Where Does Your Book Belong?

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narrative-794978

As authors responsible for our own marketing, we must think beyond the “bookstore” when it comes to placing our books out in the world. Any author, traditional or self-published, can benefit from selling their books in gift and specialty shops…

–Sell gardening books to garden stores and nurseries.

–Cookbooks and food-centric books belong in gourmet food stores and cookware shops.

–Children’s books can be found in kids’ clothing stores and toy stores.

–Travel and adventure books are great for airports

–Health and weight loss books are perfect for hospital stores

–Books with dogs would be popular at pet stores and dog shows

–Stories like Sideways, Bottle Shock, and A Good Year can sell at wineries and wine shops

You get the picture.

We have a friend named Stacy O’Brien who wrote a best-selling book called “Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl.” Although it’s published by Simon and Schuster, it was Stacy’s creative marketing efforts that launched the book to best-seller-dom. What did she do? She started calling bird stores and pet stores to place her book in front of the right type of people. But the tipping point came when she contacted a bird watchers convention and said, “Instead of giving away keychains at the door, why not give away my book? They ordered thousands and gave a copy to every bird watcher at the convention. One simple phone call and it changed everything!

We have an author, Thomas Wasper, who wrote a brilliantly quirky, dark comedic, novelty type book with full color illustrations called “A Stitch in Crime: The Poetry of Murder.” He approached Urban Outfitters to place the book at checkout as an impulse buy.

So start thinking outside the box! Where does your book belong?

Written a mystery? What about contacting those who-done-it clubs and mystery dinner theater shows who get audiences involved in solving a crafted murder?

Westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, and romance all have conventions and online hangouts.

There’s a place for every type of reader. And there are readers for every type of book.

Remember, you are not just looking for readers, you are looking for super fans who will help tip your book! So start visiting the places where your readers hang out (online and out in the world). Join the conversations. Don’t talk about your book. Just talk about the genre. “Be interested and interesting!” as my grandmother used to say. Then when they ask what you do, say you are an author. That will get them asking what you have written and what the book’s about. Be brief! Give them your practiced “elevator speech” and then answer any questions they might have. Don’t ramble on about your book. If they show interest, offer to send them a free digital copy.

AND keep at it! Don’t just go once. Be a consistent contributor! Let them get to know you (and love you). YOU are the greatest asset you have when it comes to selling your books. When people know and like an author, the chances of them reading your book, and spreading the word about it, increase exponentially. 

Now go mingle!

Happy Holidays

Gineve

How NOT to Insult the Reader’s Intelligence

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by Kristen Lamb

From: https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

ya-reader

I would wager that most of us do not sit up all night thinking of ways to treat our readers like they’re stupid. Yet, it is a common problem, especially with newer writers who are still learning the craft. But all of us can slip into these nasty habits, if we aren’t mindful. It’s as if we get so wrapped up in our story that we mentally stumble in that brief span from synapse to keyboard, and inadvertently end up treating our readers like they need to ride the short bus. So today, I put together a list of bad habits to make it easier for you guys to spot when you are coaching the reader.

Offender #1—Adverb Abuse

One of the reasons I am such a Nazi when it comes to adverbs it that they are notorious culprits for stating the obvious. “She smiled happily.” Um, yeah. “He yelled loudly.” As opposed to yelling softly? To be blunt, most adverbs are superfluous and weaken the writing. Find the strongest verb and then leave it alone.

The ONLY time an adverb is acceptable is when it is there to denote some essence that is not inherent in the verb.

For example: She whispered quietly. Okay, as opposed to whispering loudly?

Quietly is implied in the verb choice. Ah, but what if you want her to whisper conspiratorially? Or whisper sensually? The adverbs conspiratorially or sensually tell us of a very specific type of whisper and are not qualities automatically denoted in the verb.

Offender #2—Qualifiers

It is really unnecessary to qualify. We get it. Using qualifiers is similar to adding in needless adverbs. If we have just written a scene about a heated argument, trust me, our characters don’t need to “slam the door in frustration” (yep…got it) or “scowl with disapproval” (uh-huh) or “cry in bitter disappointment” (gimme a break).

The qualifiers add nothing but a cluster of extra words that bogs down the prose. If someone slams the door right after a heated scene of arguing, the reader gets that the character is angry, frustrated, upset. We don’t need to spell it out.

Like adverbs, it is perfectly okay to use qualifiers, but it’s best to employ them very sparingly (and only ones that are super awesome). Allow your writing to carry the scene. Dialogue and narrative should be enough for the reader to ascertain if a character is angry, hurt, happy, etc. If it isn’t, then forget the qualifiers and work on the strength of the scene.

Offender #3—Punctuation & Font as Props

You are allowed three exclamation points every 50,000 words—just so your editor can cut them and then laugh at you for using exclamation points in the first place. Hey, a little editor humor🙂. 99% of the time exclamation points are not necessary if the prose is strong.

“Get the kids out of the house!” he yelled. (Yep)

I recently read a non-fiction marketing book where the writer used an exclamation point on every single sentence. I felt like I was learning marketing from Billy Mays. At best, the guy was shouting at me for page after page. At worst, he was monotonic, because when we emphasize everything, we emphasize nothing.

Ellipses do not make a scene more dramatic, just…make…the…writing…more…annoying. Ellipses can be used but, again, very sparingly.

Italics used for emphasis is still used in some genres but it is considered “old style” now. Like ellipses, we need to use it sparingly or we run the risk of insulting our reader’s intelligence. If you come to a point where you believe it is absolutely necessary to use italics, I suggest trying to strengthen the scene first.

In fiction, bold font is almost never acceptable. Again, if a passage is well written, the reader will stress the word(s) in his/her head. Trust me. We don’t need to hold our reader’s hand, or brain, or whatever.

Is it ever okay to use bold font? Sure, if you write non-fiction. In non-fiction we are teaching, so certain key words or points need to stand out.

In the world of fiction? No bold font. That is the tool of an amateur.

Offender #4—Telling Instead of Showing

Most of us have been beaten over the head with the saying, “Show. Don’t tell.” There is a good reason for that. Telling is a lazy method of characterization. Most readers are pretty sharp and like figuring things out on their own. Thus, if we spoon-feed information that should be given via the story, we risk turning off the reader.

New writers are almost always guilty of telling instead of showing. Why? Simple. They’re still learning techniques that are going to take time and practice to develop. Yet, all of us, regardless our skill level need to be wary of this narrative crutch. To be blunt, telling is far less taxing on the brain, so our lazy nature will try to take shortcuts if we aren’t careful.

