Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Write for One



Contributed by Colin Dunbar

There's the blank page.

Maybe you have an outline, and although you get going on your blog post, momentum slows down.

Here is an idea you can try, and see if it helps to keep your impetus going all the way to the end.

Do you find it easier to talk to one person rather than to a crowd? Do you find it easier to talk to someone you know rather than to a stranger?

Use the following idea when writing your blog posts (or any content.) You may find your writing becomes easier, and the quality cud even be better.

I have seven people I "talk to." These characters all have different personalities and experiences. What I'm writing about determines my choice of audience (i.e., one of the seven people). The seven personalities vary between stubborn and skeptical, while experiences vary from very experienced to very newbie.

Depending on the subject matter you're writing about, for example is it's complex or sensitive, you could have a photo of the photo near. It doesn't necessarily have to be a photo of a real person. By doing this it makes the "personal" part of writing just a little easier.

When I start writing my first draft, I actually start with a salutation, "Dear Gordon" for example, and then go on to explain what it is I want to "tell" Gordon about. Sometimes, I use his name throughout the article. And then when I go onto the second draft, I remove references to his name. Often there are very little changes needed, because just as I would use "you", when talking to the person, it's very close to ready. Occasionally, I may need to make some revisions (depending on the topic) but most of the time, there's very little I have to change.

Example:

Dear Sam, I've heard you struggle to keep your writing flow. I'd like to share an idea with you that you may want to try. Before you start writing, decide that you're actually going to write to one person. Choose someone you now, Sam, and then write your article or blog post directly to that one person. After your first draft, you can edit out any references to the person's name. etc., etc.

Also, depending upon what I'm writing about, I may use a voice recorder and narrate the article to "my person." This exercise sometimes has some funny bits because I have the person "talk back" to me.

Give this tip a try and see if it helps with your writing.

Colin Dunbar is a veteran technical writer with 40 years' experience. He offered a book design service for over 7 years, and is the author of How to Format Your Book in Word. He shares his vast knowledge at www.colindunbar.com. (https://colindunbar.com/self-publishing-newsletter/)


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Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Importance of Believing in Yourself as a Writer

Are you struggling with a writing project that seems overwhelming?

All writers go through this at one time or another.

Usually it means that YOU—the writer—are not quite convinced you can pull off this particular book, article, novel, or whatever the project may be.

In fact, you probably spend precious energy second-guessing yourself thinking, What in the world did I get myself into this time?

But here's the rub.

The project will only start to fall into place once YOU are convinced you can complete it.

So take a deep breath and relax.

Figure out why you're struggling with this project and write down the problem(s).

For example—Do you have a too-tight deadline?

Does the project require intensive research and you're overwhelmed with all the facts and figures you'll need?

Are you spinning your wheels just trying to figure out how to get started?

Once you've figured out the real problems behind your struggle, take some steps to solve them.

For example, if you're on a too-tight deadline, contact your editor right away and ask for more time.

Your editor wants quality work, and if you contact her now, rather than at the last minute, more than likely she won't be upset about giving you more time.

Editors usually allow a little wiggle room for all projects anyway.

If your project requires intensive research, make a list of the source materials and experts you wish to use for this project.

Then, BEFORE you contact the experts, do enough research about the topic to develop a structure for the book or article you are trying to write.

You'll have to do enough research to develop the topic headings, or chapter titles for your work.

But, once you've done that, THEN contact the experts with questions that relate to each of your topic or chapter titles.

That way, you'll get quotes that relate closely to the material you already have for the project instead of lots of other material and quotes that will be difficult to work into your chapters or subtopics.

If you're stuck at a point in your novel and you just can't get your characters to move the story along, you probably don't know the characters well enough and you're trying to get them to do something they don't want to do—or wouldn't do if they were actual people.

Take one or two of the main characters and ask them some questions (yeah, this sounds crazy to people who aren't writers, but I know YOU know what I mean).

Find out more about their backgrounds and you'll learn more about their passions, desires, and fears, which will translate into motives and actions that will come naturally for these characters—and will be easier for you to write.

You really CAN complete that writing project that seems overwhelming.

YOU just have to believe it first.

Try it!


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

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, and the author of over 35 published books. She offers more tips and resources for writers at writebythesea.com.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Challenge Yourself Year Round


There are no shortages during the month of November. In addition to National Novel Writing Month (aka #NaNoWriMo), there's National Podcast Post Month (#NaPodPoMo challenges you to post 30 podcasts in 30 days) and #BlogLikeCrazy (a daily blogging challenge). 

These types of "events" are really helpful for productivity. When you have a massive project to do in a short amount of time, you get it done ... and then you go back to perfect it.

Now, I "won" the first NaNoWriMo I tried around 10 years ago. Since then, and over the years I've used National Novel Writing Month for other purposes: non-fiction projects, blogging, and general writing productivity. 

Last year, I discovered National Podcast Post Month, which was created by Jennifer Navarrete and is now in its 12th year. "The goal of NaPodPoMo is to use the challenge of podcasting daily as a form of podcasting bootcamp," she says.

Well, this year, I was tempted by both. However, between client projects and a book launch in January, I didn't have time to do either. So I did the next best thing. I created my own.

I named my November challenge #DebMo. And the concept is simple. Post a different piece of content on my The D*E*B Method Facebook page every day during the month. It can be a video, graphic, link, or text post. In creating content every day, I am developing a pattern of posting, increasing the value of my page as a resource, and growing my community. And I am having fun! 

