Saturday, April 22, 2017

To Find Opportunity, You Must Knock on Doors


By W. Terry Whalin

From my years in publishing, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decisionmaker at these events. Also it is necessary to be knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? 

In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

2. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.

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W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a New York publisher. Terry has an active twitter following (over 200,000) and lives in Colorado.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

How to Write Better Endings to Your Stories


Many writers have trouble coming up with the perfect ending for a story.

And the perfect ending is really important because it is often the ending of a story that people remember most.

That’s because a good ending ties everything together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

To write good story endings, keep these tips in mind:

1. A good ending is made possible by having a good beginning and a good middle.

If you're having trouble with the ending of your story, go back and look at your beginning and middle.

What is the BIG thing your main character is trying to do or solve at the start of the story?

Is it clear throughout the story that your character is trying to solve this problem?

Everything in the beginning and middle of your story needs to relate to this problem.

When it does, it will be much easier to come up with the perfect ending.

If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to create the perfect ending to your story.

Try this: Write down, in one or two sentences, what the main conflict is in your story. If you have trouble doing this, you probably need to get clearer about the main story problem.

2. Your ending should come about because of the actions and events we see in the beginning and the middle of your story.

For example, don’t have some character we've never seen before suddenly appear at the end of the story to help the main character solve the problem or solve it for him.

This won’t make for a satisfying ending.

If you want to have another character help the main character at the end, we need to see this character in the middle of the story, not just the ending.

Also remember that the ending needs to come about because of action or actions the main character did or did not take.

Things can’t simply happen to the main character by chance.

And someone else can't simply step in and save the day for your main character.

Things need to happen because of actions and decisions the main character makes throughout the story.

3. Make sure you have plenty of conflict (rising action) that leads to the climax and ending of the story.

Endings tend to fall flat if there isn’t plenty of conflict in the middle of the story, with all sorts of decisions and actions the main character faces before he’s able to solve or resolve the overall problem.

4. Good endings evoke some sort of emotion in the reader.

To write endings that do this, start by reading other published stories in the genre you wish to write.

See how they ended and how you felt at the ending.

Make a few notes about how the authors evoked these emotions.

You’ll have to practice writing endings that cause readers to feel emotions, so take your time.

When you have a clear problem that is evident throughout the story, and plenty of conflict throughout the story as the main character tries to solve this problem, it is much easier to create the perfect ending to your story – an ending that evokes emotion from your reader and leaves him feeling satisfied.

So follow these tips until you come up with an ending for your story that is just right!

Try it!


Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

Monday, April 10, 2017

10 Ideas for Social Media Posts

Social media marketing is a must in this day and age. It's important to have an online presence in addition to your website to stay on top of the minds of your readers and clients.

I am frequently asked which are the best social media networks for writers. The easy answer is: whichever sites you are most active on. If you spend time on a social media platform personally, you are more likely to drive conversations on it professionally.

For those who want a tangible answer, I say, LinkedIn is a must, since it is a professional network. It's also less cluttered, so it's more likely your posts will be seen. Second is Facebook. It is hugely popular, continually evolving, and prioritizes the user experience.

Now that we have the where, here are 10 things you can post on social media.

Links:

1. To A Blog Post

2. To Relevant Industry News

3. To Media

4. To Your Upcoming Events

Images:

5. Where You Are and What You Are Doing

6. A Relevant Quote Graphic

Videos

7. A Quick Tip

8. A Live Video of You Speaking or Teaching

Text:

9. An Update of Your Latest Project

10. Questions for Your Audience.

Here are some author-friendly options:
- What are you reading (fiction, non-fiction, or both)?
- What are you writing?
- Where is your favorite place to read (or write)?
- How do you find inspiration?
- What is your favorite piece of advice?

Whether or not it's an question post, whenever you share something on social media, include a question at the bottom that encourages them to comment (see below).

One more thing. Unless you have a a huge news site (and unless you are referring to Twitter) you really don't want to publish on your social media platforms more than once or twice a day. The idea is to stay active, so you are on the minds and in the feeds of your friends and fans.

