Mistakes I’ve Made along the way to INDIE Self-Publishing Success

To date I have 11 books available on Amazon.  Of them, 8 are tutorials for teaching English to Spanish speakers.
3 are books about dogs – A memoir, a novel and a short story collection.
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Now in all truth, the first is a bit of an embarrassment.  Apparently some people have enjoyed it and I get the occassional good review but this is not an example of what I want my writing to be.  The latest turned out really well in my opinion.  I don’t think there are any glaring plot holes or horrific grammar errors.

My slight regret has to do with the Novel LOBO.  It’s not that there is anything wrong per se with the book.  I think it is a pretty good first novel despite the obvious ‘first time author’ pitfalls of which there are a few.

There are a number of scenes in which I would have been served by adding a prop or catalyst for observation or conversation.  This would have swung the needle out of the ‘TELLING’ mode and into the ‘SHOWING’ mode.  There are some info dumps.

The structure of the story jumps around a lot.  This is because it is built with each chapter starting with a narrative section and then the KEY CHARACTERS get a chance to say their piece.  One reviewer mentioned that it was as if each character was being interviewed at different points of the story.  That was exactly the idea I had when I wrote it.

Where I made my biggest error is really not related to GRAMMAR or STRUCTURE or PLOT HOLES etc.  My error is largely in the area of MARKETING.  If I wanted this book to fall into the Young Adult category, I would have needed to have a strong protagonist of about 13 – 17 years old.  As it stands, the main non-canine character is a young girl of 6 years old.  Antonia.

The book largely revolves around the dog, Antonia’s Grandfather Pepe, his childhood friend Padre Miguel who is a priest and a motley crew of criminals and cops.  At the time I wrote it, I had the story in mind and only the story.  This is where my plan ran off the tracks.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to read a good story just for the sake of the story.  They want a book with a character they can relate to, someone going through the kinds of trails that they have been through or are going through.  This is where I lost the YA audience.

I have rearranged the categories on Amazon for this book and I’m pushing it as a Crime novel.  I don’t know if it will fare any better in that genre but in the end, I missed the mark.

I have two new books in the works.  In both there will be an element of romance.  And animals.  One is a novella which is going well and which I hope to release this year.  The other is a novel.  It concerns a Horse, a girl, a corrupt politician and a Horse race.  That one will be strictly written and marketed for both the YA and Romance genres.  With any luck, it might hit big and then bring some much deserved traffic back to my other books.  (He says humbly)

Only time will tell.  So the moral of the story is …. KNOW YOUR NICHE …. KNOW YOUR GENRE.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

Niche? What Niche? Twitter for INDIE Authors

We’ve all heard the advice – Build your platform and they will come.  So thousands of writers out there are busy blogging, tweeting, facebooking, instagramming etc. in the hope that it will all drive up their book sales.  Does it actually work?  I’m yet to be convinced but still adhere to the old adage “It’s better to have it and not need it that to need it and not have it.”

So how do you save any time for writing if you are busy trying to build your platform.
One tool I have discussed previously is TWEEPI.
The more I use it, the better I get at it.  I now have over 9000 followers on Twitter.
Of course, any fool can get 9000 followers.  Just follow your maximum per day, followback anyone who follows you etc.  But I have 9000 followers and I’d bet my Amazon royalty checks that the majority of them are within my niche.
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The first thing you need to do is figure out what your niche is – for writers that depends on what they write about and to whom they want to target their work.  KNOW YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC.

In my particular case, I write about dogs.  And I write tutorials for Spanish speakers who want to learn English.
A pretty wide market niche.  I should probably have opened separate Twitter accounts for these two different niches but that didn’t occur to me until it was too late.  Maybe sometime in the future I will break off and concentrate one account on the Spanish market.  For now, they are integrated.

I use TWEEPI to target followers from other users that have had success in my niche.
I also use an android app called “Unfollowers’ to purge my account daily of those people who don’t followback.

