Breaking into New Markets

This last week I did something I have meant to do for a while, but haven’t had the time to contemplate doing: I paid for advertising, and coordinated a big promotional push for one of my books.

Most of my marketing is near-passive. I have my blog, and my social media presence, but I don’t use them to push my books in people’s faces. I’m a big fan of content marketing, and I prefer to have people want my books without me jumping up and down shouting “I write books! You must buy!” because that will turn them off and I’ll lose readers rather than gain them in the long term. It’s the project of years, not days or months. Peter Grant and I sat down shortly after we first met, along with our respective spouses (and I’m going to interject a big veering-off-track here and say that both of us are blessed in our spouses. You all know Dorothy as a marketing guru and a writer in her own right, but those years ago she wasn’t yet writing, she always has been brilliant about marketing, though. My own husband is the Evil Muse. I don’t think I need to say more!). During the course of that conversation he told me his own strategy for marketing, and it was a long-term one – spend five years, give or take – blogging regularly, then release his first book. It worked beautifully, and I have been following in his footsteps to some extent (I had already been blogging, but on his advice took it up to a daily blog and much more regular than it had been. Which was a huge challenge during college).

Above and beyond the slow audience growth a blog affords, I had decided a few months ago that I wanted to do some aggressive market growth and actually shell out money for marketing. Before I started, I had to figure out some things: What form of promotion I wanted to do, what audiences I wanted to reach, and what my budget was going to be.

The first thing I want to make clear is: I was not spending money for an immediate ROI. This is, like my blog, a long game. I could – and still may at some point – buy ads. Targeting an ad is a tricky business. You can buy ads on Facebook, on Amazon, on Project Wonderful… heck, you could buy ads in your local newspaper or TV channel, if you’re willing to really shell out the dough. I opted not to buy ads, not having the time nor the inclination to sit down and design one, research where would be best to buy eyeball time… and most important, because I don’t think they work. Advertising slots are the opposite of permission marketing. There is a reason I use adblockers and FBPurity, and I do not doubt that my readers use those, too. Which means buying an ad is nearly akin to making confetti out of my money and throwing it off a bridge. So….

Where to find readers who want to read a book?

Book promotion sites and emails, of course. BookBub is the big one, but when I looked at the cost for the genre I wanted to promote in, I decided that although it might be interesting to experiment with another time, it was out of my budget for this particular push. So I started looking at the smaller ones, the ones I’d used before, like Fussy Librarian and EbookHounds. There are a lot of them. Dorothy Grant was good enough to send me a link to a list of them, and between ones I’ve used before and that list, I picked out a total of six I wanted to try, and they fit into my budget.

Which brings me to that. I set a very modest budget for this promotion. I wanted to spend no more than $100. I spent $89, placing my book in eight different places. One was a freebie. One was a freebie, but didn’t run my book, which is what happens when you’re doing promo sometimes, so I didn’t sweat it.

Choose what book you want to promote wisely. If you only have one or two books published, do not do this. I did this knowing that I had a complete trilogy to sell, by giving away the first book in the series. In addition, I had a new release in the same genre (although not the same sub-genre) which I thought might attract the readers who liked my promo book well enough to read the whole trilogy and start looking for my other books. So I picked Pixie Noir to giveaway through Amazon, offering it for free for a total of five days. I chose to schedule the promo over a weekend, although interestingly the highest day was Friday.

Pixie Noir Giveaway
August 3 August 4 August 5 August 6 August 7 Promo cost
Fussy Librarian x $6.00
Ebook hounds x $45.00
MHI Promo post x $0.00
Awesomegang newsletter x $10.00
FreeDiscountedBooks.com x $8.00
The Kindle Book Review x X X x x $10.00
AccordingtoHoyt promo post
      x   $0.00
Daily Bookworm x $10.00
total cost $89.00

This ranking would climb, but there is the first stage…

 

It would peak at #2 in Paranormal and Urban, but I couldn’t get a screenshot at the time. Still!

Over the five days, I gave away a total of 4394 books. For me, this is four times the total of any previous free book drive I’ve done. On Friday there was a huge spike of 2637 books given away, which I attribute to the book having been pushed up the charts at Amazon the day before, and the momentum continuing into Friday and pushing it up the charts even more, which meant more eyeballs on it at Amazon… and so on. It was sort of exciting to watch! Saturday I left on a four-day trip, so I wasn’t able to watch as closely, but books given away did taper off and finally come to a stop. So… over four thousand new readers, right? Wrong.

