Revealing Clues in your Story? Just Go from One to Ten

One, Two Buckle My Shoe,
Three, four shut the door,
Five, six pick-up sticks,
Seven, eight lay them straight,
Nine, ten a big fat hen.

Does everyone remember this fun nursery rhyme?

It teaches kids how to count from one to ten but not in a rote or boring way.

There are simple steps for kids to follow - buckle, shut, pick-up, lay - and then one surprising and goofy line that reinforces the last line of the rhyme; the last two numbers in the series.

Why does it work?

The verse makes use of timing and rhyme. Kids learn the order of numbers while they giggle along with the silly instructions.

It's designed to help them learn to retain the important information in a relatable way.

Writers do something similar

Maybe we don't use rhyming verse but it's our goal to share information in a way that takes the reader from one to ten - whatever that means for our piece.

Our main goal is to take a reader from beginning to end in such a way that they fully comprehend what they read.

In fiction 'one' is the opening of the story, 'ten' is the conclusion, and all those other numbers are the little or big things that push the story along.

That could mean 'three' is where she meets her dream man, 'two' is where the body is discovered, 'five' is when the bad guys look like they might win. But each clue or plot device is brought out at just the right time.

As a writer of suspense and mystery I use tension and revelation of clues as the mileposts in a story. Those hints along the way are what make a reader want to go to the end of the story - to 'ten' - to find out how each clue falls into place.

Rhyme time

Like counting from one to ten, it's important to reveal info in the correct order so the reader can sort and file it in their imagination. Reveal something too soon and the reader of your story could guess the ending.

And who likes figuring out a killer's identity, the boy she'll choose, if they'll save the planet, or any other resolution, too early? I sure don't. It makes me not want to finish the book.

We all want our stories to work, to resonate with a broad audience; the one we’re setting out to entertain or inform. As I open a story I have no idea if that’s the point where the final product will actually begin.

I have no idea if the characters, or situations I put my characters into, will hold up for the final draft. But I don’t get bogged down in those details on a first draft. I remember this:

“I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.”
- James Michener

Because, just like when you were a kid and needed a hand in rhyming 'shoe' with 'two', to remember which number came next, a story sometimes needs rearranging to fall into place.

As you edit your first draft you might find it's missing number five. Or maybe you discover number three is set up to come after number seven. Those are the things no reader sees because no author publishes a first draft.

You'll rearrange and re-write as needed during edits to line up your story details more creatively and effectively.

However, I'm not saying to write in a formulaic way where the narrative feels stiff or too contrived. Not at all. Because rules were always made to be broken.

If 'three' should come after 'seven' in your book so certain revelations will hold more weight or be even more surprising, then leave it alone. Just make sure you've got all the important pieces in there so when your reader gets to 'ten' they say:

'I can't believe the killer was a big fat hen!'

Image courtesy of Oliver Scholtz (& others)

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Using a Journal to Track Details in My Novel

When I write a book, as I'm sure many other Authors will agree to, it can be difficult remembering every little detail. So I like to keep a journal right next to me at all times when writing.

For instance, the hat on page ten might have started out as purple but by the time I get to page 192, when I’m supposed to find the hat as a clue to who the murderer is, I mistakenly refer to it as red.


Happens to the best of us, right?

Sure, but those kinds of mistakes, if missed during editing, will take a reader out of the story. They bring the reader out of the fictional world and back to reality.

And for fiction Authors that means death.

That’s why so many Authors develop a system of tracking their details. Because stuff like that can't happen after the first draft. There are software programs, some of which are designed specifically to help track work. Even an Excel spreadsheet can get the job done.

I find it cumbersome to record digitally because then I have to go fishing for a file every time I question a detail. Writing them by hand helps me absorb details and I like having quick access right beside me as I type.

That’s what I call my novel journal.

This device is exactly what it sounds like – I open a notebook when I start a new book, grab a pen and start writing down every detail of everything I know is going to come into play.

Here's how I break it down.