At first I used TWEEPI in the recommended fashion.  I bulk followed the maximum number of users per day.  My current goal has been refined.  I try to get 100 new followers every day.  But I no longer follow in bulk.  How does a person with 3 followers and who hasn’t tweeted in a month help my goal?  He / She doesn’t.  I am looking for active users in one of my niches.  And people with hundreds or thousands of followers are the best choice.

I also avoid users that follow everyone regardless of niche.  How is a plumbing supply company in Pittsburgh going to help me sell books?  Even if they happen to follow the ‘I Love Dogs’ account?

After I use TWEEPI and Unfollowers to purge my account of unfollowers, I go to the ‘FOLLOW FOLLOWERS’ section.  After you plug in the user name of the account you want to mine (that identifier that starts with @) the view will be something like this.
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Here you can see a lot of info about the users you want to follow.  Where are they from, how many followers they have, the account name and when was the last time they tweeted.  My criteria is my own as to who I pick and don’t pick but I tend to stay away from anything other than the English alphabet and languages I don’t understand, from people who rarely tweet and from folks who don’t have many followers.  Under 50?  Not for me.  Of course there are exceptions.  If they have a dog in their icon foto they get in.  If they are from my hometown, they get in – etc.

So my big secret, which I will let out here once and only once is relative to targeting the niche.
Who is doing what you are doing?  In my case, writing books on dogs.  So find those people.  Follow their followers.  Easy as that.  There are also avid readers, book tweeters, book reviewers and others related to the book and Indie book world.  I follow those people.  I could follow a ton of other Self Pub INDIE writers but how will that help?  I don’t want to follow my competition, I want to steal their customers.  (Ok, share  … share their customer)

So get to know Tweepi.  It will save you a ton of time and increase your followers and help build your platform.
I swear by it.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

The Multicultural Breakthough of the INDIE Publishing Revolution

As I was growing up, I always had the urge to write.  But the thing that was holding me back was that the majority of the novels I read had an American setting.  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore etc.  How was I ever going to write anything that anyone would be interested in if the only setting I could possibly write about with any authority was Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  I mean really.  Aside from a brief mention in ´The Bourne Identity´ I had never read the slightest bit of fiction based in my hometown.

And with good reason.  If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Ottawa is the city that never wakes up.  Crime, Espionage, Political Intrigue?  Too damn cold.  It´s a Government city and at the time I lived there, not much exciting ever went on.  This was the town that Rock stars visited twice in their careers – once on their climb to fame and once on their farewell tour.

And in my opinion, setting is a huge part of your story.  Not that I spend page after page on description – I leave that to the reader.  But it is essential in my mind for the reader to believe that the story that unfolds could happen in the setting provided.  I guess there is a bit of cultural domination mixed in to my opinions here.  After all, the big market is the US and the US in a large part wants more stories of New York, Chicago etc.

Then I read an article the other day which stated that the INDIE Self pub revolution has opened the doors for a multicultural awakening.  It has become commonplace for INDIE writers to set their novels in unknown places that might not have been written about or seen publication via traditional publishing.  So I guess I am in good company.

I still haven´t gotten around to writing a story about my hometown Ottawa and probably never will but my adopted home, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico plays a big part in all my stories.  It is really the unannounced main character and protagonist.  The city and its diversity, the challenges we face every day, the corruption, the good and the bad people, the attitudes (both good and bad) the history, the weather, the mountains, the culture – all of this goes into all of my stories.

It´s as fascinating as it is frustrating to live here.  Hell, I´m stuck with it (except as I´ve said many times, if I hit the bestsellers list … then Riviera Maya here I come) I own a home, have family and have built a network of professional connections.  So I’m staying.

