Friday, April 24, 2015

Creative Marketing

Visiting a few of the millions of blogs online this month has confirmed my belief that marketing, as once we knew it, has changed. Banging the buy-buy-buy drum nowadays is boring. And buyers shy away from the hard sell.

public domain photo from pickupimage.com
farmers' market
After all, trying to market writing and/or writing services is not like selling a vital commodity like food or health--or is it?

For so many of us writing is as necessary for our health as breathing. If we can afford to devote our life to it, we are lucky indeed. But for many of us, it may be the only option for earning a living. And although we're always being told about the global market, in the end we're lucky to find enough readers to fill a tiny village.

And how do you sell goods in a village? Word of mouth, sales to friends, arrange small house parties to sell selected items, sell door to door by appointment, display posters everywhere you can, chat,chat, chat to everyone--not primarily about what you're selling but about what the people you're talking to want and/or need. Natural networking--ask what you can do for everyone not what everyone can do for you.  Make friends, help friends, share your expertise freely and you'll find friends eager to help you back.

Readers as Neighbors

Chat through your social media sites, through your blog comments--ask for opinions, ask for ideas, ask what readers want to know. Give small reports from your niche, short stories featuring characters from your novels, give a helping hand when asked. Be neighborly.

People love quizes. especially the type which claim to predict "What kind of person are you?" Offer a giveaway or two as prizes.

Extend your blogging network by offering guest posts, finding blogs relating to your characters' hobbies and commenting on posts. Join as many forums as you can, just to chat and ask questions, offer solutions.

Yes it will mean lots of extra work but no-one  ever said it was easy to make a living writing except for those marketers who promise untold wealth in a week.

Look and Learn

  • Make a point of visiting a new blog every day and commenting even if only to say how pleased you are to have found it.  
  • Note the things you like--maybe the color scheme--and what you dislike. Maybe the columns are too cluttered. Too much to take in.
  • Keep revising your own blog layout and articles in the light of everything you learn. 

Best of all, whatever you're writing, just relax. You're with friends. Let your soul shine through.

What have you found the best marketing methods for you? Please share some ideas in the comments below. We love to chat. :-)

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol


A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at her very new Author Support blog: http://www.authorsupport.net
Her novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press.

Monday, April 20, 2015

26 Reasons to Blog - Part 1

Last month, I read Annie Duguid’s post on the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and I fell for it. I love challenges!

Every day for the month of April, with the exception of Sundays, I have blogged on the theme, Out of Africa. However, I also hate wasting time, and so I needed a purpose in this challenge, so I wouldn't just spend a lot of time writing posts that a few people would read and enjoy.

So I looked for ways to maximize the content and utilize it in other ways. I've decided to share some of these ideas with you over the next few months. True to the theme of the A to Z Challenge, I’m going to list them in alphabetical order. So here are the first three of 26 reasons to blog. More to follow next month!

1.  A is for Awareness. 
  •  As writers, we’re always hearing of the importance of branding. Blogging gets you out there, sharing your brand, without consciously having to think about it. 
  • As soon as I started the challenge, I became aware that I needed to let others know about my posts. So I advertised them on Social Media. 
  • I write ahead, so that if anything happens one day to make blogging impossible, I won’t fall behind. However, that made me more aware of the need to schedule in advance. Each time I complete a post, I schedule a promotion on Face book, on Twitter (using HootSuite) and on iContact (for those who want to be notified of a new post).
  • So the regular blogging makes others aware of me, as well as making me more aware of them. 

2.  B is for Better Writing. 
  • It is a well-known fact that the road to becoming a writer is to write. Committing to a regular blog disciplines me to keep writing. 
  • Because I have a specific topic, Out of Africa, my search for topics is narrowed. 
  • The idea of choosing titles alphabetically is a great one, as it narrows my search down even more. At the same time, the theme is wide enough to allow for a range of ideas: B could have been the country of Benin, the Bushmen of the Kalahari, or the Baboon, a member of the monkey family.
  • Once I select the topic, I need to write, and get the post finished. Because my goal for this particular series is to share the continent of Africa with those who may never be able to visit, the posts are a little longer than they would normally be—something which I will consider when the month is over. In order to keep up the momentum long term, the posts need to be shorter. 

3.  C is for Challenge. And oh yes, it’s a challenge. 
  • Some letters are easy. Sometimes, the problem is deciding which one of several I could use. I've noticed some writers do in fact list several options, like “L is or Lollipop, Lazy and Luxury.” That may suit the theme of their blogs, but it doesn’t work for mine. 
  • I learned fairly soon that if I wanted to use good images, I needed to chose a topic that had plenty free-for-use images available, or one where I had plenty of my own photographs. 
  • So in choosing the topic to write, I now consider: do I want to use images? If so, how available are they? Some days I have spent as long, if not longer, hunting for photographs as I have done writing the post. Not clever.
How about you? Do you blog regularly? Can you see how any of these points would help you? Do you have any other suggestions that would fall under these three headings? Please leave a comment below. Oh, and here's my A to Z Blog, Out of Africa, if you're interested.

