Allan Mayer’s Weblog

Archive for June 2008

Another useful tip I got through confidence coaching was to find a model of excellence- a writer you admire and want to be like.

I don’t know why I struggled so much to find mine. I enjoy the work of Martin Amis, although my writing is not of that literary bent, and I can’t identify with Amis’s background. J.K. Rowling was suggested, but I thought a model who wrote closer to my genre (sort of thriller) would be more appropriate.

Then it struck me- a successful writer who strays between genres, whose technique I admire and sometimes consciously emulate is Dean Koontz.

I told Lynn Grocott, my confidence coach, that I had identified my model of excellence and she said: ‘Right. Now you need to stalk him.’

‘What?’

‘Stalk him. Track him down any way you can, find out what got him where he is and do what he did.’

There are websites which will give you, sometimes at a small cost, addresses of celebrities including writers or their agents. When I found Dean Koontz’s address it looked sort of familiar- and I realised that I had actually seen it before in several of his books. Dean actually wants people to write to him- this was going to be easy stalking. But would he reply?

I wrote my letter, beginning ‘Dear Mr. Koontz…’ (I don’t think overfamiliarity is respectful,) thanked him for the pleasure I’d derived from his work and commented on his positive portrayal of people with learning disabilities.

I then went on to explain that I had written a novel, would appreciate any advice, and would he maybe like to see a section…

Then I posted it.

About three weeks later an envelope arrived from the States. It was packed with articles and pamphlets about writing and about Koontz’s work, and contained not only one but two letters.

The first leter said that he was busy so had to send out a standard response, although the signature (‘for what it’s worth’) was his. But under the signature, in the same handwriting, was a note to see attached letter.

The second letter explained that his attourney forbade him to comment on anyone’s writing. That is understandable- I would be the first to submit to a publisher with a letter which said Dean Koontz liked it.

The rest of the letter advised that anyone writing their first book is better to concentrate on the ‘High Concept novel.’ The high concept novel is something which can be described in two sentences which will make a publisher salivate. The example he gave was ‘Jurassic Park’:

Scientists have created dinosaurs. Now they are loose.

One example of a high concept Dean Koontz novel is ‘Velocity,’ although he admits that at his level he is free to experiment.

So that is the advice from the master: the high concept novel. I am currently working on one: ‘Legion’s Daughter,’ at the same time as trying to publish ‘Tasting the Wind.’

Since writing to Dean Koontz I have also discovered his excellent website. Amongst other things it contains podcasts of Dean talking about his experiences as a writer, and they are well worth a listen. Although the cynical would say that it is excellent marketing and self-promotion I would like to think that this is a writer who looks after his fan base.

Someone once said that successful people are not to be looked up to, but looked into. Choose your model of excellence, find out all that you can, write to them, if possible interview them, then do what they did.

They made it. Why shouldn’t you?

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It may not pay immediately, or at all, but if you want to publish your thoughts to a potentially huge international audience, you can do so here and now.

Blogs are one example, another is the ezine.

I am an ‘expert author’ on ezines.com (not to be mistaken for the subtly different ‘ezine.com,’ which you have to pay for.)

 

All you have to do is write an article on a subject about which you are passionate (or at least know something about,) and upload it.

Your first articles will take about a week to appear (after that you get upgraded to platinum, and it’s a shorter process.) All work is edited to make sure that it adheres to their rules of publication.
The editors are very strict about the rules, which is a good thing, because it means that people are not disrespecting their readers, and children are not going to read things they shouldn’t.

I once tested one of the rules, and was found guilty. I sent in an article based on a Blog I’d written about different writers’ approaches. I’d mentioned that some writers start at the beginning and, with no plan, go where the novel takes them. My comment was that ‘I couldn’t write like that as long as I’d got a hole in my ****, or if you’re American ***.’
The article took a little longer to go through the editorial process than others had, so I guessed that there may have been some debate about my asterisks (no pun intended.)

Eventually I got an email which said that I had contravened a rule by including a serious profanity in my article. I’m not sure whether they meant ****, or ***, so removed both, resubmitted, and it was immediately published.