Add to that the daily headlines coming out of Monterrey.  Gist for the mill.  I’ve added many real life events into my stories to great effect.  With any luck, the city will provide me with more stories in the future.
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David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

A Long Break from Bloggiing

I don´t think I wrote one blog post last week.  It was as hectic a time as I´ve ever passed in my life.
My adoptive daughter was out of the city in a small town, giving birth and my wife was there helping and keeping her company.
It´s not my nature to play the ´while the cats away, the mice will play´ game and I was well behaved, keeping my own company and only went a bit overboard with a few well deserved beers after work.

So today I am debuting my new, adoptive grand-daughter – Ana Carolina.
Ana Carolina

I think she´s about the most beautiful child ever born (despite the father who I cannot stand)
So I have a new muse.  My next book will be dedicated to her, and to my mother, who she is named after.

So I am back to doing 50% writing and 50% promotion.  The stress of having the family far away and not being able to take care of them is over.

Big things happening lately – a few new projects brewing including a sequel to my Mexican Mutts book.
Will report later in the week.

Have a good one and keep writing, reading and reviewing Indie writers.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

New Reviews – Review Offer

These two reviews appeared on Amazon today for my book – Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups + Chili Dogs – True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico.  One is a five star review and the other a three star review.  I am not put off at all by the three star review since I think there should be a better method or wider range – like a ten star sytem.  The reviewer went on to write a HUGE review so I definitely gave him something to talk about and think about.  So I take it as a HUGE positive.

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5 Star Review -If only life imitated fiction
By Lynda Martinon August 12, 2015
Format: Paperback
Being a dog lover and someone who has been involved in dog rescue for three decades and in two countries, I didn’t think I would enjoy this collection of stories knowing the subject matter in advance. But you know what? I did. Who wouldnt? The stories are well written and engaging and unfailingly optimistic. Oh, if only life imitated fiction! For when it comes to dog welfare, or animal welfare in general, such consistent happy endings are fictional indeed. Burke is to be lauded for his attempt to bring these conditions to our awareness, and to those who, like me, say, ” But I don’t want to read about that,” this reader’s suggests take a chance. Read these beautifully written short stories in honor of all dogs everywhere.

3 Star Review – An Exhortation towards a Humane treatment of dogs everywhere
By Raghu Nathan “Ragsraghu” on August 15, 2015
Format: Paperback
I got a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review. I had agreed to review the book without even knowing what it is about mainly due to the author’s novel way of asking for a review. In fact, it made me expect as much from his book as well.

The book is a collection of short stories about dogs in Mexico, based on many real-life events concerning dogs in that country. It is an easy read and the flow is quite engaging. I can’t remember even one story that flags during its telling. However, the feeling that remained uppermost in my mind after reading the book was one of sadness at so much cruelty being perpetrated on dogs in Mexico. Of course, we all know that the cruelty is not something that is unique to only dogs as animals or to Mexico as a land. It happens everywhere. But I had not been aware of some of the specific atrocities around which the author has crafted his book. Here, the stories are of dogs being abandoned by their owners on highways, dogs being chained to a pole all the time, dogs being brutally treated by their owners, dogs being carelessly run over by their owners’ cars or by others on the roads, dogs being kidnapped for ransom and so on. The author has dealt with them all well by starting each story with a real-life news report on one such atrocity and following it up with his story which generally ends in happier circumstances for the fictional dog than its real counterpart, thereby making us feel good rather than depressed at the end. I only wish the author had used his freedom to work his imagination a little more while creating these stories. I kept anticipating some pleasant twist in each story towards the end to make it a story that would linger on in my mind. Instead, I mostly found the stories going on a straight line all the way through, making it difficult to pick out one story that stands out from the pack. Still, I would mark a couple of stories as the better ones.

The story ‘Brothers’ is built on the undying loyalty of dogs. It brought me memories of my high school days when I read a poem by William Wordsworth called ‘Fidelity’, which also focused on the same emotion. The story ‘Ransoming the Bone’, though short, would have to be my choice as the best in the collection because it ended ever so suddenly even as I was led to expect more. Two stories have been told from the dog’s viewpoint in first person and I liked the idea.

