May the odds be ever in your favor! Wait... wrong book ;)
I kid you not, 1232 people entered my first Goodreads giveaway; congrats to the lucky winner in Fort Worth, TX! So, I started another one, it will run for a week and you can enter here ^_^ to win one free, signed book!
May the odds be ever in your favor! Wait... wrong book ;)
I want to get some great reviews before the official book launch, so from now on, every week till November 1st, I will announce 2 lucky winner who get the whole audiobook for free! All you need to do to be added to the raffle is click the "join the monthly newsletter tab" on the left of the page and add your e-mail. I will announce winners on the blog weekly (first name only) and e-mail them the freebie codes directly. Enjoy ^_^
Don’t you ever let criticism bring you down. Criticism is an opportunity for growth, sometimes. Some other times it’s just bullshit.
This applies also to my own criticism of your writing. If it helps you to write better, great. If it makes you feel like burning down whatever you wrote take a good hard look at yourself.
I cannot write your story. ONLY.YOU.CAN.
YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE.
So, stop whining and go write the freaking book already.
We all turned back to the huge, rusty gate, dark and silent, slightly cracked. Strangely, as I stared at it, I got the feeling that rather than light seeping inside through the crack, a beam of darkness, dust, and silence spilled out on the cement.
I snuck back to the gate. “I think I might be able to squeeze in.”
The other three trotted behind me. Flavio blurted, “Are you crazy?”
The gate was eerie. The darkness emanating from the crack seemed to be eating the indistinct noise of the children above us. A strange smell exuded from the secret basement, of something old, worn out, and forgotten.
I pushed my head through the slit in between the gate’s doors, peering inside and holding my breath.
Nothing: dark, dark, dark and quiet.
Nico whispered, “Is there someone inside?”
I shrugged. “It’s dark, I don’t think so.”
The light from the opening above and below my head had carved away a slice from the dark, revealing a grey concrete floor on which my shadow lay. Right on the edge of the gray light there seemed to be something, maybe old desks, stacked chairs? I gathered all my courage, wanting to look brave in the eyes of my friends, and for some reason wanting to impress Nico. I was no chicken!
I stepped into the secret basement.
-An Italian Adventure
The way your readers see you:
The way you see yourself:
Generalizing (men/women/gay/trans/cis...) means pinning on unknown individuals the traits of the majority (at best). Don't. We are all unique. No single characteristic defines us.
So many of you asked me how long it took me to get my first book together. So here’s a timeline.
First of all I always loved to write and won a couple of short story competitions as a teen, but then I dropped it all for college and work.
In 2010 I quit my well paying job because I could not take it anymore!
So I started a part-time teaching job and a store on etsy (it was quite successful, but I don’t sell crafts anymore), dedicating the rest of my time to writing. I wrote the first draft of An Italian Adventure in Italian (my first language), in the present tense. It was complete in 2011. It was called Magia e farfalle (Magic and butterflies) and it sucked.
Oh, and…nobody could read it (I live in the US).
o, I rewrote it in English. It still sucked. I rewrote it in the past tense, chopped, rearranged and rewrote. Meanwhile I got a tenure-track full time position which meant that in order to carve at least 20 hours of writing per week I had to write every evening and every weekend.
And one day…around January of 2013 (3 years later), I finally liked it!
So, did I just write a novel or was I delusional? The book was now 135,000 words. I shared it with my hubby and with another good friend (my mom doesn’t speak English) and started looking for a writers’ group, to get some peer advice.
And well, the first two writers’ groups I tried were not a good fit for me. Finally, in March 2013 I met a group of honest writers from all kinds of genres, walk of life, and skill levels, but PASSIONATE and GENUINE about writing. I was home! Unfortunately they did not meet often enough for me, so I became one of the organizers myself to have more meetings :)
I started hacking at my novel again, removing parts that dragged, rewriting good ones to make them better, explaining what was obscure. In June 2014 I was done reading the entire novel to the group. They had very much liked it and the hefty bundle was now 30,000 words shorter (105,000). Meanwhile I had written book 2, 3 and part of 4, so MUCH FASTER than book one! I finally felt like I knew what I was doing!
One of my writer friends with experience in the show biz (she’s a retired producer in NY who won several Emmys) told me book one was still way too long. While there is no rule set in stone, for a first time author seeking an agent a very long book was a red flag. I argued, but eventually slashed it to 90,000 removing some chapters I thought were not essential and rearranging the timeline. In my writer virgin state of mind, I sent some queries out to a bunch of agents. In a time span between one hour and twelve weeks I got a lot of rejection letters.
Fortunately among them, I queried her Holiness, the Query Shark.
