Thursday, October 10, 2019

Outsourcing


To do or not to do? That is the question.

No matter what your business, there comes a time when you need to decide what priorities you need to handle yourself and what you can outsource.

Whether you offload work to a live or virtual assistant, a different "team," or an outside specialist, more often than not, the time and energy you save will be well worth the expense.

The Litmus Test

When deciding whether to take on certain projects or offload them, here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is this related to my specialty?
  • Can someone else do it?
  • Should someone else do it?

Characteristics of items that are good to outsource, include:

  • Repetitive tasks, such as data entry
  • Time-consuming tasks, such as transcription.
  • Out-of-your-comfort-zone tasks. If something will take you more time to learn than it will take someone else to do properly, unless it's something that will benefit your own professional development, it should go on someone else's plate.

Professional Services. Unless it's your actual business, look to others for:

  • Web Design and Support
  • Legal Advice
  • Accounting
  • Graphics
  • Finance

Project Support. There are also certain cases where you need get assistance, even when the action item can be done by you. Especially when doing something close to you, such as self-publishing, to get the best product possible, you may need to hire the following contractors:

  • An editor
  • Copy editor
  • Cover designer
  • Book designer
  • Marketer or Publicist
  • Don't forget a photographer for new headshots.

Finding the Right People

If you do decide to outsource, start with your network. Ask friends directly for recommendations, post a request in a LinkedIn update, or go to networking events where you can potential find the right people.

Alternatively, you can look to job boards and ask for suggestions relevant Facebook or LinkedIn groups.

The Bottom Line

When the question is about outsourcing, it usually comes down to money. If you can afford the expense, it enables you to focus on the things you do well and are passionate about ... which will ultimately generate more money. Outsourcing in the perfect world pays for itself.

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How do you decide what to do and what to outsource? What are your tips for finding great resources? Please share in the comments.

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For more on Getting Press, read the #GoalChat recap on the topic.

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Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group.  Debra is the author of Your Goal Guide, being released by Mango in January 2020, as well as Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. She is host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and the Guided Goals Podcast, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Never Ignore Your Dream


Never Ignore Your Dream

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

I once read an article/editorial in the late, great Dan Poynter’s newsletter. It was by Jeff Rivers, an expert in writing query letters titled “What I Learned from Janet Evanovich: Write for your Audience.” It is hard to argue with experts like Jeff and Janet. But I do disagree-or at least mostly disagree.

Certainly authors like Evanovich and James Patterson have done very well for themselves and for their readers by “Writing for Your Audience.” And maybe they followed their hearts and gathered their audience along the way. When that’s the case, it is a risk to take a path going in a different direction from the one an audience expects. John Grisham did that with A Painted House and his courtroom drama readers weren’t much taken with it.

I was, though. Very taken.

I became a stronger fan of his work. And it’s my theory that Painted House was the novel that had been lying inside his little writers’ soul all the time. That it brought him pleasure to write it. Maybe that it kept his writing passion alive. Maybe that brought more readers into his circle of avid fans.

So, maybe sticking to your audience’s tastes too long is also a risk. Or maybe starting out with a project designed only to please others and not your creative self would doom you to be a short-lived author. Maybe an author needs to occasionally open new door and let the beam of passion light the work they are doing.

I do a bit of acting and learned from a dedicated actor who taught new actors that new actors to give to the director not what they think he or she wants, but to give of themselves—to give what they feel is best to give. But life has thrown me mixed messages. When I was a retailer, I certainly learned that one couldn’t “buy for oneself” when it came to selecting merchandise for my store. When I did, I very often brought whatever I bought home because my customers wouldn’t buy it.  See my books on retailing at http://howtodoitfrugally.com.

But back to writing!

That same balanced note is a good one for writers to follow, too. They must keep their audience in mind. As an example, they must trust their audience to be readers. They, after all, have been reading their whole lives. So we authors don’t want to insult them. And certainly authors should do the research necessary to avoid writing the same book someone else has written.