Actions speak louder than words. Yeah, it is easy to just tell the reader our antagonist is a real jerk, but it is better to show our antagonist doing things that make the reader decide this for himself. We accomplish this by creating an antagonist who simply does things jerks do.

Good writers don’t tell readers a character is ticked off. Good writers show she is ticked off. Crossed arms. No eye contact. Clenched jaw. Slamming doors. Remember that over 95% of communication is non-verbal. Use this to your writing advantage. When creating characters, think about what actions will define your character’s nature or mood universally.

For a character’s nature: If you want to create a cad, think what actions cads do that would make everyone in a room label him the same way—checking out every woman who walks by, openly flirting with other women, using breath spray every 5 minutes, telling sexist jokes, etc.

For a character’s mood/mental state: Regardless of culture, we can tell if someone is mad, hurt, sad, or happy by body language. Make a list of all the body language cues for the mood you wish to create. A book on body language can be extremely helpful for the more subtle stuff. For instance, people who lie often rub a body part (wringing hands) or tap. Why? Unless people are sociopathic, it usually causes mental stress to lie, so the rubbing or tapping is a sign of energy displacement. See, these are the sort of details that make good writing into much better writing.

I would also recommend picking up a copy of Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi’s The Emotion Thesaurus. This is a tool every writer needs to have handy.

by Kristen Lamb
A version of this fist appeared on: https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

Kristen Lamb is the author of the top resource for author branding in the digital age, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World and the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer , which teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

Great Amazon Searchability Tip for Authors – Simple but Effective!

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The Right Way to Save Your Book’s Amazon Sales Page Link

By Sandra Beckwith of: Build Book Buzz (Sep 28, 2016)

www.buildbookbuzz.com

Amazon searchability

Do you want your book to be seen by more people on Amazon?

Improve its Amazon searchability.

That involves showing up near the top of the Amazon search results when people are looking for a book like yours .

Amy Collins of New Shelves has a great strategy for making sure your book shows up at the top of Amazon search results for your topic or title.

Here’s how it works: Amazon’s search function is actually a powerful search engine. When people are looking for a book on a topic or genre, they use the Amazon search box the same way they use Google: They type in keywords or key phrases related to the book’s subject, the exact title, the author’s name, or maybe the genre.

Amazon figures out what to show them in the same way that Google does. Both search engines rely on users to help them determine which search results are the most relevant. And that’s what you want to do with Amy’s tip — you want to help Amazon learn that your book is relevant to the right search terms.

Read how to do this at:

https://buildbookbuzz.com/your-books-amazon-sales-page-link/

We highly recommend you subscribe to Sandra's book marketing blog! 
She has GREAT tips for selling more books in EVERY blog post! 
Goto: www.buildbookbuzz.com to sign up today!

FOUR REASONS READERS DON’T BUY YOUR BOOKS

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By NICK STEPHENSON

I’m kicking off today’s post with the following question: can you spot the important difference between these two vintage car ads?

Advert #1

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Advert #2

land-rover1

I first came across this comparison on a popular sales psychology website [link below], and it got me thinking… how do these kind of (genius) persuasion techniques apply to your career as an author?

As it turns out, they apply big time.

You see, whatever people might say, books – especially ebooks – are cheap. Most self-publishers who sell books on Kindle (or wherever) set the bar at $2.99 – $5.99 per title.

And I just know you break out in nervous sweats at the thought of charging more than that. I know I do. But price isn’t the only thing readers care about. In many cases, it isn’t even their top priority.

Raise your hand – ever drop your book prices down to 99c in the hopes of picking up some much-needed sales?

I know I have. But the main problem isn’t to do with price. $2.99 or $3.99 or $5.99 isn’t a lot of money. It just isn’t. The problem is all about POSITIONING.

That is, making your prices seem like a good deal. And that’s where your sales message comes in. In the case of the car advertisements above – the sales messages focus on what’s important to the prospective buyer and frame it as a benefit.

What constitutes one model’s chief feature (a quiet engine) is something the other model’s customers don’t care about. It’s not part of the deal.

The Rolls-Royce drivers want opulence and calm. The Land Rover crowd wants power and ruggedness (which they associate with a noisy engine).

It’s about giving people what they expect. Instead of selling steak to vegetarians, we need to learn to sell rib-eye to the carnivores.

Think about it like this – millions of people spend $50,000 – $100,000 on a college education. Or $30,000 on a new car. Or $500 on marketing and advertising for their business. Or $200 on a new cover design for their book (you can substitute your own numbers – but you get the idea).

And this doesn’t feel like a bad deal. Because you’re getting what you expect at the price you expect to pay for it. You trust the person or business selling to you. It feels like a good deal, and you’re more than happy to pay.

Because you understand the value.

But when you present your book to the world, chances are 99.99% of your target audience has never heard of you. They have no idea what to expect. Why should they? They don’t understand what value you provide.

So, while $3.99 or $5.99 isn’t a lot of money – you’re actually asking people for something else entirely.

You’re asking them to trust you. You’re asking them to invest their time, their expectations, AND their money. Which is a big ask if you’ve got no relationship with your prospective reader to begin with.

This is why free books work so well. They give you a chance to prove your brand. But there’s more to life than just slinging free books around the place. At some point you need to start earning a living, right?

Which brings me to my main point. There are three types of reader in this world:

– First, those who will buy ANYTHING you publish without even thinking twice.
– Second, those who will NEVER buy from you.
– Third, those who aren’t ready to buy… yet.

It’s our job as authors to convince everybody behind door number three to take the plunge. And when you learn about the reasons why readers aren’t buying from you, you’ll understand how to overcome these problems.

It turns out, these reasons can be boiled down into four main obstacles (see below). When you learn what these are and how they apply to your readers, you can overcome them. This inevitably leads to more sales, more visibility, and more readers.

When I learned how to do this properly, I saw a huge increase in the number of books I sold – both via Amazon, etc, and through my email list. And it turns out, the concept is a simple one:

Figure out your readers’ obstacles – and deal with them before they even become an issue.

And those four obstacles are:

1- Indifference
2- Skepticism
3- Fear
4- Procrastination

[source: Derek Halpern, Social Triggers, 2014]

Let’s go through each of these in turn…

INDIFFERENCE.

This is a biggy. With countless other things a reader could be doing besides making their way through your book, why should they commit 6-12 hours of their life to reading what you’ve got to say?