The author’s love and concern for dogs is palpable. I have a feeling that people who own dogs and love them, would find much more to enthuse about these stories than me because I have never had a pet and have never known a dog intimately. I can relate to these stories mainly as one who loves animals and wishes that all species be treated humanely and never killed for food or otherwise. Exotic species like dolphins, polar bears, whales, elephants etc easily find enough champions to protect them. Dogs and cats are considered part of the family in countries like the UK, Australia, Canada etc and so at least in such countries, they lead a privileged and protected existence. I hope one day, such happy circumstances would visit dogs and cats in other countries too. Not only dogs, but the other ‘not so lucky’ species such as cows, goats, pigs and chickens as well .

So there you have it.  I hope to see more reviews.  If you would like to read and review one of my books, drop me a line at davidburke63@gmail.com and I will send you a mobi for kindle, epub for nook or pdf … at no charge in exchange for the review.

Have a great day.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

Follow these Steps to Ensure that Your Writing Sucks – (cause I really can´t stand the competition)

I am reading a really great book on the art / methodology / technique of writing fiction.
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This book posits all the really bad habits writers have and the miriad of ways that they sabotage their own stories.
I haven´t finished it yet but already I can see some of the pitfalls that have plagued me. I am going to add my two cents

Seeing as this guide was written before the ebook, self publishing revolution started.  Here are my pet peeves and observations after reading scores of Indie novels.

1.  Please start the book, first page with the back-story.

2.  Do not have any action at all in the first scene.  By action, I don´t mean NO shoot-outs or fisticuffs.  I mean no action at all.  Have the main character (or even better, some secondary, minor character that we will soon forget about) just sits there, musing on the past.  This will surely grab the reader’s attention.

3.  Be sure, if you do have any action that it is a description of some inane mannerism or tick that the character has like biting his/her lip or flipping a bit of hair behind her ear.  Repeat often.

4.  If at all possible, repeat the same inane action but write it exactly the same way.
Mary caught a bit of side hair that had fallen out of her pony tail and pushed it behind her ear.  Pg 2.  Mary caught a bit of side hair that had fallen out of her pony tail and pushed it behind her ear.  Pg 6.  Mary caught a bit of side hair that had fallen out of her pony tail and pushed it behind her ear.  Pg 12. Etc.  The reader loves to read these things over and over.

5.  Always tell us what is going on.  The narrator is GOD and our sense of perception sucks.  Why bother to show us the poster glued to the wall outside the gym, the old glue and bits of older, ripped posters still clinging onto the wall like fighters in the last round – a poster that announces the title fight at 9 PM between Buster ´Knuckles´ Jones and Tommy ´The Mule´ Smith.  That takes too much time.  Just say that Buster Jones had a title fight with Tommy Smith at 9 PM.  It´s so much easier.

6.  Whenever possible, include your protagonist’s morning ritual.  We need to know what kind of shampoo our heroine uses as it is for sure to be a crucial point in her solving the murder and wooing the beau-hunk detective.

7.  Make sure that there is a cat or dog in the story and give them a really cutesy name like Miss Puss´n´boots or Mr. Poopy.  Repeat that as often as possible.

8.  Beatles references.  There must be a Beatles reference in every good genre novel.  Especially cool when it´s a futuristic sci-fi novel set in the year 2067.  Your protagonist will be considered ´JUST THAT MUCH COOLER´ if he still grooves to Yellow Submarine after 100 years.