Another rule regards self-publicity. A blog can be unashamedly self-publicising and narcissistic. I could publish pages of:

memememememememememememememememememememememememememememememememe…
and it would stay there. An ezine article has to be about a subject other than yourself.

You are, however, allowed to put in two ‘self-serving’ links to other sites.

At first I submitted articles purely about writing. These had links to my Blog and YouTube videos. I then decided to write an article about another interest of mine- house rabbits.

Now although I enjoy sharing knowledge (and it is a nice feeling for a writer to know that someone somewhere is reading his stuff, whatever it’s about) the main reason for my web presence is to get my novel ‘Tasting the Wind’ out there.

But there is nothing more annoying than finding that an interesting article has links which are nothing to do with the subject, and are probably trying to sell you something.
So on my House Rabbit article I have put one link, which is to my MySpace page, where you can see pictures and videos of cuddly bunnies. Oh… and you can hear or read the prologue to my novel… but that just happens to be there…

Another thing that you are asked not to do with your ezine articles is reproduce your Blog, because if one of your links is your blog page then it’s a little bit boring for your readers to be directed from your articles to identical content.
I have to admit to doing this at first, although I have tried now to add some variation, hence the House Rabbit article.

One Blog which I turned directly into an article was my ‘DaVinci Code’ parody, ‘The DaDisney Code.’ Interestingly, this got the most immediate hits and the greatest number of URL clicks- most of them checking, I imagine, if I was still roaming the street and, if so, was I in their neighbourhood.

The lesson, I think, is that referring to big names and well known reference points such as Dan Brown and the DaVinci code will draw more attention than ‘Allan Mayer’s ideas on writing.’
Which brings me to Dr. Who. The new series is currently approaching its climax on British Television. The show is so big that Dr.Who is ranking very highly as a top search on Google. So… my current ezine submission which, as I write this, is pending publication, is about Dr. Who.
I have added one link, which is my website. Which just happens to mention ‘Tasting the Wind.’

Did I tell you that I’d written a novel…?

 

So how do you get people to listen to your talking book on your YouTube channel?
Firstly, you need to add the right ‘tags.’ These are the key words which describe what your video is about- the sorts of words that someone might use to search for such a channel.

One site that I read suggested that as the greatest number of searches are to do with sex, adding phrases such as MILF and BBW to your tags could increase your traffic (if you don’t know, I’m not telling.) The problem is that as it’s the biggest search, due to the laws of supply and demand you would therefore be competing with a large number of websites. You might attract the odd viewer (some of them very odd viewers,) but I would imagine that once they find that it’s you reading your novel and not some buxom dominatrix they will probably leave and never come back. I know I would.

One idea I had which generated immediate hits was to send an email to everyone in my contacts list, explaining what I was doing, asking them to pass the message on to all of their contacts, and so on. You can see the email at: http://thelynngrocottacademy.bravehost.com/experiment.html
and if you feel well disposed toward me you might want to cut and paste it into an email and send it on. (you don’t get anywhere if you don’t ask.)

Another way to get noticed on the net is a blog. You’re reading this, aren’t you? So you’ve noticed me. So give it a go. Apparently search engines love blogs.

Once you’ve got the blog out there link it to other sites including social networking sites such as: facebook myspace bebo and wayn. You can also put your vids on these.

To get your blog out use Bloggupp and Zimbio. Paste your URL (The address of your page ) onto Pingoat whenever you add a new Blog, and this will send it out to Blog search engines, including Technorati, which you can join for free.

Set up a Squidoo lens. Also try Diggit and stumbleupon where your page will come up randomly for anyone who has registered an interest in the subject you are writing about.

If any of this is like a foreign language to you, it was to me a couple of months ago. Just Google any of these names to find out more. There is also a list of sites and instructions about how to submit your Blog dirctly to Google and Yahoo at Blogfusion.com. just don’t leave your Blog, webpage, or YouTube contribution sitting there- feed the flames, it will be worth it.

I’ve probably bombarded you with too much information already- I’ll leave ezine articles for next time.


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