I got Interviewed for a Podcast!

I got Interviewed for a Podcast!

Hey everybody!

I recently was interviewed on the Introverted Indie Author Podcast with host Michael Sanford, it was tons of fun.

I found out he was a fellow comrade in arms in nerd-dom and in indie authorship, he’s an awesome guy and a great host. Definitely most fun I’ve had on an interview.

On the site:

HERE BE THE PODCAST

Direct link:

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4507573/height/90/width/640/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/no-cache/true/render-playlist/no/custom-color/ffa000/

Check it out, let me know what you think!

I go into depth on my experiences with writing and editing and publishing and advertising, along with various nerdy topics.

Enjoy you bloodthirsty monsters!

Evan

 

Expectation and Reality

Expectation and Reality

There’s thing in our heads called a brain. It’s crazy and it does a million things and once and somehow is at the core of who we perceive ourselves to be.

One of the things this brain does all the time is process potential future events.

This of course is a purely survivalist practice, as we once were animals living in the food chain. Now this process has become a part of things like when should I get onions and not wanting to go to some social obligation later and how hard it’s going to be to write that next scene I want to get right.

We all have expectations. For everything. Even if we try not to.

Expectations often do not match reality. Because expectations are just some scenarios we have made up in our heads-ones that often aren’t even strongly based on our past experiences but rather our hopes and fears.

For Example,

Expectation: Man, writing this next scene is going to be hard. There’s a lot of detail and content I want to impart in a compact amount of writing. What choices am I going to make for this character, for this reaction? I have to make sure the details line up with my greater goal for the story and the preceding and following plot.

Reality:  Sit down in my chair, open Scrivener. Catch up on where I am in the flow of the scene. Double check my outline to see major points. Start typing. Keep typing. It goes and goes. Hey, I already know all of these things that I wanted to do. I’ve had this in my head for days. This is pretty smooth.

Despite the fact that that is my experience sitting down to right 19 times out of 20, STILL sometimes I procrastinate sitting down to write, daunted by fear or laziness.

That’s because my brain is lying to me.

Expectations are crap. Get rid of them. And by that I mean, don’t let them control your actions, unless it’s controlling them for the better, of course. 😀

-Evan

 

Five Hundred Words

Five Hundred Words

There’s something I read recently that really stuck with me.

And I’m going to paraphrase here… But finding your dream career isn’t about finding one where you love the good parts– it’s about finding a career where you enjoy the hard work.

Because basically all careers, no matter how greenish the grass looks on the other side of the hill, have hard work. No matter how dreamy they seem.

I’m glad I love the writing, the editing, all the stuff that goes into it. There’s something so satisfying about creating a story.

But it’s hard work. It really is. And the procrastination can be REAL.

I’m in a pretty beautiful place that I find myself writing BOOK 2 this summer as my full-time. THAT doesn’t totally feel real.

But the work is. So there’s something of a transition I’m undergoing, It’s a totally different feel writing with the pressure of a Book 1 behind you and readers clamoring for a sequel!

So I’ve come up with a plan. It’s very much in the spirit of sustainability. It’s pretty simple– 500 words a day. It’s not a lot, I know. but that’s the point. Because on a daily basis, I need to feel the satisfaction of getting writing done. I have to keep it from feeling like a ticking clock–and the best way to sustainable success, is small, rewarding increments.

So let’s say I write 500 words and it’s only 2pm one day. I’m rolling, the writing is flowing. I just keep writing. And I get to feel awesome, like an overachiever xD Maybe i’ll get 3,000 words… maybe 8,000. I’ll be sky high.

And if I have a tough day, and only write 500, then I feel like I did what I need to do. And if I take a day off, I don’t feel like I’m SO far behind.

So basically, set your daily goals as very achievable–so you can feel good, so you can blow them away, and you can average more than your goal. You’ll feel great, you’ll write more, and you’ll shake free of the stress of I need to be writing. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. And give yourself the leeway to write it the right way.

At the end of the day, it’s about quality, not quantity. I can’t wait to give the readers of HOOD an ever better work to read.

Evan P.

 

Writing a Sequel: To the Readers of HOOD

Writing a Sequel: To the Readers of HOOD

Writing a sequel is very, VERY different than writing the first novel.

Especially when that first novel has had no small amount of debut success.

I’m the first to admit I read all the reviews when they come up. I’m always looking for feedback, for one–and also I just enjoy the positive reinforcement so much when it happens. It’s so interesting seeing what people liked or didn’t like about the book, how they felt about the ending… etc.

