Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stake Your Claim

From time to time, we all need encouragement and recognition of our accomplishments. It gives us that extra boost to believe we are good writers and we have something to offer.

But, not all writers necessarily have that kind of support. We want people to be happy for us; our family or friends. You might not get the reactions you were hoping for.

Christina Katz, author of the best seller Writer Mama, says in her recently published e-book, Write For Regional Parenting Publications: 

"There is really one key person who should be happy about your writing career success and that person is you.”

There comes a time in your writing career when you have to come to terms with this truth so you don't slow down or give up. Decide to be happy with your successes even if no one else is.

Over the years, I have found times when I had to set a stake in the ground of something I knew to be true - never to waver again. And being personally happy about my success has been one of those stakes. 

This is going to look differently for each of us. But the one place where we all start, is believing you have something to offer. It means your passion should not be tampered with. Tweaked, yes. But if we find that fire being quenched because no one seems to encourage you or appreciate your successes, you will become discouraged and perhaps give up.

It took me awhile to grasp believing in myself. It seemed like arrogance, but it's not. It's simply knowing what you can do well and doing it. Once that is established, you are tied to this truth and will be firmly established.

Stake your claim to you. There are no disqualifications! If you are writing, it's because you love to write. Inside of you there is something people want to read.  
Repost from March 27, 2013 
Photo credit:  cobaltfish / Foter / CC BY-SA

Kathy is a K - 12 substitute teacher and enjoys writing for magazines. Recently, her story, "One of a Kind", was published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances is the title of a well-loved television sitcom featuring that determined social climber Hyacinth Bucket--"pronounced Bouquet"--and her long-suffering family.

But keeping up appearances is something we must all learn to do as writers, too, no matter how annoying it is to spend time away from our first love--the writing.

When you dedicate yourself to the writing life, how often do you consider how much else is involved?  So much that it may well distract us from writing altogether.

There’s all the social media, the website, the blog, the building of reader goes on and on. So much so that it can erode the joy of your own writing creativity.
Thanks to Geralt at Pixabay

Sara Humphreys on Buzzfeed at the weekend posted a heartfelt article listing her reasons for giving up not writing but the whole writing business.

It’s hard keeping up with everything we need to do. And keeping up with the Joneses is often a step too far.

Is Your Website Ready for 2017?

Sadly with so many developments in software and design techniques, there’s nothing that dates as quickly as a website.

Do you remember when websites were gaudy and packed full of bells and whistles? The pages bounced about with fireworks and animated gifs (and yes, there are still some examples in the Buzzfeed article above--aargh). We loved avatars that spoke to us as soon as the site loaded or the ever-present muzak.

The latest must-haves are sliders showcasing bookcovers or photos--you get the picture. (Pun intended.)

Good news is that modern website appearance is now tending toward the simple.Black type on a white background is so much in favour that most websites seem the same. So how can you make yours stand out?

An effective website is a successful blend of content and design where the one complements the other.

Answer the Right Questions

To get your content right, ask yourself two questions. What is my website for? Who is my website for?

What is my content for? To sell my books? To publicize my books? To attract new readers? To publicize me? Brainstorm ten possible answers then choose the one that resonates with you.

Who is my content for? No, you can’t be all things to all people. Choose an age range (e.g.30-40), a lifestyle (perhaps a stay-at-home mom), an aspiration (could be looking to start her own business). Narrow it down until you can clearly see your reader.

If you have someone in mind when you write your books, he or she may also be the target of your website. But if you are trying to attract new readers, you may aim at a different demographic.

The New Look Website

Now think about taking a new look at your website. Focus. What is going to keep the interest of your readers. What’s in it for them?

Your home page must include a CTA, a call to action, an offer that will appeal to your readers. It’s no longer enough to say “Please sign up for my newsletter.” Invite website visitors to join your street team, to be the first to get news of your new books, to review your books on publication.