First page of the novel journal

The first is always the character page. It is divided into three columns – Character name, character description, and their status as of the end of the book.

For example, if I’m writing about the female cop that shows up at Shaw McLeary’s door in Reckless Abandon, I need to decide what happens to her in the end. She's not a major character, however, her character comes into play again much later in the book (for reasons I won't reveal due to spoilers).

So after 30,000 words I don’t want to have to scroll back to remind myself about her character.

In the novel journal the cop is labeled as a tertiary character, a small bit player. But I also make note of whether she lives or dies - a very important plot detail - as well as the color of her uniform or other important points to note about appearance.

Subsequent Pages

The next page is where I note names and other stuff about character or setting.

For example, Shaw drives a Chevy Malibu. I also write down names of towns they visit, hotels they stay in, time they get on an airplane, restaurant names and locations.

It helps to ensure the continuity of the story and especially for a book like Reckless Abandon where I plan to write it as part of a series, it can be an essential guide after writing five books in.

Next I create a story timeline.

In Shaw’s first adventure the story takes place over a couple days. And there are important things that must be addressed – do they sleep, where, what time does the story begin (even if I don’t ever mention it), time of year, etc.

Reckless Abandon is set at the end of summer but Shaw runs around Phoenix in jeans. Because she was born and raised in the southwest United States she’s used to the dry heat. But when she and JJ get to Manhattan she mentions being uncomfortable in the humidity.

She’s out of her element which helps to build her character as well as keep continuity with time and place.

The final page in my novel journal is a long timeline.

This timeline is for any and every character that's got a rich backstory. The cop wouldn't make it onto this timeline but Shaw, JJ, the bad guys, and Danny are all detailed on this page.

But it's only the big events that I track here - births, deaths, marriages, divorces, moves, meet-cutes, etc. Because math isn't always my strong suit and there’s nothing worse than saying a character is 44 in 2012, but trying to convince the reader they graduated high school at age 18 in 1992! 

The Extras

I always like to leave a few blank pages to jot down random ideas or other plot devices that don’t fit in the main category pages above. Sometimes it'll be a few lines of dialogue that pushes the story.

You'll find stuff like sketches of floor plans, rough maps where the characters are traveling or other graphically helpful bits.

Anything that can help me get into the mindset of the characters and visualize the story in better detail will end up noted in the pages of my novel journal.

Image courtesy of Artdesigner.Iv

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How much do you care about Quality in the Fiction you Read?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about quality books in today’s market. I read eBooks here and there and the variety of writing is truly all over the map.

Some Authors have taken their time to write a compelling story, edit that story several times (perhaps even send their MS to a professional), and release it with no fear because it stands out as a wonderful piece of fiction writing.

I try to release work like that and have spent the past three months sweating and bleeding over my computer daily to get my manuscript pulled into shape. It is very important to me that I release a well-crafted story with no plot holes and as few grammar/spelling issues as possible.

My three months seemed like years due to the hours invested. But I felt the time I spent was required in order to put out a well written novella.

So don’t mind me if I cringe a little bit when I come across things like this:

I'm in the market for an editor for my self published [books]. They are sci-fi/fantasy, and I've been publishing about one a month (I have a day job. I do not have a life)

[...]They would be relatively short, about 25-30K per book, but there would be one of them a month. I'd be especially interested in a long term relationship with an editor.

Sorry but did you just say you can complete a 30,000 word document and edit it to the best of your own ability, with a day job, in only one month?

I don’t know this Author, I don’t read or write their genre. I'll also never be in direct competition with this person for sales of books.

But regardless that we’d never be in each other’s ‘You might also like…’ lists, we are in competition.

We’re both Indie Authors. We both self-publish our work. We both want to sell as much of that work as possible so we can pay our bills and put socks on our feet by the time winter rolls around.

And the truth of the matter is that unless you have product out there to peddle, you aren’t selling much. I think a two book a year schedule could be insane if under the right circumstances.

I cannot compete with a twelve book a year Author. Nor will I even try.

