The outline debate

Often writers debate over whether to outline or not. I won’t debate over it. I don’t care what method you use when you write—to each his own. I have published three novellas and didn’t outline any of them. I just started writing and wrote until I was done. About a third of the way in I sketched out a semblance of an outline to sort of know where I was going. However, my characters seemed to change the story, so I’d have to periodically change the outline.

This novel is different. It’s based loosely on a story from the Bible, and I tried to write it from the hip (panster it, if you know what I mean), but I got nowhere fast. One day I sat down and outlined the whole story. I tried using Scrivener, but I haven’t learned that program well enough to make it work for me. Maybe someday. Once the outline was done, I started writing and still haven’t stopped. (Except to eat, sleep, go to church, and other necessities. You get it.)  

My characters still change the plot scenes and I have to revisit the outline a lot, but initially, the plot remains the same. However, I have altered the ending. I intended to kill off a couple of the main characters, but they had a different idea. Guess they didn’t want to die. But who does?

I find it amazing that my characters take on lives of their own. They seem to determine what happens to them and sometimes I feel I have little control. It makes writing fun. I told someone the other day, “My character is lost in the woods and I have no idea where he is.” Their response was priceless. I did eventually find him and take care of him.

I almost dread the long editing process, but I’m excited about getting this book finished. I hope when I read it through it all makes sense without a lot of rewriting. Oh well! I’ll do what I have to do.

Marketing my book.

Last weekend the writers’ group to which I belong had a presenter speak about marketing. In three hours, he had time only to scratch the surface of what we writers could do to market our craft. He discussed building a platform and a brand. It was interesting and informative. His main point was ‘get your name out there’. Make friends. Build relationships. Network, network, network.

I get it. I need to get out of my shell, off my butt, and promote myself. But I hate that! I don’t want to do that! I have a writer friend who wants to do all the writing and illustrating and let ME do all the work of publishing and marketing. I DON’T THINK SO! Of course, like me, that’s what most writers would like.

So, I did a few things the presenter recommended, like fix my tags to include more things such as my website address. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Then I did something else I loved. I’m in the middle of my novel, and my main characters are having a baby. So—I had a contest on my Facebook author page. Suggest a name for the baby, and if I pick the name you suggest, you win a free, autographed book. One of mine (obviously). I ran the contest for one day, and I had a great response. I chose a name (actually two names) which I announced in a post, announced the winners, and private messaged them to tell them how to choose a book. Guess what. They want to wait for this book!

Now all these people know I’m working on a novel and they feel somewhat invested since they helped me find a name. The two winners are excited about getting a free, autographed novel. Hopefully, they’ll tell their friends, and so on. The word is out! Today, I ate lunch at a local restaurant and with a big smile, the waitress asked me if I decided on a name. YAY!

I’m on the way. I’m building my platform. I’m getting my name out there. Now I’m trying to think of another way to get more people invested in my book. Bless my soul, I’m marketing!

Self-publish or traditional, that is the question.

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I’ve self-published all my books, but I’m considering querying a traditional publisher for my next novel. My knowledge about this issue is limited, but I’ve thought about the pros and cons of both methods.  As I see it, the benefits of self-publishing as these: it’s much faster, the royalty is considerably more, and the author has more control over the book.

The only benefit I can see to publish traditionally is getting the book into bookstores such as Barnes and Nobel and being able to have book signings there. However, this is a pretty big benefit. Readers can’t read a book they don’t even know exists. Right?

I’ve read a lot about both methods of publication, and it seems to me that getting a publisher to accept a book can take years, then the royalties are small. It’s my understanding that authors still have to do their own marketing. I may not be seeing the whole picture, but I want to.

I think the time factor is the thing I most dread. I am so torn. What do you think? Am I missing something?