This is especially difficult to overcome with fiction. At least with non-fiction, you’re helping people figure out a problem or addressing a concern they have. It’s easier for a non-fiction title to be relevant and, more importantly, to provide a tangible benefit.

The reader has a problem. You can solve the problem. Money changes hands, you deliver the solution. Easy.

With fiction, it’s a little less clear cut. At the end of the day, you’re providing entertainment. Nobody NEEDS fiction. It doesn’t solve any of life’s problems – other than an escape from boredom.

But your readers have other choices. They could be watching TV, playing video games, going to the movies, taking long walks, playing sports… the list goes on.

And this is where indifference can be a killer. Whether you’re priced at 99c or $9.99, it’s not going to make any difference to these readers. They have to care enough to even look at the price tag before this even becomes an issue.

So, your job as an author is to show the indifferent readers why they need your book. What tangible, measurable benefit will it provide?

You ever see a book, or a TV show, or a movie and think: “I’ve got to get that!”? Ever spend $25 on a hardcover book from your favourite author, even though the ebook edition is much cheaper? I know I have.

That’s because I’m not indifferent about these authors. I know they’ll provide a rockin’ story and interesting characters. I understand the value – and I’m happy to spend $25 on a hardcover to keep in my collection. And I’m equally happy to spend $5 on the ebook edition the second the title comes out.

Because I know the book will give me 6-12 hours (or whatever) of quality entertainment.

So, how can you overcome indifference in your readers? There’s no trick to it. You have to communicate the value of your brand and make it clear what you’re delivering, how you’ll deliver it, and to whom. Who is your target audience? What will people “get” from reading your book? If this isn’t clear, readers won’t understand your product.

They just won’t care. And dropping your price to 99c isn’t going to help you.

SKEPTICISM

This reader doesn’t believe you can offer a quality product or experience. Perhaps you don’t have credentials, or perhaps you have some spelling mistakes in your product description. Maybe your covers look like they were drawn by a toddler.

The skeptic is a potential customer – but for some reason he or she doesn’t think you can provide the value you claim you can. So, even if we can overcome the indifferent reader, the skeptic is having issues believing you can deliver.

What are you doing to prove that you’re a credible author? Are your covers, formatting, editing, product description, etc, all up to snuff?

Remember – a professional-grade book is the cost of entry in this business. You’re not going to win any awards for having a book that looks good (well, you might win a cover-design award). But a quality product is the minimum expectation. The days of slapping an MS Paint cover on a badly-formatted title are (thankfully) long gone.

How many reviews do you have? Are reviewers enjoying your work? Do you have any testimonials? Any awards? Hit the top of any charts?

These are what I call “trust indicators”.  Little snippets of evidence that you are indeed a competent author, and that readers are enjoying your work.

To overcome the skeptical reader, you have to prove you’re up to the task. Only then will they even consider buying your work – whatever price it might be.

FEAR

Where the skeptic is focused on why YOU can’t deliver, the fearful reader looks inwards – at themselves. The fearful reader worries that, while you clearly have a good product, that your book is somehow not for them.

Perhaps they have too many books to read already. Maybe they are worried that your story or your advice is something they won’t enjoy or won’t put into action.

Unlike the indifferent reader, the fearful reader knows the book is for them. But their own personal issues are getting in the way.

This is particularly problematic for non-fiction. Consider dieting books: you’ve got a product that can help people lose fifteen pounds in a month. You’ve got great reviews, testimonials from top nutritionists, and you’ve been featured on some of the biggest fitness blogs.

The fearful reader isn’t swayed by all this. At the end of the day, the fearful reader believes (in their heart) that, no matter how good your advice, he or she won’t be able to put it into action.

So how are you going to overcome this?

NYT Bestselling Author Tim Ferriss is an expert at dealing with this particular issue. Ferriss uses case studies and real-life testimonials from members of the public to PROVE his methods work. For anyone.

Never been able to stick to a diet long enough to see results? Never fear – Tim Ferris has two-dozen case studies from people just like you who have managed to make simple changes to their day-to-day lives… and have lost a ton of weight.

The fearful reader believes your product is good quality. But they won’t buy it because they believe they won’t be able to benefit from its value. It’s your job to prove your book will help these readers, despite their fears – and it’s your job to communicate that clearly and assuage them.

PROCRASTINATION

We’ve all been guilty of this. A new book comes out, it looks great, but for some reason we just don’t feel compelled to buy it right now. A few days later, and we’ve forgotten all about it.

This reader knows the book is a good fit for them – but they just don’t take action and buy it. So, how can you help this reader take action NOW, rather than later? Because “later” is a downward spiral towards a lost sale.

Limited-time promotions or bonuses work well. Scarcity is the key. Tell someone they can’t have something if they wait – if you’ve done your job properly, they will take action.

For fiction writers – perhaps you have a book bundle you can offer for a limited time. Instead of dropping your price, perhaps you can have a “sale without a sale” and offer a special bonus for anyone buying your books within a certain time period.

For non-fiction, maybe offer video training. Or a cheat sheet, or resource guide. The possibilities are endless. But the key is to get these procrastinating readers to take action RIGHT NOW rather than waiting.

And we all know this works. This is the reason Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year – because everybody knows they’ve only got 24 hours… and then it’s over. So people take action. People who would never normally splurge spend a heap of cash because they know it’s their only chance.

The same is true of buy-one-get-one-free offers. Or three-for-two. You don’t need to lower your prices, not necessarily – you just need to offer something of value for a limited time. Instead of dropping your prices, why not add something on and keep your prices the same?

Here’s an example of an email I sent out to my fiction readers – take a look at the two peaks in the sales graph:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 22.24.07

 

This is the sales graph for one of my novels. I launched it back in August 2014, and emailed out on the second day. The first email simply told people the book was available and listed out the blurb and cover.

The second email I sent 16 days later was a little different. This time, I offered readers a free copy of one of my backlist titles if they bought a copy within 48 hours. All they had to do was email me with the first word from Chapter 41.

The result? 98 people bought the book from the first email. 215 people bought from the second email. And I didn’t even need to drop the price.

Why? Because I was dealing with these readers’ procrastinatory behaviour. And if it works for me, it can work for you too. Give it a try – run a “sale without a sale” for your readers. See what happens.

WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO NEXT

Okay, I get it. The burning question is: how am I going to be able to communicate these messages to my readers? There’s only so much information you can put in your Amazon product descriptions.

The answer, as I’ve said before, is to build a direct line of communication with your readers. One that doesn’t rely on Amazon, or Facebook, or Twitter. If you can reach your audience direct, you control the message.