If I were to try to pump out 360,000 words in a single year, then format all those words into separate titles, not only would I lose my damn mind but I’d be broke!

Rough & dirty math

For an Indie author publishing 12 books a year it's not just the time to produce. The costs can get prohibitive as well.

Ten ISBNs from Bowker are $250, additional will be sold at $125 each. You’re up to $500 already.

Maybe you sell eBook only so the upfront cost to produce is low (no barcodes required and you can upload for free in some cases).

But if you’re concerned with protecting yourself and your intellectual property you should at least ship the manuscript off to the Library of Congress for copyright protection.

At $35 a pop that’s $420 total.

Then let’s consider virtual tours as a way to promote your work. Each one could run about $100 on average. Maybe there's a discount for that many a year but let's suppose there isn't.

You’re at $2120 and you haven’t even hired the requested editor.

And that's where authors should be spending the bulk of their production cost because a well edited book is gold. Even a 150 page novella should run in the neighborhood of $1/page. At $150 per novella that adds $1800 a year.

Before you've even started thinking about advertising or advanced marketing your annual cost is already close to $4000.

If you're lucky and/or independently wealthy maybe you can afford to hire a PR firm or Social Media Marketing Manager but most of that stuff is going to be done by the author.

So here's my question

If that person is marketing and promoting each book, plus working a day job too, where do they find the time to actually write anything?

Or maybe the better question is:

Can you honestly say you produce books that add value?

Twelve well-written manuscripts complete, edited, and released each year?

Perhaps I sound snarky with my obvious disdain for this person’s attempt at flooding the market and that’s because I am.

I just can't wrap my head around being able to get that much work out no matter how well you know your characters or how formulaic your stories may be.

There are indie authors out here in the trenches, people trying to write books and stories that the general public can enjoy. Those of us trying to do it the old way - with well developed stories and characters - suffer in ranking because we have fewer titles.

Perhaps even better written stories but far less to sell means far less eyes on what we sell.

But you know what? I feel accomplished knowing full well that I worked hard for my product. That I put in the time and effort needed to create a quality piece of fiction.

Because I don’t need to win a Pulitzer for my work but you can be damn sure I’m going to be proud of the books I release.

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Reducing Redundancy When Writing Fiction

Yesterday on Randomness and Lunacy I shared a laundry list of stuff going on in my life. Some work related, other stuff on the personal side. For one thing, Ripple the Twine is now available at a library in Massachusetts (HOORAY!). I also talked about a term that I’ve dubbed the double reveal.

A writer friend of mine asked if I could explain more about what I mean by double reveal. So here's a page from my personal lexicon right now.

Double reveal, what does it mean?

I’m sure there’s an actual, technical name for this particular writing device but I have no clue what that term is. That’s why I made up my own.

Essentially, it means to tell the reader the same thing in dialogue and narrative in close proximity within the story. Narrative is the way we get inside the character’s world while dialogue is how we get to know their inner thoughts personified.

Here's an example**

I turned around and looked at the building. With reflective blue glass windows I couldn't see what was on the inside. That made me nervous to take one step past where I was standing, let alone go through the front door ill prepared. My partner seemed just as nervous since he was pacing around and biting his fingernails.
"That reflective glass makes me nervous. Can’t see what’s inside."
"Yeah, me too. I can't stop biting my nails."

Though it will expand word count, the reader doesn’t need to hear the same information come from the character’s mouths when they just read it in the scene description.

The dialogue should move the story forward and reveal character traits instead of repeating what we already know.

Here's a better way to approach that scene:

I turned around and looked at the building. With reflective blue glass windows I couldn't see what was on the inside. That made me nervous to take one step past where I was standing, let alone go through the front door ill prepared. My partner was pacing around and biting his fingernails.
"Only one way to find out what we’re up against in there. Let’s get back to the car, pack some heat then head inside." I said.
"Are you kidding? I say we call the cops right now and get out of here. Who knows who’s watching us!" My partner responded in a low voice as if people on the other side of the mirror could hear his every word.