The peril of giving a book away, rather than offering it at a steep discount, is that people will scoop up free books, not read them initially, and then forget they own them. Personally I have about 780 ebooks on my Kindle, and that’s not my full ebook library. I know there are books in there I got free, forgot, and will likely never read. Amazon has really fallen off the ball on offering readers a way to curate and organize their own libraries, but I digress. Even if I could create a collection of ‘books I got free’ it would be a lower to-read priority than the books of Siberian and Alaskan folktales and mythology I’ve been reading for research. So my point is that giving away free books is not a direct one-to-one correlation of a book and a set of eyeballs on that book. Still, some will read PN, and like it, and I know this because…

That’s the graph of Kindle Unlimited reads across all my titles. You’ll note that it was doing ok, not great, up until the giveaway was a couple of days old. Now, this is not what I’d call a peak. Sales are up, for the other titles in the series, but not dramatically so. I was surprised by the KU increase, I was not at all surprised that the sales weren’t – yet – up. This is probably going to take another week to see it play out (and I’ll do a small follow-up next week as well, along with another topic).

If – when – I do this again, I won’t buy the highest level promotion from Ebookhounds. It wasn’t worth that much more money than the others. I’d also start working on this further out – I wanted to do this over the first weekend in August after releasing Snow in Her Eyes during the first week of August, but I didn’t plan ahead very far. It can be done, but it would be better to start researching and planning a month out. The Fussy Librarian and Kindle Book Review between them accounted for 730 freebies on that first day, so they were well worth the fees and planning in tandem, as I think that pushed the ranks up enough to create momentum at Amazon itself.

Overall I’m pleased, and will do this again – but not soon. If I do another promo, it will be a discounted book. But I don’t have a series to do that with, so I’ll wait until I have either the rest of the Tanager series complete, or perhaps the next of the Children of Myth series. Both of those will take me a while! In the meantime, I’ll be watching my sales and reviews to see what the long-term payout on this modest investment is. For one thing, in this last week I have seen three new reviews pop up for Pixie Noir, all of them from new readers. On a book that has been out for four years, that’s pretty good.

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The best education for a writer?

I’ve seen the growth of specifically writing-oriented university courses and qualifications (e.g. a Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing or Creative Writing, offered by a number of institutions).  I can’t help but think that these courses and degrees are putting the cart before the horse.  They may be able to teach you to write, or write better – but they can’t give you a broad-based foundation on which to ground your writing, and on which to build.  They can give you training, but not education… and there’s a BIG difference between the two.  (If you doubt that, ask yourself:  would you prefer your pre-pubescent daughter to attend sex EDUCATION or sex TRAINING classes in school?  I think that illustrates the difference right away!)

I was inspired to think about this by an article titled ‘Majoring in History to Become a Writer‘.  Here are a couple of salient paragraphs.

If you want to write you’re going to need experience writing and a history degree, even at the undergraduate level, is nothing if not rigorous when it comes to writing. My freshman western civ class required a fifteen page paper on the Roman Civil War. Frankly, I didn’t do that much writing again until grad school where we were expected to produce twenty to thirty page papers every semester. The heart of history is writing, and writing in a clear style.

. . .

Second, you’ll learn to do research. That’s important because as a writer of fiction you’ll have to acquaint yourself with things you’re not necessarily knowledgeable about. In fact here at Uprising we often talk about research and how you can write what you know, by learning what you don’t know then writing about it. You can educate yourself on other cultures, places, geography and so forth. Whether you want to write historical fiction, genre fiction such as sci-fi, or steamy romance, you’ll have to learn about things you’re not really familiar with.

There’s much more at the link.  Recommended reading.

I understand the author’s reasoning;  but I don’t think he goes far enough in his analysis.  I was raised in the British academic tradition, if I may use that phrase, by parents who each obtained a Doctorate in their respective fields (my father in Economics, my mother in Sociology) in the 1950’s.  Each went on to command respect in their fields in South Africa, where they’d settled.  However, for both of them, their post-graduate ‘specialist’ degrees were built upon a ‘generalist’ Bachelor of Arts degree.  They regarded the latter as ‘education’, and the former as ‘training’ after becoming ‘educated’.  Their professors (in the immediately post-World-War-II generation) taught that approach, and recommended it.