What to create a challenge of your own to help you progress in your career, business, or passion project?  Put some parameters in order to set yourself up for success.

1. Choose a Month. Look at your calendar and make sure you don't have other major obligations. 

2. Choose an Activity. What are you doing? Writing, editing, sending pitches? Cooking, reorganizing, working on a home project?

3. Choose a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Goal. What are you counting and how are you counting it?

4. Choose your purpose. How will this challenge benefit you personally or professionally? Even something for fun has personal benefits.

5. Invite Friends. Projects are much more fun when you have others along for the ride. You can hold each other accountable, too.

There are numerous specialty months throughout the year, including National Novel Editing Month and National Poetry Month ... both in April, so do a search to see what is out there. And if you can't find a challenge to fit your timing and needs, create your own. You'll be glad you did.

For more on the more traditional November challenges, read the #GoalChat Twitter moments recaps.

* * *

What sort of challenge will you take part in? What will you create for yourself? Please share in the comments.

* * *

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.

Friday, November 8, 2019

8 Steps to Take Before Submitting Your Manuscript


Writing is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea.

You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters.

The journey can take months and even years.

It's the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Then the day finally arrives. Your manuscript is complete. The query letter is ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again.

But, hold on a minute.

Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript:

1.    Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best it can be.

2.    Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre and submit your manuscript to them. 

3.    Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received.

Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story isn't age appropriate, listen.

If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4.    Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5.    Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6.    Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7.    Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8.    Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

- Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors?
- How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue?
- Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as 'was' and 'very.'
- What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited?

If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not.

Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing - it will provide a solid foundation.

The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

~~~~~

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.

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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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Making Your Book Reviews Into Workhorses



 A Peek at Great Book Review Idea from New Release 

Off-The-Wall -Alternatives

Making Your Reviews Into Workhorses

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

 

Excerpted (and adapted) from Carolyn’s new How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career to be released this fall.

Authors rarely get the most of their reviews. Surprised? I think it’s either that they are so excited about the review or that the idea of extending a review’s value doesn’t occur to them. Or it’s because so many reviews these days come from readers. They aren’t professionals, so they have no idea how to distribute content beyond posting their review on Amazon.

One of the ways they can get more mileage from their reviews is to get them reprinted in more venues than the reviewer ever planned. Or you do it for them. And, no, it isn’t stealing or plagiarism if you get permission from the reviewer first. In fact, it can benefit the reviewer.
When you get further distribute reviews you already have, it’s like getting a little marketing bonus. Here’s how to do that:

If your reviewer doesn’t normally write reviews (these reviewers are often called reader reviewers), suggest she send her review or the link to her review to her friends as a recommendation.

If your reviewer lives in a town with a small daily or weekly newspaper, she could send her review to them. She may realize the thrill of being published the first time.

Ask your reviewer—even one who writes for a review journal—to post her review on Amazon.com, BN.com, and other online booksellers that have reader-review features. I have never had a reviewer decline my suggestion. It is ethical for a reviewer to do it or give you permission to reuse the review as long as she holds the copyright for the review. (Most reviewers do not sign copyright-limiting agreements with the medium who hires them.) Get more information on Amazon’s often misrepresented review policies in Chapter Eleven, “Managing Your Amazon Reviews.”
  
After you have permission from the reviewer to reprint the review, post it on your blog, on your Web site, and in your newsletter. Use quotations from the reviews to give credibility to selected media releases and queries.
  
Once you have permission to use reviews, send copies of good ones to bookstore buyers and event directors as part of your campaign to do book signings, to speak, or do workshops in their stores. Go to http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/bookstor.htm for a starter list of bookstores.
  
Send quotations (blurbs) from the reviews you get to librarians, especially the ones in your home town or cities you plan to visit during book tours. Include order information. Try Midwest for a list of libraries.
  
Use snippets from positive reviews as blurbs in everything from your stationery to your blog. (Use your e-reader’s find function to search for other ideas for using your blurbs in this book.)
  
If your reviewer doesn’t respond to your request to post the review on Amazon, excerpt blurbs from them and post them on your Amazon buy page using Amazon’s Author Connect or Author Central features. They will appear on your Amazon sales page.
  
Include the crème de la crème of your reviews on the Praise Page of your media kit and inside the front cover of the next edition (perhaps a mass market edition like the pocket paperbacks sold in grocery stores?). See my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter https://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/frugal_book_promoterII.htm for the complete—and I do mean complete—lowdown on media kits.

Hint: Occasionally authors get reviews on Amazon that, shall we say…don’t thrill them. Reviews like that can be minimized by asking others for reviews. As new reviews are added, the old ones tend to get buried in the lineup of reviews. We can also (pleasantly!) refute a position a reviewer takes using the comment feature—or thank them for bringing something to our attention. We can also dispute their validity with Amazon, though that rarely works.
You can use some of these suggestions as part of your keeping-in-communication-with-reviewers effort after her review has been published.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit. The Frugal Editor (bit.ly/FrugalEditor) award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View's Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences.
Her website is www.HowToDoItFrugally.com.

Be sure to check out: How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically



Write for One

Contributed by Colin Dunbar There's the blank page. Maybe you have an outline, and although you get going on your blog post, mom...