Posts Tagged With: Writing

More nagging

Bossy Big Sis Than Then

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How to get reviews

No, this is not my hand.

If any of you have seen my book reviews list, you know it’s enormous. I really love books! I like different themes from many genres.

How do you get a reviewer to review? How do you get me to say “yes” to review your book?

  1. Have a well-written synopsis: If your synopsis sounds boring, full of errors, or really wordy, I will assume the book is too. I’m not going to test out the preview unless I have time and I’m feeling indecisive. (This is rare.)
  2. Stick to the point: This is why I replaced my email information with a form. Often it was a challenge to even find the synopsis with all the extra information. When I ask for a synopsis, I really just want to know about the book. I usually skim over any other information included, even if it’s raves from other authors or book awards. Your book should be able to stand on its own. Also, while I feel for you if you are writing about your painful childhood and reading and reviewing your book will make you feel validated, I can’t choose books based on that. I write honest reviews and that kind of pressure will scare me away.
  3. I’m an author too: If you have a book and I have a book, and we review each other, then both of us have a review! Great deal, huh. (Hint: if someone is exchanging reviews with me, I give them preferential treatment. I’m not ashamed to admit that.)
  4. That’s really it. Seriously, I choose books based on the synopsis.

How to get a “no”:

  1. Hide your synopsis: If your synopsis is hidden in the middle of a 10-paragraph sell, I may not say yes.
  2. Synopsis is too short: If you leave out vital information, I doubt your talent. If your Science Fiction book’s synopsis gives no indication that it is Science Fiction, that’s a problem. If the highlight of your book is too short for me to determine if I might like it, I will pass.
  3. Synopsis is too long: All that information is important, but I will read the book if it interests me. You don’t have to tell me the whole story. If you do, I may feel like I’ve already read the book.
  4. I feel bullied into reading: “Please help me” stories don’t help. If I feel emotionally pressured, I suspect your talent doesn’t stand on its own and I definitely wouldn’t risk disappointing you with a bad review. So I won’t write one.
  5. You inform me of how honored I am to receive your illustrious book: This is a request and I’m offering you a chance at a free service. You don’t have to lick my boots, but don’t pretend that I’ve been waiting my whole life for this opportunity.
  6. Write the wrong book: Sometimes (most of the time) I say no because the plot of the book doesn’t interest me. It may be an awesome book, but it’s not my thing. No offence.

I write requests to other reviewers to read my books based on these little points. I believe in the Golden Rule and I don’t feel bad when I get a “no”. I just strive to write better books!

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Don’t embarrass yourself…


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Examiner Seattle Author Spotlight: Fabio Bueno

Read my interview with Seattle author Fabio Bueno in my Examiner article. Please subscribe for updates on all my new article and help promote my column. It’s free!

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What you shouldn’t tell me

There are things that authors shouldn’t tell me, the reader, in their books. It’s not that I’m not trustworthy. It’s just that sometimes less is more. Some things you write about damage your story.

  1. Character description: Don’t tell me everything about the character down to the last pimple. Physical description is important and the story isn’t complete without it, but don’t tell me everything. Let me imagine some, please.
  1.  Scenery description: I want to imagine your scenery, too. The only necessary scenery is backdrop for the story, where it takes place. Each sentence of extra description is icing on the cake. The thing is, most people don’t like too much icing on their cake. We can’t scoop the excess off with a fork, so keep it reasonable.
  1. Character introductions: Don’t tell me everything at once. Meeting a new character is like meeting a new friend. Acquaintances don’t tell each other every detail of their lives in the first five minutes of meeting. Just like getting to know a real person, let me in on the details of the character’s life and personality gradually, preferably as the story progresses.
  2. Romantic and sexual scenes: Intimate scenes are especially delicate when getting to know a character. I’m not a floozie, so don’t tell me about the character’s naughty thoughts and naughty bits until we get a chance to know one another better. This doesn’t necessarily apply to erotica, but I don’t read erotica anyway.
  1. Dramatic buildup: All readers appreciate the dramatic buildup to a climax. But you shouldn’t build and build, never getting to the point. At some point excitement turns to exasperation and we think you’re a tease.
  1. Technical jargon: Some jargon is good and makes us feel like we’re learning something. If you spend paragraphs educating us on technical specifications in your novel, we feel the need to check the cover to be sure we didn’t accidentally pick up a technical manual.


It’s painful to chop up your hard-wrought words just to please ignorant, unappreciative readers, but books are just paper (or data) unless someone reads them. None of your words have to be wasted. Spread them judiciously, saving the extra bits for more stories. The joy of sharing your work with others who can enjoy it makes up for the pain of editing.

What do you as a reader not want to hear?

What is your TMI (too much information) weakness as a writer?

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Examiner article: Formula for a vampire story

Visit my Examiner column to see my latest article, Formula for a vampire story!

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Putting your best words forward

What impression are you leaving?

What impression are you leaving?

