How I kept ‘The Pussers Cook Book’ high on Amazon rankings.

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Okay, so this is a post about marketing books, or rather it is a post about one of my books that sold particularly well. (At least in the first few weeks after publication).

I am NOT a marketing guru. I have no special formula and am not trying to sell you anything, get you to subscribe, donate, join a club or even buy the book in question… or any of my books… but you can if you wish!

I am uncertain if my book would not have performed as well if I had done absolutely nothing, if I published, sat back and waited. (Although I doubt it)

The reason I am writing this post is to share with you, (my Indie author friends and colleagues), the history of first few weeks of my books performance on the Amazon sales platform.

I hope you can take something, even one small factor from this and use it to enhance your own sales, or at least gain further insight into what makes books sell. Or not!

To understand and to place the following information into context I need to explain how the book came into being and the lead up to release. So, I’ll take the Advice of Winnie the Pooh and start at the beginning; as “That’s a very good place to start”.

The Book in question is The Pussers Cook Book.  The Amazon hyperlink is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pussers-Cook-Book-Traditional-recipes/dp/1544690584 if you want to take a look, or get a copy (hint hint).

The Pussers Cook Book contains twenty-two recipes of traditional dishes served in the Royal Navy during the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Apart from the recipes, it contains a factual historical information and social comment, written in a witty and humorous style.

The book is listed under this Amazon category: Books > Food & Drink > Reference & Gastronomy > History of Food. (It is currently ranked No.3 as I write this).

The creation of this book came about after many conversations with other veterans. Most hold the food they ate during service in some esteem, some higher than others! What was clear among all personnel was the huge part food and dining played in keeping moral and spirits high during deployments.

With that in mind, I started to search for a cook book containing some ‘Good old British Naval recipes’ and came up with absolute zilch, zero, nada.

There are American forces cook books, Royal Australian Naval recipes, South African, Indian, but I could not find a single book which recorded any Royal Navy dish.

This is where it all starts!

So… I asked in several forces forums who would be interested in such a book, who would share stories and memories of food and dining from their time in the service. The response was substantial and led me to believe there was a market, an audience for such.

I had found a niche, a ‘gap in the market’ so to speak.

A few months later I had compiled and written The Pussers Cook Book.

Now for the nitty gritty about the promotion.


PLANNING.

As I have said above, I spoke to a quantity of people about creating a Naval recipes book and kept the contact details of those who expressed a solid interest in such a book.

Once I was ready to release The Pussers Cook Book, I posted a string of ‘Coming soon’ social media announcements to the groups I identified as being the books prime market, ie Royal Navy/ex royal navy/military/FAA/RFA/ex Forces/Veterans sites.

Many which I had joined since conception of the book in readiness for its launch. This gave me time to build a good, solid reputation and establish myself as a known, trusted and active member of these groups. You may consider this rather mercenary, but I see it as good business sense.

This type of planning and foresight takes a lot of time, work and effort. But once you are accepted, initiated and integrated, the fact that you an established part of a close, sometimes closed network, will pay dividends in many future endeavours.

It is a commitment I think is worth the time and energy needed to sustain the relationship.

The second part of my advanced planning was to design some posters and flyers, and the preparation of initial of blogs needed to spread my message, in a colourful and eye catching way, when posted on social media.

The next was ensuring that my book is listed with ‘book sites’ such as Goodreads, Authors Den, Authorsdb, Promocave etc. And, of course listed on my own website.

Added to this is obtaining listing on other sites servicing my targeted market. In this case, military historical sites and archives, military book, gift and paraphernalia stores, Naval museums. In fact, anywhere that has a library, store, shop, or service which does, or could list books or carry a link. Not forgetting any of their private forums, even those with fifty or sixty members…I would be happy with 1% sales from these.

Once again this is time consuming and often boring, but it is getting all your duck in order before taking the plunge.

Once all these items were in place, I was ready to promote the book.

Before the next step, the launch, I must explain that I made The Pussers Cook Book in two formats, a Hardcover version and a paperback.

This post is ONLY concerned with the PAPERBACK version as this is the only format available via CreateSpace/Amazon.

It may also help to know that it is a 6×9, full colour, fully illustrated book. (hence the price)


LAUNCH.

