A couple of weeks ago, I had the immense pleasure of attending Indie BookFest with some of my fellow Writer’s Atelier writers! The experience was incredible: I loved being able to connect with fellow authors, hear about others’ professional journeys, and even win a few new books in a raffle. However, the best part about the entire weekend was all of the incredible tips about both writing and publishing that I learned through the incredibly informative panels (including several taught by members of our own Writer’s Atelier family!). For those of you who were unable to attend, I definitely recommend checking it out next year. Until then, here’s a roundup of the best tips I learned from Indie BookFest this year!
Panel: Character Development
Having trouble building a brand-new character? Pick a Myers-Briggs type personality to base it on. This is a simple way to instantly have a near-fully fleshed out character to work with, who will be both complex and realistic. It’s also good to give your characters little quirks or nervous tics to help audiences connect with them and give them an apparent flaw. Another great trick to help you write characters is to start off with reference photos of celebrities or actors that you imagine your character to look like, then use that as a base when imagining what your characters are doing. It’s usually a lot easier to picture a face that already exists when trying to write actions than to try to work with an intangible, vague idea of what your character might look like.
Panel: Personal Branding
Your brand is essentially the promise you make to your readers about what they can expect when they read your book. Think about how certain authors’ names have distinctive connotations within a genre (Stephen King is practically synonymous with “horror,” Nicholas Sparks is known for his light romance, etc.). Since readers are 15 times more likely to purchase a book from an author they know and like, it’s important to build a recognizable, likeable brand around both yourself and your book. To do this, study top brands in your genre to figure out what has made them successful, then test out some potential brand messages for your own intended audience until you find one that clicks.
Panel: Moving from the Middle to the Top! (Successful Self-publishing)
Recent sales have shown that eBooks, not physical books, is the way to go in self-publishing because they offer a worldwide reach. It’s not enough to just write and publish your book—you have to participate in a significant amount of marketing to ensure that people actually find your book, including Facebook ads, newsletters, blog posts, and even bookmarks. Ads are essential: people can’t buy your book if they don’t know it’s there. Study your metadata to understand how people are finding you, and use that information to plan for better marketing.
Panel: How to Write Action Scenes (Hosted by WA Instructor, LE Perez!)
You can’t write a fight scene if you don’t know how fights work:
1. A punch to the face will still cause pain to the puncher’s hand, so make sure that the puncher reacts appropriately.
2. Most fights end on the ground. In a fight on the ground, the victim will use every part of their body to defend themselves, not just their hands.
3. Gunshot wounds, even nonfatal ones, HURT and will leave lasting damage. Many authors have characters who get shot in the shoulder or side and then recover quickly, but that simply isn’t realistic.
4. Realistically, fights last as long as the parties aren’t exhausted—until someone is worn out and gives up.
5. There are actually three types of responses to an attack: fight, flight, or frozen (when you freeze up, forget how to act, and essentially are in too much shock to protect yourself).
6. For good practice writing fight scenes, watch an undercard MMA fight and describe what is happening.
Hopefully these tips will help you in your writing as much as they helped me. If you have any bonus advice, feel free to share it in the comments!
Taylor Simonds is an Orlando-based professional editor and writer. She is currently a contracted manuscript editor for Write My Wrongs and a staff writer for CollegeFashion, and has previously worked in writing and editing for Anaphora Literary Press and MuggleNet. She is a fan of all things literary and is never without a book, but in her free time she can most often be found wandering Disney World, vintage shopping, or working on her first novel, which she wishes would just finish itself.
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