By shifting the dialogue the reader still knows the two people are in a precarious situation that makes them nervous but we also know exactly who they are – character 1 is a badass full-steam-ahead type while character 2 is cowardly and paranoid.

This rewrite gets scene and character on the page while still increasing word count and not being redundant.

My friend wondered how to approach this issue when the reader knows information before another character finds out.

He asked:

Let's say a character has cancer, but his girlfriend doesn't know it. If halfway through the story he reveals to her what the reader already knows, is that going to insult the reader?

I’d say no. These are two different things but it needs to be executed properly.

First, review how the cancer is revealed to the reader. Next, determine what the desired emotional response is from the girlfriend in the scene where she finds out. Finally, bring a twist to the situation when the girlfriend learns the truth.

For example, if the situation is revealed to the reader with a hint of vulnerability, but the character internally struggles with revealing that same vulnerability to the other characters, the scene might read like this:

“We haven’t talked in days! What am I supposed to think, John? I know you’re cheating.”

“Whatever, Brittney. I have cancer.”

Brittney stopped talking immediately. Her jaw hung open until she slammed it shut and pulled her lips into something resembling a snarl. She darted her eyes back and forth across mine but didn’t open her mouth to speak for a full minute.

I was uncomfortable; I knew she was mad at me for the way I told her. Of course she was. I was such a jackass sometimes. Why was I so callus and mean to the people I loved most? The silence was too much. I cleared my throat but before I could say a word she slapped me hard across the left side of my face. It stung. I deserved it.

“Ooh, cancer. What, you want a medal or something? You and everyone else these days, so save it. That still doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been avoiding me all week at school.”

A novel that deals with cancer will have characters that react to the character with the disease. Every revelation and every response will be different.

Maybe he and his girlfriend are fighting and he just blurts it out like the example above. It’s selfishly motivated as he thinks this will end their fight. But the girlfriend reflects his selfishness back with her own cold response and keeps fighting.

We start to see depth in these characters.

Or maybe the characters are out on a date having a great time, comfortable, laughing, happy, and by chance it sneaks into the conversation for the first time. This would show the comfort level of the character’s relationship and in an everyday type setting.

The dialogue will reveal the reaction and that’s where the nature of the character comes to life. Will she react: mean, soft, sob uncontrollably, walk away, hug him, something else? Depends on the characters.

And as the writer it is our job to decide where to place tension and when to bring it down.

The character’s cancer in this situation is a big deal, a huge plot point. It's also the writer’s job to set the tone, the mood. We steer readers through exactly how to feel about the character's struggle.

How would you write it?

What if the reader also knew that the teen in the example above was a murderer? Does it make you feel more or less understanding for how cruel he is? Would that bring sympathy for her even if she had the exact same reaction?

Paying attention to the intricacies of the character and how they react will allow the writer to push the story forward through the narrative and dialogue without needing to rely on a double reveal to increase word count.

**All fiction blurbs in this post were written by me specifically for this post

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Though I’m Not Much of a Fan of Bugs…

I’m headed off to Camp for the entire month of August. CampNaNoWriMo that is!

National Novel Writers Month, NaNoWriMo,or NaNo for short, is an annual event that takes place during the thirty days of November every year. The challenge is to complete writing a 50,000 word novel in no more than those thirty days.

Tall order? Yes, but the challenge is so worth it!

I did NaNo in 2009 and 2010 and I “won” both times. I even got snazzy badges for my efforts.

Sure the awards look great on a blog but all I really wanted out of the deal was some valuable words, character development, and a general storyline.

But I knew the purge of words wouldn’t be all I did with the manuscripts. The challenge worked great and I released one of my NaNo books, Ripple the Twine, in April 2012.

I wanted to do Nano again this year but planned to work on MS2 until November. Of course, plans change.

So now I’m sure you’re asking: have I lost my mind? Did I need an added challenge? Was I missing “Kumbayah” around the fire and S’mores so much that I felt the need to return to camp after all these years of being able to avoid it?