Offer writing tips, show how to get published. Free books and giveaways are all popular and will help grow your subscriber list. Remember, it’s all about them.
And of course, show off your books. Make sure that you optimize the size of your cover pix to load quickly on the web. I don’t wait long for a website to load. Too many other things I could be doing, too many other websites to check out. And I’m not alone in that.

Run your website through Google Tools speedchecker. Easy. You just type in your site's URL and hit the blue button marked analyze.

See how well it loads.

I work to simplify and speed up my website. My results when viewed on a desktop were dire. Just over 50% when summarized. And worse --under 50% on a mobile friendly result. Duh!

Seven or eight items needed fixing. Suggestions included enabling compression, reducing server response time, optimizing images. The last was a real blow. I thought I'd mastered that.

But for every failure, there was a link to help me fix the problem and improve my loading time.

I've downloaded the zip file of all the resources Google wants speeded up and thinking of it as an early Christmas present as I doubt if I shall manage to do my makeover much before then.

Website checklists

Many marketers are providing helpful checklists if you're looking to see how your pages and content match up.

A quick do-it-yourself website creation checklist hit my email box from Christina Hills this week. It is simplistic, and you will need to adapt it, but it will help your focus on essentials. Your products page will be your books page. Your services would be any other training you offer.

More Must-Do Tips

To ensure your site continues to appear in search engine results next year, follow Google's new guidelines.

Year on year, more and more readers use a mobile device to access the web. To check that your website is mobile friendly, it’s back to Google and do read the linked blog post.

Another thing to do while you’re using the Webmaster Tools is find and correct broken links. These are anathema to Google and can not only drop your pages down the listings but can cause them to stop showing in the search engine at all.

The need to have a mobile friendly website also means streamlining your design. Three column—even two column websites—look squashed on a hand-held device. Single columns show up well, hence the growing number of simple text sites with the images inserted into the one column.

The new look for now and into 2017 is for doodled images—see the cutting edge designs at and yes, there are three bs.

The Better Novel Project  is fun and a great learning site that deconstructs best-selling novels scene by scene, one doodle at a time. Well worth looking at. Good for ideas and plot development. Tackles everything from Star Wars to JK Rowling. And yes, there is also a free book on offer.

If you want to do further research, another useful and helpful article on the changing face of web design can be found here .

What’s on the way?

Over half the world’s population will supposedly be online by 2017, and the enormous influx of new users will mean an incredible amount of digital newbies, including more and more elderly.,

By 2017, think of building more age-specific help  into the latest websites.
Designers are aiming to create Navigation Menus that will expand and contract depending on the ability of users; those with difficulty will see simple interfaces to make it easier for them.

As in e-readers, font-sizes and spacing will be able to increase to accommodate the eyesight of the elderly. Color schemes will change; more saturated colors for the young, more muted hues for those of us who are older.

 If you like doodling, incorporate your designs into your articles.  White space, my favourite, continues to play a big role in the future.  A simple site with clear and consistent color choices ages much better than a shouty, busy one.

And when it comes to clutter, ditch the pop-ups and all the social media buttons that irritate by hiding your content. Google hates them too. Choose maybe two social media sites for sharing. Too many buttons and readers click off your site instead of sharing anywhere.

To keep yourself up to date, simplify. Less is more. Enjoy your website and have fun.

Bit of a long article this time. But what are you doing to manage all the extras in your writing life? Any plans for updating blogs and websites? Let me know in the comments below. :-)

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears monthly in The Working Writer's Club .

Thursday, September 22, 2016

You Need a Mixture of Marketing Efforts

By W. Terry Whalin

How is your writing selling? It's an old sales adage: If your books (or any writing) isn't selling, you need to be touching more people (asking for the sale) or creating new writing.  Your audience doesn't increase or your books don't sell without continued effort from you as the author. 

Whether you work with a traditional publisher who sells your book into the bookstores or you self-publish and are on your own, you still need to be reaching more people with your work. As an acquisitions editor, I tell every author that it is 80% up to them to sell more books. Yes we can sell the books into the bookstore but unless the author is building buzz and telling others about the book, those books in the bookstore will be returned to the publisher.