9.  When writing genre fiction, there is absolutely no need to follow previously established norms or folklore …. Writing a Vampire novel?  To hell with that ´Going out in the sun-light crap´ better yet, make them sparkle in the sun.  Didn´t Dracula get all sparkly?  Lestat?  Why not?  To hell with it.  Better yet.  Pick a genre you know absolutely nothing about and have never read any books in.  Write one of those.  Sure to be a bestseller.
10.  (And this one also applies to television scripts as well)  Whatever the reader has been waiting for from the first page or first episode (in a TV series)  don´t deliver.  Don´t give them what they want.  12 episodes later and our ´Masked Man´ who is soon to undergo a transformation and become that SUPERHEROE ….. give him a crap costume in the final of season 1.  Did your readers think this was a romance and the girl was going to end up with the hero at the end.  Nah!  Let her run off with a one legged circus dwarf.  Makes for a better ending if everyone is dissatisfied and feels cheated.  That way you can flaunt your superiority and catch them for the sequel.
Good luck with that.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

News & a New Review

The news is that I have finally broken my writer’s block.  It was really a stall and not a block.  I am one of those people that needs to have all their ducks lined up before getting started.  I had a few gaping plot holes in the story I am working on and I didn’t have a title that POPPED.  That’s taken care of now.  My goal is to write a Novella in the range of about 40,000 words. I figue with a minimum of 1000 words per day, an easy goal, I should see a first draft by the middle of October at the very latest.

I am not revealing the name until the cover is done.

In the meantime, I got another review for my latest.
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4 Stars – Didn’t want it to end – Beautiful stories, August 9, 2015

Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups & Chili Dogs – True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico

Full disclosure – I received a free Kindle edition of this book in return for my review.

This is a collection of short pieces – some newspaper style articles; others short stories or essays, which cover some aspect of canine life in Mexico.

David Gordon Burke writes and handles the material well. Skillfully using the newspaper article format to establish the routine nature of animal abuse in Mexican life, he writes touchingly about living with abuse, sometimes from the canine point of view, sometimes from the abuser. But although the book addresses a serious problem, the emotional tone of the stories covers more than anguish. There is humor, comedy but most of all, the joy that comes from friendship and living life.

So, I’m entering 4 stars as my review. Why? David Gordon Burke is a compelling writer. At the end of every short story, I found I was a little sad that the tale was winding down. At one point, I was bored, but quickly brightened up when I realized the dog had not appeared yet. Ha! Not to worry, it would be fine. He pulled that trick off in story after story.

Well, why not 5 stars? Aw, shucks, I think Lois McMaster Bujold is 5 stars. Or Diane Ackerman, since we speak of creative non-fiction. This Amazon star system is pretty inflexible and doesn’t deal well with major award winners. Also, you have to leave some room for the writer to grow – as an incentive. Finally, he is a better writer than I am – I’m jealous.

That’s all that’s happening today.  Have to get to it.  See y’all down the road.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here. 

Rules for Writing – Take it all with a Grain of Salt

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I am constantly chewing up and spitting out the so-called rules for writing fiction.
Best to go on record here – I despise conformity.  I despise commerciality.  If one sets his mind to creating anything for the sake of making money, I hope to god he confines himself to the world of fast food, manufacturing, software development etc.  The world of art, in its purest form, should be reserved for artists.  If one were to try to create art for the sake of commerce, one is likely not to make either money or art.

That is not to say that an artist, in this case writers, cannot and should not learn something of the skill set which will allow their work to be enjoyed by and consumed by a vast audience – just as long as they are not prostituting themselves or their vision to a higher (or lower) authority that demands they follow a set structure.  So I strive to bend the rules or better yet see them as a loose set of guidelines or suggestions.

I stumbled upon a list of RULES – a page containing quotes by famous writers.  I am going to compile, dissect and cast off what I figure to be pure nonsense and come up with my own RULES.  Take ´em or leave  ´em.
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1.  The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
Agreed.  There is a good chance that a lot of what you have written will be garbage and will need rewriting.

