Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bit of Indie Advice

One great advantage you have if you indie-publish is the ability to get your work out as fast as you can produce it. There is no wait time like in traditional publishing. I have a couple of friends who just signed deals with big publishing houses and their release dates aren't for two, count them, two years.

That seems like a long time to wait. 

With indie-publishing, you get to choose when your book is ready to publish. You could publish a whole trilogy at once if you chose to.

The question becomes, is there an optimal time to publish your PERFECTED novel?

Yes! Absolutely. 

The answer is now! Go for it. Just don't do it before it is really ready.

Once you have one novel published. Get the next written. Once it has been edited and is perfect publish it. The best time to do that?  Right then. 

Every moment you wait, you are losing money.

When a customer reads your first novel on their digital device and like it, they immediately look for anything else you've written. How do you satisfy their craving for your work? You write and then you publish your well-written, perfectly edited books, over and over and over again.

That is the secret to indie-publishing success.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing Multiple Genres

Hi there,

Thanks for joining us at iWriteNetwork for Spring on the Ning. This blog post is the information you will need for the class on Writing Multiple Genres. After you're done reading it, come join me in the Chat Room for a discussion of what you've learned and to ask any questions you might have.

Notice anything about these books, besides the fact that they were all written by me? They all belong in different genres. Nothing to Regret is historical fiction. Agent in Old Lace is romantic suspense. Bless Your Heart is a cookbook. Secret Sisters is a cozy mystery. Million Dollar Diva is a financial book. In addition to those genres, I've also written inspirational nonfiction, a how-to for virtual book tours, and I'm releasing my first YA contemporary next month. How did this happen?

When I first started writing and published Nothing to Regret, I thought I'd never write anything but historical fiction. I absolutely, totally loved it. I wrote three historical fiction novels, and then I started getting ideas for other stories, and they were definitely not historical. I didn't know what to do. I believed that the way for me to be successful was to choose a genre and stick with it, and build my brand as a historical fiction author. But these other stories wouldn't leave me alone.

So I wrote Agent in Old Lace, which was my venture outside the familiar waters of historical fiction. It went over really well. Some of my readers said, "We like your historical fiction, but we loved your romantic suspense." That really surprised me - I'd put so much time and effort and energy into the historical fiction that to me, it was only fair that it should be the favorite. Then when I wrote Secret Sisters, which is a cozy mystery, everyone went crazy. "This is your best ever!" they told me. I almost wondered if I'd been wasting my time with historical fiction, and that bothered me because I had really invested myself in it. 

Also in the back of my mind was the question of my brand. I wasn't just a historical fiction author. I wasn't just a romantic suspense author. I wasn't just a cozy mystery author. What was I? How would I create a brand, when I was doing so many different things?  Then one day it hit me. I'm a Tristi Pinkston. And the most wonderful thing about Tristis is I'm the only one. (apologies to Tigger)

What I mean is this: I'm branding myself as a person now, not as a genre. My readers know that I have many different tastes and that I like to write about many different things, and so far, they've been excited to try out the variety. Like I said, some prefer the cozy mysteries while some prefer the historical fiction, but no matter what they are reading, they know they can expect certain things because it's a Tristi Pinkston.

1. They know they can count on it being a clean read.

2. They know I research and ask questions and make each book as realistic as possible.

3. They know I edit and edit and edit and try to make each book as good as it can possibly be. Sure, there's room for improvement, but the consistent drive to do better with each book is something that also goes into my brand.

These are all things that are extensions of me as a person, and are not limited to a genre. This is why I say that I am my brand.

Perhaps right now you feel as though you've found your niche and you can't picture yourself ever leaving it. That's how I felt in 2008 after I released Season of Sacrifice, my third historical fiction. But darn it if these cute little old ladies didn't show up in my head, demanding that I tell their quirky story, and so I had to start writing Secret Sisters. You just never know where the muse is going to take you, and your very best writing will take place when you follow that muse.

So, how do you write multiple genres?

The first piece of advice I have is to write about the things that interest you. I'm sure you've figured out by now that I have a ton of different interests. I'm a little bit "squirrel" when it comes to things I want to learn about and experience. For some reason, I spent fifteen minutes on the Internet last night reading up about Jack the Ripper because I'd heard him mentioned and I wanted to learn more ... while I watched the season finale of Fashion Star. Yeah. So, if you have wide and varied interests, there's no reason why you can't write wide and varied things. But write what you're interested in, because that's where the passion comes into play, and passion makes great writing.

The second thing is that you should learn what the requirements are for each genre. Every genre there is has certain hallmarks, and if you don't meet those hallmarks, your reader will be disappointed. For instance:
Romance - boy meets girl, something happens to keep them apart, they fight through it, they end up together. They must end up together, or it's not a romance.
Drama - terrible things happen, the characters fight against them, they might or might not be successful, and someone might die. Lots of emotion involved here.
Dystopian - people are fighting against a system that has gone horribly awry.
If you write a book and label it as a romance, and yet your characters don't end up together, it won't sell as a romance. Understanding your genre is huge. You might think, "Well, I want to do something totally different and step out of the prescribed formula," and you can do that to a certain extent and be unique, but you must follow the basic outline or you will make your readers unhappy, and it will be a tough sell to a publisher.

The third point is be yourself, no matter what. You might be wondering, "How did Tristi go from writing a really fluffy cozy mystery to a hard-hitting nonfiction inspirational?" I mentioned that I'm a little bit "squirrel." The fact is, we all have many facets to our personalities. If we were just one-dimensional, how boring would that be? Tap into the different facets that are uniquely yours, and bring your own voice to them. I am a very lighthearted and happy person sometimes, and others, I'm deeply introspective and serious. One isn't more "me" than the other. They're both "me." I have my own voice and my own perspective in each of my moods, and I use those as I write about the various different topics.