I wish I could tell you there is one path or one formula to sell books and become a bestseller. If such a formula existed, then every book would be a bestseller—and that is just not the case. Some books that are poorly written hit the bestseller list while other well-crafted titles sell a modest number of copies. The average self-published book sells about 200 copies during the lifetime of the book. The average traditional book sells around 1,000 copies. Now each of us want to beat these averages so how do we do it? It's through a mixture of different marketing efforts.

One of the most knowledgeable people that I know in this area is Rick Frishman. For over ten years, Rick has been our publisher at Morgan James Publishing. For almost 30 years, Rick led one of the largest public relations firms in the U.S. called Planned Television Arts (now called Media Connect). He has a huge list of bestselling authors that he has worked with like Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Stephen King and Mitch Albom. Rick is the creator of Author 101 University which will be next month in Los Angeles. I've interviewed Rick a number of times and did so again earlier this month. You can catch the 45-minute interview for FREE at:

In this in-depth interview, Rick compares book promotion to the four legs of a stool: Internet, print, radio, television, then he gives insights about each of these legs and how authors should be working in each of these four areas. See the balance that goes into this type of approach? It is a mixture of various marketing efforts for your books.

One of the most successful series of books in the English language is called Chicken Soup for the Soul. Jack Canfield tells us about following The Rule of Five to market their books. This short video (less than two minutes) gives you the details about how to achieve your goals.

Are you mixing your marketing efforts to sell your books? Tell us the details in the comments below.


Are you mixing your marketing efforts? Get ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for more than 50 magazines and published over 60 books with traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Book Proposals That $ell. He loves to help writers and has a large twitter following. Evan Carmichael ranks the top 100 marketers to follow on Twitter and Terry has been consistently on this list (#56 in September). He lives in Colorado.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sit Butt in Chair!

Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,

After years of thinking about writing and, every once in a while, actually writing, I decided to take a college course called, "Write your Novel." At the time I thought writing might be a great hobby. Something to do in my spare time after working a full time job and taking care of four children all still in school. (I know, what spare time, right?) I remember the advice from my my then college professor well. 'To write, sit butt in chair." That was it. 

Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Before that I would often 'write' stories in my head. I 'wrote' whenever bored - doing dishes, making beds, weeding, driving. I found lots of time to create stories, but actually writing them down seemed to be difficult. Then I took this class and I was encouraged to just 'sit butt in chair.' I found that the process meant I could write a novel length manuscript and still have a job and children.  All I had to do was find the time to: 
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Surprisingly, there are many opportunities to sit butt in chair.

A couple of years went by and I attended a writer's conference. There I heard someone else give this great piece of advice, "sit butt in chair.' Simple but effective they said, and I knew it was true. I have found to write all I need to do is 'sit butt in chair.' And when writing isn't happening, I know its because I have not come to the desk and sat down, nothing else is at fault. So make a habit of sitting your butt in chair and see what you can accomplish.  

What was the best piece of writing advice you've received? 
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

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, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. 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                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Grow Your Readership with e-Newsletters

A monthly e-Newsletter is an emailed publication containing news of interest for your community and is another way to deliver useful content to your readers.  A Newsletter can be referred to as a Digest to recap significant posts at month-end.

The advantages of sending a Newsletter by email include:
• Publish on a regular schedule,
• Readers expect its arrival vs a SPAM hit,
• Use your brand as the header and title,
• Showcase a main article,
• Highlight important posts from the current month and those archived via links,
• Notifications for future events, workshops, and conferences,
• Tips of interest you want to promote,
• Images to support your message.

The disadvantages include:
• Commitment to publish on a regular basis,
• The format can be time consuming to prepare,  simplify it by using a vertical layout without sidebars,
• Readers may stash it away to “read later” when more convenient.