My parents, in turn, influenced me.  I began by tackling a generalist BA degree as well.  Given the ongoing external wars and internal civil unrest in South Africa, it took me ten years of part-time study to complete it, but I managed it in the end.  I did a dual major in English and History, with sub-majors in Economic History and Philosophy.  I followed that with a post-graduate diploma in Management, plus a Masters degree in the same field;  then the good Lord decided to change my career path, and I started all over again by studying Theology to become a pastor.  I ended up with four university degrees, and a very broad spectrum of courses.

That turned out to be a blessing for my writing career, along with some very varied and extensive life experiences.  I had enough background to be able to tackle almost anything that came up;  and, more importantly, I knew how to research areas about which I understood nothing at all, because I’d had to do so many times before in my secular education and career.  I don’t think I could possibly have learned as much, or experienced as much, by tackling a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.

Another very important aspect of my education was that it was all part-time.  I never had the funds to be able to afford full-time study.  All my degrees were obtained by correspondence, studying in the evening after working during the day.  It meant that my progress was slower than it might have been… but there were no academic ivory towers involved.  I was rooted in and grounded upon the reality of earning a living, staying alive in a sometimes very heated combat zone, and not getting airy-fairy, artsy-fartsy, idealistic ideas about how the world should be.  I was too busy ducking and running from what it was!

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I think that educational background has served me far better, as a writer, than the more specialized, limited education offered by today’s universities in the field of creative writing.  I daresay many of the authors who contribute here would say the same.  To cite just one example, Dave Freer is very highly qualified in ichthyology, an intensely practical science, and has also experienced military service, farming, emigrating to another continent, and what have you.  I’m sure his writing would not be nearly so interesting without all he’s learned from those different backgrounds.

What say you, dear reader?  How have your life experiences and education affected your writing?  Have they helped, or hindered it?  Please let us know in Comments, with as many details as seem appropriate.

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Sorry!

I’ve been so swamped finishing my fantasy novel that it completely slipped my mind that I had to post an article this morning.

I’m working on it, and I’ll put one up in an hour or so.  Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, here’s the magnificent cover Cedar Sanderson designed for my new book.

 

Kings champion - blog size

 

It’ll be published in ten days or so.  I hope you enjoy it!

Peter

 

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I No Can Haz Brane

But teh meenz people sai ai haz to rites. Is no fare. Ai wants to play wif teh cyoot kittehs. K?

Thx, bai!

(sounds of a scuffle and something being dragged back)

Bugger. Sorry.

It’s been a hectic few days. The day job includes the software development team being second or third tier support (depending on how little anyone in the actual support group wants to deal with things). Up until recently, it was handled by people other than me.

Then one of the three people in the hot seat resigned (lucky sod), and me being the most experienced of the remaining non-support-team dev people, I agreed to take it on. Unfortunately, this more or less coincided with the other two dev support folks being on vacation. So this week I’ve been it.

The issues with clueless users… well, okay. This is kind of the norm, after all, although I’m not sure how many times you have to tell someone to do something before they actually decide to do it. The flapping support team members… I wouldn’t mind so much except that they have a tendency to interrupt when I’m trying to focus, which makes it harder to get anything done.

Trying to figure why in hell anyone would think it was a good idea to store email recipients in the freaking Windows registry, on the other hand… Yes, it’s a service. Yes, it’s going to have to send error emails now and then. What is wrong with having the recipient email address/es in a bloody config file?

This, ladies, gentlemen, and beings of indeterminate sexual characteristics, is why I am completely pants at writing stupid. I can understand a lot of things. Evil. No problem. Saintly takes a bit of work to get into the mind space but I can do it. But dumb? That just makes my head hurt and causes random outbreaks of LOLSpeak.

 

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What A Mystery

So, in continuing our discussion of genre structure we’ve hit mystery, which is almost as much of a problem as science fiction/fantasy.

I’m not sure why these two genres have moved off so far into different structures, except that for a long time they were very popular and everyone read them. But then why hasn’t romance done that?  And it hasn’t.  Other than certain touch points like one will have explicit blow by blow (eh) sex and the other not the structure of all romances is fairly similar.  (You need a little more scene setting in historical, but that’s about it.)