I decided that a ‘soft launch‘ of The Pussers Cook Book was most appropriate, as this book is targeted at a niche market, a major launch, such as a Thunderclap or Facebook party would have been irrelevant and had little effect on the initial ‘reveal‘.

The launch therefore consisted of a major blitz on as many social media groups as possible, over as many platforms as possible. In this case it was Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, twitter, Tumblr, Ello, Yeopen, StumbleUpon, Flipboard, Pinterest, WordPress, Blogger and so on.

Along with all those private sites and forums directed at Military and ex-military personnel I mentioned before.

The first day or two the book was only available from CreateSpace, as it takes a day or two to appear on Amazon sites.

If you look at the beginning of the sales chart, the launch date of the 17th of March, (it was late at night, so the figures show as/from the 18th), you will see that sales were instantly quite good. It looked like all that planning, all the time effort and the brainstorming had paid off.

Until… March the 21st when it all died off!

I still have no idea why this was, perhaps it was something to do with the listings on Amazon becoming live?


PROMOTION

Like everything concerned with being an Indie author it takes work, hard work and lots of it.

Pushing your sales is just one of the areas that you must concentrate your efforts. This is what I have done so far in relation to The Pussers Cook Book.

On the 26th of March I saw the sales figure slow for the first time.

I was ready for this. I had a plan, well it was more of an idea which I formulated after reading several various, (unrelated) articles about books, business, SEO, other authors, and a host of topics I cannot recall!

My plan was to try and push the name, the title of my book to the front of the search lists on the prime search engines algorithms.

Now, most probably you know little about how ‘SEO’ works. You are not alone, neither do I!

BUT I had gleaned a basic understanding, or at least an understanding of the logic behind the principle of how SEO functions. It was with that limited knowledge that I made my next move.

I sent a post asking people to ‘google’ my book by name on whatever search bar they were using, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Edge…whatever.

I did this with emails to other contacts around the world, and on all social platforms and forums. I asked my son, cousin and friends to do the same, to share and re-post the request, and to ask others to do the same.

I was trying to drive the search for ‘The Pussers Cook Book‘ or The Pussers cookbook’ etc. as viral as I could.

It worked.

Within 24hrs The Pussers Cook Book was showing as the top 6 to 8 listings on most searches, eventually making it to the top 10 lists on about every search engine.

The chart shows a boost of sale from that date. I like to consider this a direct consequence of that SEO attack…but again, I have no control specimen to compare effect.

It could simply be a coincidence?

On May the 30th I saw the trend of sales slipping, so I gave the book another boost by simple advertising, posting updated posters and status’s on social media.

April the 4th I noticed the figures dip once again. This time my marketing effort was aimed at the sites I term non-prime. These are the sites that are peripheral to major networks, or adjacent in content and demographics, to the mainstream platforms, but still play a key role in my marketing strategy.

Such sites, I am sure, will differ greatly from person to person and book to book. Much of regarding any site as such is whole subjective.

April the 8th I am have convinced myself, The Pussers Cook Book has run its natural course of being an Amazon bestseller for an Indie author. This is, no doubt the start of the natural decline in sales.

With a hurriedly conceiver promotion, using Easter as a gimmick, “Last chance to get/gift a copy before Easter…etc, blah, blah…” I hope to squeeze out a few more sales and try to keep The Pussers Cook Book as high in the charts for as long as possible.

The reason is, the higher a book’s ranking, the more visibility it is given by Amazon. The more it can be seen the higher the likelihood of getting an extra sale, or three.

If these sales keep the book up in the ranking, the more it will been seen…..& so on. As the sales decrease so does a books appearance. The alternative is to spend a fortune on paid advertising with amazon and Facebook etc.

So, as much self-promotion and marketing you can do without giving the ‘big boys’ a fortune the better it is.

Remember, whatever you spend on, say an Amazon advert, is the amount you must earn in royalties from Amazon, BEFORE you start making any money. All the while, on each sale you do make, Amazon will still be taking their cut. Think about it.

It is now, as I write the 13th of April, 27 days, a month – all bar the shouting – The Pussers Cook Book has been at the top, not bad for an unknown Indie author.