It’s easily something you can get lost in. Everyone loves and hates different things, and you can’t please them all. My goal is the same as it always was: to write a story that excites me. To write something I love, and to trust that others will love it too.

One of the things I’m most excited about in writing BOOK 2 are some major events that get me fired up, parts of the story that I just can’t wait to see become real.

I think the readers of HOOD are going to love them too. Regardless of how you felt about the events of the first book.

Just to play teaser here, I think the details are there in the first book that the reader might be able to piece together some of the things that will happen in book 2 and moving forward in the series.

That is, of course, coming from an author’s perspective where I know everything that’s going to happen, lols.

More than anything, I just want to write a continuation of the story that will be even better than the first. I know the stigma sequels can have sometimes as always being second best to intro novels, but I’m pretty sure this one is going slam the pedal down from where HOOD took you.

Really, I can’t wait. This summer shall be the summer of writing. My blood is boiling already, baby.

-Evan

STOP…Promo time! (dances)

STOP…Promo time! (dances)

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to run a promotion for his book.

And my man I mean man or woman. And by man or woman I mean an author.

WE’RE OFF TO A GOOD START.

So anywho, I was pretty excited to run my first stack promo for HOOD. Here’s the lowdown:

I’m selling around 20-22 books a day before all this stuffs. I’m getting around 13,000 pagereads a day.


Day 1  4/21/16, KCD sale, HOOD is $0.99, no promos. This is my control in the scientifical sense. Extra scientifical.

SALES: 53

KU PAGEREADS: 15,190


Day 2, HOOD is still $0.99 with the KCD, Promo sites: ROBINREADS and EbooksForFree

SALES: 118

KU PAGEREADS: 9,231


Day 3, HOOD is still $0.99 with the KCD, Promo sites: BOOKBARBARIAN and EreaderNewsToday

SALES: 242

KU PAGEREADS: 11,473


Total money spent on Promos: $70.00  breakdown: (30 ENT, 20 BookBarbarian, 20 Robinreads)

Total books sold during promos: 360

Took a lil bit of a hit on KU pagreads, but no idea if that was due to the promotions or not.

But I more than doubled my control on day 2, and more than quadrupled it day 3. If I subtract my control from each day (assuming that many people would’ve bought my book on amazon anyway) I still sold 254 books (presumably) in total via the promotions. That means I came out quite a decent bit in the black, in the pure profit sense. My gross profit more than doubled the money I spent on the promos.

As for my ranking? Highest so far:

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Conclusion? BOOYA. In the words of the Firebat: Slammin’.

Now I’m excited to see what the ‘long tail’ of this is. Let alone the rest of the KCD!

-Evan Pickering

 

Stick With What Got You To the Dance

Stick With What Got You To the Dance

Distractions are so. . . Distracting.

 

giraffic_park2-copy.pngI’ve spent a very large amount of my writing time lately trying to learn as much as I can about effective marketing, trying to learn from other Indie Authors who have tread this path before, and, well. . . obsessively checking my reviews and sales and KU page reads and Amazon ranking. I admit it.

First step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem 😀

It’s hard work hacking out a hard outline for Book 2, developing character arcs and motivations, doing all the nitty gritty stuff you HAVE to do if you want to write a good story. Slowly, I’m getting there though.

And it’s reminding me something. Something important.

As I sweat and cheer with every dip and burst in sales each day, I’m losing sight of the big cheese, here. I’m forgetting who brought me to the dance.

It’s the writing. The Storybuilding. That shit gets me excited. I’m really happy with what I’ve got so far (after some scrapping) with the arc for Whiskey, BOOK 2 of the American Rebirth series. So happy, that I’m getting that amped-up feeling, the I-can’t-wait-to-make-this-real feeling. It’s the same joy and excitement I got from writing Hood.
It’s the goddamned reason I’m doing this in the first place.

So why the hell am I getting so excited/worked up over daily numbers? Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about how well the book is doing. To quote Saving Private Ryan, this is a gross mis-allocation of resources here.

Sure, marketing is important. I’m going to keep at it. But the delicious storybuilding, yes, my sweet dear, I’m coming back to you.

 

-Evan Pickering

 

Doing it the right way.

Doing it the right way.
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Credit: maciejkuciara

I’ve learned a hell of a lot from writing and publishing my first book.

Chiefest of all of them: do the hard stuff, the legwork and the preparation first, so you don’t have to do twice the work later.

As my dad says, an ounce of prevention saves a pound of trouble. I don’t know if he ever thought it would apply to writing, but it does.

