Reader Mailbag: Rushing Plot, Book Trailers, Getting Started

Last month, we announced a new feature: the reader mailbag! Here we take your questions about anything involving writing, design, publishing, marketing or any other self-publishing related topic and answer them here on the blog. Have a question? Tweet @duolit or give us a shout via our contact form! 

From @JeremySenko: I have a great idea for a story, but I seem to rush the plot. Tips on how to slow myself down?

Toni: Even though I’m not a traditional writer/author, I can totally sympathize with Jeremy’s plight. I’m definitely a compulsive creative and, when I get an idea, I shoot from zero to 60 in no time flat. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of started projects and considerably fewer finished ones.

To keep myself on track, I’ve implemented a waiting period system (yeah, kind of like buying a gun or getting married). When I get an idea, I’ll write down the steps it’ll take to reach my end goal and assign each a time period. Whenever I want to rush ahead, I’ll refer to my checklist to make sure I’m not getting too far ahead of myself.

Shannon: Are you rushing the plot as you’re writing it–as in, jumping straight from the start to the turning point without much build-up? If that’s the case, I’d go ahead and get the major plot points written out and then go back and fill in between the points. Maybe come up with a sub-plot so you’re not just throwing in pointless scenes, you want to be sure there’s a palpable build-up and then a satisfying decline to the wrap-up.

From @TheDeguello: Should I get a professional book trailer made?

Toni: Book trailers are everywhere, and, when done well, they can be quite effective. Whether or not you should take the plunge to get one made, however, depends on a big question: How does the book trailer fit into your overall book marketing plan? I’m sure you guys get sick of reading this, but coming up with a cohesive and comprehensive book marketing plan is crucial to your success.

If you’re getting a book trailer just because it seems cool, but you’re not sure how it’ll actually help market your book, don’t take the plunge into paying for a professional trailer. On the other hand, if you have a plan for how your book trailer will go viral and shoot you to the top of the sales charts, go for it!  Like any business decision, it comes down to the return on your investment (both in terms of time and money spent).

Shannon: I completely agree with Toni (I know, that’s a total surprise). It’s worth the investment if it’s part of your overall marketing plan. If you’re not sure, maybe start with something small you can do yourself with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker (that’s how we made ours for Duolit Indie Ninjas).

From @Vogelian: Where do I start? I’m so clueless. I have a book of short stories and poems. What do I do with it?

If you’re totally new to the world of self-publishing, we highly recommend signing up for our mailing list to get the free download of Self-Publishing Basic Training. This will give you an overview of the self-publishing process, from writing to publishing to marketing, and help you explore your options. You can also check out our Getting Started page for more info.

Since your book is already written, the first thing to would do is to pay for professional editing. If there’s one place to spend good money during the self-publishing process, it is in editing. While your book is being edited, take some time to work on your marketing plan. Who will buy your book? Figure out your target market and how best to appeal to them.

After you have your edited book in hand and a good marketing plan laid out, choose your publishing service. An eBook publishing service like Smashwords is a great place to start. It offers a low-cost way to get your book published and distributed so you can start implementing that marketing plan and selling books almost immediately.

What’s YOUR Question?

Do you have a question or situation we can help out with? Tweet @duolit or fill out our super-simple contact form and we’ll do our best to answer it on our next reader mailbag! Remember, the more details you give us, the more specific and helpful our advice will be!

Do you have any additional advice for the questions above? Chime in in the comments!