I shall do another marketing blitz over the next day or two. In fact, even this post is part of my overall marketing plan. It has raised awareness of the book, which you will notice I have repeatedly given its full title of ‘The Pussers Cook Book’ throughout this blog post. Hinted that you should at least Google it, if not get yourself a copy (another hint).

What I am trying to convey is, never miss an opportunity…you never know where it might lead.

I do hope that by sharing this with you, you can take something constructive or reassuring from it. Even something that makes it worth getting yourself a copy of this book, or any of my fictional works, as a thank you?

I know sales will now slow. It is inevitable. Yet, I do hope the book will ‘tick over’ for the foreseeable future.

For now, I have four ‘Works in progress’ I must complete; you never know one of these may be my next best seller?paul-white

Here’s hoping.

Paul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoghurt Tasting.

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We often talk of how important punctuation and grammar are when writing. I think this is also true of the spoken word, oration and pronunciation should be a foremost concern.

NOT, I hasten to add, for everyday conversation where colloquialisms, dialects and vernaculars colour our conversations and lives, but when the spoken word is transmitted by mainstream media.

I believe, broadcasters have a duty to society to articulate, to use elocution and enunciation to the highest standard and, by doing so, enable our young to learn the wonders of well-versed dialogue, gain the ability for constructive discourse and communication.

How can we expect our young to learn to speak clearly and precisely, to acquire the ability to explain, to communicate effectively, if the denizens of our communications industry cannot do so themselves?

Personally, I do not think ‘dumbing down’ standards to ‘accommodate’ those considered, in correct ‘PC’ terms to be ‘less fortunate’ is the answer. This only has the effect of decreasing the overall standards by suggesting the lowering of general standards are acceptable. Which, of course, they are not.

I fear for the future.

Today I found myself disappointed by such a badly enunciated sentence.

“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoghurt taster from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

Now…I have, as many of you do, a writers mind. This is a strange and oft uncontrollable beast. One which will pick-up on tid-bits and oddities which would, for the greater part, pass most people by without causing a ripple in their lives.

But for those of us who are cursed, or blessed, with such minds will know once this beast has focused on its intended target, once it has its victim firmly caught, there is little we can do until it has satisfied its hunger, or passions, or whatever desires need stating.

This was my situation earlier today. As soon as that sentence had been spoken my muse went into overdrive.

A quick and personal excuse (Disclaimer!): I was not watching or listening to the programme being broadcast, it was just ‘on’. My wife had switched the TV on earlier and it was playing away in the background.

So, where was I? Oh, yes my muse awakening, giving me a jolt.

Questions started to flood my head, ‘Yoghurt taster’ what kind of a job was that? Was it a flavour tasting position or simply to ensure the product was of a certain quality? Maybe this was a taste panel for R&D, for new products, new lines?

How did one get a job like that? Could I get a job like that? What qualifications, besides liking yoghurt, did one need?

My muse was excited; could this be part of a plot? A Poisoning?  Mass poisoning…holding corporations to ransom? Maybe the start of strange happenings in a small town… Zombie like conditions…Mmmm? My mind continued to race.

However, I love that word so I’ll say it again!

However, somewhere beside my overly stimulated muse, I had a nagging doubt such a position, a job as a yoghurt taster, actually existed. Food taster, yes. But I could not believe anyone could be employed solely as a Yoghurt taster.

No, I convinced myself, something was wrong. (Much to the annoyance of my muse!).

Thanks to modern technology, satellite, cable, Digi-boxes etc. we are able to do so many things with ‘live’ and ‘on-air’ television which have previously been impossible. One of these is instant ‘re-wind’.

This is what I used to take the programme back to the point where the ‘voice-over’ presenter stated that Emma was a ‘Yogurt taster’ from Essex.

This time I would actually be watching and listening to the broadcast, rather than having it grumbling away in the background, where only my subconscious was taking note.

Sitting too close and staring at the screen, like a six-year-old child, I pressed ‘play’. The images began to move and the narrator started to speak.

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“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoga teacher from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”

I played this over and again, four times in total, until I was absolutely certain this version was the correct one.

Emma was a yoga teacher and not a yoghurt taster, as I had first thought.

This was not me miss-hearing, it was clearly a case of shameful presentation.

I must say, I was more than a little disappointed.