And the best way to do this is via email. If you’re collecting your readers’ email addresses, and building a relationship with them, you can easily overcome the four obstacles I’ve listed out above – before you even offer something for sale.

By which time, you’ve already dealt with every possible issue your potential readers have. The result? Better sales, better visibility, and longer-lasting relationships with your audience.

This is the key to how to sell without being “salesy”. Build your brand, build your relationships. Offer value. Then offer something for sale. And you’ll get results.

If you want a step-by-step guide to getting started on your email list, go download “Reader Magnets”. It’s free on Amazon, Nook, and Kobo – or you can grab the PDF. It lists out how I grew my email list by 15,000 new readers in the last 6 months. Here’s the links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PCKIJ4C/ 
PDF: http://noorosha.com/rm-download/

Now, if you enjoyed this free article (and the free book), please take a moment to share this page with 3 of your author friends. Or post a link on a forum, or on social media.

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

This blog post is by one of our favorite marketing mentors -NICK STEPHENSON.

We highly recommend checking out his programs if you self publish, but whether you do everything yourself or have a traditional publisher, it is imperative that you build an email list of super fans. In todays market, this is the best way to sell tons of books. READ HIS BOOK “Reader Magnets” (link above) to learn the best way to do this.

21st Century Author = Internet Entrepreneur

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a-day-in-the-life-1

Why the 21st Century Author is an Internet Entrepreneur

The similarities seemingly end there when you consider that Amanda is an author of fiction. Specifically, she writes paranormal-romance fiction involving vampires, trolls, and zombies.

Amanda’s been profiled in the Times and many other places because she’s sold around $2,000,000 in ebooks — without a publisher. She was one of the early success stories to come out of the Kindle Store, joining James Patterson and Stieg Larsson as one of the bestselling digital authors on Amazon.

Then things changed.

Amanda’s self-made success got her  a deal with St. Martin’s that paid $2 million upfront for her next four books. Her “Trylle” series of books has been optioned by Hollywood, with the screenplays penned by one of the scribes of the film District 9.

It’s certainly an amazing story. But does she qualify as an entrepreneur, much less an Internet entrepreneur?

Is Amanda Hocking an Internet Entrepreneur?

First, let’s be clear on what an entrepreneur is.

Here is the classic 12-word definition of an entrepreneur from Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson:

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.

So, let’s take a look at what Amanda did to generate that $2,000,000 in revenue.

She’d completed her first novel at age 17, which was rejected by over 50 publishers. Years later, Amanda took a decidedly different approach:

  1. In 2009, Amanda started treating writing as a job (a business venture), not a hobby.
  2. She began combing bookstores and doing industry research to see what was getting published and selling, as well as reading a lot in her genre (market research).
  3. She continued to submit her manuscripts to New York, and continued to be denied. Her last form rejection letter arrived in February of 2010 (no access to or control of traditional resources).
  4. In April of 2010, Amanda digitized her book “My Blood Approves” into the new .mobi format for the Kindle reader (adoption of a new technology standard) and uploaded it to the Amazon’s Kindle Store (exploitation of an emerging online marketplace).
  5. She offered her books for $.99 to $2.99 (industry pricing disruption).
  6. Profit? On the first day, Amanda sold 5 books. The next day provided similar results. A couple of months later, things got rolling:
  • June 2010, she sold 6,000 books
  • July 2010, 10,000 books
  • January 2011, over 100,000 books
  • Summer of 2011, 9,000 books each day

Sounds Like an Internet Entrepreneur to Me

It seems like a magical story, but Amanda was very deliberate. She treated her book as a startup.

Then lightening struck, which is what would-be authors inspired by her meteoric rise tend to focus on. Most often, that won’t be the case.

Amanda was in the right place, at the right time, with the exact right product. It’s the way markets are supposed to operate if you eliminate all the noise. And make no mistake — a great book that people want to read is still the core requirement.

The opportunities for the authors of great digital books, whether fiction or nonfiction, are still in the infancy stage. But you’re going to have to add one exceptionally important element to Amanda’s deliberate approach.

You can’t depend on the marketplace to notice the book on its own until you’ve sparked enough initial sales. But how do you make sales otherwise?

It’s a classic chicken and egg situation, until you tilt things in your favor.

One way or another, you need to build an audience. And the smart entrepreneurial approach for authors involves creating free online content to build that audiencebefore you try to sell a book (or anything else).

In other words, become an Internet publishing entrepreneur. Your first book is simply your first product, no matter the level of artistry you put into it, and your biggest asset is your audience.

Luckily, this entrepreneurial process can be much more lucrative than the indentured old school approach. Ironically, it’s the traditional publishing industry that gets credit for kindling this entrepreneurial fire among authors.

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Big Publishing Drops the Audience Ball

Trey Ratcliff is a photographer who built a blog to showcase his work. The audience that platform attracted resulted in three prospective publishing deals.

Trey went with Peachpit Press, due to their size and reputation in the photography niche. Out to a fancy dinner with some of Peachpit’s top executives, Ratcliff realized the true nature of his publishing deal.

In his own words:

I’m sitting there in a nice restaurant in San Francisco with all these executives of a major publishing house. It’s one of these power dinners of lore. We’re there to discuss the upcoming launch of the book, and I’ll never forget what happened. They asked me, “OK, Trey, what are you going to do to market this book?”

It’s the dirty little secret no one tells you about the modern book deal: it’s up to the author to drum up interest, publicity, and sales for the book, despite the fact that publishers are ostensibly still in the “distribution” business.

It didn’t have to be this way.

To this day, Internet pundits plead with publishers to build “huge, vertical-specific communities, prime them with regular non-book value and establish direct relationships.” But the publishers rejected that very advice over a decade ago, a decision that forced authors to become online marketers, even within the context of the traditional book deal.

Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin saw it happen, upfront and personal.

A former book packager, Seth shifted to the Internet early, founding the email marketing firm Yoyodyne in 1995 and selling it to Yahoo! in 1998 for $30 million.

Godin’s first bestseller, 1999’s Permission Marketing, explained the online marketing practices he developed that allowed direct and profitable relationships with prospects. Moreover, the book itself achieved outsized sales using the very strategies and tactics Seth preached, via an opt-in email list that grew rapidly as Godin gave away a third of the book for free in exchange for an email address.

Seeing first hand the power of establishing a direct relationship with prospective book buyers, Seth tried to help the publishing industry see the power of building an audience for themselves and on behalf of authors.