Because I really hate bugs.

So to understand why I’d voluntarily go to Camp at age thirty-nine I’ll tell you the story about the first time I went away to overnight camp.

Let’s take a trip back. Back to 1982-83 when I was about ten years old. I don’t know if other states do this but fifth grade camp was a rite of passage for kids in my area.

You took a bus for about 100 hours and ended up somewhere in the depths of Stephen King, Maine.

With no cell phones, no link to the outside world, a lake, some rickety and drafty cabins and a big mess hall, our Counselors were raring to go the moment we arrived. But I was no cheerleader, I just wanted to lie in my bed and read.

Within a millisecond of our arrival it started raining. And I’m not talking the New England rain where you get three days of clouds, some light sprinkles off and on and an hour of a downpour. No, I mean sustained and steady rain.

It rained like that all day, every day, for the entire week we were there.

Canoeing? Out. Swimming? Out. Baseball games? Out. Pretty much all the outdoor activities the Counselors had planned were not going to happen because everything started to flood on day one.

Plus I don’t think they would have been able to deal if all 100+ of us happened to succumb to the “you’ll catch your death” old wives tale from playing all day in the cold and wet nastiness.

I got my wish of reading in my bunk bed. But even I started getting antsy, and doing nothing more than waiting for mealtimes wasn’t enough activity for me.

If fifth grade camp taught me anything besides how to wear wet socks and underwear all day, it was learning to be flexible.

Learning how to take the cues from Mother Nature and roll with what she dictates. Sometimes, even though all you want to do is swim in the lake, you have to hang out on the front porch of the mess hall with the oldest guy on the planet and learn to whittle.

So now I'm spending a month whittling a new book

CampNaNoWriMo is my way of picking up a jack-knife and creating something cool while I watch and listen to the rain fall.

(As a side note, if I could make one request of Camp this time it would be to not have to be trucked out on a flatbed because the water level in the street is too high to get the bus to our campsite, please. Just sayin’. Thanks.)

And if I’m going to apply what I learned in fifth grade to my life now then I fully intend to keep in mind the theory of flexibility. That's why I'm not waiting until November.

I have a story in mind. A concept I'm dying to write. So why would I wait, quell inspiration, when I could just get it out now?

And truth? MS2 was going nowhere. Literally. It was stuck in a cabin and couldn’t get across the field because there was a big flood flowing straight out to the lake.

That flood was my inspiration for MS3. That flood was character development and ideas jamming into my head. I knew they had to get out. And I knew I couldn’t wait three months to release them or the dam might crack on its own.

So on August 1, the first day of Camp, I just started typing. And I’m already just under 4,000 words. Thing is, my draft is just like a stick I’m about to whittle. I have the tools and an idea what I want it to look like when it’s done, but right now it’s just a big lump of wood.

The genre is different from my usual Chick-Lit. There’s some suspense in there, lots of tension.

It's weird but I don't feel as connected to writing straight-up Chick-Lit anymore. I'm happily married so I’m finding it hard to conjure up the fantasy of the life of a single girl.

What I need to write, due to my “boring” life as a happily married gal, is some drama and excitement. Heart racing, blood pumping, chase scenes and fast driving, getaways and stakeouts, bad guys and good guys.


I don't want that kind of drama in my life, but I sure can make my lead female character have to chase down something espionage-y. Because as fiction writers aren’t we all just living vicariously through the characters we write anyway?

So I took off for the remote location in the woods and started writing it all down. It may be nothing. On the other hand the proverbial stick may just turn into a fully detailed and intricate carving where no grain of wood is left untouched.

I’ve got 46,000 words and 27 more rainy days to start working all that stuff out.

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Living with a Writer isn't Always Easy

Okay fellow fiction writers, it's time to own up.  The cat's out of the proverbial bag so we might as well admit that they're all onto us.

The jig is up.

Everyone knows we have more than one personality hanging around in our heads. Yes indeed. True story.