Should you use pen names?  A lot of authors wonder if they should use different names when they publish in different genres. I didn't for a very simple reason - I'd spent a lot of time building up my name recognition online. I wrote for several websites, blogged, networked, and got my name out there. If I were to change my name for another project, I wouldn't be able to tap into that name recognition - I'd have to start from scratch. In addition, even though my books are wide and varied, they can all be read by the same readers.

If you're thinking about using different names for different projects, think about the nature of those projects. Are you writing middle-grade fiction, and then also erotica? That's a situation in which you would absolutely, definitely use two names. You wouldn't want your middle-grade reader to see a new book by you in the store, pick it up, and suddenly learn more about the birds and the bees than he was ready for. Additionally, let's say you write automotive repair books and you also write chick lit. Those two genres are so different that yes, I would use a different name for each.

The main reason you would use different names would be to differentiate yourself in the minds of your readers so they know what to expect when they pick up your book. If your books aren't necessarily meant for different audiences, you're fine to stick with one name throughout your career.

Will the publisher go along with it?  This is where you'll need a game plan. When you first start out with a publisher, they may want you to stick with one genre. Let them know that you have ideas for other things, and give them a quick synopsis of your ideas so they can see what else you have in mind. Sometimes a publisher will ask you to print all your romance books with them, and then give you leave to take your green living books somewhere else, or to self-publish them on the side. Other times, the publisher will ask you to publish only with them, and you may need to wait to branch out. I feel very blessed - my publisher has not only agreed to print several of my books, but supports me in self-publishing titles they aren't interested in, so I'm able to explore these different genres. I suggest open communication with your publisher. Let them know you have other ideas, and then listen to what they have to say. Some of your ideas may need to wait until later, but that's okay - the great thing about being an author is that there's no shortage of ideas out there, and if you need to keep writing romance for a while, you'll get a ton of great romance ideas.

How will you market it?  I have all my books listed on my site and on blog, but I've also set up sites for some of my other books, like Women of Strength, Virtual Book Tours, and The Secret Sisters Mysteries. (That one hasn't been updated for a while ... need to get on that.) You market your other genres just the same as you do your first genre, except you become a little more targeted. You'd ask gardening blogs to review your gardening book, instead of approaching all the same bloggers as before. You'd talk to gun clubs about your gun books. It's really no different from setting up a marketing campaign for your other books, but with a new focus. (I probably said that twice, but hey, I sometimes repeat myself when I'm teaching in person, too.)

In Summary: Yes, you can absolutely write in different genres. Choose subjects that interest you, focus on the hallmarks of each genre and don't confuse them in your writing, and come up with publishing and marketing plans that will work for you, your publisher, and your schedule.

Questions? Comments? Come join me in the Chat Room right now! I will be there from 10:00 to 11:00 am Mountain Time and you can ask me anything you like.

If Tristi hasn't already conveyed her entire life story and you'd like to know more about her, you can visit her website or blog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Time for Spring on the Ning!

What is Spring on the Ning? Is it like having a spring in your step? Well, no, but if you participate, you might find your step a little more springy - it's going to be a lot of fun! 

Spring on the Ning is iWriteNetwork's first-ever online writers' workshop. You can attend from your own home - in your jammies, if you want.

It all happens this very Saturday morning. We'll start at 9:00 Mountain Time with a great BlogTalkRadio interview with Heather Justesen, author of romance and family drama.

Then at 10:00, I'll be discussing how to write multiple genres and still keep your brand. I will post the discussion material here on this blog and also on the blog on the Ning, and then we'll all meet up in the Chat Room to discuss it further.

At 11:00, we'll get some great information from Cindy Hogan on setting the scene. That information will be on both blogs as well.

We hope you'll clear some time in your schedule for us - it will be a lot of fun, very informative, and hopefully motivational as well. See you then!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Participation Auction Winners

In order with the number of points, the winners are:
61--Jennifer Jensen
45—Jessica Foster
35—Lisa Robinson
27—Terry Eagleston
25—Jennifer Lunt Moore
22—Jayrod Garrett
18—Scott Taylor
15—Ted Finch
Jennifer will have first choice of the books listed below. Everyone who won needs please email me at
and tell me the order of the choices you have for these books. I'll send you the one that is highest on your list that is still left. Ted, you get the last one. :)
I will also need the address that you'd like the book mailed to.

All are signed copies except the first one and it’s an ARC:
Beyonders Book #2 Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull
Blank Slate by Heather Justeson
Watched by Cindy Hogan
Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
Veil of Darkness by Greg Park
Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens
Girls Don’t Fly by Kristen Chandler
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Possession by Elana Johnson

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


by Donna K. Weaver

When you think of sprinting, is this what comes to mind?

When you're a writer, however, there's a different kind of sprinting that's available to you. It's when you gather somewhere online with other writers. Someone sets a time, tells everyone when to start, and then off the group goes. At the end of the designated time, people report their word/page counts. It can be a great time to focus on a project--whether it be actually writing or editing/critiquing. It also gives you a ready group of fellow writers with whom you can brainstorm.

That's priceless!

I first started participating in sprinting during NaNoWriMo last year. There's a place on Facebook for members of one of my writing groups where we can go to sprint. I know of writers who also did sprints on Twitter. I finally wandered over to the iWriteNetwork sprints in the chat room where I found the interaction to be more immediate than on Facebook and less cumbersome than on Twitter where you had to use a hashtag with every comment. If you haven't participated in a sprint session before, I suggest you give one a try and see how you like it.

Have you ever participated in a writing sprint? If so, what did you think?