I have no idea why but one of the questions that I’m always asked when I talk about my books is: “How and why did you pick the names for your characters?”
Until the first time that question was asked, I really hadn’t given it a lot of thought.
My first reaction was to answer with “I just pick names that I like or that sound good”. But then I realized that I actually put a lot more effort into selecting names than I thought. I didn’t just randomly pull names out of a hat, or find cool names on the internet. I had a process. And, that process was to find a name that fit my character’s image.
Without realizing it, all of us form an image when we hear a name. That image can be based on someone we know or knew with that name or an image we build in our mind from the name itself.
As an example, I went through school with a crush on a girl who called herself CJ. CJ had dark hair, was tomboyish, smart, pretty and popular. I also like the ring of CJ as a name.
On the other side of the spectrum, I have never personally known anyone named Shannon. But when I hear that name I immediately think of Irish, smart, perky, red hair and pretty with lots of freckles.
Your image of CJ or Shannon may be totally different but that’s why, as an author, you need to describe your characters. However, it’s really important that you pick a name that fits or at least doesn’t fight with the image you want your readers to see.
If I were to poll most of you, I think we would all share some common traits for a Shannon. Even if we didn’t, I think you would be able to picture Shannon as Irish and having red hair and freckles. While CJ I suspect would be neutral to most of you; which is a good thing. That’s because it would allow me, the writer, to form her into whoever I want. To make you see the CJ I see.
But what if I pick the name Storm or Beatrix? How about if I try to make Storm the girl next door that’s shy, bashful, has mousy brown hair and thick glasses. Does that image fit the name? Not for me. Storm should be like her name. Wild, carefree, a whirlwind of fun with dark brown, black or fiery red hair.
And Beatrix? Should she be short, anorexic skinny, with blond hair and be from Norway? Well, the blond hair and Norway parts would fit but certainly not the short or anorexic skinny parts. Especially coming from Norway! That’s not to say that there aren’t short, anorexic skinny girls from Norway! There are! Or were! They just all moved to France and became runway models!
Okay. So, my point to all this is to be careful picking the names for your characters. Make sure they reflect the image you want the reader to see, as best you can. If not, keep them neutral so you can build that image and most of all don’t pick a name that will conflict with your image.
Unless you’re doing a humorous story! Then … all bets are off and go for the most far out conflicting names and images you can find. Make Storm a wimp and name your witch Beatrix! (Oh god, every Storm and Beatrix will be hexing my Facebook page! Honest! I love witches and Storms and Beatrixes (?) Beatrixi (?)!)
Which brings me to my final point: Have fun with your names. No matter what genre your writing in. Some of the names I used in my books?
Shawn (not Sean) because I grew up with a Shawn and I could use his not being able to spell it right as a line in my book.
Aoife (Pronounced ee fa) because I loved the name when I saw it on a waitress’s name tag in Ireland and everybody (including me) still stumbles on it every time they see it.
Rae, Leigh, Paige and Jessie because they’re not common names and therefore help my readers remember my characters.
Bert, Matt and James because they’re common and manly and fit my secondary heroes, who back up Shawn.
So ….off with you Igor (or is it Egor?)! Go carefully pick your character’s names and have fun with them! Happy writing!
Hi, folks! My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m the author of a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked. It was released by a hybrid publisher called Booktrope in the summer of last year, and that’s kind of what I’m here to talk about.
Hybrid publishers are a new generation of book publishers that are filling a much needed gap in the market.
Most people are familiar with traditional publishers, like Random House or Penguin – these typically operate as huge businesses, with large teams and marketing budgets behind each of their releases. You can also find indie publishers, which release books with a low budget and rely on word of mouth to spread the word. These days, self-publishing is also an easy option, and so there’s no shortage of ways to get your book out there.
But hybrid publishing takes the best of both worlds – if you want to be published by Booktrope, for example, you still have to submit your manuscript, just like you would with a traditional publisher. If you’re successful, you hook up with a team, in a community-based approach to publishing which yields fantastic results.
Most authors will end up working with a book manager, who’s in charge of marketing, an editor, a proofreader and a cover designer. Each member of the team receives a share of the royalties, which gives everyone a reason to help to promote the book, and Booktrope funds the layout and distribution process, as well as some basic marketing costs.
Another of the advantages of this community-based approach is that we form a huge community – there are over 1,000 of us now, all working towards a common goal, and we’re more than happy to help each other out, where we can. We’re stronger together, and this is one of hybrid publishing’s big advantages over traditional publishers.
So if you’re a writer, and you’re trying to unleash your book upon the world, then why not consider a hybrid publisher? Booktrope is open for submissions, so think about it – you could always check out No Rest for the Wicked first, to check out some of the work that they’re putting out there.
I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a happy New Year. Since July, there has been a ton going on in my life, the least of which has been my ability to keep up with my blog. For that, I apologize to you all. That isn't to say that I haven't been reading because I have; however, the writing of reviews has come a bit difficult for me. I say this because now that there is a new year ahead of us, it is my goal to get back on track and get all the reviews done for the books I've been reading over the past five months - including those not in the present genre - as well as the reviews for books I'm currently reading.