What do you think? Where do you posts and what do you post?Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Taking inspiration for fiction from non-fiction

A little stuck in your novel? Looking for a great idea for a short story? Just want to stir up some creative juices?

Look no further than non-fiction.

-History books and biographies, obviously, are full of amazing, horrifying, or interesting stories that can provide inspiration for fiction.

-Good psychology books can help create or flesh out your characters.

-Science books provide ideas and what-ifs for science fiction, modern day thrillers, etc.

-What if one of your characters is a specialist in something? Or wants to do something you know little about? You'll need to do research. And all those research books are writing fodder.

-My favorites, however, are books about animals—their adaptations, instincts, specialized skills, etc. My highest-paid fiction sale and the story I'm working on now both grew from seeds of truth I found in animal books. And if you're into science fiction, consider all the bio-mimicry options out there.


So, what sorts of non-fiction books do you take inspiration from? I'd love to hear in the comments.



Melinda Brasher's newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget, is a guide for people want to explore the beauty of Alaska from the water but who also like to save money for the next adventure.  If you have Amazon Prime, read for free! Or visit her website at cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Self-Publishing: Press This! Part 1

As you might surmise from reading the biographies of the other women that post on this blog, I'’m the newbie. I self-published my first children'’s book in 2014. I used a Press. There are pro'’s and con’'s of publishing with a press so, I'’d like to share my experience with you. Then, you can make a more informed decision for yourself.
 I had written about 10 books when I was a child. Nothing that I would publish today but the dream to be an author was alive and well when I was young. I loved stapling my little book together and showing it off to my family. I always knew I wanted to write a book for publication. People would ask, ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ and I would always say, ‘I will have published a book.’ I didn'’t know what kind of book, but I knew I would do it one day. 
 I had worked for 10 years as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and thought I might write a self-help book. But, nothing ever came to me to write on that topic. Maybe one day though. However, once my daughter started kindergarten and I was going through a pre-mature empty nest syndrome, another parent of a kindergartener asked me what I really wanted to do. Of course I said, “write a book!” She encouraged me by telling me she knew someone that published a book and she would get them to help me. That, apparently, was all I needed. A children’'s book came to me one morning and I didn'’t stop writing until I was done. I worked on it some more, making it into a chapter book and polishing the ending. But, by then, my friend said her friend couldn'’t help me. My little dream went up in a puff of smoke.
 But, then an email landed in my inbox asking, “"Have you always dreamed of publishing your own book?"” How many of you can see “"gullible"” written all over my forehead? Now, don'’t get me wrong, I'’m not saying publishing with a Press is a bad thing. They can make dreams come true. So, I responded to that email. Publishing a book through this Press was expensive; at that time nearly $1500 for them to help my dream become a reality. I didn'’t have the money. However, I do get paid an additional fee for working extra hours in the summer (I work in a school). So, I told them I would save my money this summer and be back. The next summer, the price had risen to $1776 (it did happen to be July 4th). I knew I had to jump at this deal before it went any higher. I had done my research and they were a reputable company. This is an important step if you choose to publish through a Press. Please, please, please do your research and be sure they are reputable. I worked with a man who was super nice and I added some additional services like editing and things that seemed important— and that caused the price to zoom up to $2500.
 I paid them in payments and they worked with me to create a beautiful cover that I loved; they edited my book to a professional level; they secured the copyright and ISBN; and they put my book up on Amazon, B&N.com and other affiliated online bookstores. These were all things that I didn'’t have the ability to do or didn'’t know how or didn'’t know who to hire to do it for me. I was and am very grateful to them for bringing my first book to reality.
Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked at the local Community Mental Health Center, the local Community College, Hospice, and is currently a Guidance Counselor. Her calling in life is to help others be their best selves.  She writes magical, whimsical, adventure books that delight and inspire children. She has always loved reading and writing and wrote many books and poems as a child growing up in Missouri. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. 
 You can follow her at www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com
 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Beware! Agents Aren't All Ethical

I don't double up on articles from my #SharingwithWriters newsletter news and blog very often, but sometimes it seems essential.  So, I'm repeating this from the February  SWW issue. There is another scam alert in it (seems the spring of 2017 is scam season for writers!), so if you are interested you can pick up the February issue  or subscribe on my Web site at http://bit.ly/SWWNewsletter. So here it is with thanks to a special author/reporter who doesn't want to be mentioned. 