In her magnanimous heart, she actually replied to me (most rejections are standard forms) saying the story held promise but she thought I was pitching to the wrong agents. My story, she said, sounded like young adult, not contemporary fiction.
I looked it up. My book was the definition of young adult. All my favorite books were young adult. Shame on me! I had made a fool of myself in front of all those agents proving to them (and me) that I hadn’t done enough research. I had committed the rookie mistake number one, four years into working on the darn book I thought I MUST be ready to send it out and queried too soon.
So I did more research. Lots of it. It turns out that for first time authors independent publishing might be a much better option, even more so if you are working on a series, even more so if your book is quite different from the mainstream in some way (mine is). Ha!
In the spring of 2015 I finished the fourth book and I started blogging about my writing experience. Things went nuts. In three months I gained 3,000 followers on twitter, 1,600 on tumblr and hundreds of daily visits to my main blog.
This gave me confidence. Meanwhile, believe it or not, I had gone through book one 3-4 times more. A bunch of writers and friends had read it and liked it. It was now down to 70,000 words and I felt like I could add back some of the chapters I had removed but kept thinking about. Guess what? My style had changed so much since then that I had to rewrite them entirely.
Finally I felt like the book was REALLY DONE, even though my friends did not believe me.
But I was. I started recording the audiobook in July 2015, like some of you know. This turned out to be amazing for proofing. There’s nothing like reading your book out loud and then having to re-listen to it for finding typos.
Also, at the beginning of July 2015 I found the perfect artist to illustrate my covers! At the end of August 2015 the audiobook was complete and edited and the cover was done!
In September 2015 I got the first proof of the paperback. There is nothing like the fear of seeing that little cardboard box and knowing that it contains the first specimen of your hard work, years of tears, sweat, blood, defeat and…
I cried. My hubby cried. The book was real, and it looked GORGEOUS. So, how long does it take to write a book? As long as you need. If you are a writer, you’re not going to give up no matter what. Book one took me 5 years from inception to completion, but book 2, 3 and 4 will all be released in 2016 and took maybe 4-6 months to complete (some longer than other). My word of advice to you is to to keep writing. Very few people in the world can just sit at a piano and play, or pick up a brush and paint. Writing is no different.
Just keep writing.
A trailer is a great way to attract interest in your book. Book trailers work like movie trailers; in a minute or so they convey the gist of the story and hopefully some excitement.
As a newbie author, I searched for professionals. I found that the average book trailer would cost me between $800-1000. Yikes!
Worse, the book trailers offered for that price were terrible (in my personal opinion, I mean no offense!) but mostly looked like powerpoint presentations with static pictures and cheesy text zooming on the screen.
Not, what I wanted.
So, I found some videos I loved on Vimeo and contacted their rightful owners. This took a couple of months (most people did not get back to me), but eventually I had three videos I was allowed to use, for free, provided I gave the proper credit to whomever had filmed. This deal makes sense since, for whomever had made the films, it meant free exposure :)
It also meant that, once the trailer was out, these people would likely share it through their own channels, helping to spread the word. It was a win-win!
Next, I shot a few scenes that were too specific to snag from other artists. To do so I got together with some friends (age range 4-40) and we had a blast for a couple of hours. I used my digital camera (a Canon D5000), but honestly, I think an i-phone on a tripod could do.
Finally, I took a few days to learn to (more or less) use i-movie, which came for free on my mac. If you don't have a mac or i-movie, try Filmora wondershare for free. As usual I have no interest in my recommendations, but I recently used it to help a vlogger friend and it was great. If you like it you can get a lifetime license for $50. I used royalty free sounds from freesound.org and royalty-free music from incompetech.com and, wow, Guys, I was pretty pleased with the result!
In hindsight my trailer is not great because it makes the book seem targeted to a much younger audience (the actors I had available were a bit young). My books are recommended for an audience 13 and up, and most of my readers are adults. For this reason I did not push it as much, but I think you can appreciate the quality and what can be achieved in a few days of fun, fun work with your own means ;)
If I were to redo a trailer now I would hire actors that look the part: Nico would be dark and mysterious, Leda a bookish tomboy, both would be older, etc…
Anyway, now that you know how, go on and make your own! (Tag me or e-mail me if you want my opinion!)
Who am I to give you advice?
I am a very proactive author on a mission to change the world, helping writers getting published and discovered by readers. Part ninja, part unicorn, and part otaku, I am also a professor of biology and the very short author of the Italian Saga (#TIS), an irreverent series speaking about everything that matters and people don't talk about (for some reason) like sex, death, depression, gender identity, feminism, religion, and stereotypes.
My books are available as e-books, paperbacks, and audio and have great ratings on amazon.
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