I am sure, in the world of yoghurt, tasters are required? although I am uncertain of what the progression of seniority may be in such a profession. Perhaps one starts with the ‘own label’ products, progressing to ‘natural’ before moving to thick ‘Greek-style’ yoghurts. Maybe, an alternative route would be to delve into the technical realm of flavours, or the scientific corridor of ‘low-fat’ and ‘healthy’ options.

I guess I shall never know.

A divergent track that leads me, by some circuitous route, back to where I began this post; which is where I stated my belief that major broadcasters and, in many respects, our respective Governments, should take responsibility for the clarity and precision of language when transmitting programmes.

The above is a prime example of bad annunciation and elocution, the equivalent in my book, (note the pun!), of bad grammar and punctuation in writing.

Besides, my restless muse was unnecessarily disturbed.

Now I have to find an excuse NOT to write a novel about a wicked dairy farmer, who decides to get his revenge on the local townsfolk by plying them with infected yoghurt, thus turning them into pliable and malleable zombie-like humanoids who forever more will do the farmers bidding. Of course, as with all good pulp-fiction, there is always one young girl who hates all milk type products, regardless of flavour. Perhaps it is she who can fight back against the forces of evil and bovine product manipulation to save the earth…or at least the local town?

That is all I am going to say on the matter!

Milkmaid

So, until next time, enjoy your writing, even if your inspiration has been stimulated by a miss-print or badly spoken presenter. But please, please take care with your grammar. You never know when someone may read your work live on air, they may even be an ex yoghurt taster venturing into a new career!

 

Thank you for reading, Paul.

You may like to visit my website and see what else I am writing? http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

© Paul White 2016    RTWM310716/975

One reason why I don’t give my books away.

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Because I have worked hard, very hard in making the book a reality.

The uninitiated may feel that is a glib remark, but it is not, if you consider….

I first had to come up with the idea, a notion of a story and ensure it had a start point, a good tale to tell, one which draws to a satisfactory conclusion.

That is, it has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Then try it now, in the next few seconds. Say these words aloud….ready….go…”My story begins when……

Well, come on. You said it was easy, so what’s keeping you?…… OK. Times up.

Let’s move on.

I shall say ‘we writers’ from now on, have an outline of a story in our head. We know where we want it to start. We may even have a few words which may become the opening lines, when we start writing.

Each writer has their own way of plotting and constructing a novel. So, for generalist purpose I am adopting the supposition this is a writer who plots onto a story line…to a degree.

For the next few days we shall be breaking down the sequence of the story in our mind, transcribing it onto a plot graph, a timeline of planned stages. This is something we shall change numerous times over the next few days. We shall have the characters, particularly the protagonist, face challenges they must overcome. We will build his/her character as realistically and as humanly flawed as suits the plot, and will have our readers empathise, at some stage, with the antagonist. Possibly disbelieving in the actions of the hero….who may yet actually be the real baddy!

This is the type of conflict associated with plotting the story. Already at this stage the story wants to take charge of the author, as later, during the writing of the first draft, so shall the characters. They WILL take on a life of their own. They WILL wake the writer in the early hours of the morning, banging on the door of new concept. The same characters WILL, on another night, keep the writer awake until the sun rises just so they can move forward, continue their journey within the unfolding pages of new manuscript.

Most authors become almost, if not entirely obsessed with writing the tale. Some seem, even become unsociable, withdrawn. Because the story must be told, it must be typewritten onto paper or into computer memory. If the writer stops, or is distracted for too long, the thread begins to fade, the momentum halted, the spirit lost. The new lives, those characters created start to wither, even die.

Writers are, in the worlds they create, Gods among characters, guiders of destiny and givers of fulfilment, destroyers of life, of societies, of cities and planets. The author is omnipotent. It is a role, a responsibility we take seriously. It is a heavy burden we bear.

Come the end of the first draft and an entire year’s supply of coffee beans. I/we, the authors, sit back in our chairs and breathe a sigh of relief.

It is short respite.

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Soon our noses are back at the grind stone. We now need to read, edit and re-write the entire work. A first draft, no matter how carefully crafted, is just that. A first draft.

Now we really start work. No longer are we flying in full creativity mode, now we are in a roll-your-sleeves-up and get stuck in approach to the task.

