Chris Angelis, Author at Craft Your Content

All posts by Chris Angelis

The Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for a Book Review

Whether you’re published traditionally or independently, from the moment your work is publicly available, someone can review it. Reviewing is an integral part of publishing. And so is asking for a review.

If your work is available for sale online, having reviews can really make a difference in your sales. Think of it from the reader’s perspective: A book with hundreds of reviews is more likely to attract your attention than one with three or four reviews.

As a result, most authors—whose name isn’t Stephen King and who lack an army of marketers—try to find readers who would be kind enough to review their book. However, asking for a review isn’t a simple process; you can’t just ask for it the way you ask someone if they like chocolate (who wouldn’t, but I digress).

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right word

The Art of Picking the Right Word

The English language has hundreds of thousands of words, and learning how to pick the right one for the occasion is an art. Like every art form, word choice is also partly subjective, depending on the context, and overall often frustrating to “get right.”

Have you ever revisited your older texts, perhaps some early attempts from many years ago? Did you have a slightly odd, cringey feeling of barely recognizing yourself as the author? If so, I can relate! This feeling of perplexed embarrassment is partly caused by the different word choices made by your old self compared to your current one. 

As inexperienced authors, our vocabulary is not very evolved—that’s certainly one aspect of it. In other … words, we might not be aware that there is a more accurate, more specific word for what we try to convey. As a young author, I saw no problem with using nice in every other sentence.

The issue, however, goes far beyond not knowing a certain word. 

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pen name

Pros and Cons of Using a Pen Name

Using a pen name (also known as a pseudonym, literary double, or nom de plume) is a writing tradition that is both old and widespread. Many of the classic authors we are familiar with wrote and published using a pen name—Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) being one characteristic example.

The reasons behind using a pen name can vary. Sometimes, one’s real name might be considered too long or too difficult to pronounce. “Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum” would’ve been a challenge for a publisher (and a nightmare for a cover designer), so “Ayn Rand” was preferred. 

Moreover, some famous female authors have opted for a pen name to hide their gender, in order to be taken more seriously. Examples include George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Currer and Ellis Bell (Charlotte and Emily Brontë), and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon).

Using a pen name can have some important benefits regarding marketing and publishing. Plus, using a pen name can help your writing—for reasons you might not readily appreciate, as I’ll explain later in the post.

However, here’s a crucial question: Can using a pen name also hurt your writing?

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How To Become a Better Writer by Emulating Other Authors

Developing a skill invariably requires learning from others with more experience. Writing is no exception. Improving as a writer involves reading others’ work and—at least at first—emulating it. Put simply, emulating other authors helps you learn what works and what doesn’t.

“Hey, hang on,” you might say indignantly, “are you asking me to copy other writers?”

I know why you may feel that way. Few things are more upsetting to a writer than to be accused of plagiarism. Judging by discussions I’ve had with fellow authors, it probably hurts less to have your own work plagiarized than to be wrongfully accused of plagiarism yourself. So, why am I suggesting that you become a better writer by emulating others?

And so, here comes a giant flashing red light..

Plagiarism, imitation, and emulation are three entirely different concepts. Their meaning, motivation, and results have nothing to do with one another. Whereas one can lead you into muddy waters, both legally and ethically, another can make the difference between a competent author and a great author.

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