Before you send out your first edition, be sure you are able to commit to a regular monthly schedule.  Include a tool for automatic delivery registration.
Blogging is an important part of book marketing.  A Blog Newsletter is an excellent way to promote your work and the work of others you recommend. 
Always use; tags for each post, your motto, and illustrations to engage your readership. Many sites such as Pinterest are photograph driven.

I appreciate your feedback.  Please add it to the comment section below.  Thank you much! deborah

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, editor and artist.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors. 
She has independently published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  The series was also published as articles for an online news network and on her website: Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Deborah is published in magazines.  She is a blogger who has managed several group sites including ones she founded.
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Raise Your Standards

I was watching a video of Tony Robbins on youtube the other day and he said something that really stuck with me.

He said, "If you are unhappy with anything in your life, simply raise your standards in that area."

So what did he mean by that?

Well, according to Robbins, we all have standards that we have set for ourselves in all areas of our life.

These standards are the way we see ourselves and the way we think we are supposed to live.

We have health and fitness standards, relationship standards, and wealth standards, for example.

We probably set these standards for ourselves long ago based on something we were told or taught.

But, the thing is, many times these standards no longer apply to the life we want to be living now.

For example, long ago someone might have told you that you were overweight and it was a genetic thing.

You were just destined to be overweight and there wasn't much you could do about it.

So guess what?

You either accepted that and used it to create low health and fitness standards for yourself or you failed to believe it and raised your standards in this area.

If you raised your health and fitness standards, you started eating right and exercising regularly and eventually you were no longer overweight.

It might not have been easy.

But it wasn't impossible once you raised your standards.

We Set Writing Standards for Ourselves, Too

If you're a writer, you've set standards for this aspect of your life, too.

But have you set your writing standards too low?

If so, you probably aren't getting published regularly and you aren't making much money from your writing.

Examine the way you have set and accepted low standards for yourself as a writer.

Next, decide to raise your standards as a writer.

Write down your new standards so you're really clear about how you want to see yourself as a writer and how you want to live the writer's life according to these new standards.

Try it!

Build a career writing about what you know and love. Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach, can show you how.

Learn more about her 10-week e-course and mentoring program, Fearless Freelance Writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fall Fresh Start: 5 Tips

With fall comes the new school year. That means a clear desk, fresh pencils, and cool new projects. 

I say: Why should kids have all the fun? Whether or not you have kids - or are in school yourself - is not important. The new year means a fresh slate. Take advantage of it.

Here are five things you can do to start the school year off right.

1. Clean your desk. When was the last time you purged extra papers, filed old projects, and saw the bottom of your desk? Take 15 minutes a few days in a row and clear things out. When you clear the clutter, you clear your mind. A fresh start begins with your work space.

2. Get new supplies. You really want some new pens, don't you? Maybe a fresh notebook or two? This is the time of year to replenish your supplies. Take advantage of all the back to school sales. And buy yourself a treat or two too.

3. Review your goals. It's important to review your goals on a regular basis. It's important to look at them daily or at least weekly. How else will you know what you want to achieve to keep it in the forefront of your mind? No judgement. Take out your goals from the beginning of the year. Note what you have done and what has changed. Celebrate wins, and move on from what is no longer relevant.

4. Set new goals. Now that you know what you have and still want to achieve, reset your goals for the rest of the year. Is there a project you've been avoiding? Something new you want to write? Fantastic. Write it down. Put your goals in a place you look at regularly. And set yourself up to achieve them.

5. Create a plan. Make appointments with yourself to work on your writing projects each week. Think of it as your personal class schedule. If you only have time to write once a week, that's fine. Just commit to it and write it down. Put all appointments in your electronic calendar, and when your alarm goes off (think school bell), sit down and write.

Kids are starting a brand new year, and you should too. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve when you clear out the clutter, put yourself on the right path, and follow through.

What do you think? How are you going to prep for a fantastic fall? Share your thoughts and tactics in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

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