How could an industry that exists to distribute books not want incredibly cost-effective direct distribution?

Strangely, Seth’s ideas were ignored, and sometimes rejected with the type of venom that accompanies an abject fear of change. Instead, the collective choice among book publishing companies was to throw authors under the bus and see who survived.

“By 2002, it was clear the publishers were not going to build an online audience,” Godin told me for this article. “The authors had to do it themselves.”

Got Audience, Why Stop at Books?

Meanwhile, Trey Ratcliff did some math.

The excited new author went to work, drumming up pre-sales support from his audience with a limited-edition print, along with a signed copy of the book. He promoted relentlessly via his blog and on Twitter. He even arranged and paid for his own book tour.

The book was a roaring success, selling out on Amazon in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. At that point, after all that hard work, Trey realized just how tiny his 15% royalty rate really was. Peachpit kept 85%, which in turn went to printing, physical distribution, big New York offices, staff, lawyers, bookstores, etc.

In other words, no one was making any money.

It was Trey, however, who was in the unique position to do something smarter. After all, he had the audience that attracted the publishers in the first place.

So, he became the publisher by founding Flatbooks. His fledgling ebook business hit 6 figures in revenue almost immediately, and now boasts 80% profit margins.

The secret to the quick success of FlatBooks? According to Ratcliff, it’s theaudience-enabled author:

The best way to successfully market something is to have true believers with big followings talk about it on the Internet. Since we have many authors who are socially popular, a multiplier effect begins to take place.

Notice he said “successfully market something,” which is specifically not limited to ebook publishing. Once you have an audience, the door opens to consulting, paid speaking, software, innovative new platform launches, and more.

You’re really only limited by the needs and desires of your audience.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. If your goal is to write books and make a living from them, build your audience before you need it. Start today.
  2. Don’t think self-published. Think publisher. Better yet, digital mediaproducer.
  3. Accelerate. Once the audience is on your side, books are only the beginning. Be more like Jay-Z than James Patterson.

Not every author will do this, unfortunately. Many will grasp dearly to the Amanda Hocking story, depending on Apple and Amazon to become the new intermediaries that “magically” make them rich.

But Apple and Amazon don’t make money from caring about you. They’ll aggregate the hopes and dreams of millions along the long tail, letting just enough new stars shine to keep the dream alive.

At least the traditional publishers pretended to care.

Regardless, it’s up to you … now more than ever. Go make an audience happen.

 

Tips for Getting Your Small Press Book into Bookstores

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 This article is for our Muse Authors, but authors of other small presses might find it useful. 25

Small Press Publisher’s Tips for Approaching Bookstores to Get Your Books on Shelves— Methods and Suggestions that have garnered the best results after much trial and error! by Gineve Rudolph of World Nouveau Publishing

FIRST
• Have at least 10 books in your trunk at all times
• Every time you go into a new town for an appointment or to visit a friend etc. go early and stop by as many bookstores as you can hit in the area

SECOND
• Approach the bookstore clerk at the front with a copy of your book in hand and say:                       “Hello, I’d like to talk to someone about placing this title in your store.”
-Don’t say you are the author (yet)
-Don’t give your name (yet)
-Don’t pitch your book (yet)
-Don’t ask for the “Book buyer” because they might say he/she is not here right now, come back later

• With the intro line (in bold) above you might get the book buyer, or if he/she is not there, you will be directed to someone in charge who can influence the book buyer. Never pitch the check-out clerk unless they respond to your into by saying, “That would be me” or “I’m the manager, our buyer isn’t here right now,” etc. in which case you would ask him or her if he/she has a moment to talk or when would be a good time to come back

• If they say no, there’s no one here with book buying authority, ask them the name of their book buyer or manager and when they will be in next.

THIRD
• Once you get to the right person, introduce yourself and ask if he/she has a moment to chat -DON’T hand them your book (yet).

IMPORTANT: Once you give them the book, their focus is no longer on you. ALWAYS pitch first and hand them the book after, if possible. Sometimes they reach for it and at that point, it becomes awkward if you don’t hand it over. If that happens, go ahead and give it to them, but don’t speak while they are reading the back material. If they begin skimming the pages, that would be your next opportunity to talk.

• If they say yes they have a moment to chat, start your pitch with the same line you gave the clerk (unless the clerk IS the manager or book buyer which happens in smaller stores sometimes).

“I’d like to talk to you about placing this title in your store. It’s called ______ and it’s about__________________…”
-This is your “elevator pitch” here. One or two lines is fine –three at the most –don’t go into detail about the plot or tell them how good it is
-Elaborate only if they ask questions (have a few more highlight details prepared if they ask. Try not to wing it. Writers often ramble when they wing it)

FOURTH
-Let them know you have been published by a small press. Tell them the name of your publisher, and that your book is fully returnable, listed in “Books in Print,” and available through the normal ordering channels with Ingram (iPage is the portal most bookstores use. All WN books can be ordered through Ingram’s iPage portal).
-When you give them the book, let them know it is a complementary copy that they can keep
NOTE: If they seem reluctant to consider it for their store, offer to give them a few copies for consignment (which means you only get paid if they sell). This is a no-risk way for them to test out the popularity of your book. Let them know you will be checking back with them in a month to see how it’s going. Note: consignment often requires paperwork which means more effort on their part, and some bookstores do not offer consignment as an option

-If you can afford it: offer to give them a few free copies to sell in their store as a trial run (this is where the copies in your trunk come in handy) and say “If these copies sell, you can order more through Ingram. That will be sufficient compensation.” This allows them to test the title in their store with no risk and no obligation.

FIFTH
• Always let them know you will be marketing your book in the area to drive traffic to their store. NOTE: If the store is located in or near the city where you live, let them know you are a local author. Bookstores love local authors and most stores will carry your book (including large chain stores like Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million and Powells) if you are local.
• Let them know you are available for book signings.
• Always thank them for their time and let them know you will stop by again to say hi and see how the books are doing.
• Always ask for their business card and give them one of your  business cards in return–one that represents you as an author and has the cover of your book on it. Let them know if they have any questions they can contact you anytime.

• Carry a small notebook (or use a notepad app on your smart phone) to keep track of every store you visit (regardless of their response), record the contact person’s name, notes on what they said, and how many books you left with them. Include the biz card with your notes. Remember to record the date so you know when to follow up. If possible, put your follow up reminders on a digital calendar that can send you a reminder when it is time to follow up. Usually, one or one and a half months (at the most) after initial contact is a good check in point, so they don’t forget about you. THE FOLLOW UP is one of the most IMPORTANT things you do to sell your book!