Fortunately though, writers get to flaunt their imaginary friends all over town! How many professions allow you to do that – essentially be insane – and not only allow it but encourage it? That's the coolest part of my job.

We use the friends in our head to our advantage when developing characters for our fiction. We scribble them down and purge them out. Because if all of those personalities had to reside together up there for too long things could get mighty ugly. 

We need them written and gone.

That's why I carry a pen and notebook around with me everywhere. You never know when a character is going to say something so perfect that you have to take notes or you’ll lose it forever.

I don’t care if I somehow get invited to a big hoo-ha awards show where having a purse is frowned upon, because I'll have one. And inside it you'll find a writing implement, and paper ready for ink.

I’ll be like a Bond girl but instead of a gun in my garter belt my secret stash will be a Pilot Fine Tip Ball-point in black.  The vodka martini of pens. With a twist.

So in the spirit of better explaining what makes our head's tick, here's the top 3 things anyone should know about living with a writer.

1. Despite your obvious astonishment at what comes out of our mouth at times, we promise, we’re not all scary

The thing about fiction writers is that we’re personally easy to live with most of the time. Of course that says nothing about the hundreds of “people” who have built imaginary condos inside our minds, yelling at everyone to listen.

For example, the latest annoying neighbor might be a snarky, divorcee with Aqua Net hair.

If you’re in my life and spend the work day with me, you’re going to watch me become this person (sans actual Aqua Net) because I have no choice.

She must live in my head and sometimes sneaks out of there in order for her to become real on the page.

2. Writers hole themselves up on purpose so you don't have to see all the characters all the time

And there are more of us than we’ll ever let on, but you love us anyway so we think that’s pretty rad. Most writers prefer to be alone while working on fiction. 

Because, as you can see, we aren’t really alone anyway.

But here's your warning: People we can reach out and touch – be it in our homes or through our fingers online – we will use for character research as often as we possibly can.

3. We'll try to avoid the writing by researching for weeks, seemingly wasting time if you don't know any better, but it will likely all come out in one big purge.

Crucial.  Point.

We aren’t really procrastinators no matter how our habits may seem to keep us from "work" sometimes.

Writers never stop working

Out with friends? We're using those times to develop characters and dialogue. Watching television? We're analyzing plots for how it could work in a book. Sleeping? We're still collecting information that could prove useful down the road.

Then, when we get to the point of the purge all of that energy we collected for the past however long goes flooding onto the page.

Don't worry if we seem strange, distracted or burdened with another personality. Because the truth is, we are all of those things.

Luckily our job description fully embraces the departure from the norm. I hope you enjoy it!

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What Would Your Three Wishes Be?

This week I find myself running around, clamoring for more time. Time to sleep, eat, do laundry, market my book, blog, meet up with friends, pay my bills…but who isn’t trying to find more time to do this kind of stuff right?

Every week I think I have a great handle on my day planner as I cruise right into Wednesday with full-steam-ahead productivity. But then somehow, every Friday, I’m left with big circles next to all the stuff I didn’t finish. It makes me wonder - what did I do to fill my week?

Most weeks the loss of hours can be attributed to me forgetting to factor how much time it really takes to shower, vacuum, clean the kitchen, make dinner, eat lunch, exercise, etc.

Sometimes I really enjoy working from home because I can focus and dive in with no issue. Other weeks I let myself get distracted by all that life stuff and work seems like a distant memory.

My how nice it would be to have a fairy godmother. Actually, scratch that. Forget a fairy godmother, I want a genie.

What's the difference anyway?

A fairy godmother plinks her magic wand down on you once then runs around smiling and fluttering and singing to you all night.

She distracts you from the fact that there are restrictions on time to live your dream with pretty lights and falling glitter.

And we all know how I feel about glitter!

But a genie…

A genie makes it clear there’s a straight up business proposition on the table –
1) the genie is under your control
2) you will get a total of three wishes for releasing the genie 3) after those wishes are wished you're done

There’s no confusion about the process; three wishes, end of story.