It took 4 years and a hell of a lot of re-writing for Hood.  Rewriting the final version only took 4 months. I’m hoping I can write BOOK 2 in a year.

Part of that is doing what many authors hate to do: Outline. Storyboard. Character pages. Most writers have much of the story already imagined, lodged up there in their head somewhere. They just want to write it as imagined, without being “hemmed in.” But there’s two problems with that:

1. You slow your writing down by about 5x by not outlining first. This doesn’t mean you have to follow your outline exactly. Hell, you can replace things with other ideas or change it on the fly. But writing each chapter is SOOO much easier when you already have conceptualized what is happening. All the stress of “pouring it out” floats away. You’re free. (I always thought outlines were restricting. Reality is, they give you such freedom.)

2. If you structure your story, your scene-sequel pairs from 10,000 ft. view, the quality of your story is exponentially greater. The reality of why we don’t want to outline is because we’re lazy. We want to just let the words fly. We don’t want to “suck the fun out” of writing by following a construct. Be honest with yourself. Yes, it’s hard to plan out the whole damn thing first, but that’s what great stories are made of.

So, here I am, trying to get my outline on. Trying to capture the spirit and mood and excitement of the story in my head in structure. It’s not impossible. Hell, it’s not even that hard. You just have to get your ass into gear and do it.

-Evan Pickering

It’s a Long, Long Road

It’s a Long, Long Road

Man, that kills me every time.

Writing, like in life, you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself–Not take everything so seriously. As writers, we usually take our writing pretty damn seriously. It means all that and a bag of chips and salsa to us.

But at the end of the day, we do it because we love it. Because it’s fun to create. Because we were the kids that loved to play pretend in the backyard. Because we love storytelling, we love stories, we love new worlds and experiences, and we want to share our own with the world.

Me, I know I’m obsessed with storytelling. Reading books, watching movies, playing video games, writing stories. Maybe too much so 🙂

It’s a long, long road. With writing and with life. You’ve got to be able to enjoy the process. If find myself recently  (both in writing and life)getting so caught up in the goal that I’m not enjoying the process.

HOOD COVER FINAL 1
New Cover!

I’ve been fixated on finally publishing my novel. I keep saying “after this edit, it will be done!” But I’m still learning, I’m still improving. I know the work I’m doing in the editing process is making it a more complete, better story. I have to honor that. I told myself I’d have this thing published by the end of the year.

It was my new years resolution, if I remember correctly.

I hope to be able to do that. But if I can’t, to hell with the resolution. I’d rather tell my story right then hit an arbitrary deadline. After all, I’m working for myself.

It’s fun in a sick way, working on editing a book. There will be a day when I look back on this experience with this book fondly.

So take a deep breath, wherever you are in your life or in your writing, accept there’s a long road to be traveled yet. Enjoy it.

-Evan Pickering

 

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Sooner or later (and probably repeatedly) we all manage to tie our own proverbial shoelaces together before we sprint after something.

Most of the time, we don’t do it on purpose. We usually think we’re doing the right thing or making the best choice.

That is especially true in writing.

Writing a novel can be such a huge undertaking. You’re building your whole world and portraying a select few journeys through that world, all while trying to grab your reader’s attention without being garish.

I know that I struggle with too much subtlety. Or at least, what I see in my mind as subtlety. It’s probably more accurate to call it a failure to inform your reader (lol).


So here’s my lesson for today: Yes, you want your book to have subtlety, but there are important things you have to find a way to convey to your reader. You can’t raise the stakes with scene (action) and sequel (down time) if your reader doesn’t know exactly what the stakes are.


If you fail to properly build the intensity of the focal points of your story, you’ll end up with one of two things happening:

1.) Conflict and climax that the reader isn’t fully invested in the outcome of.

or

2.) Conflict and climax that the reader doesn’t fully understand.

Both will completely pull the teeth out of your story. The best and most gripping stories are ones we care about the characters and the outcome, and ones where we understand the dynamics and forces at work (at least, the important ones. In mysteries this is not the case, but your reader is expecting not to understand, and to eventually discover)

Book Cover 11

I am now undertaking what I hope to be the final round of editing for my novel, Hood, Book One of the American Rebirth Series. (Though I feel like I’ve said this before.) I find that as much as I try to make concepts clear, I’m still working on smoothly informing the reader of important aspects of the story. I know that I tend to be overly subtle, hoping the reader will read between the lines. My lesson to myself is relax, the reader will do that on his own. You don’t have to make his or her job harder by not telling them what they need to know.