I want to thank you all so very much for your support through my injury and recovery. It has meant the world to me. I also thank you for sticking around even though the blog has been slow going. I hope I can make you all glad you stuck around.
What I ask of you is to continue coming back. Those of you who can guest review, please let me know. I'd be honored to have you. Any of you who'd like to write an article or know of something book related that would be good for the site, please contact me via email. I'd love any and all input you have to offer. For those of you who already have, thank you so very much.
In conclusion I just want to say thank you. Keep coming back! Keep sending me stuff you think might be good to post! Keep offering to guest post! Keep reading the blog! A most of all to those of you who are authors, KEEP WRITING THE GOOD STUFF!!!
So as many may have noticed, the genre for the month of November is thrillers. Something that has already started with However, you might notice that although the book "Currently Reading" and "Next to Read" change, the most recent posted review may not be a thriller book. This is because I'm still trying to catch up on the reviews for the last couple of months. So, if there is a certain review you are looking for, please keep checking back or follow me on FB or Twitter where the titles are posted when the review is posted. I want to thank everyone again for being so patient as I get caught up.
From time to time in the past I have posted news stories or info on this page. That was when I had time, but you all have my buried in books - which truly makes me happy! Anyhow, I'm asking if any of my readers/writers would be interested in posting something that might be of interest to others. If you have anything, please email me and we'll see about getting it up.
PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO AN INJURY I HAVE BEEN OUT OF COMMISSION FOR OVER 2 MONTHS. I HAVE OVER 300 EMAILS TO GO THROUGH AND 10 REVIEWS TO WRITE. IF YOU'VE SENT A REQUEST, PLEASE GIVE ME A CHANCE TO CATCH UP. THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING!
Hi there to all my wonderful readers and authors. First, let me start by saying thank you for your support during my recovery and understanding. I have officially been released to use the computer again. So at this point all I can ask for is some patience. There will be quite a few changes and quite a few reviews posted about books I've been reading while unable to type. Again, thank you for your patience. I will get to you as soon as I can.
10 Ways for Authors to Handle Bad Reviews
By Alan Kealey
There are a few authors out there who have never had a bad review. If that’s you, stick around. At some point every author will receive at least one. It’s the nature of the beast. Not EVERY reader out there is going to just jump for joy over what you’ve written. And reading that review, or the many, will make you react physically, mentally, and emotionally. You will most likely go through a plethora of feelings. It may make you angry, or sad, or worthless. You may dorect that anger at yourself or at the reviewer screaming obscenties at the computer screen about how they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. You may decide to never write another word. Don’t! Again, anyone who has ever put something out there for the public to read – even newspaper reporters, or bloggers – have gotten a bad review in some form or another.
So you may ask, what are the alternatives? According to Alan Kealey from Indie Author News there are 10 available tips for how to deal with bad books reviews. And they are…
1. Do nothing!
Bad reviews happen! Relax! See the examples of bad reviews of very popular bestselling books or go, check on reviews for books by your favorite author. Bad reviews happen for every book that is getting published. You as an author cannot please all tastes of different readers. Relax and Go Write!
2. Do NOT respond to Bad Reviews (or should you).
Distinguish between a "Troll" who just wants to rant and the "Teacher" who wants to point out mistakes in edit, grammar, plot, or techniques. Ignore the offensive rants! Do not respond to these - instead: Relax and Go Write!
Constructive criticism you should embrace and try to learn from. Helpful criticism can make you a better writer. Let a day or two pass, analyze the "Teacher's" review and if it is helpful (or well meant) criticism - you could respond to the review with a plain "Thank you."
3. A Bad Review is still a Review.
Bad reviews need to be seen in perspective. 1 bad review in 25 good reviews is still an amazing ratio. It means that 4% of readers (reviewers) might not like your book but 96% like it or love it. As written above - no book will receive over a lifetime only good reviews. There is no book written yet that pleases all readers.
Sales platforms like Amazon, B&N, etc. give books a higher visibility the more reviews it received. (And this is measured as overall number of bad and good reviews)
4. Re-read your good reviews
As long as you keep working at your writing, good reviews will come. Don’t allow bad reviews to occupy your mind most of your time, while letting good reviews occupy only little of your time.
Most of us have a strong negativity bias – we let one bad thing ruin a multitude of positives. The reality is that any potential reader who is considering to purchase your book will expect to see also negative reviews. In fact, they’ll be rather suspicious of books that have nothing but 4 and 5 star reviews.
5. Don’t pour gasoline on the fire. (Beware the Troll)
It's very hard to ignore negative reviews and frustration or anger might lead you to respond ASAP to the bad reviews. Do not respond! Relax!
Every response gives that review more momentum. If you reply you could improve the search engine ranking of the review site. If your reply gets "thumbs-up" or a "Yes! This review was helpful." the review will probably bumped up into a more prominently space. On social media or forums with a timeline format new responses might push the review with a reply higher than your good reviews.
