Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Coming to a Close – 2017 Just Before Us, Bright and Shiny



Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Make 2017 a year of action rather than procrastination.

To end 2016 and latch onto 2017, here are 11 quotes I find inspirational. Hope you do too.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
~ Lyndon B. Johnson

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."  ~ Dale Carnegie

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~ Christopher Columbus

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~ Warren Buffet

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell

HAVE A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR'S EVE!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

One Last Edit: Re-think before Submitting


Can you look through your completed book without making any changes? I tried it after thinking I had finished up the basic editing and even the polishing. There couldn't possibly be anything more to "fix," thought me. Wrong. I found more changes, important changes, many changes. Throwing caution to the wind, I gave up all notions of completion and continued, alternating between rummaging through additional passes as the need occurred to me with my pinpoint-sharpened #2, and then laying my book down to rest for short periods of time. My conclusion? The persistent question: When will I ever be done?  

What do I need to re-think?
While in the throes of this quest I decided, what the heck, what's one more pass? I came up with:  What do I need to re-think? It turned out to be the most revealing edit of all. It resulted in a title change, removal of a subplot (that was BIG, but I had to do it), addition of a character (that was fun), rearranging some of the scenes and re-checking the arcs, making sure someone or something didn't fall off the face of the page. Each character arc, including arcs in each character's dialogue, and each event, had to be followed from beginning to end. If I hadn't done that particular check, pearls of the necklace I had begun to string would have fallen off before the clasp could have been attached. Nightmares could have resulted. I could have wound up with another fire-engine red I, another school daze Incomplete, only this time from an editor and not my teacher (if I should be so lucky!)


Take One More Look
  • Go back to the theme card you prepared before or during the writing. Make sure the main theme shines through and ask yourself, Do the minor themes bolster the main theme?
  • Check the structure one more time. Is it solid?
  • Does each character have an arc? Each story part introduced have follow-through to the end? Follow each one all the way through to make sure.
  • Is your main character's flaw/need evident in the beginning and satisfied/solved from what she's learned by the end?
  • Have you done a scene check to make sure there isn't any section that might work better elsewhere?
  • Is there any character or scene that doesn't move the story forward?
  • Is there anything to add to strengthen any part, or any weak part to delete which will strengthen the story?
  • Is description kept at a minimum (in a children's story)? Is the story told through dialogue and action?
  • If it is a mystery, make a list of the clues, red herrings and reveal to make sure everything is covered.
  • Do one last fact check.
If you grow weary of so many revisions, give your story a rest and come back to it later. One of my writing instructors once told me, you don't write a book, you re-write a book. When at first I thought I was done, I had to disengage from disappointment when finding so many glaring errors. This must be the armor people talk about that writers must grow and wear, and perhaps why people admire authors so much. For the fortitude and single-mindedness it takes to do the seat-time, on and on, until we are finally satisfied with the finished product, whatever it takes. Being sure of your work is a must if a writer wants to produce a sparkling, page-turning, humdinger of a book!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new 
writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Monday, December 26, 2016

One Easy Way to Learn to Write Good Copy

Guest Post by Cathy Chapman, Ph.D.

It doesn't matter what wonderful service you provide or how amazing your product is, if you don't let people know it's there, no one will buy it. Sure, word of mouth works for some things. For most, however, you need to write something and get it out to people to let them know what you have. The question is, how can someone on a limited budget with beginning skills as a copywriter, someone who writes advertising copy, let people know about their product.

The answer is simple. Copy what others write.

No Plagiarizing Allowed

When I said to copy what others wrote, I don't mean to steal their words and use them in your own advertising copy. I mean for you to take pen and paper in hand, no computers allowed unless you literally cannot use your hands, and copy a sales letter word for word. This is a powerful learning technique used in many circles. When you write with pen and paper, something magical happens in the brain. I can't tell you all the neurochemical responses in that brain of yours, but when you write by hand, there is a complex interaction in the brain that helps you learn faster and easier.

Don't spend your time physically reproducing any sales letter you come across. Use your time wisely and copy, for learning purposes only, the best sales letters you can find. You can do an internet search using the keywords "winning sales letters" and come up with a treasure trove of letters you can begin copying to get the hang of writing a good sales letter.

One of the most successful, if not the most successful letter to introduce a new product was written for a newspaper you may have read or at least have seen the name. That is The Wall Street Journal. This very successful financial newspaper was once only an idea in someone's mind. As time has demonstrated, it was a great idea. The problem was that people had to buy initial subscriptions for it to be successful. This very simple two-page letter has generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue for The Wall Street Journal.

