You Asked for It

As promised, I went through the comments of the two posts where we asked what you’d like to see as future topics. I’ve done my best to collate the suggestions and put them into a quasi-order. What I didn’t include were the calls for changes to the website or requests (and suggestions on how to do it) to take past posts and turn them into books. With regard to the former, tweaks to the site will be made — sometime. You have to remember, we’re a bunch of writers and that means — shiny! Where the book is concerned, that’s probably not going to happen. There are simply too many factors that would have to be dealt with, factors that take time and would take us away from writing. I know I speak for all of us that we wouldn’t want to just pluck posts from the blog, throw them into a book and publish them without taking time to research them and update the information they contain. Then, even if we had someone do the editing, we would still have to look at the posts before and after and, well, that takes time away from writing. That’s not to say moving forward a book might not happen with new material but we also aren’t promising that either.

Anyway, here’s the list of topics I culled from the comments. If I missed anything, or if you’ve thought of something else you’d like us to cover, list it in the comments below. I’ll collect the information over the weekend, add it to the list we already have. Once I have, the bloggers here will pick and choose what they want to cover individually and in groups.

This is, by the way, the last time we will be soliciting topics on a scale like this for at least six months. We really do appreciate your input. It helps us figure out what you want to see.

Here goes. (Some of these are lifted straight from the comments of the previous posts):

  • How To ready a manuscript for uploading, including font usage & sizes, formatting, setting up picture and illustrations, converting from Word or Wordperfect or TXT into a suitable carrier for Kindle, etc.
    • Exercises. For example, what are the industry standard layouts one finds in the average paperback?
  • Blurb workshops
    • Powerful blurbs, with an emphasis on what makes a blurb -work- the best. When I don’t like a book from the blurb, -why- didn’t I like it? Function before form!
  • Hooks
  • Marketing
  • Writing prompts
  • Queries
  • managing/planning a series (is it better to write out the entire series, in essence building up a backlog, and then publish each volume individually on a regular schedule? or perhaps release them in pairs or other multiples? or to forego the entire idea of a backlog and publish the whole series en masse? or to dial that back a bit publish each story as it gets finished, whenever that happens to be?)
  • Characters
    • Character descriptions
    • introducing characters, either main or supporting,
    • Villains (how to craft a good one without being over the top cliche)
  • Opening scenes,
  • closing scenes
  • describing environments.
  • Show, don’t tell
    • Show don’t tell vs infodumps
  • How does a new writer, unpublished, and not really sure if what she’s written is “any good” enter into an established writers’ community, get feedback, start to feel real?
  • “How to keep your short stories short” about editing for length and narrative focus…
  • Cover clinics
  • “how to handle critiques
    • Finding crit groups
  • How to prepare a COMIC BOOK for publication.
  • What are your experiences interfacing with Overdrive’s “for publishers” interface? What works? What doesn’t?

Don’t forget. If there’s a topic you would like us to consider covering and it’s not listed above, leave it in the comments below.


  1. Thanks for the collating of our requests. Thought I would mention this since I believe it was Kevin J. Cheeks that brought this up a couple of days ago. Under marketing, how does one best use Social Media i.e. Facebook, blogs, Twitter to market works? Corollary, how does one use said social medium without being sucked into it.
    Thanks again.

  2. Next step after the first topic would be how to publish.
    Let’s say your manuscript is in kindle or epub format no and ready to go. How do you get it on amazon or wherever? That step.

    1. Perhaps you should clarify on this? If you mean the mechanics of publishing it, the platforms are all different. Amazon pretty much walks you right through it; it is very simple.

      What is not so simple is publishing it in the right place. The decision to go “wide” or Amazon only (and whether to go Select if you stick with only Amazon). Getting it into the right categories. Getting the right keywords (including in your blurb) so that your potential reader will find it. Figuring out the right price point – low for newbies like us – although I learned that putting the first things out free did me absolutely no good whatsoever. Which is a YMMV thing, actually.

      Most of the latter have been addressed in the past (mostly by Dorothy, the acknowledged genius at the art). So an updated / expanded piece on that subject would be useful.

  3. A discussion about how the author’s current status impacts marketing. A new author with one book, no fan base, and few reviews probably markets differently than an established author with a fan base and multiple positive reviews. Are there any clear steps on the journey, and what might they look like? When do you start doing things you might not do as a newbie?

  4. Assuming you’ll listen to the idiot that floated “book”… Can I vote for this one first?

    How does a new writer, unpublished, and not really sure if what she’s written is “any good” enter into an established writers’ community, get feedback, start to feel real?

    1. Okay, trying again because WordPress has decided to hate me today. Not an idiot. And I’ll add your “vote” in with the list when I send it to the other mad ones.

      1. Ah, thank you (and Dorothy) for your kindness. Maybe we can go with “insufficiently caffeinated” instead. Although for me the two states are rather indistinguishable…

        OTOH, WordPress is, indisputably, an idiot.

        1. LOL on the under caffeinated state. I live in it all too much these days. As for WP, yep. I was just talking to someone about how it seems WP is having issues of late.

    2. There are no idiots here! And it was a perfectly understandable suggestion – after all, we all like books here, so what’s the first thing you’ll want? A book!

      Sadly impractical, but the very fact that Amanda put in a lot of effort to explain why it won’t work should help assuage the worry that we didn’t appreciate getting feedback, or consider the idea! Seriously, thanks for commenting.

  5. How to handle critiques: Say “Thanks”, and then give ’em the “old one-two”.
    Well, maybe the “high-five”, then.

    1. Or, how to discern a useful critique from envy from “back away slowly while reaching for a large, blunt object with which to beat the critique until it is rendered harmless.” Not that I’ve ever had to deal with any of the latter. Really.

      1. Also, how to recognize when someone isn’t capable of ever being objective because something in your story is smashing against their personal / political biases hard.

        (Was thinking of Nick Cole’s Ctrl Alt Revolt and the issues his publisher had with the prologue.)

  6. Since indexing or finding the old posts has come up recently… especially if you’re starting a series covering a bunch of these points, consider making a table if contents, index, something along those lines as you go. Then at some point, poof! You’ve got a good index to point people at. There is a start here already to build on…

  7. Maybe a post on available software for writing and publishing; including FOSS and GNU alternatives to MS Word, perhaps. (I prefer LibreOffice, personally, but I’m thinking of folks who might not like it for any reason / doesn’t suit their needs…)

  8. This is exceedingly belated (one of those Brilliant Ideas that comes in the middle of the night or the middle of a commute) but might it work to have a biweekly or monthly “marketplace” sort of a post? As in “Open Friday: post requests for information, nitpicking, editing, etc”? Just a thought.

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