Some (if not most) negative reviews are not about you or your book. It is about the person reviewing it.
6. Ignore the Bad Review!
The best way to deal with bad reviews is to ignore them. If it really hurts, talk with your friends and fellow authors of your network, and have chocolate, a beer, or a glass of wine. Do not ever contact a reviewer! There's no reason for. Every reviewer has an opinion, and all opinions are valid to the person who has them. There are lots of authors who recommend to not reading any reviews at all.
7. It's not personal - It's business.
Your book, written with the labor of love and handled like your baby, is still a book, a product. You are an entrepreneur. You're in the business of writing to make money. It's a business of skills like most other businesses. The quality of businesses grows proportionally with the skill-set. You wrote your book (your product) with your ideas, your plot, your words, your story. It's a piece of art but still a product of your business. This is the train of thought you should keep in mind when seeing bad reviews. Do never take it personally - it's business.
8. Don't rush to your favorite Social Media site!
Don't head over immediately to Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or any other social media site to rant. There is probably someone who knows the reviewer and will point this out. "They always do." Before you know it you will be titled as "Author Behaving Badly" and a flame-war might start online.
9. Get some tough skin.
If you are going to make art, there will be some bad feedback eventually, even if you are some genius artist. Feel free to give yourself a moment or two to be sad, eat large quantities of chocolate, etc. Then, pick up yourself up, get re-inspired, and keep working towards your goals. The persistent become the successful. Go write!
10. Remember why you write.
You write because you must. You had a vision. Or because it's your business. Never forget that no matter how much one reviewer hates your book - others will love it. And good reviews will always trump bad reviews.
by Karen Myers on July 23, 2013 in Debate & Opinion
Undaunted by the hostile response to a 2* star review that she’d left on Amazon, indie author Karen Myers asserts her right to post honest reviews of self-published books – and she invites you to join the debate.
The independent publishing scene is characterized by an unusual sense of camaraderie among its participants. Writers share sales numbers, how-to tips for publishing and distribution, and all sorts of information.
I’m quite astonished by the degree of professionalism I encounter. In particular, there is a general desire to be helpful, coupled with a determination not to take things personally, not to react defensively to suggestions and advice. There’s a real sense of “we’re all in this together,” especially in these early stages of indie writing and self-publishing.
In fact this seems so normal to me now that it’s easy to forget that it’s not like that everywhere.
Recently I read a mediocre book and was moved to write a negative (2-star) review about it on Amazon, where I purchased it. I wrote about what happened on the ALLi membership Facebook page, and a very interesting discussion ensued.
Why I Wrote A 2* Review To begin with, it’s clear that many of us feel badly for other independent authors who may not have produced gems (in our opinion) or even particularly competent work. Though everyone advises you to read good examples of writing in order to learn, I find that being able to see where something went wrong from a not-so-great writer is also valuable, helping me avoid pitfalls I might not otherwise have noticed.
Many of the folks in the discussion mentioned that if they couldn’t say something good about a book (and give it 3-5 Amazon stars), they would prefer to just pass over it in silence, not wanting (I suppose) to break someone else’s rice bowl.
I do sympathize with this point of view and do the same for what I consider to be “forgivable” offences, the small formatting, editing, plot hole issues that fall into the “there but for the grace of God go I” categories. I don’t see any need to dwell on much of that in the form of reviews destined to be read primarily by readers.
But when I come across books where the author doesn’t even try, where there are gaping plot problems, historical bloopers, and a general air of “it’s good enough for my dumb readers,” then I object both as a reader and as another independent writer. So this time I wrote a 2-star review detailing the issues, for the benefit of other readers.
This is not without its perils, however. I don’t maintain a sock-puppet ID on Amazon for this purpose, so I used my real name. It didn’t occur to me until too late that that could leave me open to retaliation. I shrugged it off, but it’s happened before to others, and many of the folks in the discussion mentioned that this possibility intimidated them from giving negative reviews.
The Hostile Response On this occasion, my review (one of 200 of this book) triggered a tribe of responders, who replied so quickly that they must have been alerted by the author. They promptly posted comments which, without rebutting any of my review’s criticisms, basically maintained that “they loved the book and who cares about all those silly details anyway and I was a bad person, etc.” The speed of the response was chilling, and the attempt to intimidate was clear. I didn’t mention that I was a writer (thank goodness) and they have yet to launch a retaliatory strike, but that could happen – clearly the will is there, and the lack of judgment.
Why shouldn’t writers give honest reviews from the point of view of other readers? Why should they be held hostage to the threat of retaliation if their reviews are substantive and not hostile? Do we all need to cultivate sock puppet IDS or else hold our tongues? Aren’t you sometimes moved by a sort of duty to tell the potential readership about real stinkers, even if they are also independent authors, even if life is too short to do it very often? Or what’s our integrity worth?
No wonder there’s such rampant “review inflation” on sites like Amazon, and I don’t like contributing to that. Personally, I don’t intimidate easily.
For more information, or to read more, please visit http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/why-indie-authors-should-give-honest-reviews-as-readers/