There is a new kink in the old agent-for-upfront-fee scam. One of my longtime writing friends told me that just as she had been waiting for the “right time to terminate” her relationship with her agent, she received a mass e-mail informing her of the agent’s new fee-for-service plan. My friend then terminated her contract (the terms of the contract had already expired) and asked that the mention of her books be removed from this former agent’s Web site. The agent refused her request (and other authors' requests) citing that she was the “agent of record” for those books.

My friend says, “I feel bad for new writers who fall for this trap of paying her upfront fees.” This agent also added another wrinkle to her fee collecting program—a cancellation-of-contract fee. Learn more at  (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2017/02/red-flag-alert-loiacono-literary-agency.html?m+1 ) 

I have no idea whether keeping a book that is no longer represented by an agent on an agent’s site is legal, but it certainly is misleading if not downright unethical. One of the tools that authors use to judge the effectiveness of an agent is their catalogue of book sales. It is important that you are all aware of this practice and double check with some of the authors who have been (or are) represented by any agent you are considering. 

You should also be aware that some agents “sell books” to presses that would take any book presented to them, often called (rather erroneously) self-publishing presses and that were once called “vanity publishing or presses” and still are by anyone who cares to flaunt their #bookbigotry. Of course these agents usually still take their 15% for “handling” and “representing” or “selling” the book to that press. There is more on that in the blog link above.

You will also find more on finding reputable agents and editors in both The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor including things to look for and questions to ask both the professional you are considering as a hire and those clients they provide as references. There are all kinds of ways you can be mislead—both intentionally and unintentionally. 

MORE ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
                 
Feel free to message her on Facebook with your own scam news at http://Facebook.com/carolynhowardjohnson. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus

By Karen Cioffi

My 10 year old grandson is trying out for the All County Band in his area. He was telling me the piece he has to play is difficult. I told him that practice is a powerful tool. Just 10-15 minutes a day will help tremendously.

Obviously the more practice the better, but my grandson has ADHD. Reducing the amount of time on practicing doesn’t make it seem overwhelming – it’s doable.

This philosophy will work for anything, including writing.

What does it take to have a flourishing writing career?
1. Learn the craft and practice it.

To be a ‘good’ writer, an effective writer, a working writer, you need to know your craft. The only way to do this is to study it.

If you’re starting out, take a few courses online or offline or both. Get a strong grasp of the basics.

We’re all familiar with “practice makes perfect.”

There’s a reason that saying has lasted. It’s true.

Writing coach Suzanne Lieurance says, “Writing is a lot like gardening because it takes constant pruning and weeding.”

You need to keep up with your craft. Even as your get better at it, keep honing your craft. Keep learning more and more and practice, practice, practice

So, what does it mean to practice?

Simple. Write. Write. Write.

Again, even if it's for short periods of time throughout the week, you're practicing. 

An excellent way to improve your writing skills is to copy (type and/or handwrite) content of a master in the niche you want to specialize in.

This is a copywriting trick. You actually write the master’s words and how to write professionally mentally sinks in.

Now, we all know that this is just a practice tool. We should never ever use someone else’s content as our own.

2. Focus in on a niche.

Have you heard the adage: A jack of all trades and master of none?

This is the reason you need to specialize.

You don’t want to be known as simply okay or good in a number of different niches. You want to be known as an expert in one or two niches.

This way, when someone is looking for a writer who specializes in, say, memoirs and autobiographies, you’re at the top of the list

I would recommend that your niches are related, like memoirs and autobiographies or being an author and book marketing.

Along with this, focus produces results.

According to an article in Psychology Today on focus and results, Dan Goleman Ph.D. says, “The more focused we are, the more successful we can be at whatever we do. And, conversely, the more distracted, the less well we do. This applies across the board: sports, school, career.

So, practice and focus your way to a successful writing career.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
Follow Karen at: http://facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarecioffi

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