The Step before Copying

The sales letter that launched The Wall Street Journal is one to use for leaning by copying by hand numerous times. Before you put pen to paper, read it out loud several times. Listen to the cadence of the words. Pay attention to the imagery. Notice the feelings you have as you are reading it. Can you put yourself in the place of each of these young men? Which one would you rather be? Would you want success so much that you would pull out your check book, fill out the form and pop it in the mail? Remember, the internet wasn't even a spark in the mind of anyone at that time. This direct mail piece had to provoke immediate action before the offer was lost under a pile of other advertising.

Once you've read the letter and put yourself in the reader's position, begin copying the words. Feel the cadence as you write. Let the words and the rhythm of them imbed themselves within you from the interaction of what you see with your eyes and reproduce with the movement of hand. This simple task, although it takes time, will move you faster in learning the skill of copywriting.

You can then take what you've learned and write your own powerful sales letter in your own wonderful style that may be the next $2,000,000,000 winner.

Cathy Chapman, PhD, LCSW is a strategic marketer, copywriter and coach for the self-help and alternative health care market. To receive your Special Report "The Bare Necessities for an On-Line Marketing Campaign with Little Cash Outlay... Plus One" go to http://www.mindbodyhealthwriter.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6553599

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Gift From Writers on the Move to You


Another year is coming to a close and at this time we at Writers on the Move would like to THANK YOU for being a part of our online lives, for following our authors and writers, for commenting and sharing our work, and for subscribing to our site.

To show our appreciation, below are two ebooks to help guide you and motivate you toward writing and marketing success in the New Year. These are two regulars for our year end gifts. They're so helpful, they're worth re-giving!

And, as a bonus, you can share these ebooks. You can offer it as a gift in your newsletter, on your website, as a bonus to a gift or product you’re offering, or for some other incentive. Please though, be sure to them intact.

Click the links to download:

Achieve Your Goals with 3 Must-Have Psychological Assets

A Simple System to Achieve Your Goals

Next week, we'll have a very useful brand new gift - be sure to stop by!

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe
Holiday Season and New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Every Writer Needs Media Training

By W. Terry Whalin

It is painful to tell these two stories because of the missed opportunities. Yet I tell them because I want you as an author to profit from these situations for your own writing life.  As the title of this story says, I hope from reading this article, you will understand why every writer needs media training.

This week a couple of my Morgan James authors appeared on The Dr. Oz Show. This particular segment was filmed in October but aired this week. I was excited for these authors and set my DVR to record the show (since I rarely watch it).  I found their segment and watched it. Their story was highlighted and interesting—yet something was missing. There was nothing in the story to indicate their full story appears in their book. The book or the book title was not mentioned. The result was another missed opportunity to tell a national audience about their story.

I've never appeared on this type of national television show. It must be full of tension and excitement for the author to make sure you answer the questions and make a great appearance on the show. The challenge for the author is to make sure no matter what message the television show wants to give—that you meet your own agenda (sell books).

This recent story is not the only time I've seen missed opportunities. Years ago I wrote a book called Running on Ice for Olympian Vonetta Flowers. She was the first African American to win a gold medal in the winter Olympics. In fact, Vonetta was on the 2006 U.S. team for the next Olympics in Turin, Italy. Katie Couric interviewed Vonetta on The Today Show. It was a great interview yet nothing in the interview mentioned that a book told Vonetta's story. While I'm pleased to have written this book, I wanted it to succeed in the marketplace (sell) yet the opportunity was missed.

No matter where you are in the writing and publishing world, now is the time to prepare yourself for these opportunities so you do not miss them.  In the publishing world, we call it media training—and it's something every author needs to learn.

Here's three valuable yet inexpensive resources to prepare yourself for the media:


1. Gayle Murphy has been a journalist for many years. I interviewed Gayl in this free teleseminar and you can get her seasoned advice for every author about how to tell it to sell it.


2. The Media Training Bible by Brad Phillips. I reviewed this book several years ago (follow the link). The seasoned advice and tips in this book are invaluable. Phillips is a well-known and excellent media trainer. Every writer will profit from a careful reading of The Media Training Bible.


3. Be the Media compiled by David Mathison. This older book is excellent to help you know how to create your own message and different ways to get it out into the marketplace.

For the last couple of years, I've been doing radio interviews to promote my Billy Graham biography. In the next two weeks.I'm scheduled to be on two LIVE radio shows telling stories from the book. It's fun and I'm grateful for these opportunities. Each time before the interview, I remind myself why I'm on these programs: first to be energetic and tell interesting stories about Billy Graham. 


Yet integral to this agenda is my second key point: to make sure I tell people where they can get the book. I've created a website with multiple options to purchase the book. During several of these interviews, even if I am not asked about it, I take the initiative to weave into the conversation the specific name of my website and where people can get the book.