Still, there is another side of the coin and here it is:

When you write for yourself, your audience will follow. Do not mistake this for advice that writers go off willy-nilly with no training in craft, no awareness of rules (which we may then choose to break). But we must love what we do to be successful. Find your voice and your passion. Keep at it. Keep learning more about both writing and the publishing industry as a whole.  Market your work.  Do all that and an audience will find you. Your audience will find you.

You can do that once and you can do it all over again if you don’t mind risk. Risk of getting less income than you’re used to getting with whatever you wrote when you garnered that first audience. Risk of teeing off some of your original readers who came to you with preconceived expectations.

I’m an eternal optimist. I believe we can balance the two philosophies. But I also see some real danger for the author (or beginning writer who still feels uncomfortable calling herself an “author”) who denies his or her dream and considers only what she figures someone else wants of him or her or—worse—what she has been told will “sell.”

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and writer of short stories. A many-genered author, if you will. She is also the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally series of book for writers including The Frugal Editor, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career and the much applauded The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its third edition and published by Modern History Press. Learn more about all of her work at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. and come tweet with her @frugalbookpromo. When you add that moniker to your book-related tweet, she will retweet it to her 39,000 plus followers, most all of them publishing industry people.




Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Writing Fiction for Children - 4 Simple Tips



Writing fiction for children has a number of rules and tricks, the very basics of which are creating believable characters and adding conflict.

But there are many other elements that go into creating an effective and engaging story.

Below are four simple tips to help you navigate the children’s writing waters.

1. Show the way to success

While description and a bit of telling have their place, want you to focus on showing the story. T

he technique for ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ is to use your character’s five senses, along with dialogue.

The days of, “See Dick and Jane walk down the lane,” are far gone.

Showing allows the reader to connect with the protagonist. The reader is able to feel the protagonist’s pain, joy, fear, or excitement. This creates a connection and prompts the reader to continue reading.

If you’re stuck, and can’t seem to be able to ‘show’ a particular scene, try acting it out. You can also draw on your own experiences, TV, or the movies. Study scenes that convey the ‘showing’ you need to describe.

There are also wonderfully helpful writing sites like One Stop for Writers.

2. Create synergy

Joining the story together in a seamless fashion is probably the trickiest part of writing fiction.

The characters, conflict, plot, theme, setting and other details all need to blend together to create something grander than their individual parts; like the ingredients of a cake. This is called synergy.

It doesn’t matter if your story is plot driven or character driven, all the elements need to weave together smoothly to create the desired affect you’re going for: humor, mystery, action, fantasy, or other.

If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short.

All this must be done in an engaging manner, along with easy to understand content. 

3. Keep it lean

According to multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke, today’s children’s publishing world is looking for tight writing. Choose your words for their ability to convey strong and distinct actions, create imagery, and move the story forward.

The publishing costs for picture books over 32 pages is beyond what most publishers are willing to spend, so word counts should be well under 1000, and be sure to make each word count. Keep in mind that the illustrations will add another layer to the story and fill in the blanks.

When writing fiction for young children, the younger the age group, the leaner the writing.

This means if you’re writing for toddlers or preschoolers, you should limit your word count to a range of 100 to 250 words.

4. Be part of a critique group

This is a must for all writers, but especially for children’s writers. There are so many additional tricks of the trade that you need to be aware of when writing for children, you’ll need the extra sets of eyes.

Your critique partners will no doubt be able to see what you missed. This is because you’re too close to your own work.

They will also be helpful in providing suggestions and guidance. Just be sure your critique group has experienced, as well as new writers.

Belonging to a ‘writing fiction for children’ critique group will also help you hone your craft.

Use these four tips to help create a synergized story.

What strategies do you use to take your story up a notch?




Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.

Check out the DIY Page!

And, get your copy of Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China. Honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award.


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5 Must-Use Tips on Writing Fiction

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Outsourcing

To do or not to do? That is the question. No matter what your business, there comes a time when you need to decide what priorities you...