I have to tell you something you’ve probably already heard before, but if you haven’t it could save your writing career. As an author, you need to put your best foot forward. This sounds simple and even trite, but it isn’t always easy to do.

I get lots of review requests lately, which I love! In one author’s review request, the synopsis was disjointed. There was no flow to the description of the book. Unfortunately it was also filled with grammar errors and even included a mistake by the author in pasting the synopsis in the email. Needless to say, I was not eager to read the book. The subject sounded interesting, but the mistakes scared me away.

Authors rely on those short pieces of our work to open the door to new readers. If the only chance we might have to gain a reader scares them away instead of drawing them in, we aren’t going to enjoy much success.

When you send your book to your editor, include a page or two with your synopsis, acknowledgments, author bio, and any other advertising info that goes along with your book. These are just as important as the body of the writing. Most editors will gladly include these in your editing, because their reputation is invested in your book almost as much as yours is.

When people point out errors in your book, your blurb, your website, or wherever, LISTEN. Of course, you should check on their accuracy. But they may be helping you. Never mistake a technical correction for a personal attack. Unless you are writing about grammar, a criticism of your grammar can only help you.

If you laugh off someone’s criticism and feel like it’s no big deal, then you are also laughing off your own success. Take them seriously, even if they are wrong. If you don’t take their advice, it’s appropriate to tell them why.

I have received criticism for my writing as well, and some helped me to fix major mistakes in my work. Others were a matter of preference rather than correctness, and others still were items that I had discussed with my editor and deferred to her judgment. Still, I explained these to the person kind enough to point them out.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes Microsoft Word seems possessed, deleting important bits and allowing strange mistakes to remain after I thought I deleted them. We understand that. Just know that a stranger will view their first glimpse at your writing as your best.

If you treat your writing like an unimportant hobby, that’s how it will stay. Nobody is interested in rocketing you to fame when you don’t really care. To succeed as a writer you have to approach it as a business with all the professionalism required by a job. Even more, it’s a sales job, so your audience’s first look might be your only shot. Make that shot a bulls-eye!

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When I Just Can’t Write

There are those times when I just can’t write. I may even have great ideas in my head but they get stuck like the glue bottle with the big glue booger in it that won’t come out.

Reasons why I can’t write:

  • My head is too full
  • My head is empty
  • My life is too busy to stop and write
  • Not enough sleep

Ways to get myself started again:

  • Sleep (sometimes it’s not going to happen)
  • Wait until everything calms down
  • Squeeze in my writing anywhere I can – Evernote app is great for this
  • Read books, watch inspiring movies and TV, read manga (I think of it as recharging my writing batteries)
  • Get some time alone

Sometimes these still don’t work. What do you do?

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Author Blog-in: It’s not too late!

It’s not too late to sign up TODAY (Nov 16) for the author blog-in! I know you last-minute cats out there like to jump in when the ride starts. Jump! Post about your book and email me at katepolicani(at) to grab one of those extra slots!

For you rockin’ authors who have signed up, don’t forget to send me your post link if you haven’t already! I want to be sure we all get our books shared.

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Worn-out Themes

Some themes, in my opinion, have been completely worn out. They have been used so much lately that reading/watching them has lost its original thrill for me. Here they are:

  1. The Cinderella story – Rags to riches is everyone’s dream, but this one has had too much screen time lately. From maids turning millionaire to Slum dog millionaires, this one needs a time out. Continue reading
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Fuel for writing at Seattle Coffee Festival

Fuel for writing at Seattle Coffee Festival. A stimulating afternoon!

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What Now? What to do after release.

So the book is out and it succeeded/did OK/sold nothing. But now what to do next? It’s really the same however the book did at release. I like lists, so here’s a list:

  1. Pat yourself on the back! Never forget that whether it did well or not, you released a book! Don’t let the feelings you have about your income cloud that accomplishment.
  2. Don’t confuse anticlimax with failure. You can’t reasonably keep up a book release day excitement up indefinitely. It’s a climax. Appreciate that and build slowly. That is the kind of work that builds a lasting platform.
  3. Contact more reviewers. You did this for your release, hopefully, but you can’t have too few reviews. I’m going through the lists at and
  4. Look into promotions. Yes they are endless, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. There are ways to promote for free and there are costly ways. You just need to decide how much work you want to do versus how much you want to spend. When one goes up the other goes down. Just do it. It won’t hurt that much.
  5. Write more books! It looks more and more like what sells books is more books. That’s what you were excited about in the first place, right? Writing books?


Categories: Self-Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What I want out of my tech: An author’s perspective

With Windows 8 soon-to-ship, a wise husband asked me what I want out of technology as an author. You know I’ll tell you. That’s what i do.

Here’s the breakdown of what  I want from software and hardware: Continue reading

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Speculative Salon on Writing Magic

Please visit my post on Speculative Salon!

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Microsoft OneNote for writers

An Examiner article: Microsoft OneNote for writers.

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