specific area that might have made that book a bigger success.
I didn’t work on creating my author platform. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see it will it make a sound? If I write a book that I put well over 100 hours into developing and I release it to the world that doesn’t know that I exist, will it be a success?
Look, here is the deal. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings by saying this but it is true. I have learned that an author’s friends and family will not support that author by buying or helping to spread the word about their books. Sure, there might be one or two people close to the author that will help spread the word and a small handful of people who will buy the book but that is it.
The only way an author will become successful is to create what author Jeff Goins calls a “tribe.” Here is what Jeff Goins said about becoming a successful author:
“Instead of going after the big breaks and chasing the gatekeepers, I discovered a small but powerful audience that needed what I had to offer. I found my tribe. And that made all the difference.”
I don’t want to say that if you are my friend or a family member, and you are reading this, that I don’t want you as part of my tribe. I just know, and the experience of publishing Dollar Deal pounded this home to me, that I can’t rely on my circle of friends if I want to be successful. If I want to make a living writing and support my family as a writer, I need to really create my author platform.
It starts now.
I am about to start working on the re-writing phase of Fallen Star and I want to take you on that journey with me.
I was listening to a podcast I follow by Joanna Penn. This past weekend she had an author on there named Gabriela Pereira, a woman who wrote a book and started a community of writers called The DIY MFA.
The book is about, as the title basically spells out, how to become an author by doing it yourself instead of spending money on an MFA from a university.
Now, I am a college graduate and learned my writing at the Gaylord School of Journalism a the University of Oklahoma. Was it worth it for what I learned? Yes, it was. Was it worth it for the amount of money I am still paying out in school loans? No, not really.
So, what did the author of the DIY MFA book talk about in the podcast interview with Joanna Penn? Well, it is basically about teaching yourself what you need to know about writing by using the same techniques they use in college.
It is funny, though, because a lot of what she talks about I already do but never really thought about it. I guess I learned well from my two main writing professors, J. Madison Davis and Deborah Chester. Basically, write AND read with purpose.
So, what does this mean here? It means that I am going to be putting a lot of these things into motion and I will bring you all with me and talk about my writing as I do it. You will join me from now until I publish the book.
And it isn’t just about writing the book. As I said, it is also about building my author platform so that this book – Fallen Star – is not released in a forest where no one can hear (or more accurately read) it. You will watch as I build this author platform and hopefully the readers I pick up along the way can be there from the start.
Shawn S. Lealos: Author
So, what exactly does this entire author platform thing entail?
These are two things that I will be developing over the next month or so and will roll each one out one at a time.
- A Facebook Group – I have a Facebook Writer’s Page but a Group is different. For those who don’t know, a Group is better for talking to each other and people can actually see when there are updates better than Pages that could realistically disappear from people’s feeds over time. The difference is that Groups is not a place for me to just post links. It is a place for me to talk to readers, get feedback, share news I find interesting, and develop a relationship with readers. I will keep my Writer’s Page, but that is where links are posted.
- A Mailing List – Now, don’t be scared with this one. I understand that many authors abuse their mailing lists. I won’t be one of those authors. People who subscribe to my mailing list won’t get spammed with emails every day of the week and the emails won’t be me begging people to buy my books. The good news is that, when it starts, everyone who subscribes to the mailing list will get a digital copy of Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers for free. The emails will come out once a week and will update people on what is going on, share any news that I find interesting, and most importantly, offer special freebies for subscribers. I will update people on when books are going on sale, but the main purpose of the list is not to sell, sell, sell.
That is just the start, but it is the most important when it comes to me getting to know my readers better and offering my readers something that makes following me worth their time.
Editing Fallen Star
So, back to Fallen Star.
There is a major change in how I am writing my books from this point forward. I have become a Scrivener user.
So, what is Scrivener?
Basically, it is the author’s top software program to write their books. Sure, there is always Word or one of the many free word processing apps and those work just fine when it comes to putting words on the page.
However, Scrivener really opens things up for the writer to really take control of their work. I will talk a lot more about Scrivener when I start blogging about the re-write of Fallen Star.
Also, I will go into detail about what my editing and re-writing of the novel involves and what most people mistakenly think editing actually means (it isn’t about fixing grammar and spelling – at least not at this stage).
With that said, I will finish this post and let you know that the real writing is about to start on Fallen Star and I invite all of you along for the ride. Keep watching this blog, follow me on my Facebook page and make sure to join my upcoming Facebook group and email list when I launch them and we will take this journey together.
Also, I love comments. I love them so much that I will throw everyone’s name who leaves a comment into a hat and draw a winner every month for a special prize. What is this month’s prize? A free autographed copy of Dollar Deal: The Story of the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers trade paperback book. If you link to my blog, I will add your name a second time. Let me know what you want to see in the blog. Let me know what you want to know about writing, Stephen King, filmmaking, comics, movies, or anything else. Seriously, ask me anything.