I don’t know.  All I know is that everything from thrillers to cozies gets shoved under mystery, so we’re going to spend a while going over each of the subgenres.  We’ll have to do the same for sf/f, so bear with me.

So, in this post I’m going to identify various subgenres (and will probably miss some) by their central, most obvious characteristic, then leave the detailed structure to do one by one or two by two in future posts.  I’ll inevitably forget one or two subgenres, so please, people, remind me.

Thriller –

There is a big menace on the loose.  This can be a country or a person.  Someone is seriously endangered by this.  It’s kind of like tracking the hunt from the pov of the deer and hoping the deer wins.

It has sub genres:

Women in Peril, often a romance subgenre.  The woman is the one in peril.  She might or might not be involved with the detective trying to save her.  It might also be a woman detective who has a past of a similar death in her family.  These often end badly, but not when they’re part of romance, obviously.

International espionage – I don’t need to explain this, right?

It can overlap with scientific thriller or police procedural.

This is the structure most often ported outside the genre, like to science fiction, particularly hard science fiction.

Police Procedural

Your main characters are police, and it aims to be “realistic”.  It’s of course not realistic, because reality includes a lot of boring things.  The police are USUALLY the good guys.  Crimes get solved.  Mood is often brutal or dingy.

it has subgenres. They’re not VERY distinct, unlike Thriller’s.

Female police detective – often comes with a lot of psychological thriller elements, in that the vulnerability of the female officer translates to elements of WIP.

Noir – Often historical.

Almost cozy – while the police procedural is there, it backs off that and into the psychological makeup of the police officer.

Technical – think CSI.  this is where we become obsessed about pain transfer and particles in a living room.

Cozy

The characters and their relationships are more important than the crime.  Or at least that’s how you solve the crime.  Derided by … won’t say idiots… for not being realistic (look, bub, it’s fiction) it’s the most popular type of mystery.  Attempts to eliminate it result in its splitting off into things like craft mysteries.

It has subgenres.  Oh, boy, does it ever:

Romance- First and foremost, it’s often found as a subplot in romance.  It also usually HAS a romance subplot.  Agatha Christie the grandmama of the genre had detectives who tried to  help couples.

Woman in Peril and ALMOST romance – Any of Patricia Wentworth’s books.  The emphasis is more on the mystery/peril than the romance, but it’s a dang close call.

Craft mystery – this is what happened when they tried to stop publishing cozies for being unrealistic (!)  It just became craft mysteries because the “craft knowledge allows the amateur to solve the murder.”  Yeah.  And I have some beach front property in florida.

Profession mystery – Carolyn Hart and her booksellers mysteries is an example, but there’s mysteries with hotels, restaurants and various stores.  I know there were programmer mysteries, at one type, wonder if there still are.

Location mystery – Can’t go on vacation? Want to live with the rich and famous?  Well, there’s Caribbean mysteries, and various college mysteries, and Hollywood mysteries.

Under this perhaps we should slip Historical Mysteries.  They’re a location and a time, and they have a structure of their own.  There is also some wisdom in picking location and time.

Buddy mysteries – dynamic duos can feature in any kind of mystery, but there is a particular kind of cozy people will tell you aren’t cozies, like say Nero Wolf Mysteries.  I mean, the characters are MEN and one even gets in fights.  But if you look at the structure they’re cozies.  This dynamic duo thing even has a structure of its own, both re: the relationship of the two characters, and their roles.  They don’t need to be same sex or buddies.  Agatha Christie used it for Tommy and Tuppence, a married couple.  And I arguably used it for the Musketeer Mysteries, an historical.  All the same, because of the variation of structure called for, it should be covered on its own.

Psychological mysteries – often focus more on the crime than the solution and creates a “certainty” with its psychological “tech” than is normally warranted by a soft science.  I was nonetheless addicted to these as a kid.  Like the Police Procedural, the hard part is seeming “realistic.”

YA Mysteries – can be any of the other types, but the protagonists are children, the crime is rarely a murder, and there’s a certain structure to them.

Mystery short stories – These are a completely different genre, in that just being about a crime is enough.  There need not be a solution.  In such they often become “crime and punishment” (or lack thereof) morality ( or lack thereof) plays.

Mystery adjacent – True crime.  Stories based on true crimes, often owe more to psychological mysteries than acknowledged.