One last thing. Do everything you can to get people into the store to buy your books but if they are not selling, wait 2-3 weeks and then send a friend into the store to buy a copy of your book… or better yet send two or three friends… just make sure they go in on different days, of course. No bookstore will stock your book for long if there is no interest in it.

Happy marketing!

How to Make Dialogue Magic

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What is Dialogue Magic?

One of the thing’s writers ask me about the most is dialogue. The biggest challenge we, as writers, face is to make our dialogue feel natural rather than forced and to ignite the page with an interaction so engaging that readers are deeply moved and motivated to care about our characters and their circumstances.

At some point we must come to understand that great dialogue isn’t an exact emulation of how people speak to each other in real life, but more a streamlined, efficient form of conversation that reveals in covert ways the inner workings or depth of a character and/or key story elements not revealed through action. 

There is no denying that great dialogue can make or break a story. Whether it be a film or a book, if your characters speak, they must speak in a way that creates that elusive spark of true connection between reader and story.

One of the best things we can do in the initial draft phase of a manuscript is to fall in love with our characters and then let them speak for themselves. When I fall in love with a characters whose story I am writing, it is because I have “fleshed them out” to the point where they feel real to me, and when they become real I can simply let them talk and write down what they say. This, for me, is where the REAL MAGIC BEGINS, but it takes a while to get to this point. At least it did for me. Now, I look forward to writing dialogue just to learn more about my characters and the story that’s unfolding before my eyes.

Note: I mentioned that it is good to do this with the first draft only, because A) that is when you are most “in the flow” and B) because subsequent drafts are for editing, and that means economizing your dialogue. 

My Secret Source for learning how to be a great writer… 

When beginning writers ask me how I learned to write great dialogue and action scenes, or how to make a book a “page turner,” I tell them I studied the art of screenwriting for a few years before beginning my first novel. Truth be told, I still study it. I subscribe to Script Magazine (free) which offers a wealth of suburb advice and information that can easily translate to fiction writing. I highly recommend it.

Below are snippets of articles from Script Magazine that I think will help you write better dialogue. When I read the lines: “Never write dialogue that gives information that has been shown visually, or show something visually that has been dramatized and revealed in dialogue,” and “Dialogue is conversation well edited,” I knew I had to share some of the great advice from these 2 articles. Even if the above 2 sentences are your only takeaway here today, it will improve your writing!

Here’s to making all our books bestsellers!

Read on for a LIST OF 21 TIPS that can help you make DIALOGUE MAGIC!

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The following advice snippits come from:

 

“DIALOGUE FREEDOM: Getting Away with Writing Lengthy Dialogue” By Anthony Royle

• Don’t Confuse Style with Content

✔ Style:

Do you think John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s scene at the beginning of Pulp Fiction is about the conversation, or where they are going and who they are?

• Style doesn’t fill the holes in your script but like Tarantino’s, enhances it. Style adds pace, suspense, relief, pauses, and emotion.

How do writers such as Quentin Tarantino get away with writing lengthy dialogue when we are constantly told not to? by Anthony Royle | Script Magazine #scriptchat #screenwriting

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction – Miramax Films

✔ Content:

Now that we realize what part style plays in the dialogue process, what about content? To find this we have to go back to the core of screenwriting––conflict. This is where dialogue comes from.

As we know there are three types of conflict––inner, personal, and extra-personal. How does dialogue relate to each one on an individual basis?

Inner conflict is split into three parts––body, mind and emotion. If we look at these three things in a screenplay we’ll find that if dialogue is produced from them––the characters are commenting on things we can already see.

It’s the same with two out of the three elements of extra-personal conflict––physical environment and social Institutions. We can also see the conflict so there is no need for dialogue. The third part of extra-personal conflict––individuals in society––ties in with personal conflict.

Dialogue is a form of interaction and unlike inner and extra-personal conflict, personal conflict gives us people to interact with––lovers, family and friends. This doesn’t mean that visual actions are to be ignored but, on the contrary, visual actions and dialogue form the underlay of your script.

VISUAL ACTIONS + DIALOGUE = CONTENT, CONTEXT AND SUBTEXT

Look at plays and soap operas and see why they are so dialogue orientated. It is because of the high personal conflict.

Another “talky” writer is Woody Allen. His scripts are filled with neurosis and opinions. I read Annie Hall and found the first 20 pages filled with them. But look how it’s used––it’s character revelation that pays off later on. It’s also coming out of personal conflict. Nowhere is it written that Woody or other characters turn around and give their opinions on the Middle East, middle age and life. A lot of scripts preach rather than dramatize. This is what they mean by “show, don’t tell.”

• So what does dialogue do?

Dialogue is part of revealing information about a character or the story. I’m not saying a character has to say it directly but it depends upon the scene, character and context. Look at the difference between Chinatown’s incest revelation through dialogue and the revelation of the murder of Maximus’s wife and child in Gladiator––which is visual. Look at how each film builds up to a payoff with visual actions and dialogue. Both are powerful revelations that move the story onward and upward.

Never write dialogue that gives information that has been shown visually, or show something visually that has been dramatized and revealed in dialogue.

My advice? With your first draft, write whatever comes naturally. It’s a way of getting all that information down on paper and then improving upon it. In your re-writes when it comes to dialogue, look at the information you have and see what works best visually and what works best with dialogue by building up to the revelation and payoff. Also look at the source of your dialogue. Cut out anything that comes from inner and extra-personal conflict. Then add your style.

It’s also interesting to note that when adding inner and extra-personal conflict your minimizing your dialogue. This is evident with certain genres such as action with high extra-personal conflict and drama’s that contain high amounts of inner conflicts. But with genres like comedy where there are lots of personal conflicts you’ll have more dialogue––like Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen.

By knowing where dialogue comes from and understanding its limits and usage, we have DIALOGUE FREEDOM.

__________________________________________

HERE ARE 21 TIPS THAT CAN HELP YOU MAKE DIALOGUE MAGIC

The following advice snippits come from:

CRAFT: How to Write Dialogue – Walking The Talk

Written by Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein & Kristopher White

TIP #1: GREAT DIALOGUE PLAYS

It can’t be said enough times: “Find the voice that works for you.” This voice is different from each of your characters’ voices. You as a writer will find your own style; you might even challenge the form while still staying commercial, as inPulp Fiction or Memento. Your point of view is very different from “sounds like it’s the writer talking”—which is the sad situation where you superimpose a point you want to make on your character’s voice. Your job is to find a way to “use your character” to say what you want him to say as part of the “play” you are writing. Play is a huge concept, and we are talking about the unspoken rules of the creative sandbox. Play is the single most useful word when describing great dialogue; it plays.