When you receive these types of opportunities for your writing, seize them—yet use wisdom to make sure you cover your own interests.

---
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing and has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Book Proposals That $ell and Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. He blogs about the Writing Life and lives in Colorado. Terry has over 194,000 twitter followers.

Tweetable:

Here's three economical resources for every writer to get media training. (ClickToTweet)
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Season's Greetings from Writers on the Move


This is our yearly Season's Greetings video to our subscribers, followers and visitors - in other words, our online famly! Hope you like it!



HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Writing for Children – Finding Story Ideas

Sitting at the computer with a blank word document in front of you may be intimidating for a writer. You just finished one manuscript, or you’ve hired out to ghostwrite a story, or whatever the reason is, you need to begin writing a children’s story.

Hmmm. What should it be about? You think and think. You gaze out the window. You draw a blank.

Alexander Steele wrote a short article in the October 2010 issue of the Writer, “Where can you find the seeds of a good story?” It was interesting to read that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, had his own whaling adventures which he used to create a wonderful and everlasting story. Steele advises, “Probably the most fertile place to look for ideas is right inside the backyard of your own life.”

You might be thinking you don’t have close contact with children and your childhood was boring, so you don’t have any experiences do draw on. Or, you may be so busy living your life and raising your children that you don’t have time to stop and see all the amazing story opportunities that are right in your own backyard. Well, even if these scenarios fit, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

Finding Story Ideas if You Don’t Have Close Contact with Children:

1. Turn on the TV. Yes, this is an excellent source for story ideas, as well as watching children’s behavior. While it may be in the confines of a scripted show, the writers of these shows try to keep it as real as possible. Take note of the situations, the attitudes of the actors, the scenes, and everything else. Even children’s cartoons have engaging storylines. It may be just the spark you need.

2. Go to a playground with notebook in hand. Watch the children play and listen to them talk. If you’re a professional writer (ghostwriter), or you’re already published, consider asking your local age appropriate school if you could sit in the lunchroom during lunch periods. A useful way to get a positive answer would be to first ask if you could give an author or writing presentation to the students. The principal would need to be sure you are a legitimate writer. Please note though, there may be legal and safety aspects a school would need to consider.

Note: If you do go to a playground or other area where there are children, be sure to inform parents, guardians, or administration of what you're doing. It'd be a good idea to bring a copy of one of your published books with you, so they feel comfortable that you are indeed a writer. It's a crazy world, always take precautions, and keep the safety of our children at the forefront.

3.  Read newly published children’s books, and reread ones you enjoyed as a child then reinvent a story. This is a tip I took advantage of with my own children’s fantasy chapter book. I read an old Chinese tale and reinvented it for a children’s book. I was recently reminded of this ‘story idea source’ by multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke.

Finke advised to study books you like; pay attention to why they work, then “craft an entirely new story.” She explained that, “quirky and fresh” wins publishing contracts today.

Finding Story Ideas if You Do Have Close Contact with Children

1. Study the children you do have contact with, whether your own children, your grandchildren, or other relatives.

Children are an amazing source of inspiration and ideas. They have an innate ability to make you feel: just looking at a picture of children may make you smile; hearing a baby laugh can actually make you laugh.

Watch the children, notice their mannerisms, body language, movements, attitudes and emotions, speech, and their interactions with other children and adults. You’ll not only get story ideas, you’ll also get dialogue and ‘showing’ descriptions.

2. If you have regular contact with children, you really shouldn’t need any other steps, just listen, observe, and take notes. But, if the character’s age of your new story differs from the ages of the children you see, use the steps noted above.


Have you had an idea for a children's story for a while now and just haven't done anything about it. Have some notes or an outline? Maybe it's time to talk with a children's ghostwriter!

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online platform instructor.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Are You Living the Writer's Life?



Yesterday as I was coaching a client, she said she had trouble connecting her writing life to her "regular" life.

She has so many things coming up in her personal life in the next month or so, that she just wasn't sure how she would continue doing things for her writing life, too.

Yet she didn't want to lose the momentum she'd gained in the past few months for her writing career.

This is a common feeling or situation among writers.

Many tend to see their writing or their writing business as a separate part of their lives.

When they do, they tend to either let their writing take over their personal lives almost completely (and they write, write, write all the time) or they NEVER find time for their writing or their writing business because they're always caught up in personal or family matters.

Either way, they constantly feel guilty and stressed.

So what's a writer to do?

Well...I think the answer is to live the writer's life all the time.

That doesn't mean you have to be writing all day, every day.

It just means you need to be making connections between your personal life and your writing life as often as you can, so you don't feel you have to sacrifice one part of your life for the other.

For example, take the things you enjoy in your personal life and write about them.