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, which evolved from her Jottings Journal has brought encouragement and inspiration to a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Generating Writing Ideas

Spring is a great time to clean out your idea files but sometimes ideas seem to elude even the best writers. They hide beneath the surface like flower bulbs planted in the fall seeming to be forgotten. How is it then a writer can cultivate that which has been forgotten and come up with new and fresh ideas when it is time to sit down and write. Like a well groomed garden it takes some planning. Here is my take on that process.
  • It has been said by writing masters wiser than I that it is imperative to jot down ideas as they come to you.  To do that takes nothing more than a pen and notepad though I wager to say most writers depend on technology to record their snippets. Pick your device and heed to the advice. Write it down as it comes to you, least you forget.
  • Keep a file drawer. Alphabetically, organized by topic, on neon 3 x 5 cards or on plain 3 x 5 cards, or on those pretend sticky notes on your cell phone.... keep an idea file. I like to put similar ideas together for informative E-Book possibilities or serial blog post topics. I also keep a file of character names, another for cool places that might make a great setting for a story or novel, and a file for my bucket list of " I want to write this" before I die. Read the newspaper or watch the news for current political topics but also for ideas on fashion, weather, or community and make a file. When my ideas seem to have disappeared into thin air, I can review a file and usually the creative juices start flowing again.
  • Decide what you want to write and where you wish to be published. This is important if you are not well known yet and don't have a huge author platform. Concentrate on gathering all important information on these few publishers, magazines, or websites initially so your writing ideas and submissions can be targeted specifically. Target audiences, target markets, and targeting your ideas to a specific topic will increase your chances of getting an acceptance and will help to guide your writing. Hopefully as you write, submit, and publish more frequently the ideas will flow easier and but the process will be the same. Gathering info, honing your idea, and submitting to the most likely publisher will become second nature.
  • Rest. Giving your mind a break by doing something other than writing can also help you to generate ideas. A walk in the woods, a nap, listening to music, painting, sewing, or just sitting quietly listening to nature can give your mind the pause it needs to rejuvenate.
  • Keep your body healthy. Eat well, drink plenty of water, and nurture your spiritual side will also help you to keep the writing ideas flowing. Poor health, pain, suffering, and feeling tired will make generating ideas seem more difficult.
Last but not least and what happens to me more often than not is this:  I loose my pencil, can't find a piece of paper in my purse to save my soul, I am driving in traffic or taking a shower and that's  when  my best ideas come to me. Then I must resort to repeating the idea to myself, calling my cell phone and leaving a voice mail, or ( and oh how I hate to put this in writing) I resort to using an eye liner or lip stick on the bathroom mirror to jot down that key word or two so I surely won't forget.


Ideas really are all around us. And like those bulbs hidden in the dirt last season, come spring when we most need to refresh, our ideas can be cultivated and reworked, organized and nurtured into full blown sprouting gardens of words and sentences that will entertain, educate, and touch our readers.
How do you get your ideas? Share a secret or two from your writing experiences won't you?


Terri Forehand writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana where she lives with her husband and several rescue dogs and cats. She is the author of The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane and The Cancer Prayer Book for adults. She is currently working on 61 Tips for Parents of Kids with Cancer.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The 7 Best Books for Novelists & Writers



The best books for writers, well we all probably have our own lists and I'd love to hear your favorite books - the ones that have helped you navigate your way through this writing life. These are a few of mine:

Inspiration: 

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott:
This book was mandatory reading for a college course I took called, How to Write a Novel. Anne became a favorite author after that. Her words leaving me feeling hope even at the worst of times with my writing.

and

On Writing by Stephen King:
This book is part autobiography and part helpful lessons about the writing life.

and

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron:
Essays and exercises help me find the joy in writing. I pick this one up when I'm feeling stuck.

Technical: 

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White:
Nothing more needs to be said. You've all heard it before. It's a must for every writer.

and

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King:
I consider this one of my great finds and I've loaned it out a number of times. Find it! Use it! Love it!

and

Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forester:
I had heard a lot about this book, which is a compilation of lectures Forester had delivered. I found the information on character building a wonderful lesson in how to create rounded characters.

and

The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray:
This book was a great find as well. As I look at my copy I see where I've underlined and made numerous notations. This book, while I didn't use it to only write on the weekends, gave me an excellent overview of how to create structure.

The Business:

Literary Law Guide for Authors by Tonya Marie Evans:
On a number of occasions I've found myself looking up information here for myself and my writer friends. Love it!

So what are the books you can't do without?

________________________

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.                                                           D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                              She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com                                                                         You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.






Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Getting Freelance Writing Credits

by Suzanne Lieurance

If you’re worried that you can’t possibly juggle all the assignments it takes to start earning at least $100 a day as a writer, here’s some writing advice. Try these tips to balance all the various projects you’ll enjoy once you get your writing career going:



1. Try to acquire both long term and short term assignments. You may get bored if you’re only working on long term assignments like book length manuscripts. Also accept shorter assignments with shorter deadlines. This will give you a more constant stream of income, plus you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment each time you finish a shorter project – and that will help keep you motivated to finish those long term assignments.

2. Plan to do something every day to move each of your writing projects/assignments forward. If you keep up with each assignment on a daily basis, you won’t be scrambling to meet the deadline for any of them at the last minute.

3. Use spread sheets or charts to keep track of all your assignments. Whenever you get a new assignment, add it to your spreadsheet. That way you won’t overlook deadlines, or forget about long term assignments, when you get really, really busy working on short term projects.

These tips should help you balance your writing assignments and actually enjoy your writing career more as you continue to increase your weekly, monthly, and yearly income as a freelance writer.


Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

For more short writing tips, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

Friday, April 10, 2015

April Blogging Prompts

April showers bring May flowers. They also bring lots of blog posts. 

Here are some things you can blog about this month:

April is National Poetry Month: Write a poem, share your favorite poem and why, give your readers an assignment to write a poem, or all of the above. The celebration lasts all month long. However, Great Poetry Reading Day is April 28.

The last week in April is National Karaoke Week! Share your proudest or most embarrassing karaoke moment, or create a new one to share with your readers.

Plus:

April Holidays: April is International Guitar Month (great for songwriters), Lawn and Garden Month (grow your stories, grow your business), and Stress Awareness Month (share ways for your readers to de-stress). April 14 is International Moment of Laughter Day, April 16 is National Librarian Day, April 18 is Newspaper Columnists Day, April 23 is Take a Chance Day, April 27 is Tell a Story Day, and April 30 is National Honesty Day

April Food Holidays: April is National Garlic Month, National Grilled Cheese Month (Greilled Cheese Sandwich Day is April 12), and National Soft Pretzel Month. Perhaps my favorite April food holiday is National Picnic Day on April 23. Come up with literary themed picnics to share with your readers or take yourself on a picnic and then do some writing outside.

Bonus: April is also National Humor Month. This leads to a variety of possibilities for both fiction and non-fiction writers. Write funny, even if you think you're not. Or, if you are a humorous writer, write in another genre ... just for fun! You never know where words might lead. You just have to play with them!

***


Debra Eckerling is the author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She's a writer, editor and project manager/goal coach, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. She is an editor at Social Media Examiner. Debra is also a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting and social media.


Monday, April 6, 2015

3 Apps to Help Writers






Gravatar

What: 

Gravatar, a WordPress Platform feature, is a globally recognized Avatar.  Just upload your image and create your profile. When a blog user leaves a comment, his/her Gravatar is exhibited with the comment. (The blog's software scans for the gravatar that matches the e-mail the blogger has entered.)


Benefits:
Your online presence will be facilitated by your  unique Gravatar. Don't waste time typing your name and contact info every time you comment on a blog. Just use your professional Gravatar with your blog comments.

Timenye

What:
An ideal time-tracking App for freelancers who need to monitor the time spent on client projects and bill accordingly.

Benefits: 
You can monitor your daily, weekly and monthly writing tasks in real time using the pie chart. You can also retrieve your daily activities. Timeneye learns your habits and tracks time for you.

Note: Timenye helped me to identify the extra time I spent to satisfy a client's growing expectations for a blog. This made it easy for me to estimate additional fees and to streamline tasks.

EVERNOTE

What:
EVERNOTE is a cloud-based App that lets you store and organize your research notes, urls, images, etc,

Benefits:
This app is a fantastic catch all for all your writing tasks:
- Take screen shots to capture ideas for inspiration, and add tags and notes.
- Find your notes, photos, etc., with the handy indexed, searchable, tagging feature.
- Use your phone to take screen shots of off-line research, receipts, etc., and upload to EVERNOTE.

Note: I have created notebooks for each of my writing projects, related marketing tasks, and monthly income reports. Before EVERNOTE, I wasted a lot of time bookmarking sites and creating files with urls and research notes in google docs. It was hard to keep track of all my research. EVERNOTE has made this process efficient and viable for me. But there is a lot more to EVERNOTE. I am looking forward to learning how to use it to its full potential.

More resources to help writers maximize their output

5 Steps to Preventing Scope Creep (and Still Keeping Your Clients Happy):
Advice for freelancers: What to do when client projects become bigger than what was agreed upon.

How to create an accurate estimate for your projects: Tools and strategies to reduce stress and efficiently manage your workload.

How to manage your time: Apply time management skills for a successful writing career.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Deb Toor is a nonfiction writer and freelance blogger. She is the author of Survival Secrets of Turkey Vultures, a suspense-adventure story for grades 4 to 6 that is based on peer-reviewed science. She is also a ghostwriter for a health blog.