The King of Content

As self-publishing gets more and more interest and press, I’ve begun to see more talk about content as well.

It seems everyone has been using the quote “Content is King” the last several years. I believe the phrase is a truism, though I also believe in the power of advertising, marketing, promotion and good old-fashioned manipulation.

But a few days ago I downloaded the Kindle free sample of Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. I read it in college, but John reminded me of a short story that I’d like to read again, “Word Processor of the Gods,” and I wanted to see if it was part of the sample. It wasn’t (so I’ll have to go check the book out of the library), but…

Oh. My. Gosh.

Talk about the “King” of content! While reading the first several pages of his short story “The Mist,” I stopped time and again and thought, “Wow! That’s how he does that!” Stephen King’s writing evokes emotion like few other writers I’ve read.

Life has been a little crazy around here, and it’s not calming down. I often feel like there is no time for reading for pleasure. But I read for at least a few minutes every night. The last several nights, it’s been “The Mist.” It’s made me realize again the huge difference between reading whatever book is at hand, and reading seriously well-written books whose quality I want to emulate.

As much work as I have as a self-publishing author, my biggest job will always be writing high quality books that people will want to read. Kristen Lamb has some great blog posts on craft and improving your content, as do Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Check out their blogs if you haven’t already.

But I postulate that if you want to be a brilliant writer, you need to have a strong reading routine in addition to your writing routine. Not just any books, either. Read the best of the kind of work you’d like to create. In my case, the best commercial fiction.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read a story that is much better than anything I’ve ever written. Yet.

So Much to Learn in Self-Publishing

It’s January and it’s Monday. Beginnings make me feel like it’s time to hurry up and get moving. I’m a morning person (when I’ve slept well) and mornings make me feel that way, too. Hurry up! Go running and eat breakfast and hurry to your computer! So much to do! (Or on more embarrassing days – Hurry and get to your computer! What do you mean it’s dinner time? I haven’t even taken a shower, let along exercised or anything else!)

There’s so much to do because there’s so much to learn. I spent all day last Thursday just trying to read through some of the online group posts about writing and publishing and self-publishing, and then clicking the links to the great posts those people had found, which led to more links and reading more posts. Sheesh! How’s a girl to get any writing done?

But there’s a lot more to being a 21st century author than there was to being a 1950s author. Not only do you have to learn a lot, you have to do a lot. I took Kristen Lamb’s class on Becoming a Brand two weeks ago and now I’m trying to do everything I’ve been learning about. I’m following more people on Twitter and Facebook, retweeting and replying, and commenting on blogs. I think I did a week’s worth of social media in one day.

I saw some immediate results (I tripled my Twitter followers and got my own blog up and rolling again), so I downloaded the Kindle samples of both of Kristen’s books, Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer and We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I loved the samples, so I bought the books. I’m reading both at the same time now, and trying to apply something new every day. Wow.

There are a gazillion great blogs out there and I read a lot of them last week! (This week, I swear, is going to be more about writing and balance.) Instead of trying to explain everything I read, I’ll just give you some short descriptions and you can decide what you can use.

Oh, and in case I lose you somewhere amongst all these links, let me remind you that Author Crush Month starts on Wednesday! Yay!! We love Author Crush Month, and we know you do, too! We’ve got some really great guests this month talking about their process, their craft, their journey. Be sure to stop by every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in February.

Also, we will have a special guest joining us on the first Tuesday of every month beginning in March. You’re going to love her! (You might even already know her!)

And tune in tomorrow as we welcome Janice Cantore to talk with us about her new book, Accused. If you remember, Janice has been struggling to sell her books with a small press but last summer signed a 3-book deal with a major publisher! Her new book releases February 1st. Woo-hoo!

And now to my list o’ links:

Elizabeth Spann Craig explains how she uses Google Calendar to stay organized

An online self-publishing conference! I’m waiting by my Inbox for an email with details about registration costs.

The CEO of Smashwords gives us his thoughts on self-publishing in 2011

A Smashwords blog post about the Amazon Select program

I took an awesome online class in November about helping your brain work better, and the teachers wrote this guest post

I’m signed up for another online class next month on how to write cozy mysteries, and here is an article by the teacher (I’m hoping it will help me bring my superhero romantic comedies up a level)

A great craft post from Jody Hedlund on how to make your book play out like a movie

Another self-published author, PJ Sharon, shares her 2011 numbers

From Kristen Lamb’s blog, What’s the Problem with FREE?

Sharpen Your Blogging Habits, a 4-part series from Kristin Nador

Which could lead you to this brilliant post on creating better tag lines for your blog  (I just changed my tag line for my own blog. What do you think? Better? Not quite right yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!)

From Bob Mayer, a post that explains why I’ve never dreamed of being on a bestselling list, I dream of selling books for the rest of my life 

From Writer Beware, The Fine Print of iBooks Author, free software from Apple to create ebooks that can only be sold in the iTunes store

And the blog author’s reply to common misconceptions about what he wrote

Books I’m reading: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer; We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media; Dollars and Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success