Generally, this stage takes twice as long as the first. Deleting words, sentences and replacing them…or not. Moving paragraphs or rephrasing entire sections of the manuscript. Rearranging the position and order of entire chapters, even deleting them…or writing new ones. There is no limit to the fettling undertaken at this stage.

Once we are (reasonably) happy with draft number six/seven/ eleven? We congratulate ourselves and add a tot or two of whisky into the large mug of rich black coffee, our drug of choice.

Happily, we tell our copy editor we are ready for them to scan our documents. Oh, she says. (Not a sexist remark, simply the fact I have found most of the best editors are women), you need a line editor before you run it past me!

So, weeks later, with some alterations to plot and structure you eventually pass the manuscript over to your copy editor…..and wait…and wait, which is a good thing. Annoying, frustrating, but good.

You see your editor should be busy…if she is not that could indicate no one wants her services? The second reason you should be happy to wait is you want a thoroughly good job done, don’t you? Therefore proper, good, concise editing with a comprehensive feedback means taking all the time required to do the job right. Right?

Everything is not lost during this time, because you have to have a cover. If you have not yet made any advance towards having one designed, now is a great opportunity, it will take your mind off waiting for your editor.

Unless you are a graphic designer of illustrator I would leave the cover to an expert. Even if you are an artist I would, at the very least, consult with one. You see a book cover is NOT what most people (readers/ writers/authors) think it is.

Comes the day when your book cover, both paperback and kindle versions are ready. You are excited because your manuscript has just arrived back from your editor….the pages listed with notes, amendments and suggestions.

Now, instead of moving forward, instead of getting a step closer to publication you must revisit you story. Once more you sit and work through the entire manuscript, making alterations, altering tense, reading those suggestions and editorial input regarding clarity, flow and all that other stuff.

Three days later, in a foul mood and with a raging headache you stab the send button returning, the now amended manuscript, to your editor.

This is when you wonder where the last year of your life has gone. This is when you look out of the window and wonder why it is snowing…in June…only June has long passed. You missed it.

You were living in your own Neverland, guiding your characters away from disaster and death. Now, all of a sudden life seems so much more….empty.

The story is with your editor. The cover made. Time seems to hang about endlessly, waiting…tick-tock, tick-tock.

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After a day or two of doing virtually nothing it all gets too much. You plan a launch date, but not too soon. Then you organise a thunderclap, a blogging chain, advertising, a cover reveal and whatever blows your frock up.

Hay, guess what, your manuscript is back, this time there are only a few notes, easy stuff to sort out. So, you do. It only takes the best part of a day this time.

Now you can busy yourself again. This time you need to format your manuscript into book form. One for each type of book, i.e. paperback and eBook, but also for the platforms you may be using, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords and so forth. Of course, you can have a professional do this, or you can seek the help of a fellow author…all work well if organised properly.

The next stage is proofreading. Each format needs to be proofread. You can do a first run yourself, pick up on any errors made during formatting, check the margins, headers, page numbering, kern and such. But, I bet you will miss a shed load. So have other eyes, preferably an experienced proof-reader, one with a good track record, even someone recommended.

So, you press the send on your keypad again and hey-ho the formatted manuscript(s) is/are off to your proof-reader, who will pick up on any punctuation, capitalisation, space and…other issues you WILL have missed.

ONLY after you have fixed all those errors will your story, which up to now has just been a manuscript with a working title, become a book.

Upload to print…. congratulations. It has taken you around eighteen months of blood, sweat, tears and toil. Of mood swings and social deprivation, headaches, doubts, pain, fear and uncertainty to turn your dream into your baby.

Well done you.

NOW YOU WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY?

That is (one reason) I don’t give my books away.

Paul White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixed Media Inspiration: Lack of Inspiration — writings by Ender

It is not often I repost blogs/links here.

I do have invited guest bloggers, but rarely do this. The reason I have is it is an honest, origanal post which I think is worth sharing…it is that simple

I’ve found I’ve been lacking inspiration the last few days. It’s common writing practice to linger around until inspiration hits you, but that’s not what I do. It’s not what working writers do; we don’t have the time. In times of an inspiration deficiency I seek three simple pleasures: reading, music, and social interaction. Reading […]

via Mixed Media Inspiration: Lack of Inspiration — Writings By Ender

Looking into the Abyss

NEW RELEASE

HELPING TO SAVE LIVES

looking

Looking into the Abyss is an eclectic collection of short stories from eleven authors from across the globe. These authors have banded together to help save the Rhinoceros from ignominious death at the hands of illegal poachers, who are intent on harvesting the rhinoceros horn for profit, driven by organised criminals feeding the black markets of, mainly Eastern Asian countries.