 

 

 

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Formatting for Print Revisited

Formatting. The bane of every author’s existence. Whether we’re talking about formatting for print or for e-books, we’re all looking for the one click version, something that will work each and every time. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Why? It goes far beyond the fact we use different operating systems and word processing programs. The answer really rests in what readers expect and how do we, as indie authors or small press authors, make sure our work looks as “professional” as that of the Big 5.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of formatting for print, I want you to do something. Look at print books in your genre, preferably newer ones, and see how they are put together. Look at the order of front matter. What sort of flourishes are used to set off the chapter headings and section breaks. Does the first paragraph of each chapter begin with a special character or is it in some other way different from the other first lines in the section or chapter? Check more than one book and see if you can spot a trend. If you can, you need to seriously consider doing your best to imitate what is being done. NOTE: many times, those special characters used as flourishes at chapter titles and section breaks are specially licensed fonts. So make sure you have the rights to use anything similar.

Now, there’s one more thing you need to decide before we get to the actual formatting conversation. No, it’s not do you need to do a print book. The answer is yes. It isn’t because you are going to make money off of them. In fact, it is best if you look at the print version of your work as a loss leader. But what it does is make your author page and product pages look more “professional”. Readers will subconsciously take you more seriously as a writer if you have both print and digital versions of your work available. And, yes, I know I am not following my own advice right now. The reason is because I am updating my print versions and have taken a number of them off-sale until I do.

So, what is the question you need to ask yourself? It is what service to use for your POD (print-on-demand) needs. There are a number of different versions out there. Lulu, Lightning Source, Createspace, KDP are just some of the more familiar ones. They all have costs involved and some cost substantially more than others.

I’m not going to tell you which service to use. I will, however, tell you what I have used and why. Right now, all my print books are through Createspace. I chose them not only because they are easy to use but because they are cheap when it comes to buying author copies. They also allow you to order a physical copy of the proof and I’ve learned that’s important. What looks good as a PDF file can suddenly look very differently in print. So I want to hold a copy of the proof and be able to check every page before sending the book out into the wilds.

The downside to using either Createspace or KDP for your print needs is their association with Amazon. That means a number of bookstores won’t stock your book. Now, before you gasp and say how much you want your book on the shelves, it’s time for a heavy dose of reality. The chances of you getting into a bookstore are slim, very slim. First of all, most of our bookstores are still chain stores. That means they have their own purchasing agents and those agents are going to stock major publishers over the local indie author. Fewer and fewer chain stores have local buying power. As for the locally owned bookstores, if you have a really good relationship with the store owner or purchasing agent, you might be able to get your book in if you use Lightning Source but that is still a long shot. So you have to ask yourself if it is worth the price difference of setting up your book and getting it printed. Ask yourself if you sell more copies via online sales, sales from physical stores or from hand sales at cons. Then choose which printer, for lack of a better word, gives you the best product for the dollar.

CAVEAT: Do not use a printer that requires you to buy a certain amount of books in order to qualify for their program. That smacks of the old vanity presses that would “publish” you but you then had to buy scores of the book and sell them yourself. There are still authors with boxes and boxes of their books sitting in the garages because of that scam.

The next thing you have to consider is what program you are going to use to format your book for print. You can use Word, or alternatives like LibraOffice. You can use InDesign by Adobe. Then there’s Scrivener. If you are a Mac user, Vellum is also an alternative. There are others programs as well. Some let you write directly into the program. Others assume you will be working in a program like Office or Pages and will then import into the conversion program. Each have strengths and weaknesses.

So, here’s the thing. I could go on and write another 1000 words or so on formatting but this post is already over 900 words. In the comments below, tell me what programs you intend to use to format your work. Ask your questions about where you can go to have your book printed (Createspace, etc). In fact, ask any questions you have about formatting for print and next week I will answer them.

In the meantime, Nocturnal Rebellion is available for pre-order. Publication date is 8/15.

All she wanted was a simple murder case, one uncomplicated by shapeshifters or interfering IAB investigators. What she got instead was much, much more.

Now three cops are dead and Mac’s world will never be the same again. It is up to her to find the culprits and bring them to justice. But what justice? That of cops and attorneys and criminal courts or that of the shapeshifters where there would be no record and a quick execution of punishment, whatever that might be?