I do this all the time, often selling my personal essays, stories, articles, or other items to magazines, newspapers, online publications, and other publishers.

The great thing about doing this is that I can write about almost anything.

As you go about your day today – and every day – think of ways to connect your personal life with your writing life.

In other words, live the writer's life!

It's fun and profitable when you do.

Can't Think of Anything in Your Life Worth Writing About?

Try one of these ideas:

1. Your Most Memorable Birthday

2. The Best Car Trip You Ever Took - or the Worst Car Trip You Ever Took

3. Your Biggest Teenage Crush

4. The Scariest Thing That Has Ever Happened to You

5. The Most Difficult Thing You've Ever Done

6. How You Learned to Drive

7. The Worst Date You Ever Had

8. The Most Difficult Person You Ever Met

9. Staying Fit - Easy and Fun or Next to Impossible

10. Your Favorite Place in the World

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and the Working Writer's Coach.

Let her teach you how to turn writing about your personal experiences into a career and your brand.

Learn more at www.fearlessfreelancewriting.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Freelance Writing Drivers Seat

Are You in the Driver's Seat of Your Freelance Business?

Guest Post By Nick Usborne

Only a few very successful freelancers are truly in the driver's seat of their business. They control every aspect of their business and their work — day by day and year after year.

The majority of freelancers don't work this way. They spend their entire careers in the passenger seat. They are reactive. They allow their clients and other external factors to do the driving.

How about you? Read through these five key differentiators, and then determine whether you are in the driver's seat of your own freelance business, or not.

Differentiator #1 – Drivers have a 5-year plan, at least.

Freelancers who are in the driver's seat know where they are going. They also know what it will take to get them to their destination. They know the roads they will have to take, and the waypoints along the trip.

If you don't know where you are headed — if you don't have a long-term plan — you can hardly claim to be in the driver's seat.
(Unless you're out for a joy ride, with no particular destination in mind. But, if that is the case, you don't really have a business.)

Differentiator #2 – Drivers choose their clients, and their projects.

Top freelancers know which types of clients are best to work with and pay the highest fees. These are the clients they approach, capture, and work with. They don't waste valuable time on multiple, low-value engagements.

These freelancers behave less like typical freelancers, and more like small consulting companies or boutique advertising agencies. They go for the best clients.

You can take the same approach, behaving more like an up-and-coming company than an individual for hire.

Differentiator #3 – Drivers increase their value.

Smart freelancers know there is always more to learn. And, they are never shy to invest in their own education. They spend money to improve their core skills, and to add more skills their clients will find valuable.

The key here is to increase your perceived value in the eyes of prospective clients. The higher your perceived value in the client's eyes, the higher the fees you can charge.

Differentiator #4 – Drivers don't bill for their time, they bill for their value.

Smart freelancers don't have hourly rates. They don't write their estimates based on the time they will spend on an assignment. Instead, they estimate and bill based on the value of the work they produce.

A three-page online article might take you the same time to write as a three-page sales page. But, the sales page is worth ten times as much to the client. So, why charge the same amount for both?

Differentiator #5 – Drivers maximize their income from every job they do.

Ambitious freelancers seek to increase the scope of every project they take on. They don't just listen to what the client asks, but also make recommendations that deliver great value to the client, and more dollars to themselves.

As an example, when asked to rewrite a website home page, the driver might ask something like, "Would you like me to review your second-level pages at the same time? If the home page is changing, it would probably make sense to change some of those second-level pages, too."

In other words, freelancers in the driver's seat are proactive, seeking out new opportunities, and expanding on current projects.

In summary …

Most freelancers are totally passive, grateful for the work their clients give them, and getting by on the fees they are offered.

But, as soon as you claim your rightful place in the driver's seat, everything changes.

You take control and start taking action to get better clients, work smarter, and make more money.

Are you ready to get in the driver's seat?

[Ed. Note: Nick Usborne has been a copywriter for 30 years now, 11 of which he's dedicated solely to online copy. He is also the author of Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts (formerly Million-Dollar Secrets for Online Copywriting), a step-by-step guide showing copywriters how to apply their skills to writing for the Web, and confidently present themselves to any company, large or small, as an expert who can transform their online presence.]

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blog Review Checklist

While you prepare for the new year, here's one more to-do to add to your list. Review of your blog.

Ideally it's good to make changes to your website or blog as they happen. However, bloggers are busy. Inevitably something - or things - fall through the cracks. 

Here are ten things to check on your blog around the beginning of the year. 

1. Headshot. Did you change your look at all in the past year? Do you have stunning new pic? Has it been a while since you put a new headshot on your website? If you answered yes to any of these, it's time to update your headshot. 

2. Bio. Add any new jobs/clients, writing venues, and speaking engagements acquired.

3. Accolades. Incorporate any awards and accomplishments, as well. Also, if you are involved in any sort of philanthropy, include that too. 