TIP #2: GREAT DIALOGUE MEANS KNOWING YOUR CHARACTERS

Do your character homework. Clarify background. Make decisions about flaws, foibles and idiosyncrasies, likes, dislikes, looks and voice of a character. Is he a giver or a taker? Is he a listener or a talker? Does he interrupt because he likes the sound of his own voice, or does he kowtow to someone he admires? Does he use poetry in the way he speaks or prefer logic? Or, like one of the characters in Dead Poets Society, is he a closet poet who wants everyone to see him as logical and predictable?

Many writers use a number of techniques to get them moving with a character. Some days, improv might work. Other days, answering the mundane questions from the character worksheet might do the trick. But either way, great dialogue is irrevocably tied to an understanding of your character. Once you know your character inside and out, you may start to feel he is a living, breathing being.

TIP #3: GREAT DIALOGUE IS THE RE-CREATION OF THE SOUL

Dialogue, when it’s kicking, represents what the character is feeling. It gives a sense of time and space. It deftly contains subtext, underscores the goal of the character and gives backstory without being obvious. It is colorful, magical, entertaining, to the point and singularly works to come out of the mouth of the character for which it was written. It has to be emotional and let us into the growth process of a character. In short, it must contain the multi-dimensions of a real person, someone with a specific gravity and a soul.

TIPS #4 THROUGH #8: EVERY PIECE OF GREAT DIALOGUE … 

• Gives information about the character

• Moves the story forward

• Develops theme

• Creates conflict

George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) returns home to his family after a journey of self-discovery in It’s a Wonderful Life, written by Philip Van Doren Stern (story, “The Greatest Gift”), Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett and Frank Capra, Jo Swerling (additional scenes).

TIP #9: SECRETS, LIES AND WOUNDS— GREAT DIALOGUE CONCEALS TO REVEAL

Robespierre said, “God gave man a voice to hide his thoughts.” Great dialogue reveals truth by pointing to the untruth. The celebrated acting teacher Uta Hagen said the last thing we say in conversation is usually the truth, but it’s actually the subject we wanted to discuss from the beginning. For example, there is a famous Jimmy Stewart line inIt’s a Wonderful Life where he says, “I don’t want to marry you.” But, in his actions we see that he can’t bear to be away from her. In that case, the words express how he wished he felt. It allows us into his “headspace” and foreshadows actions he will soon take to remedy his unrest. Clue: Often a character says the opposite of what he is thinking and feeling. In a relationship, this behavior can be infuriating. Onscreen, it’s exhilarating.

Indeed, even the quiet moments and hesitations in your character’s dialogue speak volumes. What a character is hiding (and how he hides it) adds information about a character’s feelings toward his background, value systems, attitudes about sex, love, children, politics, etc.

TIP #10: LAYERING—THE TAPESTRY OF TRUTH

Layer, layer, layer! This work can be done before, during or after writing a scene. Layering is a topic that takes a while to peel back. Great dialogue is like a rich soup of textures. The ingredients at your disposal are the character’s words, thoughts, emotions and actions. Your character becomes cooked weaving these dimensions, adding depth, creating momentum, providing counterpoint and humor and revealing subtext. Layering can result from evaluating what your character’s dialogue may be protecting the audience or other characters in the scene from knowing. For fun, here are some examples looking at a Hollywood exec-type character:

1) You can trust me (meaning the opposite).

2) I’ll get back to you. (He isn’t intending to call you back ever.)

3) That film had great cinematography (meaning it sucked).

TIP #11: MULTITASKING DIALOGUE

Bad dialogue is often like that lazy employee. It does as little as possible to get by and generally doesn’t want to be there. So, take some advice from today’s corporate moguls: Trim your work force and make your employees work twice as hard for half the pay!

Dialogue should always multitask. This work is a bit like layering, but is more about what it can tell us about character and exposition. Dialogue can entertain. It can be moving. It can underscore theme. It can shift the story into high gear. But, it needs to be doing at least two out of five. Even with comedies, it’s rare you’ll have a joke for joke’s sake … and if it’s there, it’d better be truly funny—like the bean-eating scene in Blazing Saddles.

TIP #12: GREAT DIALOGUE AVOIDS OBVIOUS EXPOSITION

We’ve all experienced it … dialogue where characters say information purely for the benefit of the audience. “Hello, Sean and Sara, my neighbors and good friends of 10 years. Can I get you a beer, preferably your beer of choice, Molson Golden? The same beer we drank as freshmen at USC, remember?” None of the above would realistically come out of that character’s mouth. Upon further recollection, who cares?

Another worn and wearied variation of this exposition is bringing in a character that doesn’t know jack about Jack and have everyone else explain it to them. Boring. It’ll do in a pinch, but there are better techniques. Although, this technique can work, depending upon how interesting the world or situation is—look at the beginning of Minority Reportwhen Colin Farrell’s character enters. We’re so fascinated with what’s going on, we’re more than willing to have someone explain it to us.

Great dialogue scores at the core of a character’s issues. In Sideways, the character describes a type of wine, its flaws and foibles and why he likes it. The audience (and his love interest) know he is talking about himself.

TIP #13: GREAT DIALOGUE ADDS TENSION CLEVERLY

Putting your character in jeopardy can help layer dialogue and add tension while getting in exposition. For instance, you’d really want to hear what two nuns are saying if their car is hanging off a cliff. If they are just strolling down a garden path, we might not care, unless they’re talking about sex. The bottom line is that if you have to use a Shakespearean monologue or a taxi cab confession, do so in an intriguing and unobvious way.

TIP #14: GREAT DIALOGUE CONVEYS INFORMATION DISCREETLY

The idea here is to convey information without spelling it out. For example, instead of saying Charlie has a drinking problem, you can show another character chewing someone out for bringing a beer into Charlie’s house. Instead of saying Sean’s a law student, have him reading a law book. This approach also has the added benefit of layering information. We can learn not just what, but how a character feels about what. In the previous example, how is Sean reading the law book? Does he enjoy it or is it a real chore? It is okay for the audience to work a bit to figure something out.