Buy purchasing a copy of Looking into the Abyss today, you too will be helping to raise awareness, helping to save a rhinoceros’s life and helping to protect the species from imminent extinction.

Looking into the Abyss is available in Paperback and Kindle.

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1539868923

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/1539868923

Kindle Worldwide  http://authl.it/6bo

Running on empty

download

A simple title, but one containing much truth. How many time have you sat and started to write, or at least tried to scribble out some rudimentary sentences, when your energy is not there?

No, this is NOT a post about writer’s block.

This is a post about being drained. Being drained mentally, physically, intellectually, when even the most basic concepts evade simple thought. All of which can be emotionally exhausting.

I know. I have been there, as I suspect have you.

This is the bane, the curse of a writer’s life. This is our penance for shutting ourselves away for hours upon hours, for living our lives with one foot in the fantasy world of fiction, of sharing our days, even our dreams, with fictitious characters, those illusory, invisibles who inhabit our secret worlds, worlds which we never divulge to the others, at least, not until we are certain that they are ready to be revealed.

Considering this, it comes as no surprise that stress and anxiety often effect our temperament. We are, after all, artists and creatives. As such, why should our general disposition be any different to that of the most prima-donna of actors, or a highly volatile chef?

What is more, unlike the actor or chef, who have a surrounding cast or brigade onto whom they can cast their wrath and vent their spleen, we, the solitary, the secluded and oft isolated writer only have our keyboards and, maybe, a cat or dog. Neither of which deserve to suffer the brunt of our derision.

Now, that brings me to where my head is today, to what stimulated me to start writing on this particular topic.

YOU.

Yes, you.

Of course I am using that term as a general. What I mean is that I am ‘connected’, my social media is up and running, notifications, messages, hangouts, emails, chat and whatsupps and talktomes and haveyouseens are flashing and popping up every Nano-second, calling out my name, vying for my attention, from just about every social media platform that has been created.

Like you, as an author, an independent, self-published writer, I want to sell my books (hint!). Not having millions of pounds in my bank account means I do not have the wherewithal to pay for Saatchi & Saatchi to advertise and market my books. I do not have the distribution power of WH Smiths, Barnes & Nobel, Waterstones or indeed Walmart and Amazon.

I am one man, not a corporate host of many. As such my reach and capabilities are somewhat limited to what is physically possible. I have limits I cannot exceed alone.

To try and combat this disproportion, my being of David to the conglomerates Goliath, I have spread myself widely over this wonderful, glorious and most obnoxious of modern invention, the internet. I have, often with much reserve, spread myself over the world wide web by way of social media platforms in an attempt to attract at least one person who will purchase at least one of my books, who will read my words, share my fantasy and, hopefully, enjoy that netherworld I created.

Perhaps they may even return, buy another one of my books and re-join my journey? Maybe.

Yet to get to that point, where someone may actually want to own a copy of your work, a copy of that book you have spent all your spare time writing, for the past two years, means that you have to talk and communicate with thousands. You have to build relationships, acquaintances and associations. You have to make connexions and affiliations, create rapport, bonds and liaisons.

For the greater part this works fine. There may be the odd and occasional idiot you come in contact with, but that is no different to the ‘real world’, the meat space that we inhabit in natural form. At rare times you might encounter some who take pleasure in belittling others purely because they derive some sick pleasure from doing so. But you can turn a blind eye to these, block, delete, report and so on. Again this is only a digital interpretation of today’s world. One only has to watch a single new bulletin to make that simple comparison.

Yet it is those you choose to communicate with, those you classify as ‘friends’ who can flick that switch and send you plummeting into the deep pit of depression. A simple word, a throw away sentence, a wrongly worded, or indeed wrongly interpreted text, can combine with the isolation, the frustrations and become that final once of pressure that sends you spiralling into darkness, or rage or both.

This is where things get bad!