4. Media. What sort of media coverage did you get last year for your book, product, services, or business? Do an online search to get links and/or embed codes for video clips to your site's Media page.

5. About Your Business Page. Add any new clients, awards, and accomplishments to your business' about page. While you're at it, check your contact page to make sure all that info is up-to-date, as well.

6. Products and Services. Did you release a new book this year? A new product or service? I'm guessing you added them at the time. But, just in case, check your product and services pages. Also, if you are increasing your rates, make that change too. Give current clients a few months notice (or grace period) or grandfather them into your new pricing.

7. Frequently Asked Questions. If you noticed any new frequent client questions, add them to your FAQ page. Don't have a an FAQ? Create one to add to your website.

8. The Look. Do you like how your website looks? Is it ready for a refresh? Review sites you like for inspiration, and determine what sorts of elements (navigation, sections) you want to incorporate into your blog in the new year.

9. Blog Schedule. As with your blog's look, also review your blog schedule. Do you have set posting days? (You should.) Are you keeping up with your schedule? Consistency is key. So, if you find posting twice a week is difficult, go down to once a week. If you have only been posting a few times a month, consider going weekly or twice a week. Determine what will work best with your schedule to set yourself up for success.

10. Copyright. Many blog themes will update the copyright year automatically. If it doesn't, make the change manually. It's one of those little things that shows your blog is current.

Note: After you update many of these items (#1-7), make the corresponding changes to your press kit, too.

Any blog needs to look professional, whether it's a showcase for writing, a consultancy, or a more traditional store or business. Investing a little time each year to review and refresh can make a huge difference.

What do you think? What else should you review and update each year on your blog? Please share your thoughts 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 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, December 9, 2016

By-Pass Marketing and Book Selling

Whether you're an author, writer, or have a home business you should have a book under your belt.

Books are one of the most powerful authority building tools. And, they can be created with little or no money, though services like CreateSpace.

Since bookstores don't have the same draw as they once did, to sell that book you need to think out of the box. You need to think about by-pass marketing.

I first learned of the term, by-pass marketing, through a teleseminar presented by Steve Harrison. The featured speaker was Jack Canfield. He explained that “only one out of seven people in the United States go into book stores to buy a book.” This was back in 2010. Imagine the percentage today.

In fact, today, book stores have jumped on the internet bandwagon, as the majority of their sales come from that source.

By-Pass Marketing

Getting back to by-pass marketing, what does it mean?

By-pass marketing is selling in places you wouldn’t expect to see books for sale.

Some By-pass Venues for Selling Books:

•    Bakeries
•    Nail salons
•    Gas stations
•    Beauty salons
•    Barbers
•    Fitness centers
•    Spas
•    Cleaners
•    Tailors
•    Doctor offices
•    Chiropractic and Acupuncture offices
•    Radiology offices
•    Local restaurants

You get the idea. Sell anywhere you can. Think of establishments in your area where you have to wait for services or that get a lot of traffic.

Talk to management or the owner of an establishment and offer a percentage of sales or a set amount per book. This is a win-win situation for you and the business owner.

They have absolutely no investment of money, time, or effort, therefore no risk. Yet, they have the opportunity to make money. This should be a no-brainer on their part. All you need to do is ask.

Remember: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online platform instructor. Get must-know writing and marketing tips at http://thewritingworld.com.

Check out Karen's e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:
Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost - Get Results
Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tropes in Literature #3: Conveniently an Orphan

If you haven't seen my other posts on tropes, a trope is a common plot device, character type, writing element, etc.  I believe that many tropes are so common because they're popular, fun, and good—except that they've become so overused that they've lost some of their goodness.  These should be treated carefully and creatively.  Other tropes are simply a result of laziness or convenience.  These should often be avoided.

Whatever your opinion of tropes, they're fun to discuss. 


This month's trope:  "Conveniently an Orphan." 
(named by TVtropes.org) 

Advantages of making your characters orphans:

-They can conveniently take off on adventures without any family to tie them down or make them look selfish and irresponsible for doing so.
-They don't have to constantly be interrupting the adventure and action in order to go home and visit their family or watch their niece's ballet recital.
-They don't have a support network already, so they'll need to depend more on themselves and their friends—perhaps new and unlikely friends.
-It forces young characters to solve difficult problems that normally their parents would solve.
-You have fewer characters to write.
-It provides a ready-made tragic backstory. ("My mother was murdered so now I'm a workaholic homicide detective who can't get close to people" or "I'm a delightful, sweet-tempered child who, for some strange reason, nobody has ever loved…until now.")
-It can provide motivation in the vein of, "You killed my father.  Prepare to die."
-The bad guy can't kidnap your character's family members in order to force him to do his will—which would, let's face it, be the logical thing for many bad guys to do.  But your character has no family, so…plot problem solved. 
-Orphanhood tends to go well with various "Chosen One" tropes.
-If the character doesn't even know who his parents were, you have various twist possibilities ("Luke, I am your Father!" or "Oh, I'm actually not a milkmaid but a princess!").
-Readers LIKE orphan characters, perhaps because we identify with the loneliness typified best by orphans, perhaps because we like underdogs, perhaps because it's interesting to think about what we would be like without the influence of our parents and families.  Whatever the reason, orphans in literature are popular.

