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What’s Next for Caitlyn?

Caitlyn Jamison is in Virginia’s Northern Neck working a cold case. Will she do this alone or will Ethan show up? Stay tuned!

Let’s Talk Marketing

During the CRRL Writers Conference on November 11, 2017 held at the Porter Library, I was on the panel that was asked to cover the topic of marketing as well as the topic of traditional versus self publishing (or Indi publishing). 

Marketing requires a whole other skill set for writers, and one in which many writers are not comfortable. But if you want to develop a following, it is something an author has to do. 

Social media is at the top of the list. Develop a website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn account, and Twitter. I started a Facebook page and blog right way, and recently decided to take the plunge and develop a website to feature my Caitlyn Jamison series.

As a self-published author, I had to create a marketing plan that I am comfortable with. I am in the process of building a list of venues in which I can feature my books.

Sign up for a table at local book festivals, connect with local newspaper journalists that will write an article on your book, develop an author presentation and reach out to book groups and libraries, offer to do a guest blog for a genre-related blog, and don’t forget to alert your email contact list that your new book is available. Run contests. 

Space the events out to keep sales coming. When at events, have someone take a photo of you to post on Facebook to remind Friends and their Friends (ask FB Friends to share) of your book.

I was pleased that the traditionally published authors on Saturday’s panel dispelled the myth that publishers do all the marketing - not. The authors were brutally honest about what they went through to get published, and then what they have to do to continually market their books. If you don’t want to do your own marketing, there are marketing firms that you can hire, but as one panelist said, after a bad experience and losing thousands of dollars, buyer beware. Just because you hire a firm, doesn’t meant they are going to do right by you and your book.

For additional articles see the Caitlyn Jamison Mysteries blog.

Character Development
Mystery author Elizabeth George states “Story is Character,” and I have found that to be true. So how does a writer develop characters to have an impact on readers?

First, a thorough and thoughtful, physical, emotional, socio-economic description has to be developed for each character. Once that is developed, the author knows how each character will react to situations. It also keeps the author on track so a mistake isn’t made by having a character’s eye color at the beginning different than at the end - assuming contact lenses aren’t involved - smile. 

A character can be described from another’s point of view. That description can include how the person presents with regard to stance, expression, speech. You can sometimes tell a person’s age just by the words they use. 

And then you live in their skin. As you write and get into the “groove,” you will become that character. It is then the character’s thoughts feelings, voice, emotions pour out. Let it. That is when your characters come “alive.” It is an amazing feeling to give birth to characters and have them develop right before your eyes.

The Importance of Plot
A good story will transport the reader to places he/she has never been. The writer’s job is to develop an interesting plot and character (s) that compels the reader to keep turning pages. So where do plot ideas come from? The answer is, everywhere. 

One of my plot ideas came from my passion and desire for justice. Too many people were getting away with ruining lives and not suffering the repercussions. [Think 2008 financial crisis]. Other plot ideas came from my passion for teaching people about a little known mental health disease, current social issues, and about my genealogy hobby. 

The key word here is passion. A writer has to have a passion for the story and their characters. When that mix happens, plus some good use of grammar … the book is a winner. 

Point of View
Understanding point of view is probably one of the most difficult lessons a writer has to learn. Rule of thumb is to have one point of view per scene. In other words, one person leads the conversation. There can be more than one point of view per chapter, and those are separated by a couple of lines. But then you don’t want to have too many points of view. What I have done to provide myself an overview of how the book is progressing, and also to track point of view, is I made a chapter by chapter synopsis that includes from whose point of view the information is coming. A glance through this synopsis document tells me I have several people featured in the first few chapters. The question is - will those different voices confuse readers, or will it introduce the characters, which is what I intended. I have to give this some more thought.

A Writer’s Journal
I keep a writer’s journal for each book. The first page has a working title and some plot ideas. Since this is the second Caitlyn Jamison mystery, I have bios on the main characters. The supporting cast will be developed as I go along. The second page has the publishing stats of the first book, i.e. margins, pagination, author price (I learned the more pages in the book the lower the royalty-Fatal Dose is about 40 pages longer than Unexpected Death, so my royalty for Fatal Dose is about 40 cents less.) I also jot down the ISBN number of each book and the number of pages in each.

On the following pages I continue to jot down plot ideas, and introduce characters. Plots change as the characters are developed, so my “Idea” entries change as the book progresses. 

While working on the third book, I am busy marketing the first two. Those venues with contact information is captured in my journal. Also captured are books with citations that I use for research. 

When I get well into the story I start tracking my word count. I keep a listing of each day’s progress with notes on what needs to be done. 

When I get stuck, I review the notes in my journal. An interesting way to see how thought processes change as the book matures. [Posted 3/31/18]


© Ray & Mary Maki 2017