Lately I’ve been contemplating what my three wishes might be if I happened to stumble across a genie. Money aside, this 3 wish thing is really loaded isn't it?

Because of course I'd want a big pile of expendable income but not just a big pile of money sitting in front of me – boom you’re rich!

My first wish would be that I could turn my novel writing career into a paying one. A really well paying one that supports my family. A sudden snowball of sales would naturally deposit that money in my bank account as I work on my second, third, and so on, plus years' worth of royalty checks.

Wishing to be rich enough to never have to work again? Nope. No thanks. The money sure would be nice of course, but I love my job so even without a genie's influence I fully intend to keep doing it forever.

As for the other two wishes, I'll have to get back to the genie on that one. After wish 1 is fulfilled I'm not sure what else I could ever ask for that could be as awesome!

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*photo found on Book Graphics

Judging a Book by Its Cover

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” could be the oldest cliché in the book (except maybe for that one).  A job, a relationship, a book.  Don’t take any of those things at first glance, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  The thing is, even though we’re encouraged not to, we all do it.

The job’s cover might be a craigslist ad.  The relationship’s cover is how the other person looks.  A book’s cover, well, is the cover.

For me, when I’m thinking of reading something new, the first thing I I see is what the cover looks like.  And I hate to admit it but I do judge.

After checking out the graphics, color selection and font style on a cover I essentially make a decision about flipping a book over to read the back in approximately 0.4 seconds.  If those three things don't resonate its less likely I'll read the description.

I’ve been amping up my reading lately, especially for authors within my genre of Chick-Lit.  Some of these Authors I’ve heard of and just hadn’t gotten around to reading yet (like Jennifer Weiner which, yes, I know I could be kicked right out of the club for admitting to, but in the spirit of honesty…), while others are indie, self-published authors (like me!).

So I spend a whole lot of time glancing at a whole lot of book covers. And I want mine to have that same look and feel of the ones that grab me right off the bat.

The cover of my first book (out of print) has a bright and sunny yellow background.  There's also a pretty pair of heels and a hockey puck. Here it is:

If you were only into reading, say, murder mysteries, is there a slim chance you’d click that cover up there to see what it’s about?  Probably not.

The thing that makes it difficult to find Indie Authors I can really follow is that the market tends to saturate with whatever trendy theme is hot that day.

Dystopian societies crawling with vampires where no one is over 18, has a job, goes to school or worries about paying their rent on time. Those stories dominated for a long time.

But now, finding Chick-Lit that doesn't place huge emphasis on sex scenes is difficult in these times of openly accepted erotica (which I personally consider to be a different category and wish authors would note the distinction).

What makes it tough for an Indie?

It’s a question of balance – the more saturated any particular genre becomes the less books in that genre are actually read. In the book industry saturation works in reverse and causes a genre to become watered down because ‘everybody’s doing it’.

That's why in traditional publishing once you've heard of it, agents don't want it anymore.

Kind of like Chick-Lit back in the late 1990’s and early millennium. Now it's been written so many times it makes many Indie Authors second guess if they should be writing it at all.

Then what’s a girl like me, who believes in books with happy endings, internal struggles to overcome, and cocktails at brunch, supposed to do? I'll tell you what - keep writing what I want to write.

Because any good writer knows that you write for yourself, not the market. Writers who specialize in erotica, congratulations! Your day has arrived and many of you will feel the love as your royalties tick up daily.

However, I won't write that type of story because it just isn't me. I want to sell my stuff but I don't write for the market, I write for me. So maybe I won't sell like my book is on fire right now but that's okay, at least it cuts down on my competition when I release a new book.

And in the end I read for me as well. There's little chance I'll pick up a book with a cover that doesn't grab my attention. But with millions of writers out there I have a feeling that even my preferred un-saturated genre will still provide plenty of entertainment and research potential.

So as I add books to my Kindle Reader I just keep thinking of how much fun it is to research for my job, no matter what the cover looks like, because in the end it is what's on the inside that counts the most!

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