Disadvantages of making your characters orphans:

-If you're not careful, it can easily come off as a convenient cliché.
-It can come of as lazy.
-It can come off as unrealistic.  True orphans who grow up in horrible Dickens-like orphanages or in the dark side of the foster care system aren't always the sweet, innocent, well-adjusted people they are in old books.  Even true orphans do often have other family:  adoptive parents, biological uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc, and these would still provide kidnapping fodder for bad guys.  Some of this family might also be people your character could—and would—phone in a crisis.  So be careful not to write as if your characters grew up in a vacuum, even if both their parents have been dead for many years.

Where this trope appears:

The "Conveniently an Orphan" trope is VERY common in fantasy and science fiction, especially if you count characters who still have one parent alive:  Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Belgariad, the Discworld novels, The Black Cauldron, half the fairy tales you can think of (though they may have one parent), The Wizard of Oz (though she has adopted parents she loves), The Hero and the Crown (still has a father), the Hunger Games (still has a mother).

Many other more mainstream books and classic works of literature also have orphans or characters with only one live parent.   Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, George Elliot, and various Brontes certainly partook.  James Bond is an orphan.  It's also common for the detectives in mysteries (especially TV crime dramas).  You'll see it sometimes in romances and women's lit and other genres.

And, of course, it's essential for sweet orphan stories like Anne of Green Gables (and Montgomery's Emily of New Moon), Annie, The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy (only one dead parent), Jane Eyre, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Heidi (though with a loving grandfather), The Boxcar Children, Pollyanna,  etc.  These are all great books, but you'll need a pretty original slant or some particularly compelling characters if you're going to do it now. 

For my previous trope posts, click below:
Tropes in Literature #1:  Mr. Exposition and Captain Obvious
Tropes in Literature #2:  This is My Story

Melinda Brasher is back in the United States after spending two more years in the Czech Republic among castles and forests and hiking trails.  Her most recent sales are to Ember and Double FeatureVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Tells Truth About Why You Need to Get Reviews for Your Book Yourself

I thought I'd share an excerpt from my newly released How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically with you Writers on the Move subscribers and visitors. It's all part of its launch celebration. Learn more about it athttp://howtodoitfrugally.com. 