Indirect exposition is essential when revealing deep character wounds to the audience. As mentioned earlier, people mask their wounds. Say, a boy’s mother died recently: Chances are he won’t go around openly declaring that he’s torn up inside. So, how do you convey the information to the audience quickly and effectively? It might come out more naturally if, when asked to play the piano, he refuses on the grounds that, “Daddy doesn’t like me to.” It reminds him of Mommy. Boom! We get the facts in a fresh, chilling way.

TIP #15: GREAT DIALOGUE GOES DEEPER

Great dialogue scores at the core of a character’s issues. In Sideways, the character describes a type of wine, its flaws and foibles and why he likes it. The audience (and his love interest) know he is talking about himself. So, take out that shovel and start digging. How can you make that piece of dialogue use what’s going on in the scene to reveal the innermost dreams, goals, thoughts and feelings of your character? Now, dig even deeper … make it the $6 million line!

how to write dialogueTIP #16: GREAT DIALOGUE GETS CUT TO THE BONE

Hopefully, during the initial writing phase, your inner critic has been slumbering. You’ve invited your characters into the room with you, and you can’t shut them up. But, once you get past the first stumbling blocks of character and story, it’s time to step back from your script and see what you’ve created. Then, assuming you’ve given yourself that distance, it’s time to go in and mercilessly edit the hell out of your dialogue. Cut everything, especially the stuff you like. Okay, you don’t really have to do that. But occasionally (or frequently) writers fall in love with a line of dialogue or a bit that really doesn’t belong there. You become married to it. This dialogue holds the story back, and it’s got to go. The refining phase “is the time to get that annulment.” Time to “kill your little darlings.” If the scene works without your beloved dialogue, pull the unsightly weed. You will find in most cases that you don’t miss the dialogue, and it will pick up the pace. Polish and it will shine!

TIP #17: GREAT DIALOGUE WORKS THE OPPOSITES (AND SURPRISES)

Every character, especially in a script, speaks for a reason. It’s only in real life that we aimlessly babble. If we did it onscreen, it’d be like attending someone else’s family gathering: boring. By analyzing what a character’s goals for speaking are, you can get a better grasp on what he needs to say and how he needs to say it. What is his objective? Is he trying to cajole, plead, seduce or just get a rise out of someone? Also, what are the mitigating factors involved? Can he just come right out and accuse someone, or is he afraid of this person? Does he want to insult someone but has to be nice? However, great dialogue takes this conflict further and creates a kind of counterpoint (or counterpunch) to the character’s intention.

Creating conflict is a sophisticated kind of layering that works best if it plays at crosspurposes to the character’s goals. Working the opposites can create tension by upsetting the apple cart with the unexpected. For example, our protagonist wants to borrow $20 but is also mad as hell at this same character. Suddenly, the dialogue becomes more interesting because the character is conflicted. It crackles.

TIP #18: GREAT DIALOGUE CURVES THE CLICHÉ

Cliches became cliches for a reason. They’re true but so overused that they lose any impact and, instead, have become mockeries of their former selves. Take a look at the phrase “Something’s gotta give.” Beneath it lies an intelligent observation: A standoff can only be solved by someone’s taking the first step and giving of himself. But that’s not what we hear or think when that phrase is uttered. We think, “Geez, not another cliche.” If you ever want to know if a phrase is cliche, go to cliche-finder at Westegg.com/cliche. Type in the word “dog,” for instance, and suddenly you’ll find 50 used, tired phrases.

A slight twist on the phrasing can often cure these problems. The placement of an adjective or selection of a synonym can make a phrase feel fresh yet familiar. Instead of “Come on, man, throw me a line,” we get, “Come on, man, I’m pulling a Titanic over here.” Simply put, honor what you want to say, just find another way to do it.

TIP #19: GREAT DIALOGUE ESTABLISHES TONE, TOWN AND TIME

There are many factors that can determine your character’s speech patterns. The three most basic ones can be summed up: tone, town and time. The three “T’s”.

“Tone” refers to the genre of the film and style of your character. The dialogue in a realistic drama like Fried Green Tomatoes would be different than a balls-out comedy like Old School. Tone also comes into play with the individual character within your script. What is his approach to the world?

“Town” simply asks where and when did your character grow up? Where is he living now? A little research here will go a long way in lending your dialogue verisimilitude. Think of Woody Allen in any nebbishy comedy role. He has that insecure, Jewish New York patter down. Someone from the Georgian South will sound distinctly different from a Bronx native. If he doesn’t, your wonderful script could end up in the trash can disposed of by a savvy producer from Georgia.

If your character has some special skill or background, like growing up in the coal mines of the American Iron Range, a dialect tape can help you. Or, interview arriving passengers at your local airport, train or bus station to collect gems carved from real lives. Does your character thrive on sports? Sprinkle this territorial passion using sports references. Sparkling dialogue lives in the rhythms of life.

“Time,” of course, refers to when your script takes place. The colloquial language of the 1960s is a lot different from the 1800s, clearly. Subtle shifts in time will affect your characters’ choices of words.

TIP #20: GREAT DIALOGUE DRAWS LARGER THAN LIFE FROM LIFE

People think that you can borrow from life verbatim and throw it onto the canvas that is your film. Direct translation from real life doesn’t begin to echo the layers and

Every character, especially in a script, speaks for a reason. It’s only in real life that we aimlessly babble. If we did it onscreen, it’d be like attending someone else’s family gathering: boring.

depth that artfully crafted dialogue can. Great dialogue is tied to theme and your character’s transformational arc. It is not on the nose, but subtly rings with everything your character is about.

Sometimes, you will hear a great phrase or piece of dialogue from life. You will tear through your script looking for a spot for that memorable one-liner. Although we can find some great phrases out of the mouths of people in real life, it is rare that these phrases step up to the plate. In other words, translation of a real piece of dialogue or phrase into your film requires that you transform it appropriately for your character. You had better write an argument between your characters that is 10 times more clever, riddled with subtext and suspense than the one you had with your best friend last night.

TIP #21: SILENCE IS GOLDEN, SO LISTEN ALREADY

Finally, we’d like to leave you with the most important technique no writer can truly do without. That is the ability to listen. That’s right. The most important thing you can do as a writer is SHUT UP. Once you start truly listening to everyone around you, all sorts of character types and speech patterns will be filed away in your great brain—just itching to come back out the next time you write. So go out and socialize, just don’t say a word.

Remember: Dialogue is conversation well edited.

For more on DEVORAH CUTLER-RUBENSTEIN, KRISTOPHER WHITE or The Script Broker … helping writers succeed in the marketplace, go to thescriptbroker.com, a division of Noble House Entertainment, Inc.

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