Category: The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team

The Extra Squeeze Team's column
Home > Columns > The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, Is My Blurb Too Long . . . Help?

December 31, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I am afraid I am telling too much in my book description; it is really long, and I don’t know how to shut up…how do I make it concise?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

If you think you are telling too much, you probably are. Likely, you are caught up in the literal play-by-play of the work, rather than the essence of the story that makes the reader want to read. One way to make the description shorter and more interesting is to step away from the task completely for a bit. Ask readers of the manuscript to send you their descriptions. Acquire three or four descriptions and blend those descriptions. Try not to get too emotionally caught up in the story of the story. Remember: this is about coaxing readers to read, not writing a book report to prove you know what happened.

 

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Start with the pieces you want to keep, so that it makes sense, and strip out everything else. Too much description? Too many adjectives? Look at bestseller summaries and take some inspiration from their structure. They will have had whole teams to work on theirs, so don’t worry if it takes you a while to get it right.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

A good book description works more like a lure than a synopsis. Intricate descriptions of ‘what happens’ is too much tell, so don’t give away the story. Try dangling the promise of a great read by hitting the plot highlights as they happen on your dramatic arc — and then leave it dangling before you hit the denouement.

If you pare it down to just those points that support and move the plot — this could be characters, the problem, the compelling idea — and make the tone fit the story — eerie for horror, soft for romance, brittle for a thriller, punchy for humor — it makes the task more manageable.

A book description is not the condensed version; it’s an opportunity to tantalize and intrigue a reader with what makes your story irresistible.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

My gut is my favorite writing tool, too. Kudos on recognizing something is wrong. Regarding blurbs, I have taken a lesson from my friends who write scripts and I start with a logline. This is one sentence that lays out the hero, the goal, and the challenge the hero faces.

 

This is a story about a woman determined to save her family from the ravages of the Civil War no matter what the personal cost.

 

That is Gone with The Wind in one sentence. Once you have your log line, build on it. Use active words, dramatic words, and draw the reader into the story and stop before you give it away. This is the one piece of writing you should edit, and edit, and edit, and then edit one more time. Blurb writing is a craft to be honed.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

If you have a question for The Extra Squeeze Team, use our handy dandy contact form.

0 0 Read more

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I Have a Pandemic Story . . . Too Soon?

November 30, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I think I have a best-selling pandemic story on my hands! Is it ever too late or too soon to write about something like that?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

If you have a best-selling story about any period of time, write it. The very best stories have a timeless essence that touches hearts and ignites imaginations, no matter when or where the stories are set. It is never too soon or too late to write a story that jars the soul. But, by the same token, don’t imagine that the pandemic theme is the thing that will cause readers to pick up the book.

 

A million pandemic-themed stories are being created right now; many not very good. The market always faces trends that cause certain subjects, themes, or genres to spike in popularity at certain times. If that is the wave you want to ride, get there early. But that wave may not be the one for you—you may not be done fast enough to be part of that perceived market interest.

 

If in doubt, go good. Good work weathers mass upticks in interest. Focus on the good work.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


No! Think of all the war novels that are still being written, and all those written during the wars. Different, developing situations give rise to different and interesting outlooks.

 

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Yea! I’ve been waiting for this. I think now is the perfect time to offer a good fictional Corvid plot. I see no reason why such a story would be “too soon” or “too late”.  If the tale is well written, soundly plotted, has a great cast of characters and a riveting dramatic arc it will always be timely as a good book.

 

The pandemic is top of everyone’s mind right now. (How often has a single event held that much sway at once with the entire human species?) There is so much crazy mis-information blitzing around that a large number of us just ignore it all, take precautions and wait to hear about a vaccine. I’d welcome a good pandemic story. Fiction has always been the media where we can talk about anything. Go for it.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I was recently interviewed and asked if I was going to address the pandemic. My answer was, ‘Yes if it works organically into my story’.

 

Will I make the pandemic the focus of a book? The answer is no. I very seldom write a ripped-from-the-headlines book because headlines change faster than you can blink these days.

 

I do write ripped-from-the-inside-pages books because that’s where I find small stories, about real people and personal tragedy and triumph. For me, it’s always about the characters.

 

Every writer is different, though. If this book is eating at you, write it, own it, and market it. It might be just be the blockbuster you feel it is.

Good luck.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

If you have a question for The Extra Squeeze Team, use our handy dandy contact form.

0 0 Read more

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, Should I Quit Writing?

October 31, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

It feels like the entire world is telling me to quit writing…is this normal and what should I do? Should I quit writing?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I am tempted to sit down beside you and just cry.

Instead, I’m going to tell you to buck up, bucko!