As she walks that fine line, Mac walks another tightrope as well. Shapeshifter politics are new to her and, as she has learned, more complicated than anything she ever encountered as a cop. One misstep can lead to not only her death but the deaths of those she cares for. Like it or not, she has no choice because she has learned there are other things just as inevitable as death and taxes. Sooner or later, the world will learn that shapeshifters aren’t just things of legend and bad Hollywood movies. If that happens before they are ready, Mac and those like her will learn the hard way what happens when humanity learns monsters are real and living next door.

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UnReality

You’re lucky I am posting at all tonight, as I have at the moment it seems insufficient blood for my brain for much thinking. Most of it seems to be hovering around my Gastro-intestinal tract. We have a nasty batch of Gastric ‘flu that has swept the island (and Melbourne for that matter. It was in the papers a few days ago, illustrating the subtle difference between Oz and the US.) As I’m a Volunteer Ambulance Officer, and my wife works in the Doctor’s surgery (and yes, it hasn’t skipped him, either) it’s one of life’s inevitable issues. Only people with toddlers in pre-school are more in the target zone.

Now, as my main thought tonight is “how far am I from the porcelain throne, and have I brought a big enough bowl along?” I thought I’d write about something derived from that, seeing as my American cousins blanch at the idea of describing gastro – but will cheerfully write the most detailed description of oral sex. British humor is more scatological than American. For British colonial, multiply that by two. It can cause some confusion. I remember some American visitor of youth asking for ‘the bathroom’ – and being conducted to it. There was no flushing convenience in there…

And yet… if we’re talking fantasy-worlds with horses and knights and whatever… well, let’s put this way: the bloody flux killed more people than any battle ever did. And every time I read fantasy about people drinking water – or filling water bottles in villages and towns – I go ‘Oh shit!’ for good reason. I often wonder if some of the more insane deeds of yesteryear owe their doing to the fact that the street was the sewer and washed down into the river, from whence came all the water. You drank alcohol not just because it made you see toothless women through beer-glasses (quite common before oral hygene – the fan flirted behind was in no small part to hide the state of the teeth in high society that could afford sweet things but knew little of oral hygiene. Even I blench talking of the dentistry of ‘the good old days’.) Alcohol was literally safer to drink than water. Small-beer or watered wine – or just a mug of porter or goblet of Gascony got you going in the morning. It was that or water, which could really get you going.

I often wonder if the popularity of tea might have something to do with the boiled water involved.

Anyway, I wasn’t actually going to post about the potty-details. I was simply using them to make a point, and not just about the traps and pit-falls of different cultures within the Anglosphere.

That point is that realism in fiction – often praised… is actually seldom sought.

Here’s the thing. Reality is FULL of TMI. And a lot of it, if it isn’t revolting, is BORING. Kind of like the twitter account that details every single thing, reality actually comes largely as something skipped for the exciting bits. Now, SOMETIMES readers actually want realism in these exciting bits. But they want the good realism or the bad realism and not the actual thing. Trust me on this. There really are limits. There are ‘exciting’ bits of my life as a Medic you really don’t want to go through, even vicariously. And there are far worse things.

What you’re trying to do is a very difficult balancing act no one ever tells you about or explains. You’re trying to distil time and distance, and the reality of the human condition into ‘the interesting bits – but not the wrong bits of that.’ And what is the wrong bit? Well I’m stuffed if I can tell you. I just know it when I see it – by the fact I’d rather not. Graphic sex that literally reads like an IKEA instruction schedule comes to mind. When you actually sit down and STUDY books praised for their realism, you’ll pick up a constant pattern – no matter how different the books – of the authors tricking the reader into believing they’re giving a detailed and often graphic description of a real event. Often with what would be termed ‘gritty’ details, bordering on the TMI line.

If they’re good it is crafted into a seamless package, that feels ‘real’ (even if you have never experienced that reality). The key is in having enough very precise but often discrete details – some at least of which the reader will recognize and identify with – so they believe and accept AND FILL IN THE BLANKS. Really. It’s not damn IKEA instructions. The writer pictured – and smelled and felt and feared/loved it in his head – and gave you details so you can produce your picture (which may well not be his picture).

Take your favorite piece of realism. Read it sentence for sentence, from the end to the beginning. Learn how to do this. It’s largely something writers to instinctively, but understanding it doesn’t make you worse at it. It makes you better.

And now…

I need to go and see a man about a dog.

Urgently.

(And yes. I just illustrated my point, without even mentioning technicolor yawns.)

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