  1. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker
    Agreed. I am slowly working through The Elements of Style.  The bible for writers.  Of course, there are still some RULES within it that can be bent over backwards or broken but at least you will have more than an opinion to base your work on.
  2. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.― Jack London
    Part of being a writer is seeing the drama and possibilities in everyday situations.  One can develop that skill – but without it your well will soon run dry.
  3. There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. 
    W. Somerset Maugham.  Agreed.  Like music, the rules are only a bunch of suggestions.  We should understand that  by RULE we mean ¨This has worked for me.¨
  4. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that .– Stephen King. 
    I don´t know if reading every day of your life is crucial to writing.  I have passed my ´Reading´ phase and am now in my ´Writing´ phase.  Of course, I have read thousands of books in my life.  It is essential to read, I just don´t know if I agree it must happen simultaneously with writing.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.– Neil Gaiman
    This may be true – but the key point here is that something that doesn´t work for one reader may be fine for another.  In the end, we have to admit that nothing we do or write will please 100% of our audience.  The ´FIX´ however will be up to us.
  6.  Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die. – Anne Enright
    Agreed.  I wrote my last book shortly after being diagnosed with Cancer.  Write everyday like it is your last. 
  7. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemingway
    Agreed.  The fluffy descriptions don´t fit in today´s world of Netflix, Youtube, Internet etc.  It´s not necessary and distracts from the story.
  8. Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Have the courage to write badly.– Joshua Wolf Shenk
    I struggle with this but AGREE.  It is a fact (especially taking into point 1) that the story must reveal itself.  That is done by getting it done.
  9. Write what you know.
    In a large part I agree with this. That is not to say that one cannot write a novel about Horses even if they have never ridden.  But you must make the story your own, from your particular slant – putting yourself into the story.  There are better writers out there, people with much vaster life experience but there is only one YOU.
  10. Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.– Lev Grossman
    It appears that the one thing writers like to do more than writing, is give advice on how it should be done. The planners swear that planning a novel is the best method – the seat of the pants crowd shun those that plan – some swear that the adverb is the bane of the written word, all the while using them liberally in their work.
  11. My personal favorite – write every day.
    Half and half agree.  I write something everyday but I do not write fiction everyday.  I have a cycle.  I write and blog and chat on forums and work on my non-fiction tutorials etc.  In every case I try to write conscisely and try to keep typos and grammar issues to a minimum.  (I often run into problems with my PC, my Spanish operating system etc.)  But writing without purpose is a sure-fire way to get a terrible first draft that no amount of editing will salvage.  I write my fiction when it is ready to come out.  I don´t force it.

There is no RIGHT or WRONG.
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What there is is ORIGINAL or  DERIVATIVE.  NEW or PREDICTABLE.  GROUND BREAKING or COMMERCIAL.

Signing off.
David Gordon Burke

Find my books here.

Writing Short Stories vs. Novels & Novellas

What are you writing these days?  One of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to master the short story.  Master?  Ok, there is no such thing.  But to have a firm grasp on writing to length and how to construct a short story is a great skill to have if you hope to make a living with the written word.

What is a short story?  You can characterize, although these are not hard-fast rules, all genres by length.

Novel – over 40,000 words

Novella                – 17,500 to 40,000 words

Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words

Short story – under 7,500 words
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So what is the difference between writing a short story compared to a novel?  Writing short stories means beginning as close to the climax as possible — everything else is a distraction. A novel can take a more meandering path, but should still start with a scene that sets the tone for the whole book.  A short story conserves characters and scenes, typically by focusing on just one conflict, and drives towards a sudden, unexpected revelation. Go easy on the exposition and talky back-story — your reader doesn’t need to know everything that you know about your characters.

While I am non-conformist in story structure where novels are concerned, I see that there really is no point NOT conforming to a more rigid structure in a short story.  Within my collection ´Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups + Chili Dogs – True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico´ I mixed Short Stories, and Novelettes and one piece even came close in word count to that of a novella.

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Depending on length, there may be room for some variation.  If there is any room for some back-story, it is not an absolute taboo to include it.  The same would apply to character development, motives, conflict etc.