I know, I hated hearing that too, but we’ve all been there, done that. Instead of being the company misery loves, I’ll offer this. I sold my first three books and then spent years trying to sell another one. When I finally figured out what was wrong, there was no stopping me. I also had a good friend who was rejected 40 times, and when she finally sold a book her career took off. Every writer’s struggle is different and how we deal with it is too.

In my case, I defaulted to my comfort zone — analysis. I certainly could put a sentence together, but when I reread my rejection letters, I realized my storytelling was lacking. Instead of flying by the seat of my pants as I had early on, I now sought out ways to educate myself about structure. I also realized I was afraid to delve into my characters. They were cookie cutter, and I needed to be more invested in their lives. I asked myself if I was writing in the correct genre. When the answer was no, and I switched genres my career turned around. Finally, I asked myself if I understood the publishing businesses well enough to navigate it.

The bottom line was this I needed to learn a craft. Writing isn’t just something that happens magically. You need to stretch your creative and business muscles, learn the game, and then make it your own. Information is out there. Embrace it, understand it, and use it. If you’re having trouble being objective about your own work, seek out an editor. If you can’t afford an editor, find a mentor. If you can’t find a mentor, find a friend who loves to read and who is very honest to give you feedback. If the world is telling you to quit, figure out why, and then show the world they were wrong.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Do your level best to ignore those negative feelings —there’s probably few writers who haven’t felt doubt. Keep writing. Everyday. Storytelling is a craft and like every craft it takes practice to perfect. Rejection is a part of that process and is often the most instructive tool a writer can receive: why was the work rejected? Work on strengthening the weaknesses that caused the rejection. Same with healthy criticism.

 

Simple is not always easy, but it really is simple. If you want to write, then there is nothing that will stop you. Just keep on writing and improving, writing and improving even more.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Yes, it’s normal.

Commercially speaking, it’s very hard to know when to listen to the world and when to defy it. Sometimes great works are never appreciated until decades later.

Outside of money, if you feel you have to write, then it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. Most writers find their fingers tapping away at something regardless of negative reviews, poor sales etc. It has to be a hobby you enjoy before anything else.

 

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Welcome to the world of writing.

It is completely normal to feel, from time to time, that this world has conspired against you and that it is secretly or not-so-secretly telling you to quit writing. This quitting option seems to present itself at critical moments repeatedly while creative people are wandering up the road less traveled.

When you feel this kind of despair, you have two simple choices: quit or don’t quit. If you decide to quit, perhaps you can imagine that the quitting is just for a while, not forever. Sometimes quitting for a period of time can be a pretty good choice if you are exhausted and burned out.

But, I would hope that you might choose to not quit. If you choose to carry on instead of quitting, perhaps you could take this juncture to step back for a moment and evaluate what is happening to make you feel this way.

Perhaps you have surrounded yourself with naysayers. If so, get away from them. Perhaps you have driven yourself to exhaustion with self-demands of perfection or self-expectations of production. If so, get some help from someone who can objectively reset those goalposts with you.

Everyone goes through stages and phases of battle weariness when fighting the unknown. Writers face a lot of unknowns and the most intense moments typically happen right before a breakthrough.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

If you have a question for The Extra Squeeze Team, use our handy dandy contact form.

0 0 Read more

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, Can I Keep My Cover, Please?

September 30, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , ,
title with pictures of all four members of the extra squeeze group

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I am an indie writer with an old book that I want to re-release…should I try to keep the cover the same as the original edition?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Probably not, unless the book is an iconic bestseller with the kind of visual recognition status that makes it identifiable by sight to the masses. In most cases, an old book will need a fresh opportunity in the modern marketplace. That fresh opportunity will likely mean that you need to get a new cover and a new author photo. Give the work a fresh new start. That new start will also likely mean brushing up the description of the book with an eye toward why it is important for today’s readers. It could also include some current endorsements from people who resonate with the readers of the current year. That is not to say bury or drop old endorsements but be aware that younger readers may not know who past icons are, especially if those icons are no longer active or no longer living. Leverage everything you have available to make the cover stand out on digital platforms. Look at the product with new eyes and new expectations.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

 

I love makeovers! Not only do I have forty books on my backlist, and all have had cover makeovers, but the author has too. Nope, I didn’t go under the knife, I just changed and grew with the times. Fashions change, the way books are viewed has changed, delivery methods have changed. Today your covers need to pop as thumbnails online in an ever-more crowded field, so give your work every advantage. Embrace marketplace changes. Have fun. Enjoy the process. If there are elements of the original covers you love keep them, but make them fresh (are you even sure you have the rights to the artwork?) I say go for it. I say go for it!

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

I’m going to assume (yikes! Danger Will Rogers) that by “old” you mean the book was first released at least 3 years ago. Yes, refresh, re-boot, revise, re-work that cover.