Why Getting Great Reviews Is Your Job
In spite of a contract or even an advance your publisher may not be a true publisher. True publishing includes the marketing of a book. Think big names like HarperCollins and Knopf. They assign a marketing budget to your book and an actual marketing department complete with actual human-type marketers who are trained in the specialized field of not just marketing, but marketing books. Except for those who write only for pleasure, there is no reason to publish a book that doesn’t get read. 
And here’s more: Big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. Bloggers, you say? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself
Some publishers—even traditional publishers—may not respect tradition, be uncooperative or goof. One of my writing critique partners was published with a fine press. When she learned they had not sent advance review copies of her literary novel to the most prestigious review journals before their strict sixteen-week deadline, she was naturally upset. They explained it was a snafu that could not be fixed. That was no comfort at all. It did help her to know that because thousands of galleys sent to the important review publications lie fallow in slush piles, the chances of having a book reviewed by a major journal—even one published traditionally let alone getting a glowing review—is remote. Because she had me to nag her, she moved on to alternative marketing and review-getting strategies found in Chapter Six of this book. Using those methods, she was still able to schedule several major bookstore appearances that tend to favor established names and rely on big-journal reviews in their decision-making process. Nevertheless, it’s not the kind of loss any author wants to face.
These days most small publishers have no marketing department—or marketing plan. In fact, many admit that when it comes to marketing, you are on your own. No offense, publishers. I know many of you do a terrific job considering the profit margin in publishing these days. Let’s face it, you can use help, and you don’t need to deal with disappointed (irate?) authors. And, authors! We are ultimately responsible for our own careers. Sometimes when we wait to take responsibility, it is too late in the publishing game.
Some publishers charge the author an additional or separate fee for marketing. Many who offer marketing packages do not offer a review-getting package. If they do, the review their authors get is a paid-for review, which is definitely not the route you want to go. More on that later in this chapter.
Many publishers do not even have lists of people to contact who might help your marketing with endorsements or reviews. Further, many big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process more and more as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. And bloggers? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself. 
My first publisher supplied review copies only upon written request from individual reviewers. They did not honor requests generated by their authors’ initiatives. This meant that I could not count on them to supply books to reviewers I had successfully queried for a review. Unless the reviewer accepted e-copies (and many reviewers don’t!), I had to order copiesdirectly from the publisher and then reship them to my reviewers. This method is slow, cumbersome, unnecessarily expensive, unprofessional, and discourages authors from trying to get reviews on their own. 
Publishers should offer review copies to a list of reviewers—even unestablished grassroots bloggers—who have been responsive to their authors in the past. And they certainly should not charge an author for review copies. Publishers have a profit margin and publicity obtained by their authors (including reviews) affects their bottom line, too. They should send their author a thank you (or a red rose!) along with encouragement to keep up the good work
Publishers should also market their books. That means that even if they are too small or underfunded to have a marketing department, they should have a list of reviewers to query for reviews, a list of influential people to provide blurbs for your cover, access to book cover designers (not just great graphic designers) who know what sells books, and a whole lot more. Ask potential publishers about their marketing process before you sign, but—even if you feel assured after having that conversation—it’s best to assume you may be on your own. 
So, the marketing part of your book that includes finding the right reviewers to read and comment on your book will—in most cases—be up to you and well within your skill set after reading this book. And even when you have the luxury of a marketing department behind you, those authors who know how to get reviews on their own can keep a book alive for an infinite amount of time after their publishers relegate their books to a backlist or their contract expires.
Note: If it is too late to apply this information to the process you use in choosing a publisher, tactfully take hold and guide the publisher you have through the review process. There are lots of ways to do that in this book. I love Nike’s advice to “Just do it!” only I add “yourself” to the motto. Many publishers are in your employ. You may be paying them for services. At the very least, when your book sells, it makes money for the publisher. You don’t have to ask for permission (though it never hurts to listen to their reasoning before you make a decision).
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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. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

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. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com

Friday, December 2, 2016

Freelance Writing - Don't Overspice Your Copy

Guest post by Will Newman

I wouldn’t be a copywriter if it weren’t for the computer.

You might be in the same boat. The computer has allowed me to get around my terrible typing skills. I’m a hunt-and-peck typist. So, sometimes – no, make that frequently – my fingers hit the wrong keys.

Thank goodness Word flags those typos.

The computer has also made editing orders of magnitude easier than it ever was on my clunky manual typewriter. Copy. Paste. Cut. Move. So much easier.

And, if I want to add a little visual spice to my copy, all I have to do is press a couple of keys, and my copy shows up italicized, boldfaced, or underlined. I can see immediately the visual impact these formatting options give my writing. If I feel I’ve emphasized the wrong phrase, I can change it with little effort. That’s a huge advantage over the “old way.”

A valuable tool or a crutch?

This last benefit is also its biggest disadvantage for you as a copywriter. It’s so easy to add emphasis, it’s tempting – oh, so tempting – to let formatting be the force adding excitement to your copy.

You want your reader to feel excited about a certain benefit, so you put it in boldface type. You want him or her to know your promise is important, so you bold that, too. Or maybe, for variety, you use italics.

This is like much of the copy I see from beginning copywriters. They use typographical emphasis to excite their reader.

This is backwards. Before adding any formatting to your copy, your words must be strong enough by themselves to grab your prospect’s attention and convince him or her to act. Your words should be enough.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid using boldface, italics, capital letters, and other formatting options. These formatting options add visual spice to your copy. Plus, if you use them correctly, your prospect can hear the emphasis in his or her head while reading the emphasized words. (An unvoiced auditory emphasis.)

Are there any rules for formatting your copy? No hard and fast ones, but here are some guidelines I follow …

Italics: Italics are a great way to add that unvoiced auditory emphasis I just mentioned. Use italics to cause your prospect’s mental voice to rise slightly like this: “Mario should not be allowed to speak when he comes into the coffee shop.”

When you read the sentence, additional visual and unvoiced auditory emphasis were added to the word “not.”

I don’t use italics for this purpose for more than two or three words in a row. I also avoid using it more than three or four times on one page.

(However, you still should use italics for the traditional purposes of specifying book titles, setting off extended quotes, or for headings and subheads.)

Boldface: Boldfaced text can add some unvoiced auditory emphasis, but it’s not as effective as italics for this purpose.

However, it does make your copy visually more forceful.

Boldfaced words jump off the page, so I use them to catch my reader’s attention before he or she’s even begun reading.

I don’t like using bold type for more than five words in a row. Any more than that is hard to read.