Hopefully, I’ll have the book out next month. But I’m endeavoring to not rush the process. I’d rather it come out in its best possible form than just push it out because… well, I can’t wait to get it out there 😀

-Evan Pickering

6 Things About Writing Dialogue You Need To Know

6 Things About Writing Dialogue You Need To Know

There is nothing, NOTHING more story-killing than bad dialogue.

Nothing.

It can be a book, a movie, a show, anything. Specifically here we’re talking about books or short stories. But the second someone says something completely contrived or unrealistic or just wildly out of character. . . you hear that sound? That’s the sound of the fictive dream being shattered.

Dialogue is so very important. It is a exceedingly tough line to walk to have your characters feel genuine, engaging, and true to themselves all while keeping the rhythm of the story. It only takes a little incongruency to make your readers go “Huh?”

Your characters have voices. They speak to each other, to the reader, to you. They hide things, they lie, they mask emotions, they show emotions, they speak their minds, they put themselves on the line. And ultimately, the dialogue is what makes your readers love your story. After all, it’s how your beloved characters interact and show themselves in the world you’ve created.

Every writer has a different relationship with dialogue. Some tend to love it, some tend to hate it. Sooner or later we all feel both ways. I tend to love it, but I also tend to rewrite the living hell out of it. Dialogue I thought was awesome one week I think needs serious change a week later.

So here are my tips on dialogue:

1. Focus on character realism without getting too hung up on it.

It is of critical importance that your characters stay true to themselves when they speak. But that doesn’t mean they always have to have the same opinion, feelings or actions. After all, people change their minds all the time. If your story is doing its job, your characters should be changing a lot through the conflict, so it’s natural that what they say will change. But make sure whatever is happening, whatever your characters are saying, that it’s true to their personality, that it makes sense to their internal beliefs.

2. Don’t get cute.

You know what I mean. Good dialogue should feel real. In real conversations, people change the subject, misunderstand each other, don’t respond, answer simply or talk nervously. Don’t write some binary rolling complex thought train all the time. Yes, dialogue should be action-reaction… but keep in mind that characters have motives, people want to steer conversations certain ways for different reasons. The trick is, simultaneously you have to keep the dialogue in a pace and form that drives the story. Don’t let your characters take over the narrative drive all the time.

3. Keep it simple. Shorter is often more powerful.

“I can’t have you second guessin’ yourself,” Bill said.
Owen worked his jaw, staring out the window as the rain collected and fell in wild paths down the glass.
“There’s no room for it. We won’t survive.”
“I heard you.” Owen turned, moving away from the conversation.

Okay, that’s just a random sample I made up. But you get the point. People often speak very simply, and from a writing/reading perspective, the more short and punchy something is, the harder it hits the reader. Granted, you want to vary sentence length and conversation based on the mood of the scene and of the characters. But the more you can trim the better. Just think of Pulp Fiction. One of the best and most memorable lines in that movie, a movie featuring plenty of outstanding dialogue is: “Zed’s dead baby.”

4. Get Some Distance.

Any writer worth his salt is going to spend a heck of a lot of time editing. As I’ve said in previous posts, editing is really the true bread and butter of writing. But when it comes to dialogue (and your story,) you’ll get so close to the words that you can become numb to them.

It’ll feel hard to tell whether you’re actually making positive revisions or just changes for the sake of changing. For that reason, It’s very very valuable to set your manuscript aside for awhile. Weeks, months, whatever it takes. Don’t look at it. Don’t even open it up. Read some other books you love, read some editing and writing nonfiction if you want. Come back to it once some distance has grown so you can be more objective and look at it with an honest lens. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

5. Use your voice.

When you re-read it, read the dialogue aloud to yourself. In character. It might feel weird, but do it. Try to act out each character as you speak their words. Hearing it all out loud does wonders for figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t, what has normal speaking rhythm and what doesn’t. You want your words to read smoothly like spoken word.

6. Ultimately, put yourself / your stamp on your dialogue.

There’s all kinds of rules and guidelines out there for writing. Much like the ones I’ve put up above. But the bottom line is that millions and millions of stories have been written and told over and over. So at the end of the day, only one thing will seperate your story from anyone elses. Your voice. You as the writer, your feelings, your experiences, your own flavor to your dialogue. At the end of the day you’ll live or die by the unique elements of you as a writer that you bring to your story. So don’t steamroll what makes you you as a writer. Let it fly (within the context of your characters, ofc.)

Book Cover 11Here’s some shameless plugging for my novel above, hopefully it will be done by sometime next month! I promise I’ll let you all know when it goes live. Enjoy your writing and keep it rollin’, peeps.

-Evan Pickering