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Once you are there, at the base of that gloomy depression of despondency, it all becomes a vicious circle of seemingly hopeless misery. Each time you type out a word it is wrong, you have nothing to say, nothing to add, you cannot think of anything to write, nothing at all. The last chapter you wrote is crap, I mean total, pathetic, amateur crap with a capitol ‘c’.

What on earth were you thinking about. Best scrap it, delete it…in fact why not delete everything? It’s all crap anyway and you know it. You will never make it as a writer. You are pathetic, your writing is woeful, ridiculous and nobody will ever want to read it anyway, so you are just wasting your time.

Now you have ‘writers block’ on top of everything.

Have you been there?

I have.

You sit and stare at the keyboard, the walls, the window. Your head is pounding, not with a headache, not yet anyway, but with frustration. You are trying to think, inspiration, a plot, nothing works, nothings coming. That is what hurts. You can’t even read Facebook. Your eyes wont focus on the screen.

Your teeth are clenched. Those words keep flashing in your mind.  How dare she say that. What a senseless dickhead he really is. How come so many liked my cartoon of the dog and the Vicar, but all I got for that insight was one like and a truck full of insults and derision.

The truth is that YOU are making too much of it all.

You have taken your exhaustion and converted it to emotions…not the shrewdest move you could have made.

All the mental, physical, creative and intellectual output has drained you. Each and every event surrounding you seems enhanced, seems far greater than it is. You need to rest from writing, let your mind relax a little, slow it down…schuush….rest.

We lone writers do not have a gauge to tell us when we are getting low on that energy. We do not have an entourage to bounce our frustrations off. We do not have a colleague to share annoyances or vexations with.

We just have us (and, possibly, that cat or dog!)

But we need to learn how charged we are, we need to know when we have used our stock of vigour and are eating into pure emotion.

We need to know when we are running on empty.

dead_tired_writer

Thank you for reading.

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Paul 🙂

 

That is not VERY clever.

 

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It is, however, the way to announce to world that you are an amateur writer, that you have not honed your skills, that you are not a master of your craft.

It is something, I suggest, you would want to do and yet, I have an inkling, that it maybe something you are doing right now.

WHAT IS? I hear you ask!

Simple. It is to use the most useless word in the English dictionary in your writing.

That word is ‘very’.

Honestly, if you are using this word in your novels, your stories or essays you are making a rather large error.

Mark twain once said “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Florence King is quoted as saying that “’Very’ is the most useless word in the English language (see, I told you so!) and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”

“Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” Or so say’s N.H. Kleinbaum.

Which brings me to confess, I have, among many other bad habits, deleted so many ‘very’s’ in my work I lost count long ago. Read through’s, edits, re-writes; somehow those pesky little ‘very’s’ sneak themselves into sentences.

When I read some of my older works I could cringe, even those I have re-edited, even re-written in the past; but I guess that is how we all earn.

I am not as bad as I used to be. In fact, I am learning to write without using a single one, or at least that’s the aim. But it is not very easy!

The object of this post is to highlight the mistakes I have made, in an attempt to save you from making those very same errors!

Look back over your current Work in Progress, read through and find all those ‘very’s’ lurking amongst the other words.

Now, you have three options, the first is to simply delete them because you do not need them, they serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever, except to confirm your status as an amateur writer.

The second choice, is to follow Mark Twain’s advice as above!

The third and my preferred choice, is to change them totally. Delete the words associated and replace them with ones that are far more descriptive, evocative or eloquent.

In some, but very few circumstances ‘very’ can be permitted. BUT these occasions are rare. One such time ‘very’ may be used is in a characters ‘speech’. The word can be used to indicate a character of lower education, or a young person, a child who has not accrued a wider vocabulary.

Below is a crib sheet I have cobbled together as an aid. I hope that you find it useful in your quest to extradite those ‘very’ words from your authors lexicon.

The first column is word you have pe-fixed with ‘very’, the second, a suggested alternative…you get the idea!

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Since I originally posted this, I have been inundated with more words NOT to use and further suggestions for alternatives. I am not adding this image as I think it is the most comprehensive. Its from Proofreading Services.com 

Not Very

Thank you for reading ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind‘, maybe you will also like my short story blog ‘A Little more Fiction‘ Go take a peek now 🙂