What caught me off guard was the microcosm element of writing short stories.  I had written a memoir and a novel.  I wasn´t sure what I wanted to do next so I figured a short story collection would be an easy way to keep writing.  ¨I´ll just whip off a bunch of short stories while the idea for another novel comes to me,¨ I thought.  HA!

It turns out that writing a short story is not that much different in the long run from writing a novel.  The story is the story and the cosmic, psychological, mental weight of carrying that story to term is exactly the same for all stories.  You have to get it right, you have to make sure it all makes sense, you need to keep an eye on every little detail, no plot holes, have to understand you characters even if you don´t include every detail of their lives in the final draft, have to have a setting, a conflict etc.  En fin, you have to give birth to a fully formed story that convinces the reader of its validity and which also entertains and sucks them in, keeps them interested and fulfills a promise, that of delivering a satisfying conclusion.  In short, everything a novel would do but on a more condensed scale.

So does that condensed scale make it easier?  From an editing and proofreading perspective, yes!  You are much more likely to discover a typo or grammatical error within 20 pages as compared to 250 pages.

From a writing perspective, it may take less time to write a short story but you will put in nearly as much sweat off your brow and mental energy in the long run.

Then there is the question of what to do with your short story once you have it finished.  In some cases writers are selling their short stories on Amazon but this is no longer as effective way as in the past to see a payday.  So your obvious answer is to do like I did and put together a collection of short stories.

Now you are definitely carrying heavy weight.  One novel of 200 pages compared to a short story collection of 200 pages?  It´s quite likely the short story collection was the harder job for the writer.

A final note – to write short stores well, read the form as much as possible.
Here´s a list of some of my favorite short story collections.

The Son of the Wolf: Tales of the Far North – Jack London

Fifty Egg Timer Short Stories  –  Richard Bunning

The Books of Blood – Clive Barker

Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Last Flight of Jose Luis Balboa – Gonzalo Barr

Different Seasons
Four Past Midnight
Night Shift
Nightmares & Dreamscapes
Skeleton Crew
Stephen King

Doghouse Roses: Stories – Steve Earle

I am currently working on a Novella and expect it to push the limit to around 40.000 words.  Still don’t have a name for it.

Keep on writing.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

The Best Pitch

Yesterday I got my best rejection letter.  This was not related to pitching my book to some publishing house or something along those lines.  I was looking for someone to review one of my books.

Now I have a secret weapon for finding people to review.  That secret WILL not be revealed in this post.  However, it seems to me that as writers, our job is to convince people of the reality of our stories.  It´s out job to SELL with words.  I am amazed by the bland promos on Twitter, the boring posts on Facebook, the dull web-sites etc. that writers use to push their stuff.  Just awestruck by how utterly inane their promo.  God knows, if their promo and ads are an indication of their writing, I´m not buying any of it.

So I unleashed my Standard Form letter on an unsuspecting recipient.  This time, and I have done this a few times, it was to a well know personality.  I remember her from the early 70´s.  She had a hit on popular radio ´At 17.´ Her name is Janis Ian.  I found that she often does reviews on Amazon.  There are a few celebs wandering around Amazon giving their opinions  so why not?  An endorsement from someone well know certainly couldn´t hurt.

This is the reply letter I got back.

Hi David, Judy here for Janis.
I’ll make sure Janis sees you very kind email!
Unfortunately, she very very rarely reviews books – or, if you’ve noticed – music. Almost all her reviews are non-entertainment-related. And I know that these days, she has next to no time for reading, as kind as your offer is.
So on her behalf, I’m afraid I’m going to decline.
However, I will tell you that yours is absolutely the best “pitch letter” we’ve ever gotten around here!
All the best
Judy Somers

Ok, so no sucess in getting the review but I did make an impression.  What a boost, the part about THE BEST ´PITCH LETTER´ – that´s what it´s all about.
What kind of promo are you doing?

David Gordon Burke