 

We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover. I think that is a cosmic fallacy right up there with ‘one size fits all’. An enticing cover draws me in — at least enough to read the blurb. With an Indie release a good cover says something about the author. It speaks of quality and suggests a promising story. In fact, I bought my two most favorite novels on the basis of the cover.

 

Take a good look at the covers of books in your genre and the ratings each has received. That will give you an idea of what sort of imagery is selling. Is it a literal graphic depiction or more impressionistic? Consider what is selling. Go from there.

 

If the original release was highly successful and you feel the cover was a part of that, you could simply update the original look. Covers are like fashion — ever changing and then rolling around to a previous era, only with a ‘modern’ sensibility. One has only to look at the original Agatha Christie covers and those on offer today to see that.

 

Give your cover design the attention it deserves

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


It depends on the rights and cover quality. If the publisher paid for the cover, then they likely own the rights. Sometimes the artist will withhold the right to re-sell certain designs or use them as they see fit. It really depends on the deal originally made. If the cover is very good, this is worth pursuing. If it’s even half-average, I’d plump for a new cover to be safe. Just so happens I know a designer…

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Ask them a question.

0 0 Read more

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, Writing about Family, Good Idea or Not?

August 31, 2020 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team, Writing tagged as , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I have a story I want to tell that is loosely based on family and friends. How do I tell my story without hurting anyone?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Begin by writing the complete story—beginning to end—the way you truly imagine it. Write with precision honesty without the fear of hurting anyone.

When done writing, evaluate what you have created. It is in the editing stage where you will objectively be able to decide how to share the story publicly without hurting anyone. If the finished story is meant to be fiction, you can go back and make sure physical identifiers that link to nonfiction people (like a skull tattoo on the left arm above a knife scar) are changed to protect the innocent or the not-so-innocent.

If someone has inspired you to recreate their character in a fictional world, rest assured your depiction of their internal thoughts, feelings, and motivations won’t be the tipoff that the character is loosely based on this real person; it will be the physical attributes that you choose.

Most people don’t recognize themselves in someone else’s writing unless they are told the character is modeled after them or the physical facts are eerily the same: age, body build, hair color, scars, name, physical location, profession, relationships with others, or facts from exact encounters are replayed in the work.

If the story you are telling is meant to be nonfiction, you have a different issue. In a biography or a memoir, you need to tell the truth as you know it, but you must also share your truth in a way that can be formally substantiated by the research of others. If you are afraid you might hurt someone by telling the truth in your work and you are naming names across your work, you need to consult an attorney before publication because hurting feelings may result in a lawsuit.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

 

Cue dramatic music:

Deep Voice Over: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent.

That’s a start. Every writer works from what they know — even if they’re writing about elves and spaceships and unicorns. Our own experiences are what we draw on to launch our imagination. And it’s the real-life situations that often give a writer the rich soil for a gripping tale.

Just write the story. When you’ve laid it all out, step away for some distance then read it with fresh eyes to spot what might be so obvious as to be hurtful. If you find the narrative is obvious, even though it is based loosely on family and friends, then consider what the compelling idea is in this tale. What was the single most gripping element that made you want to write about it in the first place? Take that compelling idea and re-write from that prospective.

Or just start with that single compelling idea rather than with the cast of friends and family. Stories have a way of charting their own course and it’s very likely, that with that shift in perspective your story will be unique enough to withstand the scrutiny of sensitive family and friends.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

 

I have used family and friends for inspiration in many of our books. For the most part if I didn’t tell the individual who inspired me, they did not recognize themselves. If I did tell them I was going to do it, most of them were thrilled.

Then there came a time when I happily told my sister I had used our age differences as the foundational inspiration for my story. (she is fourteen years younger than I am and we were born on the same day). She was thrilled­–until she read the book. She asked, “Is this really what you think of me?” To be fair she was the bitchy, beautiful sister accused of murder, and I was the smart but downtrodden attorney who saves her.

It had nothing to do with real life other than the span in our ages. Still, when she asked that question, I understood that there was a difference between inspiration and hitting close to home including the perception of hitting close to home.

The answer was, no, the character in no way was my sister. Their physical characteristics were the same, not their character.

What you’re talking about is even more delicate. You are going to be exploring actual things that happened to you and your family. If this is an honest memoir you need to be ready for the fallout. If this is fiction, you’ll need to be very skillful when you write to navigate the hurt feelings—or worse— that might arise. Ask yourself a) is this book is necessary to your well-being and b) if you are strong enough to face any and all consequences that will come with writing it. You are the only one who knows the answers.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


Ooooh *eyes widen* “awaits gossip*
I think the only way to do that is to write under a pseudonym and don’t tell them about it. People aren’t always as stupid as we hope they are. They’ll figure out it’s them in no time!

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send us your questions! 

0 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM

>