ALL CAPS: Using a long string of type set in all caps is considered yelling in the online world. This has now become the standard in most types of writing. Do you like to be yelled at? Of course not. If you use all caps, I recommend using them for no more than two or three words at a time.

More important, avoid long stretches of all caps copy, because it severely reduces readability. I’m sure you’ve seen the “End User License Agreements” when you buy software online. Did you ever wonder why they’re always written in all caps? Perhaps poor readability is a big reason.

Underlined copy: Underlining adds both visual as well as unvoiced auditory emphasis to copy. As with the other emphasis types, it makes copy more difficult to read, so use it sparingly.

I use underlining to draw the eye to copy on the page more than to put emphasis. I use it for larger stretches of copy than any of the other types of emphasis. But, to counter the readability issue, I underline just the individual words and not the spaces between them.

You can do this with MS Word by highlighting the copy, then pressing Control-d (or Command-d on the Mac) and specifying “Underline Words” or by pressing Control-Shift-W (or Command-Shift-W).

A word of warning: Underlined text on the web universally indicates a hyperlink. I recommend you not use underlining on web copy except for that purpose.

Too much spice spoils the cooking …
I’d like you to consider a non-copywriting example to guide yourself in using emphasis in your copy: If you love cooking, like I do, you know that too much spice can spoil good food (with the possible exception of Indian or Thai food). So, your first takeaway from today’s issue of The Golden Thread is to add spice to your copy sparingly.

But the big takeaway – as I said before – is this: Do NOT overuse any type of visual emphasis in your copy. Let your words carry the beauty and the impact of your idea.

Original article source: http://www.awaionline.com/2014/03/dont-overspice-your-copy/

This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Breaking Into Freelance Writing – Don’t Let Fear Stop You

By Karen Cioffi

Thinking of breaking into freelance writing, but feeling overwhelmed?

Unless you’re an established freelance writer, it’s easy to feel that way.

Maybe the thought of ghostwriting or editing a book seems daunting. Maybe the thought of writing articles and submitting them to magazines on a regular basis seems intimidating.

Well, freelance writing doesn’t have to be overly time consuming or difficult . . . or frightening.

Rather than taking on large projects or feature articles, you can find smaller, less intimidating work. The main thing is to get started.

There are lots of types of writing, aside from feature articles. You can write greeting card content, fillers, anecdotes, short articles or blog posts, letters, jokes, and more. There are many opportunities to write for money.

But, getting started and maintaining any business takes action. Procrastinating and ‘doing nothing’ is a sure way to NEVER reach your goals.

Dreams, well intentions, and even plans won’t get you from Point A to Point B without action. 

So, no matter what genre you’re writing in, or want to write in, take the steps to move forward.

Once you decide you really want to start a writing business, you will need to put time and effort into creating and building it. To do this, to move forward, start with these 4 steps.

1. Write on a regular basis - even if the writing isn’t meant for publication.

You’ll need to hone your skills – practice helps do this.

In addition, it’s a good idea to read ‘good’ copy and content. This will also help you develop and sharpen your writing skills.

2. Copy the masters.

Another trick to keep you moving forward while you query for jobs is to actually type effective copy and content written by pros.

This strategy helps train your brain to recognize good writing and will help you to emulate it.

But, a word of caution here, this is only a practice strategy – you cannot use another writer’s content for anything other than practice. That would be plagiarism.

3. Find resources to take advantage of.

You may be thinking that you just don’t know where or how to start.

That’s understandable.

The writing arena is broad and can certainly feel overwhelming when first starting out. But, there are a number of programs, classes, job boards, and other resources (free and for a fee) that you can take advantage of to guide you to gigs, publication, and sales.

Start by asking in your writing groups or ask more experienced writer friends if they know of tools and resources geared toward freelance writing.

You can also attend live conferences or online webinars. There are a number of free ones available online. In addition, you can do an online search to find resources.

There are also writing membership sites that offer lots of helpful tips and guidance.

4. Jump in - take action.

While taking the three steps above, you also need to actively look for work.

This means researching magazines for what they're looking for, querying for jobs, looking at job boards, getting your name and business out there.

And, getting your name out there means having an online presence - this means you NEED a website. And, your website needs to look and feel professional.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. Don’t let fear stop you from jumping in.

Take that first step. Then take the second, third, and so on.

If you look around, you’ll find lots and lots of opportunities out there for you to get started and move forward in your freelance writing business.

Here are 6 resources to help you get started today:

American Writers and Artists Inc.

Freelancers Union

ProBlogger Job Board

Morning Coffee Job Board

Become a Power-Blogger (Content Writer) in Just 4 Weeks

Become a Ghostwriter- Start a Money-Making Writing Business
New WOW! Women on Writing class

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