Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Throw Away That List of Don'ts

I may lose friends for this post but as I sit here drinking a Dr. Pepper at six in the morning I am asking myself are those the friends I want to surround myself with? Probably not. Who am I talking about? The know it all judgmental assholes who think they are the end all be all of writing and publishing.  I have been guilty of doing it myself at times. I judge books based on their covers. I love covers. They are my first impression of a book. It doesn't make me a bad person, just an honest one. 
Am I talking about one individual no I am talking about hundreds of people. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion. There is nothing wrong with voicing your opinion, you don't have to agree with me to be my friend. I will repeat you don't have to agree with me to be my friend. All I ask is you show me the same respect I give you.

What am I even talking about you ask?  Every single day that I get on my social media accounts I see people telling others what not to do when it comes to writing and releasing a book. Sure there is some great advice. Like don't steal images off Google and Pinterest and try to use them as your own. Copyright is important but that is not what this post is about.

Let's talk about craft and voice. I see the comments in almost every writer group I am in: I won't touch a book written in first person present tense and I laugh when I see those comments because, I write first person present, but I also write in first past and third. You know why? Because some stories demand to be written in a certain tense or point of view. I don't earn the big dollars but I do earn a living and support a family of four with my writing.  It isn't easy and I work harder than I ever have in my life because I am getting to do what I love. Write your story however it speaks to you.

Don't use improper grammar.
Don't use that name.
Don't write cliffhangers.
Don't design in PicMonkey.
Don't format in Word.

 Why the fuck not?  Again, why the fuck not?

Grammar rules were meant to be broken. The key is to know the rules and when to break them. When I first began writing I was terrible. I unpublished my first seven book because the stories  while they were enjoyable they were not well written. I now think of them as practice books. They are not what I want to be reader's first impressions of me but at the same time those books are great example of how far I have come and how much I have grown as a writer.

Character names. Unless you are trying to use the name Harry Potter or something else that is trademark protected you are good to go. I'm not saying go out and name your hero Kellan Kyle or Christian Grey but if you want to name him Kellan Grey do it up. Hmm...I kinda like that...anyway back on track to what I am going on about.

Cover design. If you can hire a professional cover artist fantastic, if not it is not the end of the world. Photoshop is the number one graphic design program, but let's be real it is hella hard to learn if you are not familiar with it. Using an alternative program like PicMonkey does not mean your cover is awful despite what others may say. PicMonkey is user friendly. There are other programs out there like Gimp that are okay too. Just make sure that you are saving a high resolution photo. I make sure mine are 300 dpi for print quality. I have used all three. Yes, I design my covers. I love doing it. I think they look fantastic and they get compliments all the time. Again, I support my family of four  and some of my bestselling books have a cover that had some design elements done on PicMonkey. I often flip between it and Photoshop depending on what I am doing. Fight me.

Vellum, I am sure is a great program. I haven't used it because I am a PC girl. I love my desktop. I have used Microsoft Word to format every book I have written both in paperback and ebook form. I also use my word docx. to upload to retailers. They convert the file to an epub, mobi, or pdf for me and I use Calibre if I need to make a certain file type myself. It is a fantastic and free to use program. I am not saying one is better than the other. You can also use Scrivener too.

Take that don't list people keep shoving down your throat and smash the shit out of it. Write what you want to write how you want to. My dont's are simple.
Don't be a dick.
Don't steal.
Don't let critics dictate how you create your art.
I am sure I have more but  get out there and write for you or to show all those don't people you smashed the shit out of their list.

Be happy. Life is short. Surround yourself with good people who will give you good advice but also lift you up with encouragement.